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June 15, 2024

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George Harrison
Brainwashed (Capitol Records)

By: Glenn BurnSilver

At the time of his death a year ago, George Harrison was working on his first new album in 14 years. Through the combined efforts of his son, Dhani, and former Traveling Wilbury cohort Jeff Lynne, who together mastered the final tracks from an assortment of tapes, Harrison's final recordings have arrived as Brainwashed. The album reveals that even as death drew near following years of fighting throat and brain cancers and a life threatening knife attack, Harrison was in light spirits -- as if working in his cherished garden. Brainwashed is relaxed, sunny and alive with Harrison's distinctive vocal timbre reaching the highs while his guitar plays breezy, clean and compelling melodies. His slide guitar work is subtle, yet intensely rich and colorful, particularly on "Marwa Blues" a luscious, almost surreal, and - dare I say -- heavenly, sounding instrumental. Surprisingly, the ukulele, the final of the many stringed instruments Harrison mastered, finds its way onto "Pieces Fish," and a rollicking classic, "The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," showing a lively side to the Beatle often called "The Quite One." "Run So Far" is perhaps the least appealing or originally new number on the album, more like a Wilburys' cast off, but its inclusion here is deserved as we should hear all Harrison's final musical renderings have to offer. The final number and title track best sums up Harrison's view of an ever increasingly confusing and manipulative world. "Brainwashed in our childhood/brainwashed by the schools/brainwashed by our teachers/and brainwashed by all their rules--God God God/someone turned out the spiritual light," Harrison sings in a final outpouring that urges us to wake up and see the light, both realistically and spiritually. And as Brainwashed winds down with a chant of Namah Parvarti over a simple Indian raga, we move with his inner peace, happy to have made his acquaintance. I'll give it an A.
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