George Fest by George Harrison (HOT/VAGRANT)
George Fest, released Feb. 26, is a collection of 26 live performances during a George Harrison tribute concert and fundraiser from 2014. A diverse gathering of artists including Norah Jones, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Brian Wilson, and The Flaming Lips interpreted Harrison’s songs from both his solo years and his stint as a Beatle. Like other tribute records, this document of the occasion has its share of highs and lows. Ultimately, though, it makes its point in aptly celebrating the musical legacy of a legendary artist and humanitarian.
Highlights include a rousing “Got My Mind Set On You” by The Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers and a sweet rendering of “I’d Have You Anytime” by Karen Elson. Heartless Bastards clearly nail “If Not For You.” On the other hand, Conan O’ Brien’s attempt at “Old Brown Shoe” is evidence that he should stick to comedy, and Nick Valensi’s “Wah Wah” is underwhelming.
While the interpretations are a mixed bag, the song selection is excellent and not just a greatest-hits collection. Lesser-known gems like “Any Road” and “Art of Dying” are delivered by Butch Walker and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, respectively. An all-star collaboration on the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care” is even included.
For the novice, this is perhaps a gateway to the deeper Harrison catalog, lined with his fans, friends, and family (George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison is part of the lineup). For fans of the Fab Four it’s worthy additional enjoyment of the work of “the quiet Beatle.” For dedicated George Harrison fans, it’s a must-have.
—Storm Gloor | Guest Contributor