Why George Harrison’s album ‘Gone Troppo’ is an underrated classic
George Harrison’s solo career never quite got the love that the former Beatles man deserved and no album of his warranted more adoration than Gone Troppo—undoubtedly the most underrated record from the immense repertoire of Harrison’s post-Beatles career.
The album was released in November 1982 and slammed by critics who, at the time, seemingly deemed it fashionable to pour scorn on George Harrison. Perhaps because Harrison didn’t have commercial interests in his heart—with this record being the last one he was legally obliged to release on Warner—he didn’t strain over making it. This was coupled with the fact that he had achieved everything that there was to achieve in the sphere of music and, at this period in time, there was only one person he made music for…which was George Harrison.
Gone Troppo is the sound of joy, euphoria and bliss as Harrison finally discovers contentment in the life that he ended up living. His routine was no longer one of recklessness abandonment, he was happily married to Olivia and their child, Dhani, was a toddler at this time—this happily married family man lifestyle that Harrison had found himself in was nothing short of his utopia. Following the record, he would take five years away from the studio and spend his time continuing life as a full-time dad, no longer carrying a record deal around his neck.
“I think the first thing is I stopped being as crazy as I used to be,” Harrison told Rolling Stone about his hiatus in 1987, “Because I want this child to have a father for a bit longer. Also, I think with a child around I can realize what it was like to be my father. At the same time, you can relive certain aspects of being a child. You can watch them and have all these flashbacks of when you were the kid. It somehow completes this generation thing.”
Perhaps another reason why Gone Troppo bombed so badly was that Harrison refused to promote the work in a traditional sense and publications decided to respond overly harsh to the album, largely out of spite. The record was Harrison’s worst-performing work in both commercial and critical terms, peaking at number 108 in the United States and, tragically, failing to chart all together in the United Kingdom.
“I don’t like to be on TV and do the interviews necessary to promote it,” Harrison told Film Comment in 1988. “I don’t really like being famous. I suppose I still am, but I don’t really think of myself as a famous person. I’ve managed to find a balance between show business and a kind of peacefulness. It feels very nice.”
Tracks that feature on the album include the likes of ‘Wake Up My Love’, ‘Circles’ and ‘That’s The Way It Goes’, some of the strongest solo material that Harrison released. On top of that, there is a cohesive feel to the record as Harrison looks inward and introspectively at himself. This would be the source of his true happiness rather than the lavish lifestyle that he previously attempted to live in search of joy when the answer was much simpler.
The fact that Gone Troppo was not given the love that it truly deserved will not have bothered Harrison in the slightest. At this point in his life, he had stopped stressing about exterior things such as public opinion, this freeing mindset is what makes Gone Troppo such a beautiful record but at the same time, it prevented the album getting the love it deserved back when it was released. The album still provides a gorgeous escape and is the best snapshot into the mind of Harrison at this point in time.