Friday, 19 June 2009

Comprehensive Sleeve Notes

Actually, that could be a title for a book about the dying art of sleeve notes in the digital age. After all, when was the last time a label stuck an essay on an MP3? If music ever regularly gets released sold on USB sticks in any great volume, there could be a return to lyric sheets, essays and so forth.

As an obsessive tunehead who will always prefer the act of buying a physical product over a digital file (and more importantly the human interaction required to make such a purchase in a shop, with actual people) I take an interest in sleeve notes and any information available.

If the person who played that guitar or blew that kazoo or chopped up those samples was sitting in Hackney or Harlem or Helsinki, it may not make the tuneage any better, but knowledge is power. Even if it's just the power to triumph in the music section of the pub quiz.

One release this week with killer sleeve notes is Let It Roll - Songs By George Harrison. A decent biog from from Warren Zanes about the quiet Beatle and plenty of evocative portraits fill the CD booklet and accompany the 19 songs on the album fittingly. The music is mostly thoughtful, cheerful, fare from a man occasionally overlooked but undeniably talented.

While listening back to the album doing my ironing this morning it shocked me to hear just how influenced by Dylan George was. Perhaps this is patently obvious - after all the pair would share a stage in the Traveling Wilburys, while The Beatles were obviously big-time fans. Dylan never jammed about with Ravi Shankar, though. Perhaps that's for the best.

Most George fans I know swear by Here Comes The Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and My Sweet Lord, but my personal fave is the James Ray cover, Got My Mind Set On You. It's pretty cheesy but is uncomplicated and fun in a simple, almost childlike way. It was also one of the first songs I ever owned (aged seven) and reminds me of a time far before bills, hangovers and recession. And it's impossible not to like a tune reworked by Weird Al Yankovic as (This song's only) Six Lines Long...

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