Apart from the supernova of All Things Must Pass, George Harrison's post-Beatles career consisted of a handful of stunning moments and a lot of pleasant ones. It would be asking too much for Harrison's final album, his first since 1987's Cloud Nine, to fit any other pattern. It doesn't, but it does make for a fitting farewell. A Hard Day's Night may have done as much to create the personas of The Beatles as the band members themselves did, but that didn't stop Harrison from spending the rest of his life living up to his reputation as The Deep One. No matter where his spiritual quest took him, however, Harrison never lost a sense of playfulness, or an ear for a good tune, and Brainwashed opens with a song that captures everything he did best. A cheerful trot toward eternity, "Any Road" spins sentiments from Eastern philosophy and T.S. Eliot into a sunny pop song driven by an instrument called the "banjulele," which sounds pretty much like its name suggests. Of course, even though Harrison always had one eye on infinity, Brainwashed still sounds like the work of a man who knew his days were numbered. "There's no escape, can only run so far," Harrison sings on the chorus of "Run So Far," and he didn't make it far enough to finish the album, which has been filled out and touched up by longtime collaborator Jeff Lynne and son Dhani Harrison. However far George Harrison progressed with these songs, the album still sounds every bit like him, even when Lynne is providing the distinctive guitar sound. "Rocking Chair In Hawaii" is awash in blues and references to "Baba Sais" by way of the South Seas, "Looking For My Life" brings a jangle to spiritual yearning, and, on the title track, Harrison laments the failings of earthly life and goes out chanting. Harrison never seemed to recognize the difference between philosophical profundities and the sound of a catchy song, and that may have been his greatest gift to the world. Brainwashed offers a fine, final reminder of that gift.

Advertisement