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George as a guitarist
14 January 2016
4.01pm
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Georgefan
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    Can someone please help me here?  I have always loved George's guitar licks but I just recently read "Here, There And Everywhere " by Geoff Emerick.  His opinion  when he was recording the group, was that George's playing was less than stellar and many times nearly incompetent.  He was obviously a big fan of Paul's but what gives?  Does anyone have more insight as to why he would be so critical of George's playing?

14 January 2016
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meanmistermustard
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I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to.

I will not write what i want to. 

a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

 

It could take time for George to work out his guitar parts before getting them down and there are examples of lame George solos in outtakes.

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14 January 2016
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sigh butterfly
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Well I know who is getting my vote next year for the Most Respectful Even Through Disagreements award!

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I just had to let it go ...

14 January 2016
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ewe2
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Georgefan said

    Can someone please help me here?  I have always loved George's guitar licks but I just recently read "Here, There And Everywhere " by Geoff Emerick.  His opinion  when he was recording the group, was that George's playing was less than stellar and many times nearly incompetent.  He was obviously a big fan of Paul's but what gives?  Does anyone have more insight as to why he would be so critical of George's playing?

You've practically answered your own question, Emerick didn't care about the others to the same extent, and clearly never got on with George. Ken Scott, who worked with the Beatles after Emerick left, is rather vocal about Emerick's memoir as being unfair to everyone but Paul and very selective with memory, and he isn't alone. To be fairer, I don't think the others aside from Paul considered that buttering up the engineer might be a good career move: they didn't understand how studios worked at first. I get the sense that Emerick was rather starstruck by the attention from Paul, and George was known for being aloof until he knew someone; also Emerick would have seen how Paul and John treated George and probably decided he could be dismissed as an also-ran. George was not stupid and probably picked up on it. Imagine how trying that is, to grow up in public and be left to your own devices to learn your craft and be looked down upon by the engineer. No wonder he developed a painstaking studio style.

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14 January 2016
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Inner Light
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Georgefan said
    Can someone please help me here?  I have always loved George's guitar licks but I just recently read "Here, There And Everywhere " by Geoff Emerick.  His opinion  when he was recording the group, was that George's playing was less than stellar and many times nearly incompetent.  He was obviously a big fan of Paul's but what gives?  Does anyone have more insight as to why he would be so critical of George's playing?

Geoff Emerick is an idiot! He was very pro Paul. There are interviews with Ken Scott where he say's that Emerick would say one thing and then couldn't remember what he said on the other day. 

I have not been on this site in a few months and have written about this issue in the past. This whole thing about 'Taxman ' and how George couldn't figure out the guitar solo for his own song so they let Paul do it and he knocked it out right away. I think Paul is a good guitar player but George took it to higher levels. You need to watch more Beatle videos of his playing both in the Beatles and as a solo artist to really appreciate what kind of impact he had on the group. I'm not taking anything away from McCartney but imagine the majority of their songs with that Harrison Guitar!

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The further one travels, the less one knows

18 January 2016
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bewareofchairs
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I thought Simon Leng had a great response to this question.

Rip Post: Why did longtime Beatles engineer (and sometimes de facto producer) Geoff Emerick all-but-dismiss George as a Beatles soloist before his inspired solo on “Something ?” It’s true that, as Emerick says, you can hear young George “fumbling” in live performances, almost as if he doesn’t know how to fill up all that “blank space.” Paul played a number of solos on Beatles recordings, reportedly because George could not come up with anything fast enough.

Simon Leng: Well, he probably said it because it is true, but my view on that would be “so what?” Perhaps the true value is in the finished product, does it really make a material difference how quickly the solo was created? Or if it was improvised or not? I would want to beware of mistaking the wood for the trees here. If a musician delivers a performance that affects the listener that is the important part, and not so much how it was created or how quickly.

Certainly Paul McCartney had a quicker musical mind than George and that’s great, but, again, I can’t help but feel that we would be better celebrating the complementary differences between musicians, or anybody else for that matter, rather than insisting that only one model has value.

And, as long as we are comparing the two styles, I would just suggest that people reflect on how many instantly memorable guitar breaks George came up with that they can sing as if they were songs in their own right. And, then ask the same of Paul’s solos. For instance, which is more musically memorable – George’s solo on “Nowhere Man ”, or Paul’s on “Another Girl ”?

Rip Post: Yet students of the group can hear some terrific live solos from George even in the very early days, and his Perkins-esque twanging on “Can’t Buy Me Love” is no more or less considered classic stuff—McCartney had his band reproduce it note-for-note on recent tours. So why was his soloing in the Beatles period inconsistent?

Leng: I think it comes down to cyclical changes, confidence and the pecking order of the band. When The Beatles first hit it big George was at the forefront of lead guitarists for that time – take With The Beatles as an example. How many other guitarists at that time could have played the variety of solos George did on that album i.e. “Roll Over Beethoven ”, “Til There Was You” and “All My Loving ”? So, he was at the forefront – but, by 1965 the white blues soloists like Eric Clapton had started to emerge and a more virtuoso style came into vogue. As George did not come from a blues-based tradition he was not immediately in that groove of longer improvised solos. So, given that he was a somewhat diffident character, and that Paul was quicker at picking up that style, his confidence took a knock. But, as we have seen, by 1969 he was playing that style if he wanted to.

But then again, I come back to the main point – it’s one thing to have all the flashy technique in the world, but what’s the point of it if you have nothing to say musically? And let’s be clear about this, aside form those solos on With The Beatles , George played some wonderfully musical and inventive solos on early to mid-period Beatles records – to pick out a few: “I Call Your Name ”, “Nowhere Man ”, “Baby’s In Black”, “And Your Bird Can Sing ” (which almost has elements of Bach counterpoint in it) and, as you say, “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

It’s also worth remembering that amongst musicians and other guitarists George is widely respected, and possibly more so than he is by the media in general.

- Simon Leng interview with Rip Rense for the Rip Post (2006)

Paul has given George a lot of praise for his abilities as a guitarist. As has been mentioned Geoff Emerick was very biased, and it's also worth mentioning that in the early days George was having to come up with these solos and perform them so quickly he didn't have time to perfect his performance. The other Beatles mess up too.

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15 February 2016
5.03pm
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George himself said that he had difficulties in improvisation: i'm not like Eric or BB king or keith (richards...he said something like that) and he was no virtuoso, actually. but it doesn't dimiss his greatness as guitar player. he was different. a giant with slide and with great musical fantasy. as randy california said his solos were songs inside the songs. so melodic you can actually sing them.

talking about his solo albums and even if i'm a great George fan i must say that i don't like too much the bluegrass sound in some albums i.e. somewhere in england, or in records in wich the guitar is covered by the spectoresque production (extra texture) but elsewhere the sound is magnificent. i think of living in the material world, 33 and 1/3

15 February 2016
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meanmistermustard
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Always thought George brought the same as Ringo did. OK, he might not be the greatest guitarist in the world but what he did bring was perfect for the track and that's all i care about. Big whoops if the guy playing can knock out a 4 minute note perfect solo within 3 seconds of the request; i've been in the presence of Keith Richards doing a solo guitar part in a Stones concert and was bored senseless. Had Brian May do it during a Queen concert and skipped thru.

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26 February 2016
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I found a lovely article on George's fabulously tasteful guitar playing. I highly recommend it; ' tis an excellent read. ahdn_george_08 

Of all the impossible-to-recreate sounds made by the Beatles—Ringo’s drum fills, Paul’s bass lines—George Harrison ’s lead guitar might be the most elusive.

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29 April 2016
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Shamrock Womlbs
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And not only the playing, but the caring:

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"I Need You by George Harrison"

1 May 2016
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natureaker
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I found a quote from this interview that might help. I honestly thought George was more of a slow learner at things, I guess, but apparently not:

I don’t mean to be unkind. I didn’t want to gloss over anything. Rather than writing ‘The Beatles Record in the Studio,’ like they were icons, this was like four human beings going through normal problems with recording. And I sort of criticize George’s guitar playing to begin with, which wasn’t too great. And I’m not the only one to have said that. And as the book goes through, George sort of comes out shining. To me, it’s a more human story. As you know, they didn’t spend as much time recording George’s tracks – his songs weren’t as good as Lennon and McCartney’s. George felt a little bit put out, and he tried and tried, and he always looked as though he were somewhere else. As we were writing the book, it dawned on me that from an early stage, probably even on "Revolver ," that George really wanted out. He was looking for his own thing. And that was Eastern music, Indian music, you know? It was great to see him go through the whole thing. We did "Within You With You," which was great, and of course he wrote "Something " and got all his confidence back. He recorded the guitar solo live in the studio with the orchestra. His confidence was building and building over those years.

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