The Beatles Wiki

READ MORE

The Beatles Wiki
Advertisement

"Try Some, Buy Some" is a song written by English rock musician George Harrison that was first released in April 1971 as a single by American singer Ronnie Spector, formerly the lead vocalist of the Ronettes. She recorded it in London along with other Harrison compositions for a planned comeback album on the Beatles' Apple record label. The project was co-produced by Phil Spector, Ronnie's husband at the time, but abandoned following recording sessions that were hampered by his erratic behaviour. The only official release from the sessions, the single achieved minimal commercial success, peaking at number 77 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 63 on Canada's RPM Top 100. Harrison later added his own vocal onto a new mix of the instrumental track and included the song on his 1973 album Living in the Material World.

"Try Some, Buy Some" was one of several Harrison compositions left over from the sessions for his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass, which Spector also co-produced. The song's austere melody was influenced by Harrison composing on a keyboard instrument rather than guitar. The lyrics document his sudden perception of God amid the temptations of the material world, including recreational drugs, and serve as an account of a religious epiphany. Ronnie later admitted to being confused by the concept, and some writers have commented on the song's unsuitability as a vehicle for her comeback. Spector employed his Wall of Sound production aesthetic to full effect on "Try Some, Buy Some" and was stunned at the single's commercial failure. The recording features a choir and long, lavishly orchestrated instrumental passages arranged by John Barham. The single's B-side was "Tandoori Chicken", a Harrison–Spector collaboration in the rockabilly style.

Several reviewers have questioned Harrison's decision to reuse the 1971 instrumental track for his version. Among the varied opinions on the Living in the Material World track, some focus on Harrison's struggle to sing in a higher key than he preferred and view its dense production as being out of place on the album; others admire the lyrics and melody, and recognise a seductive quality in the song. Having long been unavailable following its 1971 release, Ronnie Spector's version was reissued in 2010 on the compilation Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records. A longtime admirer of the song, David Bowie covered "Try Some, Buy Some" on his 2003 album Reality and performed it on his tours in support of the album.

George Harrison's version[]

Following the abandoned Ronnie Spector sessions in 1971, Harrison's relief effort for the refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War kept his musical activities to a minimum for over a year. In an early 1972 interview, Harrison told music journalist Mike Hennessey that "Try Some, Buy Some" was one of his compositions he rated "really high" and that he might record it for his next album. He added that he could envisage including a soprano saxophone trill in the arrangement. After starting work on Living in the Material World in October that year, Harrison revisited Ronnie's recording of the song, rather than creating a new version, and replaced her vocal with his own. He later admitted that the key was higher than he would have preferred, as with "You".

Whereas the mix on the 1971 single had favoured instrumentation such as the mandolins, which Williams views as "the record's trademark", Harrison's treated the balance of backing instruments differently; Madinger and Easter describe the original version as having a "clearer" sound. Lennon later said that the descending melody played by the string section was an inspiration behind his 1974 song "#9 Dream". Before then, he had based the musical backing of his 1971 single "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (also co-produced by Spector) on that of "Try Some Buy Some", in particular, asking that his acoustic guitarists replicate the mandolin parts. Neither Russell nor Ham appeared in the musician credits for Harrison's version of "Try Some, Buy Some".

Release and reception[]

Apple released Living in the Material World in May 1973, with "Try Some, Buy Some" sequenced on side two of the original LP format. Reflecting the album content, Tom Wilkes's design for the record's face labels contrasted a devout spiritual existence with life in the material world, by featuring a painting of Krishna and his warrior prince Arjuna on side one and a picture of a Mercedes stretch limousine on the reverse.

The inclusion of "Try Some, Buy Some" on Harrison's otherwise self-produced 1973 album surprised some critics. Writing in 1981, NME critic Bob Woffinden commented: "This was considered an underhand trick in some quarters. However, since the single had clearly not received the attention it merited, it could be argued that George was simply husbanding his resources carefully." In an otherwise highly favourable review for Material World, Stephen Holden of Rolling Stone called the song "an overblown attempt to restate the [album's] spiritual message in material terms: 'Won't you try some / Baby won't you buy some.'" In Melody Maker, Michael Watts wrote that the song fitted the album-wide description of Harrison's personal journey to "musical iconographer" status from his Beatle past. Watts considered the arrangement the "most imaginative" on Material World and described the recording as "a fairground sound, using harpsichord and couched in waltz-time".

Advertisement