Cover artwork

George Harrison had originally wanted the cover of Somewhere In England to be a portrait photograph superimposed on a picture of Great Britain. The proposed image was rejected by Warner Bros along with the first iteration of the album.

It was substituted with a photograph of Harrison taken by Caroline Irwin, based on a concept by producer Ray Cooper. In the new image, Harrison was pictured before a three-dimensional artwork by Mark Boyle titled ‘Holland Park Avenue Study’ (1967). The artwork was used by permission of the trustees of the Tate Gallery, London.

That painting was wonderful. He’d done a cast of the pavement and the gutter and a piece of the road. It’s quite an amazing process, like a sculpting of the street. I like certain artists, but by the time I got to like them they were too expensive to collect, like Dali and Magritte. Paul’s got a bunch of Magrittes. He bought them for, like 50 dollars each. Then the guy died in 1967 and now they’re worth millions.
George Harrison
George Harrison: Reconsidered, Timothy White

On the inner sleeve, Harrison included a quotation from the Bhagavad Gita above a dedication to “J.O.L.” – John Lennon.

There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you.
Nor will there be any future when we cease to be.

The release

The first release from Somewhere In England was the single ‘All Those Years Ago’. It was issued in the US on 11 May 1981, and four days later in the UK, with ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ on the b-side.

‘All Those Years Ago’ provided Warner Bros with the hit single they so desired; it went top ten in Australia, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA, and topped the Canadian singles chart and the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.

Somewhere In England followed on 1 June 1981 in the US, and 5 June in the UK. It peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard 200, and 13 in the UK. It was only a top ten hit in Norway, where it reached number two.

A follow-up single, ‘Teardrops’, was issued with ‘Save The World’ on the b-side. It came out on 15 July in the US and 31 July in the UK.

The single was not a commercial success. It failed to chart in the UK, and in the US peaked at 88 on the Cash Box Top 100. It got no further than number 102 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart.

Songs By George Harrison

Three of the four songs rejected by Warners – ‘Flying Hour’, ‘Lay His Head’, and ‘Sat Singing’ – were eventually released with Songs By George Harrison, a 1988 book by Genesis Publications, limited to 2,500 copies with a bonus vinyl EP. ‘Lay His Head’ was also the b-side of Harrison’s 1987 hit single ‘Got My Mind Set On You’.

‘Flying Hour’, however, was not the Somewhere In England recording, but an early version dating from the sessions for the George Harrison (1979) album.

I’m doing another book with Genesis Publications, who did my 1980 book, I, Me, Mine. For some reason, and I don’t remember why, I, Me, Mine later came out in a cheap version, but it was only really made as a limited edition, because how it’s made was almost more important than what’s inside.

But there’s this new book I’ve been working on with an artist, Keith West, for about two years now. He’s illustrating the lyrics to my songs. It could only be done in a limited edition because if you printed it cheap, you’d lose the value of it. We’re making it two volumes.

To answer your question, we decided to put a free record inside the books of some songs that have gotten left out over the years. I finished the record for the first book just before I came here, and it’s of those four songs you just mentioned—and a live version of ‘For You Blue’. It all comes in a big leather box with a little drawer for the record. It’s called Songs By George Harrison and it should be out by Christmas, but there’s only 2,000 copies being done, and it does cost £200. It’s expensive, yes, but in a world of crass, disposable junk, it’s meant to be a lovely thing.

George Harrison
George Harrison: Reconsidered, Timothy White

‘Tears Of The World’ was included on an EP released with the book’s follow-up, Songs By George Harrison.

The book was published by Genesis in 1992, again limited to 2,500 copies with a bonus EP. The tracks included a demo of the Somewhere In England song ‘Life Itself’; ‘Hottest Gong In Town’ from Shanghai Surprise; ‘Tears Of The World’, the last of the rejected songs from Somewhere In England; and a live version of ‘Hari’s On Tour (Express)’ from 1974.

Reissues, remasters

A remastered version of Somewhere In England was issued in 2004, as a standalone release and as part of the box set The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992. It included the bonus track ‘Save The World’ (Acoustic demo version), recorded in early 1980.

The reissue also restored Harrison’s original album artwork, and Harrison’s original mix of ‘Unconsciousness Rules’.

A second bonus track, ‘Flying Hour’, was included with the iTunes Store version. This was the 1979 version included on the Songs By George Harrison EP.

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