Tracks: Beware of Darkness

Quick fact: George was the best Beatle.

Just look at the list of Beatles songs that are his… If I Needed Someone, Taxman, I Want To Tell You, Within You Without You,  Something, Piggies, that perennial herald of warmer weather Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps(!) to name but a few…

Granted, he happened to be in band with two other blokes who were quite handy with a tune so songs that would otherwise have been guaranteed single selections weren’t considered worthy enough. So instead of a scathing swipe at HMRC and a catchy-as-the-flu hook or a beauty of a tune about the dangers of overloading your brain with too many ideas at one time they released the one where the drummer intoned about living in a questionably-coloured underwater boat.

Still, after a couple of non-traditional solo releases while the band were still active, when the Beatles officially called it a day in 1970 (Lennon had called it quits the previous year) the foot had been taken off the hose pipe for George and he released the triple album All Things Must Pass – itself a gorgeous song that the rest of the Beatles had passed on (the berks) –  in October.

All Things Must Pass is full to the brim with great songs, some of George’s very best are here: I’d Have You Anytime, My Sweet Lord, Isn’t It A Pity, What Is Life, All Things Must Pass, Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) and, of course, Beware of Darkness.

Beware of Darkness has some pretty dense and dark imagery in the lyrics, wonderfully offset by some beautiful yet complex instrumentation (with a shift from G major to G sharp minor that really shouldn’t work but does so brilliantly) and George’s genuinely affirming words. Harrison was himself on a perpetual quest for peace and, religion aside, his spirituality and the solace he seeks to find within it are at the forefront in this one and whether you get on that wave yourself or not there’s no denying the sincerity of his vocal.

I can’t express how much I love this song, to be honest. It’s one of my go-to tunes when I hear that black dog barking in a far off field and is one of my own coping techniques when I worry it might get closer. I’ll drop this on and then, if it’s one of those days, follow it up with another Harrison related tune from the Python boys.

Self-compiled; The Beatles

Compilations are a funny thing. You’re never going to please everyone but, in theory, you need to give a good reason for existing fans to buy (and a hastily recorded or re-recorded track not considered good enough for the previous album doesn’t count) and enough solid quality to give a career-overview for new / cursory fans to get hooked.

Some people go as far as to turn their nose up at them. Yet I’ve used a ‘Best of’ to get into a fair few bands over the years (Asides from Buffalo Tom remains one of my most-played discs).

When it comes to grabbing compilations from bands I already hold the back catalogue of, I don’t tend to go the Best Of or Introduction To route. Especially on those groups or individuals that are no longer active. Yet I’ll still want a compilation – especially for car use – for those times I don’t particularly want to listen to just one specific album. The problem is, though, that my choice of what I’d consider essential listening very rarely coincides completely with the ‘official’ compiler’s (usually because they’re doing so with a specific aim rather than just cherry picking). So that’s when the old adage “if you want a job done right do it yourself” comes into play and I’ve a fair few of these home-made comps so far.

With the use of Spotify I can even share these here.

So here we go with the first.

Oddly enough the need for a self-compiled disc of The Beatles doesn’t quite fit the ramble above. I don’t own anything from their back catalogue (with the exception of The Magical Mystery Tour). Yet their output is so large that there’s a number of different compilations out there, again each with a different purpose – 1 obviously the chart-toppers, The Past Masters and Anthology seemed too wide-ranging for a good, succinct compilation. 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 came closest but again contained a lot of stuff that I didn’t really care for and when you consider the pricing of all releases Fab Four themed… no thanks. It’s worth noting that this compilation was created before they deigned to allow their songs available via iTunes and streaming so the borrowing of CDs to create this was necessitated (and no piracy was involved) – to be honest though I’d still do so as the idea of paying the required for the whole still makes me flinch.

I’m not a huge Beatles fan. I like a lot of their songs a lot, though, and enjoy them more as I get older, yet I could quite happily never hear some of their earlier stuff again.

So, my choice of Beatles tracks, and the compilation that I’ve kept in my car for some years now also serves as a “my favourite Beatles songs” list – all wrapped around the centrepiece of the amazing While My Guitar Gently Weeps… *

*Yes; George was the best Beatle. You might argue but you’d be wrong.