Start playing guitar How to choose a guitar for beginners?
Alternative History

George Harrison Albums Ranked in Order of Brilliance: from Worst to Best

George Harrison Albums Ranked in Order of Brilliance: from Worst to Best

George Harrison never intended to be a solo star. He just had a lot of songs that wouldn’t get on The Beatles’ albums. A lot of really good songs, as it turns out, making for some terrific, highly-ranked albums by both the public and critics.

His interest in completing albums wasn’t the same after the early 1970s. On occasion, when compelled to add his name to a record, he still proved to have a magic touch and a mysterious, almost spiritual connection to the music.

Today I’m looking at the work of the most mysterious Beatle, and ranking George Harrison’s albums in order of excellence, from worst to best.

George Harrison Albums Ranked

12. “Gone Troppo” (1982)

“All Things Must Pass” proved that under certain circumstances, George Harrison could be counted among rock songwriting’s elite. None of those circumstances are met for “Gone Troppo,” a poor record.

Gone Troppo has earned quite a reputation. At least part of it is due to just how many albums of poor quality Harrison had put out in recent years. In order to properly rank George Harrison’s albums, context is important. The public may have just felt oversaturated.

The phrase “gone troppo” is Australian slang for going crazy due to extreme heat. And, throughout the record, there’s a hint that Beatle George is out in the Sun, on holiday, and not really thinking about scoring hits. It’s good news for the man’s mental health, sure. But this newfound contentment doesn’t lend itself to great songs.

“Wake Up My Love” and “That’s the Way It Goes” are fine pop-rock tracks. On a different day, any of the four Beatles could’ve turned them into hits.

But “Gone Troppo” finds the songwriter doubting his form and not making much effort to change it. George Harrison’s albums were once a joy to hear. Not here! No wonder he opted to take a half-decade break.

11. “George Harrison” (1979)

The old cliche has always been that Harrison was forced into a solo career by the rejection of his songs by The Beatles. On this self-titled album, he shows that he still has all the old talent but little of the drive.

Many of the songs are fine. But Harrison allows the production, once more, to slip into the land of commercial 1970s pop. Those unconvinced by the results of previous records won’t be swayed by this one.

However, his attempt at returning to an unrecorded song for the Beatle-days proved fruitful. “Not Guilty” is an excellent track. Here, Harrison laughs off John Lennon and his former band members’ poor experience with India and transcendental meditation.

“Blow Away” and “Here Comes the Moon” are also pleasant enough.

10. “Wonderwall Music” (1968)

The four members of The Beatles usually fell in love with the same things at about the same time. “Wonderwall” finds Harrison, like the others, experimenting with exotic sounds.

In Harrison’s case, of course, these sounds center around Indian music. The Beatle plays the role of maestro here, leading a group of British and Indian musicians through this loosely structured collection of songs.

“Wonderwall” was a soundtrack companion for the psychedelic movie of the same name. It’s firmly stuck in 1968 and interesting for die-hard fans.

9. “Electronic Sound” (1969)

“Electronic Sound,” as the name suggests, allows The Beatles’ guitarist to work on the other types of avant-garde sounds with which The Beatles had fallen in love.

Once again, fans hoping to see glimpses of Harrison’s songwriting genius will be disappointed.

Instead, it’s an opportunity for The Beatles’ Apple imprint to announce the release of Zapple Records, where avant-garde experiments like this were to be released.

Harrison uses only Hammond organ, and Mellotron sounds here. “Electronic Sound” is an interesting footnote in The Beatles’ discography. But I wouldn’t suggest buying it as a Christmas gift for anyone special.

8. “Thirty Three & 1/3” (1976)

George Harrison was not a man to “play the game” or to keep his feelings bottled for too long. The ordeal of having been sued over “My Sweet Lord” informs many of the songs found here, but the overall result isn’t very consistent.

“This Song” finds Harison biting back at critics, and “Dear One” is a really sweet ballad.

Regardless of your appreciation for Harrison’s mastery as a guitarist and writer, your appreciation of “Thirty-Three & 1/3” will depend on just how much you enjoy AOR of the 1970s.

7. “Extra Texture (Read All About It)” (1975)

George Harrison appeared to be a highly confident solo performer, but, secretly, his self-belief had taken a beating by 1975. “Extra Texture” sets him back on track, but there’s less artistic energy than as on the “All Things Must Pass” era.

Once again, the album is a pretty light affair. The jam-band feel, however, doesn’t take from the quality of most of the songs.

Album openers “You” and “The Answer’s at the End” are some of the best in Harrison’s catalogue. Meanwhile, “This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying)” provides an Act II for one of his most famous contributions to The Beatles’ records.

“Extra Texture” is a pleasantly-sounding record with a few really good songs.

6. “Dark Horse” (1974)

As George Harrison’s confidence grew, so did his willingness to trust his gut feeling. This, sometimes, meant rushing out songs and recordings as feels the case with a lot of the tracks on “Dark Horse.”

However, the odds were stacked against the record from the start. Harrison’s previous tour had received surprisingly poor reviews. He references this with the title “Hari’s on Tour (Express).”

Furthermore, his voice had suffered considerable wear and tear throughout those live shows.

A hoarse voice could’ve been disguised. But the band backing Harrison through most of the rock songs sounds indistinguishable from most guitar-rock of the era. Meanwhile, the Indian-inspired songs, like “It is “He” (Jai Sri Krishna),” are well-intentioned but not very interesting.

“Dark Horse” is the album’s standout track and would be used as the title for Harrison’s record label.

However, songs like “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” sound as if they were written on the spot as a dare.

5. “Somewhere in England” (1981)

The four Beatles had used up a lot of goodwill in the latter part of the 1970s. But the sad passing of John Lennon, would send emotions flooding back. It helps make this a more robust Harrison release than his previous four albums.

“All Those Years Ago” is a standout track, initially meant for Ringo Starr. It became, instead, one of George Harrison’s biggest hits in a while.

“That Which I Have Lost” is sweet. “Save The World” features Harrison’s strong slide-playing and biting humour. And “Tears of the World” sees him fighting with the record execs who initially refused to release the album.

4. “Brainwashed” (2002)

George Harrison’s passing touched the world. “Brainwashed” is his final album and, as it turns out, a worthy send-off.

The quality is a bit of a surprise, to be fair. Harrison hadn’t recorded an album since 1987’s “Cloud Nine.” Furthermore, he hadn’t finished many of the songs here.

However, Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne carefully paper over the missing pieces. The result is one of the most convincing records in Harrison’s occasionally patchy discography.

“Any Road” is fun and loose. “Looking for My Life” and “Stuck Inside a Cloud” benefit from the warmth of Lynne’s production. And “Brainwashed” and “P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)” shows that Harrison still possessed his trademark acerbic wit.

“Brainwashed” is a testament to one of the most talented musicians of his generation, one that could occasionally write unbelievably moving songs.

3. “Cloud Nine” (1987)

“Cloud Nine” is one of the greatest comeback albums ever. To it, George Harrison contributed some of his best songs with a sweet, Beatlesque production hue.

Of course, the man behind the mixing desk was Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne.

ELO had built a career based on approximating The Beatles’ sound. And, from here onward, Lynne would become the default producer of Fab Four projects. He would also work with the reformed Beatles and Paul McCartney as a solo artist.

“Cloud 9” and “When We Was Fab” brings the gentle psychedelia of 1967 into a 1980s context.

“Got My Mind Set on You” is a simple, rock n’ roll number that must’ve reminded Harrison of the Star Club days.

And collaborations with Lynne on “This Is Love” and “That’s What It Takes” had to have convinced Harrison to try forming a supergroup, The Travelling Willburys.

“Cloud Nine” was a massive success and helped make the ill-defined late 1970s albums all but a fleeting memory.

2. “Living in the Material World” (1973)

“All Things Must Pass” had vindicated George Harrison’s artistic instincts. On “Living in the Material World” he displays a new-found confidence in his abilities.

The artist is clever in narrowing down the scope of the record. He whittles down the collection to a healthy 14 songs. When ranking George Harrison’s albums in order of greatness, it’s important to also consider just how big of a solo star he was at the start of the 1970s.

And his songwriting plays into his strengths. The lyrics focus either on spiritual matters (“The Light That Has Lighted the World” or “Be Here Now”) or sardonic humour (“Sue Me, Sue You Blues,” or “Try Some Buy Some”).

“Living in the Material World” is not as revolutionary as its predecessor. However, it proved that the highly successful album hadn’t been an accident either. It charted at number 1 in the United States and number 2 in the United Kingdom.

1. “All Things Must Pass” (1970)

The first proper George Harrison solo album is also his most celebrated. It’s no wonder why. On “All Things Must Pass,” he makes many fans of The Beatles wonder, indeed, how the band could’ve passed on some of these songs.

And, indeed, for the most part, these are older numbers. Overall, this indicates what The Fab Four would have sounded like if it had been Harrison-lead.

Some, like the title track, “All Things Must Pass,” are numbers he’d worked on with his famous former group at ill-fated Twickenham Film Studios rehearsals. Others, like “Wah Wah,” and “Isn’t a Pity, ” directly reflect his unhappiness in the group.

However, the influence of “Let It Be” is also felt musically. “Beware of Darkness” and the excellent “My Sweet Lord” benefit from Phil Spector’s ambitious production work.

Meanwhile, songs like “I’d Have You Anytime” and “What is Life” reflect Harrison’s growing fascination with the folk-rock style of Bob Dylan and The Band.

Old pal, Eric Clapton, makes an uncredited guest appearance. Other notable musicians included on the album are Gary Preston, Klaus Voorman, Alan White or Ringo Starr.

The album does go on a bit long. But the loose-jam format would be used as the jumping point for “Concert for Bangladesh,” the first charity event of its kind.

Out of all the Beatles solo albums released shortly after the band’s break-up, “All Things Must Pass” sounds the most of its time. The album helps to announce the rise of folkie singer-songwriters. And it does so while revealing a lot about Harrison’s core beliefs and spirituality, not to mention his undeniable talent.

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website www.alt77.com. Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
Related posts
Alternative History

11 Essential Classic Goth Rock Albums: Beyond the Grave

Alternative History

The Greatest Industrial Metal Bands of All-Time

Alternative History

The 10 Best Christmas Rock Songs

Alternative History

The Story & Meaning Behind Radiohead's Paranoid Android

Be part of the Alt77 community

Leave a Reply