Thirty Three & ⅓, George Harrison’s seventh solo album, was his first release on his Dark Horse record label.
The Beatles’ nine-year contract with EMI expired on 26 January 1976, at a time when the band’s Apple Records was being wound down. Harrison had launched Dark Horse Records in 1974, but was unable to release his own music on the label for two years.
In addition to making reference to the speed at which an LP revolves on a turntable – 33 ⅓ revolutions per minute – the album’s title was inspired by Harrison’s age during the album’s genesis. He turned 33 on 25 February 1976, and recorded Thirty Three & ⅓ between May and September that year.
They [the press] went to Paul and said ‘Have you taken the dangerous drug LSD?’ and he said ‘Look I’m going to tell the truth: it’s going to be your responsibility, as the newspapers, passing it on.’ So they said ‘Look just tell us, have you taken it or not?’ and he said ‘Yes’. And of course they passed it on to the waiting world. There was a bit outcry with people saying ‘You should have said ‘No!’’, I wrote most of that song back in 1967 but didn’t finish it until much later.
It was one of the tunes that I forgot about but in 1976 I remembered it, completed the lyrics to the bridge and the second and third verses, and recorded it that year.
I Me Mine
‘Woman Don’t You Cry For Me’ was written in December 1969, when Harrison was on tour in Sweden with Delaney & Bonnie, and was nearly recorded for All Things Must Pass. ‘Beautiful Girl’ dated from late 1969 or early 1970, composed when Harrison was co-producing Doris Troy’s self-titled album.
‘True Love’ was the album’s only cover version. It was written by Cole Porter and published in 1956, and was performed by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in High Society.
The other songs on Thirty Three & ⅓ were new Harrison compositions. ‘Dear One’ was inspired by Paramhansa Yogananda, the author of Autobiography Of A Yogi, whom Harrison described as “a great influence on my life”.
‘This Song’ was the first single released from Thirty Three & ⅓, and was followed by ‘Crackerbox Palace’. In the UK, however, ‘True Love’ was issued in its place.
‘It’s What You Value’ was written after drummer Jim Keltner refused payment for touring with Harrison in 1974, requesting instead a Mercedes sports car.
I kept phoning all the time asking him to come, and finally I got through all the obstacles and he said ‘OK, I’ll come and do it but I don’t want paying for it’ … (There were still six weeks to go.) ‘I don’t want paying for it… but I’m sick of driving that old VW bus’. I said ‘I get it, you want a car then?’ It turned out that he got a Mercedes 450SL instead of payment but months later there was a bit of feedback from some of the others in the band saying ‘Well how come he got a Mercedes and all we got was money!’
I Me Mine
The album’s closing track, ‘Learning How To Love You’, was written for Herb Alpert, and was originally titled ‘Herb’s Tune’. It was the b-side of the ‘This Tune’ and ‘Crackerbox Palace’ singles in the US.