Living In The Material World
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Bruce Eder [allmusic.com]
How does an instant multimillion-selling album become an underrated minor masterpiece? George Harrison's follow-up to the triple-disc All Things Must Pass (which had been comprised of an immense backlog of great songs that he'd built up across the last years of his time with the Beatles), Living in the Material World was necessarily a letdown for fans and critics, appearing as it did two-and-a-half-years after its predecessor without that earlier album's outsized songbag from which to draw. And it does seem like Harrison narrowed his sights and his vision for this record, which has neither the bold musical expansiveness nor the overwhelming confidence of its predecessor. And while there are still some beautiful and delightfully lyrical, charming moments throughout, few of the melodies are as instantly memorable and compelling as those of most of the songs on the earlier record, and some of the most serious songs here, such as ''The Light That Has Lighted the World,'' seem weighed down with their own sense of purpose, in ways that All Things Must Pass mostly (but not entirely) avoided. What Living in the Material World does show off far better than the earlier record, however, is Harrison's guitar work -- unlike the prior album, with its outsized contingent of musicians including Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitars, he's the only axeman on Material World, and it does represent his solo playing and songwriting at something of a peak. Most notable are his blues stylings and slide playing, glimpsed on some of the later Beatles sessions but often overlooked by fans.