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In the library of Friar Park, George Harrison’s Victorian neo-Gothic mansion in Henley-on-Thames, sits shelf after shelf of unheard music. Shortly after buying the property in 1970, the late Beatle installed his own state-of-the-art studio where he would work on song ideas or invite friends round for a jam, and now those formidable archives are receiving a public airing.
Early Takes Volume 1 is the first fruits of a series of releases making Harrison’s home recordings available to fans, lovingly curated and tenderly teased into sonic shape by Giles Martin, son of the Fab Four’s legendary producer George Martin. It’s the third Beatles-related project Giles has worked on, having assisted his father on the Anthology documentary series and Love, the Cirque Du Soleil extravaganza still playing to a packed house in Las Vegas after six years.
“Love was George’s baby to the extent that he was good friends with Cirque founder Guy Laliberte, but it went through various complications and developments before it was finally staged,” says Giles. “George died before he could see it, but I suppose it’s become part of his legacy, and I worked closely with his widow Olivia on it.
“Then she asked to help with the music for Martin Scorsese’s documentary about George, which came out last year, so this first album is very much a companion piece to that. There’s still a huge amount of tapes to go through, and it’s a great privilege for me to be allowed access to it all.”