When George Harrison Fell Into a Deep Depression on ‘Extra Texture’
Even George Harrison hated this one. Buffeted on all sides by bad news, from a poorly reviewed U.S. tour to a lawsuit over one of his biggest solo hits to his failed marriage, Harrison could perhaps be forgiven for issuing a more introspective album.
Extra Texture, released on Sept. 22, 1975, took that one giant step further, becoming almost relentlessly morose. A seemingly superfluous rewrite of a Beatles song (“This Guitar Can’t Keep from Crying”) serves as a signpost for the entire album's creatively bankrupt, dead-end vibe.
Harrison's final album for Apple Records, Extra Texture ultimately felt like the contract obligation that it was – despite the presence of first-rate sidemen like Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, Jesse Ed Davis, Leon Russell and Billy Preston, among others. The familiar Apple label, in a move reflecting yet another damaged relationship, was presented as nothing more than an eaten-out core.
A move from the U.K. to Los Angeles followed, and that only exasperated things as Harrison returned to drink and drugs. Straying far afield from his religious moorings, George also left behind the free-spirited uplift that made his initial post-Beatles projects such pleasant surprises. The result, Harrison told Musician magazine in 1987, was "a grubby album, in a way. The production left a lot to be desired, as did my performance. I was in a real down place. Some songs I like, but in retrospect I wasn't very happy about it."
The only two songs that broke this elegiac mold were, in fact, older efforts. The thunderous “You,” which became a Top 20 U.S. hit, was actually a leftover track from a scrapped Ronnie Spector solo album, dating to 1971. The jokey “His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen),” meanwhile, had been recorded the year before with Preston, Andy Newmark and “Legs” Larry Smith of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Even “Tired of Midnight Blue,” which along with “You” represented one of the few salvageable moments on Extra Texture, was a drag. Here’s how George Harrison himself described it: “You know those nights you go out and wish you hadn’t? It’s one of those.” Same with this grinding, relentlessly downbeat album, where even the name Extra Texture has come to feel like a cruel joke. A better title might have come from one of its most wrist-slashingly awful songs: “Grey Cloudy Lies.”
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