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The Best of George Harrison

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The Best of George Harrison

The Best of George Harrison
George Harrison
Released 8 November 1976 (US)
20 November 1976 (UK)
Recorded 1965–1975
Length 45:04
Label Parlophone (UK)
Capitol (US)
George Harrison chronology
Extra Texture (Read All About It)
The Best of George Harrison
Thirty Three & 1/3
Alternative cover
Cover for the North American, Australasian and French editions of the album

The Best of George Harrison is a 1976 EMI-affiliated Apple Records contract. Uniquely among all of the four Beatles' solo releases (apart from live albums), it mixes a selection of the artist's Beatles-era songs on one side, with later hits recorded under his own name on the other.

The song selection caused some controversy, since it underplayed Harrison's solo achievements during the 1970–75 period, for much of which he had been viewed as the most successful ex-Beatle, artistically and commercially. Music critics have also noted the compilation's failure to provide a faithful picture of Harrison's contribution to the Beatles' work, due to the omission of any of his Indian music compositions. In a calculated move by EMI and its American subsidiary, Capitol Records, the compilation was issued during the same month as Harrison's debut on his Warner-distributed Dark Horse label, Thirty Three & 1/3.

The Best of George Harrison peaked at number 31 on the US Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison. The album was issued on CD in 1987 featuring the cover artwork from the original British release, rather than the design created in-house by Capitol and used in the majority of territories internationally in 1976. The compilation has yet to be remastered since this 1987 release.


  • Background 1
  • Song selection 2
  • Album artwork 3
  • Release 4
    • CD release and demand following Harrison's death 4.1
  • Critical reception 5
    • Contemporary reviews 5.1
    • Retrospective assessment and legacy 5.2
  • Track listing 6
  • Charts and certifications 7
    • Chart positions 7.1
    • Certifications 7.2
  • Notes 8
  • Citations 9
  • Sources 10


Warner Bros.-distributed Dark Horse Records.[1] The compilation was instigated by EMI's US counterpart, Capitol Records, a company with which Harrison had grown disaffected since August 1971,[2] due to what author Alan Clayson describes as its "avaricious dithering" over the release of the Concert for Bangladesh album.[3] In a final effort to force Capitol to distribute that live album at cost price, to generate much-needed funds for the refugees from East Pakistan,[4] Harrison had gone public with the issue and embarrassed the label.[5][6][7][nb 1]

On 26 January 1976,[10][11] all the former Beatles' contracts with EMI/Capitol expired, and only Paul McCartney had chosen to re-sign with Capitol.[12][13] The two record companies were now free to license releases featuring songs from the band's back catalogue and the individual members' solo work (except for McCartney's), without the need for artist's approval.[12][14] Following EMI's reissue of the entire Beatles UK singles catalogue in February that year,[15] Capitol's first venture under the new arrangement was to release a double album compilation, Rock 'n' Roll Music, along with accompanying singles.[16] Issued in June 1976, Rock 'n' Roll Music contained 28 previously released tracks from throughout the Beatles' career.[17] John Lennon and Ringo Starr both expressed dissatisfaction with the compilation's running order, the reversion to a pre-1967 royalty rate for the band, and what Starr termed Capitol's "craphouse" packaging.[18][19][20] After the record company had promised "the largest selling campaign in the history of the music business",[17] the album was a commercial success.[16][21]

Late in 1975, EMI/Capitol had issued greatest-hits collections on the Apple Records imprint for Lennon and Starr – Shaved Fish and Blast from Your Past, respectively.[22] Since Lennon and Starr were still nominally Apple artists, they each had input into the content and packaging of their solo compilation,[20][23] and Lennon, in particular, was active in promoting his album.[24] Shaved Fish and Blast from Your Past sold reasonably well, in America, but their sales failed to match record-company expectations.[25][26] For Harrison, there had been long delays between releases following the international success of his All Things Must Pass triple album in 1970–71,[27] due first to his commitment to the Bangladesh humanitarian aid project[28][29] and later to his production work for Dark Horse Records acts Splinter and Ravi Shankar.[30][31] Harrison issued his final studio album for Apple in the autumn of 1975, Extra Texture (Read All About It).[32][33] As a result, by the time that Capitol came to prepare a compilation of his solo work the following year,[34] he had effectively surrendered all artistic control over its content.[21][23]

In the second half of 1976, thanks to the success of both Rock 'n' Roll Music and McCartney's world tour with his band pop's first-ever charity single,[115] "Bangla Desh", until 2014.[116][nb 5] In September that year, the song appeared as a bonus track on the Apple Years 1968–75 reissue of Living in the Material World.[119][120]

Critical reception

Contemporary reviews

[The Best of George Harrison] was just a slick marketing ploy, but hits packages flooded the market in 1976 ... In fact, Paul McCartney is now the only solo Beatle without such an album to his credit. The only reason is that he's the one Beatle still signed to Capitol, and thus still in charge of what they do and don't release.[66]

Michael Gross, Swank, May 1977

On release, Billboard‍ '​s reviewer welcomed the compilation, writing: "Harrison's remarkable emergence to full artistic recognition after starting off as the most anonymous Beatle is documented right on this album of memorably beautiful hits."[121] In Melody Maker, on the same page as his mixed review of Wings over America (which featured live versions of five of McCartney's Beatles-era songs),[122] Ray Coleman provided another favourable assessment: "[Harrison is] a highly individual artist who always keeps creative musical company; it's a good album, essential for Harrison students who may not have all the records ..."[1]

Writing in Swank magazine, Michael Gross recognised Capitol Records' "slick marketing ploy" but admired the music, the "final treat" being the availability of "Bangla Desh" for the first time on an album.[66] In a review subtitled "All I Want for Christmas is No. 11578" (referring to the Capitol catalogue number), Larry Rohter of The Washington Post described the collection as "an absolute delight".[123]

Although the album was generally well received,[124] its content drew criticism from fans, who felt the overall effect diminished the significance of Harrison's solo career.[34][43] In the 1977 edition of their book [34] Bob Woffinden similarly found that Harrison's solo recordings matched the standard of the Beatles' tracks while noting that "Capitol's half-and-half arrangement ... made it look as though he was the only one of the four [former Beatles] with insufficient clout to warrant a 'Greatest Hits' comprised entirely of his own work."[125]

Retrospective assessment and legacy

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [126]
Blender [127]
Robert Christgau B−[128]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [129]
MusicHound 3/5[130]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [131]

Reviewing the compilation for [133] In his April 2004 article on Harrison's solo releases, for Blender magazine, Paul Du Noyer said of the compilation: "Hard to fault so far as it goes and a good place to get the fine 1971 single 'Bangla Desh'."[127]

Although compromises to the hits-only formula had been permitted on the Lennon and Starr albums,[134][135] AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine comments on the controversial choice of tracks: "But all this is down to a matter of timing and circumstance: Harrison needed to have a hits collection out in 1976, he didn't have enough big hits to fill out 13 tracks (even if he certainly had enough great album tracks to do so), and so the Fabs were brought in to fill in the cracks." Erelwine adds that "The result might be a little underwhelming in retrospect, but it's undeniably entertaining."[126]

Writing for [139]

Harrison biographer Elliot Huntley is scathing in his opinion of The Best of George Harrison, writing: "Had EMI [and Capitol] forgotten the great songs on All Things Must Pass?"[102] The inclusion of Beatles material was a "completely unnecessary public humiliation" for Harrison, Huntley continues, giving the impression that Starr and Lennon's solo careers up to the end of 1975 had been more successful than his – "when, in reality, the opposite was the case".[102][nb 6] In his book Fab Four FAQ 2.0, Robert Rodriguez likewise bemoans EMI/Capitol's attempt to humiliate Harrison with a compilation that failed to reflect his standing as the most accomplished ex-Beatle during 1970–73.[140] Rodriguez describes the company's efforts to "effectively sabotag[e]" Harrison's Thirty Three & 1/3 chart run as "a final touch worthy of Allen Klein".[21]

Track listing

All songs written by George Harrison.

Side one

All tracks performed by Phil Spector.

  1. "Something" – 3:01
  2. "If I Needed Someone" – 2:22
  3. "Here Comes the Sun" – 3:05
  4. "Taxman" – 2:37
  5. "Think for Yourself" – 2:18
  6. "For You Blue" – 2:31
  7. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" – 4:45

Side two

All tracks performed by George Harrison and produced either by himself or with Phil Spector.

  1. "My Sweet Lord" – 4:38
  2. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" – 3:35
  3. "You" – 3:41
  4. "Bangla Desh" – 3:57
  5. "Dark Horse" – 3:53
  6. "What Is Life" – 4:17

Charts and certifications

Chart positions


  1. ^ Beatles biographer Peter Doggett writes of the insufficient advance offered to Harrison in 1972 for his next album, Living in the Material World.[8] In a postcard addressed to the managing director of "EMI Wreckords", an irritated Harrison asked, with reference to the commercial success of his previous studio releases: "How much did EMI make from All Things Must Pass/My Sweet Lord?"[9]
  2. ^ "Happy Xmas" did place on America's other national singles charts over the 1971–72 holiday season, however. Cash Box listed the song at number 36 and Record World at number 28.[74]
  3. ^ In the case of "Apple Scruffs" and "Deep Blue" (B-sides, respectively, to "What Is Life" and "Bangla Desh"),[82] each song had gained further notice when radio programmers "flipped" the single and opted to play the secondary side.[65][77] In addition, "Apple Scruffs" and "What Is Life" were listed as a double A-side when the single topped Australia's Go-Set National Top 60 in May 1971.[83]
  4. ^ The release took place on 18 May that year in Britain, but was delayed until March 1988 in the United States.[91][105] Due to this delay, Cloud Nine in fact became the first Harrison album to appear on CD in the US,[106] following that studio album's release in November 1987.[107]
  5. ^ In July 2011, the song was made available as an iTunes-exclusive download as part of The Concert for Bangladesh, however.[117][118]
  6. ^ In Huntley's view, the record companies should have "gone the whole hog" and released a compilation dedicated to Harrison's Beatle songs, a collection that would have "certified how underrated Harrison's talent had been" within his former band.[102]


  1. ^ a b Ray Coleman, "George's Best", Melody Maker, 18 December 1976, p. 16.
  2. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 44.
  3. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, p. 345.
  4. ^ Badman, p. 58.
  5. ^ Leng, p. 121.
  6. ^ Richard Williams, "The Concert for Bangla Desh (album review)", Melody Maker, 1 January 1972; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required; retrieved 10 August 2012).
  7. ^ Madinger & Easter, p. 436.
  8. ^ Doggett, p. 192.
  9. ^ Doggett, pp. 148, 192.
  10. ^ Badman, p. 175.
  11. ^ Woffinden, p. 93.
  12. ^ a b Schaffner, pp. 186, 188.
  13. ^ Spizer, p. 194.
  14. ^ a b Rodriguez, pp. 124, 126.
  15. ^ Woffinden, p. 94.
  16. ^ a b c Schaffner, pp. 186–87.
  17. ^ a b Badman, p. 186.
  18. ^ Woffinden, pp. 94–95.
  19. ^ Badman, p. 195.
  20. ^ a b c Clayson, Ringo Starr, p. 262.
  21. ^ a b c d e Rodriguez, p. 126.
  22. ^ Schaffner, p. 182.
  23. ^ a b Doggett, p. 252.
  24. ^ Rodriguez, pp. 122–23.
  25. ^ Schaffner, pp. 182, 188.
  26. ^ Spizer, pp. 109, 335.
  27. ^ Woffinden, pp. 72, 83.
  28. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, pp. 315–16.
  29. ^ Rodriguez, p. 51.
  30. ^ Anne Moore, "George Harrison on Tour – Press Conference Q&A", Valley Advocate, 13 November 1974; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required; retrieved 28 November 2012).
  31. ^ Madinger & Easter, p. 442.
  32. ^ Leng, p. 178.
  33. ^ a b Spizer, p. 275.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Schaffner, p. 188.
  35. ^ Badman, pp. 190–91.
  36. ^ Carr & Tyler, pp. 118, 122.
  37. ^ Badman, p. 191.
  38. ^ Huntley, pp. 140–41.
  39. ^ Badman, p. 196.
  40. ^ Woffinden, p. 102.
  41. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, pp. 285, 362.
  42. ^ Schaffner, pp. 171–72, 190.
  43. ^ a b c d e Inglis, p. 65.
  44. ^ Woffinden, pp. 83–84, 98.
  45. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 40.
  46. ^ a b Rodriguez, p. 127.
  47. ^ Philip Glass, foreword in Collaborations, p. 1.
  48. ^ Shankar, pp. 101, 102.
  49. ^ Collaborations, p. 11.
  50. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone, pp. 34, 36.
  51. ^ "George Harrison biography", (retrieved 25 July 2014).
  52. ^ Lavezzoli, pp. 172–73.
  53. ^ Paul Theroux's introduction, in Olivia Harrison, p. 12.
  54. ^ Michael Simmons, "Paul McCartney on George Harrison: Part 2", Mojo, September 2011 (archived version retrieved 25 July 2014).
  55. ^ Schaffner, pp. 207, 209.
  56. ^ Rodriguez, p. 125.
  57. ^ Castleman & Podrazik, p. 124.
  58. ^ Rodriguez, pp. 121, 127.
  59. ^ a b c d e Rodriguez, p. 128.
  60. ^ a b c d Badman, p. 197.
  61. ^ Huntley, p. 140.
  62. ^ Badman, p. 15.
  63. ^ Leng, p. 128.
  64. ^ Madinger & Easter, pp. 440–41, 456.
  65. ^ a b c Madinger & Easter, p. 431.
  66. ^ a b c Michael Gross, "George Harrison: The Zoned-Out Beatle Turns 33 1/3", Swank, May 1977; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required; retrieved 10 August 2012).
  67. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, p. 360.
  68. ^ Riley, pp. 348–49.
  69. ^ Jillian Mapes, "George Harrison's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits",, 29 November 2011 (retrieved 29 November 2012).
  70. ^ 100 Singles, 26 December 1970"RPM", Library and Archives Canada (retrieved 4 August 2012).
  71. ^ Badman, pp. 144, 151.
  72. ^ "George Harrison – Ding Dong, Ding Dong", (retrieved 17 April 2012).
  73. ^ Schaffner, pp. 146, 149, 167.
  74. ^ Spizer, p. 61.
  75. ^ Castleman & Podrazik, pp. 352, 372.
  76. ^ Rodriguez, p. 123.
  77. ^ a b Clayson, George Harrison, p. 319.
  78. ^ a b c "George Harrison: Awards", AllMusic (retrieved 23 November 2012).
  79. ^ Leng, pp. 153–54.
  80. ^ Schaffner, p. 142.
  81. ^ Lindsay Planer, "George Harrison 'Living in the Material World'", AllMusic (retrieved 25 July 2014).
  82. ^ Spizer, pp. 231, 235.
  83. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 8 May 1971", (retrieved 25 July 2014).
  84. ^ Carr & Tyler, p. 118.
  85. ^ a b "The Best of George Harrison", Graham Calkin's Beatles Pages, 2002 (retrieved 17 April 2012).
  86. ^ Badman, pp. 175–76.
  87. ^ Leng, pic. sect. p. 10.
  88. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, p. 385.
  89. ^ "George Harrison – The Best Of George Harrison (Vinyl, LP)", Discogs (retrieved 18 April 2012).
  90. ^ Schaffner, p. 212.
  91. ^ a b Madinger & Easter, p. 635.
  92. ^ Doggett, pp. 249–50, 252.
  93. ^ Carr & Tyler, pp. 121, 122.
  94. ^ Hunt, p. 111.
  95. ^ Bob Woffinden, "George Harrison: Thirty-three & 1/3", NME, 27 November 1976, p. 36; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  96. ^ Doggett, pp. 252–53.
  97. ^ Clayson, George Harrison, pp. 360–61, 362.
  98. ^ Schaffner, p. 192.
  99. ^ Rodriguez, p. 296.
  100. ^ "RIAA's Gold & Platinum Program", RIAA (retrieved 18 April 2012); search by album title.
  101. ^ Schaffner, p. 195.
  102. ^ a b c d Huntley, p. 151.
  103. ^ a b Carr & Tyler, p. 122.
  104. ^ Badman, p. 388.
  105. ^ Badman, pp. 388, 405.
  106. ^ Tim Neely, "George Harrison Solo Discography (U.S.)", Goldmine, 25 January 2002, p. 19.
  107. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 190.
  108. ^ Madinger & Easter, p. 435.
  109. ^ Huntley, p. 308.
  110. ^ Carol Clerk, "George Harrison", Uncut, January 2002; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  111. ^ Paul Sexton & Melinda Newman, "So Sad: How the World Reacted to a Beatle's Passing", Billboard, 15 December 2001, p. 88 (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  112. ^ a b "Billboard Top Pop Catalog", Billboard, 29 December 2001, p. 72 (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  113. ^ a b : Awards"The Best of George Harrison"George Harrison , AllMusic (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  114. ^ a b "George Harrison" > "Albums", Official Chart Company (retrieved 20 May 2015).
  115. ^ Leng, p. 112.
  116. ^ Lindsay Planer, "George Harrison 'Bangla Desh'", AllMusic (retrieved 10 August 2012).
  117. ^ Graeme Thomson, "The Concert for Bangladesh and its charity pop legacy",, 28 July 2011 (retrieved 15 October 2012).
  118. ^ "Concert For Bangladesh on iTunes",, 26 July 2011 (retrieved 13 January 2013).
  119. ^ Kory Grow, "George Harrison's First Six Studio Albums to Get Lavish Reissues",, 2 September 2014 (retrieved 19 October 2014).
  120. ^ Joe Marchese, "Review: The George Harrison Remasters – 'The Apple Years 1968–1975'", The Second Disc, 23 September 2014 (retrieved 19 October 2014).
  121. ^ Nat Freedland (reviews ed.), "Top Album Picks", Billboard, 20 November 1976, p. 74 (retrieved 21 November 2014).
  122. ^ Doggett, pp. 249–50.
  123. ^ Frontani, p. 162, n. 31 (p. 268).
  124. ^ Frontani, pp. 161–62.
  125. ^ Woffinden, p. 98.
  126. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine, "The Best of George Harrison"George Harrison , AllMusic (retrieved 17 April 2012).
  127. ^ a b Paul Du Noyer, "Back Catalogue: George Harrison", Blender, April 2004, pp. 152–53.
  128. ^ Robert Christgau, "George Harrison > Consumer Guide Reviews", (retrieved 24 July 2014).
  129. ^ Larkin, p. 158.
  130. ^ Graff & Durchholz, p. 529.
  131. ^ Brackett & Hoard, p. 367.
  132. ^ Bogdanov, Woodstra & Erlewine, p. 181.
  133. ^ Brackett & Hoard, p. 368.
  134. ^ Mike DeGagne, "Blast from Your Past"Ringo Starr , AllMusic (retrieved 10 August 2012).
  135. ^ Rodriguez, pp. 122–23, 126.
  136. ^ Ingham, pp. 137–38.
  137. ^ Jon Cummings, "CD Review: 'Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison'",, 16 June 2009 (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  138. ^ Inglis, p. 128.
  139. ^ Melinda Newman, "Posts from the Exclusive Gallery at" > "Harrison's Widow Still Loves to Hear His Voice", Spinner, 18 June 2009 (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  140. ^ Rodriguez, pp. 126, 159, 263.
  141. ^ Kent, p. 167.
  142. ^ "George Harrison – The Best Of", (retrieved 25 July 2014).
  143. ^ Top Albums, January 29, 1977"RPM", Library and Archives Canada (retrieved 25 July 2014).
  144. ^ "George Harrison: Chart Action (Japan)",, October 2006 (retrieved 21 May 2015).
  145. ^ "British album certifications – George Harrison – Best of George Harrison".   Enter Best of George Harrison in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  146. ^ "American album certifications – George Harrison – Best of George Harrison".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH


  • Keith Badman, The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001, Omnibus Press (London, 2001; ISBN 0-7119-8307-0).
  • Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra & Stephen Thomas Erlewine (eds), All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music (4th edn), Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA, 2001; ISBN 0-87930-627-0).
  • Nathan Brackett & Christian Hoard (eds), The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn), Fireside/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2004; ISBN 0-7432-0169-8).
  • Roy Carr & Tony Tyler, The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Trewin Copplestone Publishing (London, 1978; ISBN 0-450-04170-0).
  • Harry Castleman & Walter J. Podrazik, All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975, Ballantine Books (New York, NY, 1976; ISBN 0-345-25680-8).
  • Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-489-3).
  • Alan Clayson, Ringo Starr, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-488-5).
  • Collaborations, book accompanying Dark Horse Records, 2010; produced by Olivia Harrison; package design by Drew Lorimer & Olivia Harrison).
  • Peter Doggett, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, It Books (New York, NY, 2011; ISBN 978-0-06-177418-8).
  • The Editors of Rolling Stone, Harrison, Rolling Stone Press/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2002; ISBN 0-7432-3581-9).
  • Michael Frontani, "The Solo Years", in Kenneth Womack (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, UK, 2009; ISBN 978-1-139-82806-2), pp. 153–82.
  • Gary Graff & Daniel Durchholz (eds), MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999; ISBN 1-57859-061-2).
  • Olivia Harrison, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Abrams (New York, NY, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4197-0220-4).
  • Chris Hunt (ed.), NME Originals: Beatles – The Solo Years 1970–1980, IPC Ignite! (London, 2005).
  • Elliot J. Huntley, Mystical One: George Harrison – After the Break-up of the Beatles, Guernica Editions (Toronto, ON, 2006; ISBN 1-55071-197-0).
  • Chris Ingham, The Rough Guide to the Beatles (2nd edn), Rough Guides/Penguin (London, 2006; ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4).
  • Ian Inglis, The Words and Music of George Harrison, Praeger (Santa Barbara, CA, 2010; ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3).
  • David Kent, Australian Chart Book 1970–1992, Australian Chart Book (St Ives, NSW, 1993; ISBN 0-646-11917-6).
  • Colin Larkin, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th edn), Volume 4, Oxford University Press (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 0-19-531373-9).
  • Peter Lavezzoli, The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, Continuum (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 0-8264-2819-3).
  • Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI, 2006; ISBN 1-4234-0609-5).
  • Chip Madinger & Mark Easter, Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium, 44.1 Productions (Chesterfield, MO, 2000; ISBN 0-615-11724-4).
  • Tim Riley, Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary, Knopf/Vintage (New York, NY, 1988; ISBN 978-0-394-55061-9).
  • Robert Rodriguez, Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980, Backbeat Books (Milwaukee, WI, 2010; ISBN 978-1-4165-9093-4).
  • Nicholas Schaffner, The Beatles Forever, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY, 1978; ISBN 0-07-055087-5).
  • Ravi Shankar, My Music, My Life, Mandala Publishing (San Rafael, CA, 2007; ISBN 978-1-60109-005-8).
  • Bruce Spizer, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, 498 Productions (New Orleans, LA, 2005; ISBN 0-9662649-5-9).
  • Bob Woffinden, The Beatles Apart, Proteus (London, 1981; ISBN 0-906071-89-5).
Despite the 2009 compilation

Following Harrison's death in November 2001 – and with little of his back catalogue readily available apart from the recently issued All Things Must Pass: 30th Anniversary Edition[109] – the compilation became highly sought-after by fans of the artist.[110][111] In America, it peaked at number 9 on Billboard‍ '​s Top Pop Catalog listings, on 29 December 2001,[112] and number 15 on the magazine's Top Internet Albums.[113] It also belatedly placed on the UK Albums Chart, at number 100, in January 2002.[114]

Together with All Things Must Pass, The Best of George Harrison was among the first of Harrison's albums to be issued on compact disc, in 1987.[104][nb 4] According to Madinger and Easter, the UK edition of the CD was sonically superior to the US issue, due to the application of No-Noise processing on the remasters for the American market.[108]

CD release and demand following Harrison's death

[103] against Harrison, reissued "My Sweet Lord" (backed with "What Is Life") as a single on 25 December 1976.plagiarism suit EMI, in an attempt to capitalise on recent publicity from the ruling on Bright Tunes' [102] the compilation reached number 31 on the [99][98] and enjoying some of his best reviews in years,[97]Thirty Three & 1/3 In the US, with Harrison actively promoting

Capitol Records released The Best of George Harrison on 8 November 1976 in America,[60] with the catalogue number Capitol DT 11578.[90] The UK issue, as PAS 10011 on EMI's [95] According to author Peter Doggett, this calculated scheduling by Capitol/EMI meant that Harrison "would remain a staunch opponent" of the record companies in the concurrent litigation between Apple and its former manager, Allen Klein.[96]


The UK edition contained Bob Cato's colour photo of Harrison sitting in front of an antique car, with art direction for the package being credited to Cream designs.[85] The international CD release of the album uses the latter cover.[59] The inner sleeve of the original LP in Britain contained a picture by Michael Putland, showing Harrison on a wintry beach in Cannes, where he was attending the Midem music-industry trade fair in January 1976.[86][87] A third front-cover option came with MFP's budget reissue during the 1980s, which reproduced Harrison's 1968 White Album portrait.[88][89]

The North American and British versions of the album were released with different covers.[59] In the United States and Canada, the front and back cover had small black-and-white pictures of Harrison against an image of the cosmos;[34] Roy Kohara of Capitol was responsible for art design, as he had been for Extra Texture and the Lennon and Starr compilations,[33] while the illustrations were the work of Michael Bryan.[85] Rodriguez describes this choice of sleeve as "bizarre" and notes the use of an outdated, "rather dour-looking" image of Harrison.[59]

Album artwork

Among the notable omissions from The Best of George Harrison, in author Robert Rodriguez's opinion, were "Isn't It a Pity" – one half of the double A-side single with "My Sweet Lord",[68][69] and a number 1 hit in Canada in its own right[70] – and "Ding Dong, Ding Dong",[59] which charted just inside the top 40 in the main markets of America and Britain[71] but was a top ten hit in Europe.[72] In comparison, Shaved Fish had contained "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", "Mother" and "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", singles which, on the US Billboard Hot 100, respectively: did not chart at all; peaked at number 43; and reached number 57.[73][nb 2] On Blast from Your Past, the non-album B-side "Early 1970" was included, as were "I'm the Greatest" (an album track never released as a single) and "Beaucoups of Blues", which peaked at number 87 in the United States.[75][76] On those terms, Harrison had the popular 1971 B-sides "Apple Scruffs"[65] and "Deep Blue";[77] "Ding Dong", which peaked at number 36 on Billboard;[78][79] and highly regarded album tracks such as "All Things Must Pass", "Beware of Darkness"[80] and "Living in the Material World".[81][nb 3] Commentators have remarked also on the brevity of Starr's album,[84] at just 30 minutes in length, whereas Capitol felt the need to achieve a running time of 45 minutes for the Harrison compilation.[14][20]

In November 1976, while promoting his new album, Thirty Three & 1/3,[67] Harrison claimed that Capitol had ignored his suggested track list and alternative title for the collection.[34] He compared the format unfavourably with the Starr and Lennon compilations, saying that "a lot of good songs" from his solo career could have appeared, rather than "digging into Beatles records".[60]

Aside from the financial benefits of repackaging Beatles-era songs,[43][61] part of the reason for Capitol reducing Harrison's mostly successful solo years thus far to six album tracks was due to the "lackluster" commercial fate of the Lennon and Starr compilations, author Nicholas Schaffner wrote in 1977.[34] Another factor was Harrison's tendency to limit his single releases to a minimum: he had been reluctant to issue any single from All Things Must Pass originally,[62] and the scheduled second single from Material World, "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long" – a "certain #1", in biographer Simon Leng's opinion[63] – was cancelled altogether.[64] In addition, authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter write, a potentially offensive reference to the Catholic Church in "Awaiting on You All", from All Things Must Pass, prevented that song from "being the hit single it could have been otherwise".[65] The big-hits requirement was not applied to the Beatles selections, only one of which, "Something", had been issued as the A-side of a single.[34][66]

What they've done is take a lot of ... my songs which were Beatles songs, when there was really a lot of good songs they could have used of me separately. Solo songs. I don't see why they didn't do that. They did that with Ringo's Blast From Your Past and John's Shaved Fish.[60]

– George Harrison, November 1976, voicing his disapproval of Capitol Records' choice of songs

Side two was made up of Harrison's biggest solo hits: "You" from Extra Texture (1975).[43] The sixth solo song was the non-album single "Bangla Desh", released in 1971.[34][59]

To fill one side of the LP, Capitol selected Harrison-written songs that had been released by the Beatles between 1965 and 1970.[43] A risk-free approach prevailed, commentators have noted, both with the unimaginative album title and with the predictable selection of songs.[34][46] Nowhere was Indian music represented,[34][46] a musical genre with which Harrison was synonymous via his long association with Ravi Shankar,[47] and which various authors, and Shankar himself,[48][49] credit Harrison with introducing to Western popular music.[50][51][52][53] In this way, what McCartney has termed Harrison's "landmark" Indian compositions,[54] "Within You, Without You" and "The Inner Light", were overlooked while "Taxman" received its second album release in six months (having been issued on Rock 'n' Roll Music).[55][56] "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something" were also among the tracks selected, even though they had all appeared on the 1973 Beatles compilation 1967–1970.[57][58]

Song selection

[45][44] he being the least attached to the band's legacy of all the former Beatles.[43][34] Harrison immediately disavowed the venture,[34][21] The planned Harrison greatest-hits compilation then became an experiment by Capitol whereby Beatles tracks were mixed with solo hits on the one album.[42][41]".Here Comes the Sun having a top-ten hit in the UK with a cover of Harrison's composition "Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and [40][39]

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