6 Harrison albums in ‘Apple Years’ set

George Harrison box set coverGeorge Harrison’s first six albums are being packaged in the box set “The Apple Years 1968-75.” The eight-disc set drops Sept. 23.

The albums, digitally remastered from the “original analogue masters,” are “Wonderwall Music,” “Electronic Sound,” “All Things Must Pass,” “Living in the Material World,” “Dark Horse” and “Extra Texture (Read All About It).”

The Harrison titles also be available individually, on CD and as digital downloads.

The late Harrison’s son, Dhani, teased the project on Twitter a month ago, followed by speculation amongst fans as to whether the first two albums — both unconventional — would be part of the package. Fans had been waiting on the official release of Sept. 2 to confirm what exactly would be in the package.

“Some of these records have long been out of print, and so I cannot wait for music lovers to get their hands on these newly remastered versions,” said Dhani Harrison, who oversaw the project.

“Wonderwall Music,” “Living in the Material World,” “Dark Horse” and “Extra Texture” are all “newly expanded with previously unreleased or rare additional tracks,” the project press release said Sept. 2. But the bonus tracks appear to have been previously made available in one format or another, with the lack of new goodies disappointing more than a few fans.

“Wonderwall” features an alternate take of a Beatles song, “The Inner Light,” although only Harrison played on the track.

The triple-LP “All Things Must Pass” — widely considered Harrison’s first solo album — “includes the five extra tracks first released in 2001.”

“The Apple Years 1968-75” box set retails for about $125 on Amazon.com. It follows by a couple of days the rerelease of the Beatles’ albums in mono, on vinyl. (No word of any vinyl rerelease for the Harrison albums.)

Apple Records was the Beatles’ own label. (“Electronic Sound” came out on its experimental Zapple subsidiary.) Harrison’s later solo work was collected in February on “The Dark Horse Years,” named after his own label imprint. The “Apple Years” project is being distributed by Universal Music Group.

Like “The Dark Horse Years,” the Apple box contains has a video disc (DVD), including “a new seven-minute film with previously unreleased footage.” Footage includes a performance of “Give Me Love” from Japan and a promo for “Ding Dong, Ding Dong.”

The reappearances of “Wonderwall” and “Electronic Sound” are most welcome to collectors of Harrison’s work and those with an ear for unusual ’60s music. “Electronic Sound” has been out of print in the U.S. for many years, with imports going for as much as $200.

“Wonderwall,” the soundtrack to a movie, was the first release on the Apple label and is considered a Harrison solo release, although there has long been speculation about how much he actually played on the album. Some of it was recorded in Bombay, using Indian musicians. There are no vocals of note on the LP. The rarely seen “Wonderwall” film came out on Blu-ray in March with some soundtrack extras.

“Electronic Sound” contains two sidelong synthesizer tracks. The upcoming U.S. release corrects a longtime labeling error in which the titles were flopped. One of the tracks, “No Time or Space,” was the subject of litigation by U.S. ambient musician Bernie Krause, who said it was a recording of him demonstrating the Moog III synthesizer for the Beatle. Harrison is credited as the album’s producer, and an early credit for Krause apparently was removed from the album cover before its initial release.

Harrison died in late 2001.

Here are notes on “The Apple Years” extra tracks:

Wonderwall Music
: Along with “The Inner Light,” there’s a bonus track from Liverpool’s the Remo Four (Tony Ashton) called “In the First Place,” as well as a raga dubbed “Almost Shankara.” The pop Remo Four track was unearthed and rereleased in the late 1990s.

All Things Must Pass: Same as the 2001 reissue. “I Live For You” (outtake), “Beware Of Darkness” (demo), “Let It Down” (alternative version), “What Is Life” (backing track), and “My Sweet Lord (2000).”

Living in the Material World: Two B-sides from the 2006 reissue — “Deep Blue” and “Miss O’Dell” — and the remix of “Bangla Desh” from the 1976 “The Best Of” collection.

Dark Horse: The B-side “I Don’t Care Anymore,” debuting on CD, as well as an “unreleased early acoustic take” of “Dark Horse.”

Extra Texture: “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying),” a demo that dates back to 1992. Updated a decade later with overdubs from Ringo Starr and Dhani Harrison.

Engineers on the “Apple Years” remastering were credited as Paul Hicks, Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen at Lurssen Mastering.

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