Picks and Pans Review: Cloud Nine

updated 12/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

George Harrison

When the Beatles broke up in 1970, it was, unexpectedly, Harrison, the most anonymous member, who leaped most forthrightly into a solo career with the smashing triple album All Things Must Pass. Regrettably, after the superstar-studded Concert for Bangladesh (another triple album), which followed in 1972, his recording career spiraled downward over the next 10 years with a series of records that were atrocious claptrap, obscured by Harrison's mystical concerns. Five years after Gone Troppo went stinko, Harrison is back with a spry collection of catchy pop songs. Much of the credit for his success must go to the inspired choice of Jeff Lynne as producer and collaborator. For years Lynne has been the creative spirit behind the clever Beatle-esque textures of ELO. For Harrison he shapes a relaxed, graceful, layered production. Of course, it helps when your songs are played by Eric Clapton, Elton John, Ringo Starr and Jim Horn. Only on the ballad Just for Today does the wheezy thinness of Harrison's voice emerge. Elsewhere, Lynne manages to imbue Harrison's voice with a healthy resonance. The wonder of this album is that on songs like When We Was Fab, a clever memorial to the Lennon-McCartney compositions of the Magical Mystery Tour era, gloomy George gives the distinct impression that he's having fun with his music. Guess what? That simple sense of enjoyment is contagious. (Dark Horse)

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