The more I listen to George Harrison’s Gone Troppo, the more perplexed I am about the critical mauling it received. Perhaps a major factor in its epic failure was that it was compared to McCartney’s ambitious-as-hell Tug of War album released the same year. Gone Troppo is no grand statement but simply a feel-good record that underlines the former Beatle’s knack for writing a decent melody. It does, however, go slightly overboard with the synths even for 1982. The fun rocker Wake Up My Love (which was released as a single) ends up sounding like a Donna Summer song while the vocoder completely ruins the otherwise palatable Baby Don’t Run Away.
George throws in a couple of musical curveballs: the title track is sung in a laid-back Hawaiian style, even down to the accent. While I can understand the backlash, what is there not to love about lyrics such as “Sun hot, you don’t got a backache/Brown skin, very a peeling,” and “Quite like, you ain’t seen a sunset/Could be, living in Rainhill” (a district in Liverpool)? The other surprise is Really Love You, a cover of a 1961 single by The Stereos which is sung in a doo-wop style.
That’s The Way It Goes is a Harrison classic, with a nagging hook that was bouncing round my head for days. Another masterpiece is Mystical One, which Harrison addresses to his wife:
That mystical one I knew
Lulling me with those raincloud eyes
Melting my heart away
With beautiful lyrics, and an even better melody, it’s a ballad that works. Sadly, the not-quite-instrumental Greece sounds a little bit too much like Bye, Bye Love to me, while his rehash of Circles (a White Album reject) lacks the sunshine that runs through the album.
After this record, George was to concentrate on his other passions, namely the film industry and racing cars. All Things Must Pass this is most definitely not, but it’s still a fun listen, and I would prefer it over his more ’serious’ albums like Living In The Material World and Dark Ho(a)rse.