Friday, May 15, 2009

Dark Horse: The Album

Several interesting Beatles facts emerge as one considers Dark Horse, the LP released by George Harrison on December 20, 1974. Harrison was not able to finish recording the entire album at his home studio at Henley-on-Thames because he was busy preparing for his Dark Horse Tour at the end of 1974. Complicating matters further, Harrison came down with laryngitis, which did not deter him from recording the single "Dark Horse" or embarking on the tour. His throaty delivery on the single and album is obvious, but oddly enough the hoarse delivery of the lyrics became a trademark of sorts for the song.

It is perhaps not surprising that Harrison came down with an illness given the extraordinary stress (and life changes) he experienced in 1974. He separated from his wife, Patti Boyd, who he'd met on the set of A Hard Day's Night. Boyd left Harrison for mutual friend Eric Clapton. The ex-Beatle also formed Dark Horse Records and took up with his new love, Olivia Arias, who he would later marry. (Their son Dhani is now a singer in his own right.)

The tour was not well received by critics, who were disappointed with George's vocal quality as well as the Indian music portion of the concerts. Harrison took the criticism to heart and rarely toured afterwards, the most notable exception being his tour of Japan in 1991.

The album was recorded in October and December of 1974 and released on the Apple/EMI label. A remastered version for CD was released in 1992.

Session musicians included Eric Clapton (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums), Jim Keltner (drums), Billy Preston (keyboards), Nicky Hopkins (piano), Klaus Voorman (bass), Willie Weeks (bass), Mick Jones (guitar), Ron Wood (guitar), Steve Winwood (synthesizer), Robben Ford (guitar), Gary Wright (piano), and Tom Scott (flute and sax). Other sources also list Roger Kellaway (piano), Alvin Lee (guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Ray Cooper (percussion), Chuck Findley (horn), Neil Larsen (synthesizer), Andy Newmark (drums), Dick Newman (strings), and Gayle Levant (harp).

Tracks included:

Hari's on Tour (Express)
Simply Shady
So Sad
Bye Bye Love
Maya Love
Ding Dong, Ding Dong
Dark Horse
Far East Man
It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)

The cover of The Everly Brothers "Bye Bye Love" contained slightly altered lyrics alluding to losing Patti Boyd to Clapton. "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" was also released as a New Year's single.

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