Our Favorite George Harrison Albums

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, it’s 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 Beatles split, Paul McCartney has been frequently quoted saying that George Harrison, as a songwriter, was often underutilized in the group.

The Beatles usually allowed George Harrison to only contribute one or 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, it often became one of the standout tracks in the Beatles catalog. 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, entitled All Things Must Pass, stands as the solo Beatles album that all the rest are measured up to. 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, and while The Beatles were still together, it was 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’s solo albums, his solo career is often viewed 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 entitled Living in the Material World. With the release of 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 Living in the Material World was released 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 and was simply entitled 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, released in the 1980s, entitled Somewhere in England, was 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 and is entitled Cloud Nine. This was an album co-produced by Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne.

The two would also 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 2002, his next and final studio album, Brainwashed, was not released until a few months after he had passed away.

This George Harrison album list looks at the ten albums released by George Harrison, starting with his 1970 triple LP set All Things Must Pass. We excluded his first two releases 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 collector’s collection.

# 10 – Gone Troppo

We open our George Harrison albums list with his Gone Troppo LP. 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 significant new music, but it’s still filled with brand new George Harrison songs that we would take any time.

Gone Troppo’s lack of a significant hit single and George Harrison’s refusal to promote the album probably played an important role in it being the first George Harrison solo album to not even break into the United Kingdom album charts, which is 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 when 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 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, “Simply Shady,” is a forgotten gem often overlooked when reviewing the best George Harrison songs. And that is 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 talked about anymore. Of course, everyone remembers the album’s standout single and title track, “Dark Horse,” which was the best song on the album.

# 8 – Brainwashed

It’s sad writing about this album because George Harrison never got to celebrate its 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, 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 that a man who knew he did not have much time left chose 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, think about that.

Brainwashed is an excellent George Harrison album, but it was also a record that George Harrison did not complete. Jeff Lynne and Dhani had to assume specific musical directions and arrangements based on how they felt George would have completed it. These two men knew George Harrison well and did a fantastic job finishing the Failtan 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, it 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 was initially 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 contain 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 excruciating to be an ex –Beatle. Every artistic endeavor the four ex-Beatles made was so unfairly criticized because everything they did was compared to their Beatle’s output. George Harrison’s sixth studio album, Extra Texture, was unfairly critiqued and still is in many places. Like any of these critics, they 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.

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 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 to. 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 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, and the music reflects his spirit at the time. The album’s 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 titled George Harrison. The album was released in February 1979. This album included guest appearances by 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 happy about this album. His wife had just given 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 are well-written while containing a spirituality of contentment fueled by his gift of lyrics and memorable melodies.

# 3 – Cloud Nine

George Harrison’s Cloud Nine was the final great album released by George Harrison. 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. 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 record’s great success, much anticipation began to stir about 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 shines through brilliantly on the Living In The Material World album. 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 fantastic 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 hadn’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, 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© 2024 

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