ARTIST: George Harrison
TITLE: All Things Must Pass
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: My Sweet Lord (#1 US, #1 UK), What Is Life (#10 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Isn’t It a Pity, If Not for You, Beware of Darkness, Art of Dying
LINEUP: George Harrison and a Phil Spector Wall of Sound including: Eric Clapton, Gary Wright, Bobby Whitlock, Klaus Voorman, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Rino Starr, Billy Preston, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Alan White, Pete Drake, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason, Badfinger, Gary Brooker, Ginger Baker, and others, probably.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The debut ‘true’ solo album from George assembles songs he had written since 1966 forward, and it’s a stunning, stunning album.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: George Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles as a songwriter was limited (though after 1966 the others did acknowledge his improvement) and as a result he had a backlog of songs just waiting to be worked out and released. When the Beatles broke up, he had that chance.
Playing the demos for Phil Spector, the two set about finding the songs that they would begin for this project. It was an immense session, with Spector bringing in huge lineups of musicians and recorded them live, like he did in the old days. Then over time, overdubs and orchestration were added (it took a while due to various issues, such as Spector breaking his arm and being plastered on cherry brandy. Still, with time and patience, the album came together and was released to the world in late 1970.
And what a record it was! Four sides of music, including a co-write with Dylan and a Dylan song he heard during a recording session he was attending. The songs combine so many influences: gospel, ragas, blues, rock, soul to name a few. The lyrics are mostly spiritual (as fitting Harrison) yet not so preachy as to be a harangue, though some are lighter (“Apple Scruffs, “The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)”) and a track about the Beatles’ situation in 1969 (“Wah Wah”). Even with the Wall of Sound that Spector put on the songs, you can’t mistake Harrison’s guitar work and his vocals are not lost, either.
The 18 tracks on the main album fit together flawlessly and are a testament to Harrison’s songwriting ability at the time. There is a third LP of jams that were recorded during the sessions, and while ‘interesting’ they’re superfluous and Harrison made sure they were packaged separately in the set. (Basically, he didn’t want to lose them but didn’t want them part of the main albuim).
NOTES & MINUTIAE: When re-released in 2001, Harrison added some new artwork to the booklet, created a web site, and sequenced the jam LP as he originally intended.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with new mixes and single versions.
GRADE A+: The jam LP aside, this is one of the most perfect albums released.