Saturday 20 June 2015


In 1981, George was somewhere in England, or more specifically, in his home studio at Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames, making a new album at a relaxed pace — partly because he was becoming a little disillusioned with the state of the music business, and partly because, some of the time, he preferred gardening.
“He’d garden at nighttime, until midnight,” said George’s son Dhani, in Olivia Harrison’s book ‘Living In The Material World.’ “He’d be out there squinting because he could see, at midnight, the moonlight and the shadows, and that was his way of not seeing the weeds or imperfections that would plague him during the day, so he could imagine what it would look like after it was done. He missed nearly every dinner because he was in the garden. He would be out there from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.”
After his self-titled album of 1979, George set to work on what became the ‘Somewhere In England’ album quite quickly, and delivered it to Warner Brothers the following year. In what now seems a laughable judgement, they deemed some of the tracks unsuitable, and while George was hardly complimented by the ruling, he set back to work on the album towards the end of 1980. Ringo Starr, who had arrived to have some songs produced by George, was with him at Friar Park, just before a truly dreadful event took place.
The murder of John Lennon in December that year moved George to return to his composition ‘All Those Years Ago’. He and Ringo had recorded the song in November with a view to its inclusion on Starr’s album, a set that was released as ‘Stop And Smell The Roses’ late in 1981.
George was compelled to write a new, nostalgic and affectionate lyric as a tribute to John, and the song was re-cut with George singing lead, Ringo on drums, Paul and Linda McCartney on backing vocals, and appearances by friends such as Ray Cooper, Denny Laine, Al Kooper and Herbie Flowers. It was released ahead of George’s new album in May and became a fitting, and touching, success, spending three weeks at No. 2 in America.
34 years ago, ‘Somewhere In England,’ including ‘All Those Years Ago,’ made its UK debut at No. 13 on the chart of June 13, 1981. It spent a second week in the top 20 before descending. The LP made the American chart on June 20, climbing to No. 11 in a 13-week run.
George was later obliged by the record company to change the original album cover, featuring an image of him overlaid on an aerial shot of the UK, to one of him standing in front of ‘Holland Park Avenue Study.’ The original cover was reinstated in the 2004 reissue that was part of the ‘Dark Horse Years’ box set.
One of George’s favourites on the album was the opening track, the wry ‘Blood From A Clone.’ With his trademark dark humour, he observed the fact that some of his music was apparently no longer right for the times. “They say you like it, but knowing the market, it may not go well, it’s too laid back,” he sang. “You need some oom-pah-pah, nothing like Frank Zappa, and not new wave, they don’t play that crap…try beating your head on a brick wall, hard like a stone…don’t have time for the music, they want blood from a clone.”
He later explained to Creem magazine: “That was all this stuff they were telling me: ‘Well, we like it, but we don’t really hear a single.’ And then other people were saying, ‘Now, look, radio stations are having all these polls done in the street to find out what constitutes a hit single and they’ve decided a hit single is a song of love gained or lost directed at 14-to-20-year-olds.’ And I said, ‘Shit, what chance does that give me?’
“So anyway, I went in and wrote that song just to shed some of the frustrations. And there’s things in there like ‘There is no sense to it, pure pounds and pence to it…They’re so intense, too, makes me amazed.’”
18 months later, George returned with ‘Gone Troppo,’ after which he wouldn’t be back with an album under his own name until the ‘Cloud Nine’ triumph of 1987.

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