“George Harrison: The Apple Years ’68-’75,” which is out Sept. 23 in the U.S. and North America (but out today in the UK and elsewhere), is a long overdue compilation of Harrison’s work for Apple Records. The beautifully designed box contains six albums, “Electronic Sound,” “Wonderwall Music,” “All Things Must Pass,” “Living in the Material World,” “Dark Horse” and “Extra Texture (Read All About It).” A new video promo for “Living in the Material World” was released Monday and you can see it on this page. PopMarket also announced this morning it has the set on sale for just under $100 (shipping included), but just for 24 hours.
Also included is a hardbound book with an introduction by Dhani Harrison, notes by Kevin Howlett and a DVD with rare music videos and a special “The Apple Years” short feature made especially for the set. “The Apple Years” film is a seven-minute promo of Harrison’s work for Apple, beginning with images from “Wonderwall Music,” and proceeding through each of the albums with photos, audio (including sound of Harrison in the studio with Indian musicians in the HMV Bombay studio recording “Wonderwall Music”) and video. (You can see a couple of alternate views of the box in the slide show.)
The rest of the videos on the DVD include the previously released “All Things Must Pass” EPK (electronic press kit), “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” live in Japan, “Miss O’Dell,” “Sue You, Sue Me Blues,” which is how it’s titled on the video because it’s an alternate of “Sue Me, Sue You Blues,” the “Making of Living in the Material World” featurette on YouTube showing the record being manufactured, a restored version of the original “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” video (which in stereo sounds tremendous, though still looks a little grainy), a “Dark Horse” TV promo and “The Concert for Bangladesh” EPK.
Especially interesting is “Miss O’Dell,” with all the musicians cavorting on the lawn. Just who is that naked woman in the window? And the audio on “Sue You, Sue Me Blues” is a wonderful version with just George accompanying himself on slide guitar.
Reading that track list and the including of the Bangladesh EPK brings the question where is “The Concert for Bangladesh” CD? Also the beautiful quality of the lone Live in Japan video “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace) On Earth” makes one want the whole show.
The albums, though, sound great. Each one is reproduced in a miniature version of the original vinyl releases and include inner sleeves and, in the case of “All Things Must Pass,” the poster. Each of the albums has a booklet with very detailed liner notes by Howlett. How detailed? He even recounts the complaint of Bernie Krauss that “No Time Or Space” included a Moog synthesizer demonstration used without his permission. (Howlett says there’s no evidence of George’s side of the story.)
As for the sound, it’s a definite improvement. “All Things Must Pass” sounds marvelous. (When didn’t it?). “Dark Horse” is our second favorite. It sounds bright and bouncy. “Extra Texture (Read All About It)” sounds improved, as well. “Living in the Material World” sounds the weakest. We’re not a big fan of either “Electronic Sound” or “Wonderwall Music,” though we think “Wonderwall” sounds better in the context of the movie.
Harrison fans will want the set for the improved sound and the extras, especially things like “Sue You, Sue Me Blues.” There’s so much good music that’s worth hearing here, though, that anyone might seriously want to consider it, too. It’s definitely a keeper. Hopefully, we’ll get a remastered “Bangladesh” (and maybe a Blu-ray of the film) someday, and maybe a full “Live in Japan” show. And as Ringo himself hinted in an exclusive radio interview done with “Breakfast With the Beatles” host Chris Carter Sept. 21, a box set of his Apple Records releases could be somewhere in the future, as well.