After the glorious, transcendent high of All Things Must Pass, George Harrison’s follow up, 1973’s Living In The Material World was something of a let down. The album was essentially a collection of songs concerned with the reward of enlightenment and the spiritual insolvency that comes with materialism. Harrison himself described the difference in approach between both albums: “I had Phil Spector helping me working on it. And anybody who’s familiar with Phil’s work – it was like cinema-scope sound. I think if I was doing it today, I would have less production. I did that on my next album, Living In The Material World. I dropped the big production and did it more like a small group.”
Things get off to a pretty good start with “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” a relaxing composition where all the elements and ingredients come together in unison. The unmistakable sound of Nicky Hopkin’s piano manages to hold the song together, while Harrison plays some delicious slide guitar. If All Things Must Pass was the Saturday night celebration, then this was the Sunday morning hangover.
And speaking of hangovers, on the cynical “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” Harrison refers to his latter days with The Beatles, especially Paul McCartney’s decision to sue the other members over royalties, a choice which had nothing to do with The Beatles themselves, but rather Allen Klein, their manager. As a composition, it’s no “My Sweet Lord” that’s for sure, in fact very little on this album comes anywhere near the overall grandeur and majesty of Harrison’s solo debut.
“The Light That Has Lighted The World” is just plain boring, despite its musical merits, while “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long” is simply dull and pedestrian. At least the spiritually themed “Who Can See It” attempts to rise to the occasion, with its church-like organ and Harrison’s pleading vocals.
The title number rollicks along in enjoyable fashion, even if George’s voice is out of tune, yet the whole song is about as memorable as a soggy sandwich. “The Lord Loves The One (Who Loves The Lord)” has its merits, but would have benefited from a decent guitar solo.
Oasis fans might want to know that Be Here Now was taken from the Harrison song of the same name, though that’s where the parallels end, because this is nothing like Oasis, just a man bearing his soul and being honest as to how he feels. “Try Some Buy Some” is another one of those trembling to be alive numbers, including an orchestra just to accentuate its dullness. “The Day The World Gets ‘Round” at least sees Harrison awake from his Hare Krishna slumber, but only just.
When compared to Harrison’s debut, Living In The Material World can’t hold a candle. Perhaps he ought to have invited Eric Clapton round and Phil Spector to mix the tapes. Or perhaps Harrison simply could have written a better collection of songs? Anyway you look at it, this is a lacklustre album by an artist who was capable of so much more. What this LP proves is that George was nowhere near McCartney and Lennon when it came to songwriting, at least when it came to output. But no matter, because anything by Harrison was guaranteed to sell like washing powder, regardless of the product. And good luck to him. The man had earned his inner peace.