Saturday, November 19, 2016

Welcome to Crackerbox Palace

OK, I know that "Thirty–Three & 1/3," the George Harrison album that was released in the United Kingdom on this day in 1976 (the U.S. release came five days later), wasn't the best he ever made.

Far from it.

But I liked it then, and I like it now, perhaps entirely because it contains one of my favorite songs from Harrison's solo career, "Crackerbox Palace."

I wouldn't underestimate another factor, though.

I didn't get that album the day it came out. I got it a month or so later — after I had been given a stereo for Christmas. This stereo was equipped with an 8–track player so Harrison's album was the first 8–track I ever bought.

My 8–track collection never got to be very large, but as long as I had that stereo, I had the Harrison 8–track, and I played it repeatedly.

Four singles were released from the album. The first was "This Song," which preceded the album by a couple of days.

It was all right, kind of reminiscent of Harrison's commercial style, I thought — at least up to that point.

There was, as one of the lyrics suggested, "nothing tricky about it." It was a spoof of the court case of "My Sweet Lord" and the allegation that it was a copyright infringement of the Chiffons' "He's So Fine."

(A few months before "Thirty–Three & 1/3" was released, Harrison was found guilty by a district court judge of "subconsciously" copying the Chiffons' song and fined more than $1.5 million, which included about three–quarters of the revenue from the single and a significant part of the revenue from the sales of the three–record set "All Things Must Pass" on which it appeared.)

But "Crackerbox Palace," it seemed to me, demonstrated how much Harrison had learned — especially about writing creative lyrics — from working with John Lennon all those years.

And I've always been a Lennon fan.

"Crackerbox Palace" was released as a single a couple of months after the album hit music stores.

The third single was a 20–year–old Cole Porter tune called "True Love," which was introduced to the music–loving world in the movie "High Society." Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly sang it.

Covers have been done by Jane Powell, Richard Chamberlain, Nancy Sinatra and in a duet by Elton John and Kiki Dee. I think even Elvis did a version of it.

But Harrison's was the only one I know that was done in a blues rock fashion.