25th February would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday. Thus it seems appropriate to repost a review of his final album from 15 years ago.
It is impossible to listen to this posthumous album without getting teary eyed. It is still difficult to get used to the fact that half of the Beatles is no longer with us, more than a year on. Unlike Milk and Honey, the tracks collected on Brainwashed are more than mere demos and thanks to the loving labour of co-producers with George (we’re always on first name basis with the Beatles, y’know) viz. his son Dhani Harrison and old friend, Jeff (ELO) Lynne, turn out to be some of the best material from Harrison, bar Cloud Nine, since the early 1970s.
With stripped down production values (thankfully, Lynne maintains a light touch throughout) and fine attention paid to guitar details, Brainwashed never attempts to be more than it is, a tribute to the music that represented the life and times of George Harrison.
Thus, find room in your heart for an album of roots rockin’ pleasers, where folk-blues, good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll and rustic balladry hold sway. Many, many winners here, conspicuously the pleasing “Pisces Fish,” the wistful “Looking For My Life,” the gorgeous instrumental “Marwa Blues,” the orchestral “Rising Sun,” the flowing “Never Get Over You,” the George Formby evoking “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” the whimsical “Rocking Chair in Hawaii” and the rocking title track (is that the “Smoke on the Water” riff I detect?)
Lyrically challenging as George freely questions the world around him, from the Roman Catholic Church (“P2 Vatican Blues”) to the conspiracy rant of the title track, fairly hit-and-miss but it really matters not as Brainwashed is a fitting testimony to the work of this inspired artist who will be sorely missed. A
… still there’s more …