Dark Horse is an album by George Harrison, released as the follow-up to Living in the Material World in 1974. Dark Horse is notable for the well-attended, but ultimately infamous North American tour that supported it, which would turn out to be Harrison's only set of performances there as a solo artist.
1974 saw a separation from first wife Pattie Boyd (who left Harrison for friend Eric Clapton) with the situation later being uncomfortably parodied on Dark Horse with a cover of "Bye Bye Love", featuring both subjects' input. That year also saw Harrison planning for his future. With a new love interest, Olivia Arias, and with the end of his Apple Records contract in sight, he founded Dark Horse Records - initially to be distributed through A&M Records - and spent much of the year signing acts and guiding their development. When his Apple contract finally expired in January 1976, Harrison would move onto the Dark Horse label himself and switch distribution of the label to Warner Bros. Records.
With the impending tour pencilled in for the last two months of the year, Harrison was only able to start recording his own album - which he was also dubbing Dark Horse - in September, leaving him little time to complete it. Aiding Harrison were Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston and the aforementioned Eric Clapton. The sessions, which were held at his home studio in Henley-on-Thames, were compounded by Harrison's unfortunate development of laryngitis. When it was time to leave for the US in mid-October to begin rehearsing for the tour - with the album still unfinished - Harrison's voice was completely raw. Ringo Starr confirmed this with Beatlefan Magazine when he stated that Harrison was hoarse before he left England to complete the album and start tour rehearsals.
After quickly recording the title track (a future US Top 20 hit), Dark Horse was quickly pressed and rushed into shops that December. Although the music was much more uplifting than Living in the Material World's and featured some excellent guitar work, critics soon began calling the album "Dark Hoarse", in reference to Harrison's suffering vocals. With no time to let his throat heal, he performed the entire tour in a sandpaper voice, much to the disapproval of reviewers and fans. The negative press Harrison received also stemmed from his unpopular decision to include an Indian music portion to the concert, as well as performing The Beatles' "In My Life" with philosophically-modified lyrics. After the tour's conclusion, Harrison was so averse to touring that he would hardly ever appear live again, save for a brief Japanese tour in 1991 at Clapton's insistence.
Surprisingly, Dark Horse failed to chart at all in the UK, while it reached #4 in the US during a brief chart stay, going gold.
In 1992, Dark Horse was remastered for CD release, though it will likely see an upgrading sometime in 2008.
All songs by George Harrison, except where noted.
"Hari's on Tour (Express)" – 4:43
"Simply Shady" – 4:38
"So Sad" – 5:00
"Bye Bye Love" (Felice Bryant, Boudleaux Bryant, George Harrison) – 4:08
A wry cover of The Everly Brothers' 1957 hit with modified parody lyrics by Harrison, in reference to first wife Pattie Boyd's union with friend Eric Clapton. Rumors circulated that Clapton himself appeared on guitar with Boyd on backing vocals, but they were unfounded.
"Māyā Love" – 4:24
"Ding Dong, Ding Dong" – 3:40
Harrison's New Year's song
"Dark Horse" – 3:54
"Far East Man" (George Harrison, Ronnie Wood) – 5:52
Co-writer Ronnie Wood's version of "Far East Man" appears on his 1974 debut album I've Got My Own Album to Do
"It Is "He" (Jai Sri Krishna)" – 4:50
(Credit goes to Wikipedia)