Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

George Harrison ~ Brainwashed

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: psychedelic, British, folk rock, pop rock, spiritual
Label: Dark Horse
Year: 2002
Home: England (deceased)

Members: George Harrison ~ vocal/lead guitar/dobro/ukulele/keyboards/bass/percussion
Jeff Lynne ~ bass/guitar/keyboards/percussion/b. vocals
Dhani Harrison ~ guitar/keyboards/b. vocals
Jim Keltner ~ drums

Guests: Jon Lord, Jools Holland, Mike Moran, Marc Mann ~ keyboards
Ray Cooper ~ drums/percussion
Mark Flannagan ~ acoustic lead guitar
Joe Brown ~ guitar
Herbie Flowers ~ bass/tuba
Bikram Ghosh ~ tabla
Sam Brown ~ b. vocals
Jane Lister ~ harp
Isabela Borzymowska ~ voice

Opening with a Traveling Wilburys-esque riff sets the stage for Harrison's final album, completed after his death by son Dhani & fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne also of Electric Light Orchestra following detailed instructions left by Harrison, which is in many ways a culmination of all the music that came before it over Harrison's scattered solo career by a man undoubtedly knowing the end is near & just relaxing with the music for the first time in decades. Whether it was Harrison or Dhani/Lynne that chose the name of the album it's an odd banner for a man who is anything but brainwashed as the lyrics belay someone who knows exactly how he feels & is even happy with not always having discovered all the answers he sought. Though, on the other hand, it could elude to the fan criticisms against the dominance of Hinduism in his music that led to his temporary retirement from performing in the 1970's. At times Brainwashed is a folksy acoustic affair where storytelling takes priority over commercial pop, a sound always somewhat present in Harrison's music & brought to a climax with the Wilburys, while there's also the blues a la All Things Must Pass & also present in expected bucketloads is the Hare Krishna socially responsible ideology that always kept his music just on the wrong side of being mainstream acceptable. But, Krishna philosophy is not thrown out missionary style as Harrison first did with "My Sweet Lord" but through more personal & contemplative lyrics such as "if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there" from the highlight "Any Road" & there's even reference to the bigger religious picture though a unexpected discussion of the Vatican in "P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)". Harrison was never one for flash, though he had his moments, instead aiming for layered laid back compositions that sounded more simple than they really were, with his unhurried guitar solos never taking away from the greater mood. That's probably the reason that while idolized he's never been immortalized as a guitar god. He's a musician first, showman second & this album shows it. If Brainwashed is not his most laid-back album it comes pretty close. It might also be one of his most personal in many ways. The relaxed feeling is mostly due to the prominence of acoustic guitars, but Harrison does let out one of his solos every so often that strongly harken back to the brief little solos he once played with the Beatles that might not even be called guitar solos compared to the distorted pyrotechnics that would later come out of the rock genre. Though, there is one instrumental featuring Harrison's thin guitar lines (i.e. "Marwa Blues"), that is more of an intermission than a glowing instrumental. If Harrison knew he was dying there's no songs of regret here. There are many dealing with closure & looking at his spirituality & examining it on his own life in terms of what it was & were it went (i.e. "Looking For My life"), but never does it fall into maudlin introspection or moodiness. Fans of Harrison would be amiss to not enjoy life with him one more time ... don't let yourself be brainwashed into ignoring this last hello/goodbye.

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 30 "Rock Messengers Of The Past," September 2011, click here to listen)


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