the line back to the Sixties
By Dylan Jones
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Having seen the Beatles' Love show in Vegas this summer – and it is
unremittingly fabulous – the release of a DVD documentary about its
creation was always going to find a permanent home in the Jones
household. And, perhaps surprisingly, the DVD – Altogether Now – is
as enjoyable and as uplifting as the show itself. There is also a
20-minute extra feature that charts the reworking and splicing
together of songs for the tapestry-like soundtrack (on which Ringo
for once actually sounds like he knows his way around a drum kit)
that for some of us is tantamount to cutting up the Holy Grail and
sticking it back together again.
Love was George Harrison's brainchild, and it is Harrison's music
I've been delving into since I came back from Vegas; not his Beatles
work, but some of the more obscure stuff he wrote back then but
didn't record until after he left. I'd found Harrison's original
version of "Not Guilty" on a bootleg in Tokyo around 15 years ago (a
record which, because I'd buggered-up the exchange rate, cost me
£120), and only caught up with the re-recording recently – it's on
the 1978 album George Harrison, and is excellent. Similarly his
re-recording of the unreleased Beatles song "Circles" (on 1982's Gone
Troppo) employs Harrison's traditional melancholia and
self-effacement and sounds as if it was recorded on the same front
lawn where Ray Davies imagined "Sitting in the Midday Sun".
There is a world of re-evaluation to be grappled with, as the more
you listen to George's solo work the more you hear the through-line
back to the Sixties. Harrison's post-Beatles work is often considered
to be susceptible to the law of diminishing returns, but it deserves
closer inspection, and there are many songs he recorded in the years
since All Things Must Pass (1970) that warrant inclusion in their own
Call it George!, give it to Cirque du Soleil, get Giles Martin to
splice-up "Wah-Wah", "When We Was Fab" and "Give Me Love (Give Me
Peace On Earth)" and let the good times roll. They could even weave
in the McCartney/Clapton/Starr version of "While My Guitar Gently
Weeps" played at George's memorial concert.
Let's do the show right here!
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'