When George Harrison’s “Live in Japan” celebrated a brief comeback

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George Harrison’s second concert recording arrived on July 13, 1992, featuring a career-spanning group of songs. Good thing, because Living in Japan would represent his last tour.

Eight of the 19 songs on the double album looked at his time with the Beatles, while the rest touched on all eras of Harrison’s solo career, from the 1970s Everything must pass through late 80s songs like “Cheer Down” lethal weapon 2 soundtrack.

“They were chosen by the fact that it was either a single, maybe a hit record, or some kind of feeling to me that it would be a good song,” Harrison said. at a Japanese press conference to discuss this incredibly rare tour. “Like the song ‘Taxman’, whether it’s the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, there’s always a tax man. The song seems to fit. And some, I thought, would remind me too, like ‘If I Needed Someone’ un’, I sang at the Budokan 26 years ago.”

Living in Japan gave his touring partner Eric Clapton the opportunity to reinvent his original solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. He also added a lyrical introduction of something.” Together, the two guitarists give new bite to the title track from 1987 Cloud and reshaping “If I Need Someone” from Byrds’ pastiche into a Tom Petty-esque game.

Among the conclusive highlights is a ruminative exploration from “Isn’t it a shame” from Everything must pass. Harrison’s guitar lines delicately intertwine with Clapton’s, echoing an easy friendship. If that camaraderie tended to iron out too many edges elsewhere on Living in Japanit was also the only reason Harrison was emboldened to return to the stage for the first time since a troubled tour in 1974.

Listen to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from “Live in Japan”

“He’s a great guitar player and maybe I’d be competing with him if I’d stayed on the road all these years, but my life took a different turn,” Harrison told the Chicago Grandstand in 1992. “Sometimes I think I haven’t toured in so long because I’m just lazy,” he added with a laugh.

The preparation of Clapton’s regular band, including future Heartbreakers drummer Steve Ferrone and longtime Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, also played a key role. “Eric suggested to me that now would be a good time if I wanted to do a concert tour,” Harrison said at the press conference, “because he wasn’t working and he and his band were available to become my group.”

They co-starred for a total of 12 shows in December 1991 in Japan, although the original album made no mention of the gigs that provided these recordings. The initial set list grew to 25 songs, but they quickly cut a few, including “Love Comes to Everyone” from Harrison’s 1979 self-titled album. Clapton was given a regular mid-run spotlight to perform a some of his own music, highlighted by the Cream-era collaboration with Harrison on “Badge”. None of these made the final track listing.

At the time, Living in Japan seemed to herald a new era for the typically reclusive Harrison, who openly brooded over returning to regular gigs. “I’m the type of person who would like to play when I feel like it, with a band, and it might as well be the Holiday Inn in Nebraska – a place where no one knows you and you’re in a band situation. just playing music,” Harrison told the Grandstand.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. In reality, Living in Japan was the last new album released during Harrison’s lifetime.

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