The artwork

The packaging for Living In The Material World was by Wilkes & Braun, Inc., a new company co-founded by Tom Wilkes, who had worked on All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh.

The front and rear cover images were Kirlian photographs of George Harrison’s hand, taken at UCLA’s parapsychology department. Kirlian images are made by placing objects onto sheet photographic film overlaid onto a metal plate. With a high voltage current quickly applied, it creates an exposure on the film, which some people believe capture the aura of an subject.

The front cover image was of Harrison’s right hand, with a Hindu medallion in the palm. The back cover was his left hand and three coins: a pair of quarters and a silver dollar. Both images represented the balance and pull of faith and materialism of which Harrison sang on the album.

The gatefold contained an photograph of the musicians reenacting The Last Supper, with Harrison – wearing a Catholic priest’s dog collar with a gun holstered by his side – standing at the centre. From left to right were Ringo Starr, Jim Horn, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Keltner, and Gary Wright. An outtake from the shoot show Harrison wearing a bishop’s mitre with an Om symbol on the front.

George Harrison: Living In The Material World – gatefold photograph

The image was taken by photographer Ken Marcus at the California home of lawyer Abe Somer. Behind the men can be seen a woman pushing a pram, a uniformed driver waiting at a limousine, an empty wheelchair, and a sports car.

The inner gatefold also contained credits, and the dedication: “ALL GLORIES TO SRI KRSNA”.

Underneath the Kirlian photograph on the back cover was an invitation to write to the fictitious Jim Keltner Fan Club. The wings surrounding these words may have been a dig at Paul McCartney, who had recently launched a fan club for his new band.

For all information send a stamped undressed elephant to: 5112 Hollywood Boulevard. Holly. California

The release

The song ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’ was released as a single in the US on 7 May 1973, with ‘Miss O’Dell’ on the b-side. In the UK it followed on 25 May.

It was Harrison’s first single in almost two years, following ‘Bangla Desh’ in July 1971. Although anticipation for Harrison’s new music were high, the album and single had been delayed to make way for the Beatles compilations 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (Red and Blue albums), and Paul McCartney and Wings’ second album Red Rose Speedway.

The single was, unusually for the time, issued in a plain paper sleeve in the UK and US. It was released with a range of different picture sleeves in other countries.

‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’ topped the Billboard Hot 100 for one week at the end of June 1973, replacing Wings’ ‘My Love’ at number one. It was the first time since 25 April 1964 that the (former) Beatles occupied the top two spots on the chart, and the only time such a feat occurred during the solo years. Additionally, the single topped the chart when Living In The Material World was also at number one, the second time Harrison had achieved the feat.

In the UK the single peaked at number eight. It was a top ten hit in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway.

The album Living In The Material World followed on 30 May 1973 in the US, and 22 June in the UK. It was an immediate success, entering the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart at number 11, and reaching number 1 the following week. Within two days of being on sale it was certified gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000.

In the UK it peaked at number two, held off the top spot by the soundtrack to the Ringo Starr film That’ll Be The Day. However, sales declined when Harrison chose not to release ‘Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long’ as a second single.

Harrison also opted not to promote the album. The exceptions were pre-recorded interview tapes sent to BBC Radio 1. Harrison’s only public appearance at the time was as part of a religious procession through central London on 8 July.

Reissues, remasters

A remastered version of Living In The Material World was reissued in the UK on 25 September 2006 on compact disc, and as a deluxe CD/DVD set. The US release followed the next day.

The standard contained the bonus tracks ‘Deep Blue’ and ‘Miss O’Dell’. The deluxe edition, meanwhile, contained a 40-page booklet, liner notes by Kevin Howlett, and Harrison’s lyrics and commentary on the songs from his autobiography I Me Mine.

The DVD contained a live version of ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’, recorded at the Tokyo Dome on 15 December 1991, as well as previously unreleased versions of ‘Miss O’Dell’ and ‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’, and the title track playing over 1973 footage of the album’s production.

Living In The Material World was remastered once more for the Harrison box set The Apple Years 1968–75, which was released on 22 September 2014. It contained the bonus tracks ‘Deep Blue’, ‘Miss O’Dell’, and ‘Bangla Desh’ (single version). The booklet reproduced Howlett’s 2006 liner notes. The DVD with the box set also contained the four items from the 2006 DVD.