Dark Horse

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Dark Horse

Postby Brainwashed » Wed May 07, 2008 9:17 pm

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.[citation needed]


Track listing
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)
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby edrebber » Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:20 pm

This album is a real disappointment because of the poor vocals. George owed it to his fans to wait until his voice recovered before recording this album and going on tour.
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby 2 of 3 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:53 am

The smoking got the best of him(in more ways that one) I think....though , I quite like this album. :)
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby Harrythebannister » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:36 pm

I love this album...a great improvement on the dreary Material World and George's vocal problems don't spoil it too much for me overall!
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby linclink » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:04 pm

I'm a fairly big booster of both this, and "Extra Texture" as well (though a bit less so), both of which I think are quite underrated/overlooked/misunderstood. In looking over the songlist, only the dreary version of "Bye Bye Love" really seems subpar to me...everything else is pretty much good to great. I don't think his voice is awful by any stretch of the imagination here...In fact I quite like it's quality overall, and it works particularly well on certain tracks...less well on others, but nothing glaringly bad at all. Blessings!!
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby Berkeleyan » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:32 am

I agree w/ the last three forum members wholeheartedly !
I love "Dark Horse". Pity about the sorry state of George´s voice.
His heavy smoking habit most probably took his life as well (one of you fellas mentioned that and I agree, of course).
At one point in time George said he tried to quit (in the early ninety´s, I believe) but apparently couldn´t do it.

I really dig almost all tracks - except for "Bye Bye Love" and "It Is He".
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby JimmyMcCullochFan » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:53 am

I quite enjoy Bye Bye Love.
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby linclink » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:40 am

I LOVE "It Is He"!!!
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby Berkeleyan » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:35 am

Well, if everybody loved blue and nobody liked red....
Funny how our musical tastes can cover the whole array of an artist´s output.... :salute
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Re: Dark Horse

Postby linclink » Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:39 pm

First of all it is still VERY underrated/misunderstood/overlooked. It is a very fine album, but...and these are some of the reasons there were "issues" with it. First off I like his voice, and it's unique quality, but yeah he did push himself trying to get this finished in time for the scheduled '74 tour & his voice has a rough quality to it...but for me sometimes this really works, and it's never awful. Second is that it is light on the material. There's an instrumental, which is a total highlight, and a pretty lousy cover/rewrite (the album's lowpoint by far with "Bye Bye Love"), and that leaves only 7 (or 8 if you include the instrumental) complete songs.
For me the three standout tracks are all totally infectious: Hari's On Tour Express; Ding Dong, Ding Dong; It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna). Of those three one has no words and while the other two have minimal lyrics, they are both great lyrically. Far East Man is a gorgeous soul ballad, Maya Love a roots funky groover, but it's very upbeat and transcends it's genre, & the title track is really unique musically; with all three terrific lyrically again. All those tracks, 6 of 9, are top shelf to varying degrees, and total winners. So Sad is very good, if not great, and Simply Shady at least good. That leaves only Bye Bye Love to complain about much.
It may be brief, and a bit battered, but it certainly has a whole lot going for it, & for many, it's probably worth a re-listening session.

In context of the whole Harrison catalog:
Level I: All Things Must Pass: Thirty-Three & 1/3 (Traveling Wilburys Vol.I; Concert For Bangladesh)
Level Ia: Brainwashed
Level II: George Harrison; Cloud 9; Living In The Material World (Traveling Wilburys Vol.III)
Level IIa: DARK HORSE; Extra Texture (Read All About It)
Level III: Somewhere In England; Gone Troppo.

As far as how the songs on the actual album go:
Level I: Hari's On Tour Express; Ding Dong, Ding Dong; It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)
Level Ia: Far East Man; Dark Horse; Maya Love
Level II: So Sad
Level IIa: Simply Shady
Level IIIa: Bye Bye Love
Blessings!!
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