10 Best George Harrison Albums Ranked

George Harrison Albums

Photo: David Hume Kennerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our 10 Best George Harrison Albums Ranked list takes a listen to the albums of one of the greatest musical artists of all time. Unless you just arrived on this planet, its safe to say that if you’re over 15 years old you know who George Harrison is. As a dearly departed former member of the greatest musical act of all time in the Beatles, George Harrison embarked on a solo career after the band broke up in 1970. George Harrison was often known as “The quiet Beatle.” Many years after the The Beatles split, Paul McCartney has been often quoted saying that George Harrison as a songwriter was often under utilized in the group.

The Beatles usually allowed George Harrison to only contribute one are two songs per album. Of course George Harrison’s guitar work was all over Beatles albums, but his song contributions were limited. Much of that of course was due to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s unbelievable output of great music. However, when George Harrison was given a chance to contribute a song to a Beatles album they often would become some of the most standout tracks in The Beatles catalogue. George Harrison songs such as  ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Something,” and “Here Comes The Sun,” stand as some of the best Beatles material ever recorded.

When looking back at the post Beatles years and the output that the four Beatles released as solo artists, it could be argued that George Harrison released some of the finest albums in the solo Beatles library of albums. The first solo George Harrison album entuited All Things Must Pass stands as the solo Beatles album that all the rest are measured up too. The album was released in 1970. However, All Thing Must Pass was not George Harrison’s first solo record. George Harrison’s first solo album was released in 1968 while The Beatles were still together entitled Wonderwall Music. The album would be hailed as the first ever solo Beatles record. George Harrison’s second solo album was an lp filled with experimental music entitled Electronic Sound. The album was released in 1969. Even though these two records are regarded as George Harrison solo albums, his solo career is often regarded as really starting with the release of All Thing Must Pass in 1970.

It took George Harrison three years before he released the follow up album to All Things Must Pass. However in 1973, George Harrison released the album entuited Living in the Material World. With the release of the album Living in the Material World, George Harrison would embark on a pretty steady album release schedule throughout the rest of the decade of the 197os. In fact all the ex Beatles would do the same thing with the exception of John Lennon who took a break from music from 1975 to 1980. Ringo Starr released seven solo albums in the 1970s. Paul McCartney released nine solo albums with and without the Wings. John Lennon released five solo albums all between the years 1970 and 1975. George Harrison would release the three record set All Things Must Pass plus five more solo albums just in the 1970s.

After the release of Living in the Material World in 1973, George Harrison issued the album Dark Horse in 1974. In 1975, the album Extra Texture (Read All About It)  was released. George Harrison announced his age to the world with the release of his Thirty Three & 1/3 album in 1976. His final album of the decade was released in 1970 entitled simply George Harrison.

While the decade of the 1980s would not see as many George Harrison releases as the 1970s did, George Harrison still released three new studio albums throughout the 1980s. His first album release in the 1980s would be entitled Somewhere in England  released in 1981. That great album was followed up with the record Gone Troppo  in 1985. George Harrison’s final album of the decade was released in 1987 entitled Cloud Nine. This was an album co-produced by Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne. The two  would also go on to form the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. The Cloud Nine album would be the final George Harrison album released while the legendary artist was still alive. Even though George Harrison would not pass away until the year 2002, his next and final studio album entitled Brainwashed was not released until a few months after he had passed away.

This George Harrison albums list takes a look at the ten George Harrison albums released starting with his 1970 triple LP set All Things Must Pass. We have excluded his first two records released while The Beatles were still together. We have put these George Harrison albums in the order of our favorites simply just for fun. Every single one of them is fantastic and should be a part of any serious record collectors collection.

# 10 – Gone Troppo

We open up our George Harrison albums list with his LP entitled Gone Troppo. The album was released in 1982. The Gone Troppo album was released when it appeared that George Harrison had lost interest in the music business. Of course, the murder of his ex Beatles bandmate and dear friend John Lennon two years earlier had probably played a significant role in George Harrison getting fed up with music. The Gone Troppo album lacks any really significant new music but its still filled with brand new George Harrison songs that of course we would take anytime.

Gone Troppo’s lack of a significant hit single and George Harrison’s refusal to promote the album probably played a significant role in it being the first George Harrison solo album to not even break into the United Kingdom album charts which is actually quite stunning that an ex-Beatle could not break onto the UK charts only twelve years since The Beatles had broken up.

# 9 – Dark Horse

George Harrison’s Dark Horse album was released in 1974. The album was met with mixed reviews what it was first released. Over the years it has continued to receive mixed reviews from fans and critics. Some hail it as a masterpiece while others speak of it in lesser terms. We kind of fall somewhere in the middle. The album is a mix of some songs that would become semi classics with a few others that are less than memorable. The album’s opening track  was an instrumental entitled “Hari’s on Tour (Express).” It was a song that many people including this writer would skip over. However, the album’s next track called “Simply Shady” is a forgotten gem that often gets overlooked when reviewing the best George Harrison songs. And that pretty much the story of the album. It a mix  of great songs, many that have been forgotten with a few songs that are not really talked about anymore. Of course everyone does remember the album’s standout single and title track “Dark Horse,” which was easily the best song on the album.

# 8 – Brainwashed

It’s kind of sad writing about this album because George Harrison never got to celebrate the album’s release. George Harrison’s Brainwashed album was released on November 18th 2002. George Harrison had passed away just about one year earlier in November of 2001. The album was finished by Jeff Lynne and George Harrison’s son Dhani and musician and legendary drummer Jim Keltner. George Harrison knew that he was dying but he fought hard to complete the album. It’s extraordinary to think that a man who knew he did not have much time left choose to focus on his art and his life’s work in his final months. It says so much about the man and how much his music meant to him. We saw the same thing happen with Warren Zevon who was dying of cancer and fought hard to finish his final album. I mean just think about that.

Brainwashed is a really good George Harrison album but was also a record that was not completed by George Harrison. Jeff Lynne and Dhani had to assume certain musical directions and arrangements based on how they felt George would have competed it. These two men knew George Harrison very well and did an amazing job in finishing the failan George Harrison studio album. At 58 years old, George Harrison passed away way too soon. This is an album all George Harrison and Beatles fans should own.

# 7 – Somewhere In England

George Harrison’s Somewhere In England album was released in 1981. Supposably it was a struggle for George Harrison to finish the record as his record label Warner Brothers Records were not pleased with the songs that George Harrison had recorded for the album. When the album was released its contained the song “All Those Years,” ago which would be widely celebrated as one of the best George Harrison songs of his career. The song had originally been written for Ringo Starr to record on a Ringo album. However after the murder of John Lennon, George Harrison rewrote the lyrics to address the murder of his dear friend. George Harrison then recorded the song along with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney making it the first time the three remaining Beatles had recorded together since 1970.

“All These Years Ago,” was easily the standout track on the album Somewhere In England. However, the album did contin the song “Life Itself,” which has also been hailed as one of George Harrison’s standout songs from his solo career. The song featured Al Kooper on organ. “Life Itself,” was a deeply spiritual song in the same vein as “My Sweet Lord.” The Somewhere In England album did well on the charts . The album hit the thirteenth spot on the United Kingdom album charts. It hit number eleven on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 albums. However it would become the first George Harrison album not to achieve Gold selling status.

# 6 – Extra Texture (Read All About It)

It must have been very painful to be an ex –Beatle. Every artistic endeavour the four ex Beatles made were so unfairly criticized because everything they did was compared to their Beatles output. George Harrison’s sixth studio album entitled Extra Texture was so unfairly critiqued and in many places still is. Like any of these critics could come up with an album a percentage point as well done and filled with songs like the ones found on the Extra Texture album. Just take a listen to the album’s opening track and lead single entitled “You.” It’s a song filled with so many genres of music such as R&B, soul and rock and roll that just carries you away with that beautiful George Harrison melody. And that’s the story of the rest of the album. Gorgeous songs inspired by all the music George Harrison grew up listening too. This is not a spiritual album in a George Harrison sense, it’s an inspired album celebrating twentieth century pop music George Harrison style.

# 5 – Thirty Three & 1/3

I remember distinctly buying this album when it first came out. The packaging of this record was so top notch. It was a very thick cardboard gatefold cover that was stunning in its feel and cover. The album’s titles were raised above the cover in a gloss that was just so classy. And of course there was the music. This was simply a fabulous new album released by George Harrison in 1976. The album caught George Harrison in what he described as a happy time in his life and the music on the album definitely reflects his spirits at the time. The albums lead single “This Song,” was a response to the lawsuit brought against him by The Chiffons over an alleged copyright infringement of their song “He’s So Fine,” being used as the melody for “My Sweet Lord.”

Four singles were released from the Thirty Three & 1/3 album. Following the first single “This Song,” were the singles “Crackerbox Palace,” “True Love” and  “It’s What You Value.” The album itself hit number eleven on the Billboard Top 200 albums charts. 

# 4 – George Harrison

In the number seven spot on our George Harrison albums list we turn to the only George Harrison album that was simply titled George Harrison. The album was released in February of 1979. This was an album that included guest appearances by some legendary musical artists such as Eric Clapton, Gary Wright and Steve Winwood. The album was widely accepted by critics and fans right away. George Harrison seemed to happy on this album. His wife had just giving birth to his son Dahani. He was happily married. One can hear it in the music. Songs like “Love Comes To Everyone,” were just filled with hope. Many of the songs on the album we’re just so well written while containing a sort of spirituality of contentment fueled by his gift of lyrics and memorable melodies.

# 3 – Cloud Nine

George Harrison’s Cloud Nine was the final great George Harrison album released. The album was released on November 2nd 1987. Cloud Nine was George Harrison’s 11th studio album. The legendary ex-Beatle had not released an album in five years, so music fans welcomed George Harrison back with open arms and eager anticipation for some new music from the legendary great musical artist. Cloud Nine was a brilliant album produced by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. The man who had been so inspired by the Beatles which everyone could hear in the music of Electric Light Orchestra was now producing one. And interestingly in many ways, the Cloud Nine album sounded almost like an Electric Light Orchestra album because of Jeff Lynne’s production and backing harmonies. However, the real star of this effort was George Harrison and the ten new songs he composed for the album and the great cover version of Rudy Clark’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You.”

Five singles were released from the Cloud Nine album. Starting with the release of Rudy Clark’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You,” through the songs Devil’s Radio,” “When We Was Fab,” “Cloud 9” and “This Is Love. ” The song “Got My Mind Set On You was a huge hit for George Harrison hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also hit number one in Ireland, Canada, Belgium , and Australia. It just missed the number one spot in the United Kingdom peaking at number two. The Cloud Nine album would become a top ten hit in both the United Kingdom and in the United States. It would become George Harrison’s first Platinum selling album since All Things Must Pass album in 1970 and only the second Platinum selling album of his solo career. 

# 2 – Living in the Material World

After the release of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album and the records great success, much anticipation began to stir as to what George Harrison would do next. Three years later George Harrison would release the follow-up album to All Things Must Pass entitled Living In The Material World. The album was released on May 30th 1973. This is simply a stunning album. George Harrison is trying to put aside his stardom and search for deeper meaning in life. Something that he had been searching for during the later Beatles years. It all comes shining through brilliantly on the album Living In The Material World. The album’s opening track “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” stands as one of George Harrison’s greatest musical compositions and single releases. However, it’s such a deep album full of beautiful songs especially in the ballads. Song such as Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long,” “The Light That Has Lighted the World”, “The Day the World Gets ‘Round” and the wonderful song Be Here Now” are just masterpieces in songwriting and performances.

The Living In The Material World album featured an all star cast of musicians including George Harrison’s ex bandmate Ringo Starr who played drums on some of the album’s tracks along with Jim Keltner. The fabulous Nicky Hopkins played piano on the album which also featured a guest appearance from pianist and legendary songwriter Leon Russell. The great Gary Wright of Spooky Tooth and future “Dream Weaver,” fame played organ on the LP.

The Living In The Material World album tore up music charts around the world. The album hit number one in the United States on the US Billboard top LP charts. It also hit number one on the US Cash Box top 100 album charts and the US Record World album charts. Living In The Material World  also hit number one in Canada, Belgium and Australia. It just missed the number one spot in the UK peaking at number two. The album also peaked at number two in Sweden. The album’s only single release “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” became a number one record in the United States hitting number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was George Harrison second number one single of his solo career after “My Sweet Lord,” hit number one in 1970.

# 1 – All Things Must Pass

We close out our top 10 George Harrison albums list with one of the finest rock and roll albums ever released in classic rock history. George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album was released on November 27th 1970. The Beatles had broken up about eight months earlier in April. There were many many sad fans in 1970. George Harrison made them all smile with the release of this amazing three record set. On this album George Harrison basically stares down his ex Beatle bandmates saying boys take a listen to this stuff, many of these songs could have been Beatles songs if you haven’t rejected them. And while he might not have said that verbally, the music did all the talking for him.

The initial success of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album was fueled by the massive hit single that was released four days before the album was issued entitled “My Sweet Lord.” The song “My Sweet Lord would become George Harrison’s first number one single of his solo career. It was also the first number one single from any of the Beatles in their solo careers. Want to know how popular the single “My Sweet Lord,” was? The song hit number one in the United States, and United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, West Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, and Australia. The record itself was played by brilliant musicians including Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Billy Preston, Gary Wright and Ringo Starr. The “My Sweet Lord,” single was backed with the song “Isn’t It A Pity,” which also became a number one hit record. The album’s third single entitled “What Is Life,” also became a top ten hit in various countries around the world including the United States and Canada.

The All Things Must Pass album was produced by the legendary Phil Spector. Released as a three records set, the first two lps were filled with pop and rock songs while the final LP was based more on jam sessions that featured the album’s startling lineup of musicians including Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Bobby Keys, I’m at White, Peter Drake, Peter Ham, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason, Ginger Baker, Ray Cooper, and many more. Simply put, one of the most important and enjoyable albums ever released.

10 Best George Harrison Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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