GEORGE HARRISON – ”  All Things Must Pass ” 50th Anniversary

Posted: August 1, 2021 in MUSIC
george harrison all things must pass

George Harrison’s landmark solo album, “All Things Must Pass”, recorded and released in the wake of The Beatles’ April 1970 dissolution, is receiving a suite of 50th anniversary releases that fulfills Harrison’s long time desire. The original, the first-ever triple studio album, was produced by Harrison and Phil Spector and released in November 1970. The original collection, featuring such classic songs as “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t It a Pity,” “What is Life” and “Awaiting on You All” among its 23 tracks, was an epic, ambitious expression of Harrison’s song writing, powerful spirituality and a celebration of both his inimitable individuality and unique camaraderie with his fellow musicians.

The new editions, announced June 10th, 2021, offer a wealth of previously unreleased material in a variety of formats that include an aptly named Uber Deluxe Edition. (Listen to several of them below including “Cosmic Empire,” released on July 9th.) The new collections arrive August 6th, via Capitol/UMe. It becomes the latest release from The Beatles collectively and individually to receive such a grand treatment.

Harrison brought together a stunning roster of friends and fellow musicians to record “All Things Must Pass”, including Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann and Billy Preston, along with Eric Clapton and his new American bandmates, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon (soon to be known collectively as Derek and the Dominos). Badfinger’s Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbons contributed additional acoustics and percussion. Spector’s desire for multiple pianos, layers of acoustic guitars and more drums saw the addition of Peter Frampton and Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth’s Gary Wright, Plastic Ono Band veteran and future Yes drummer Alan White, Traffic’s Dave Mason, Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker and the in-demand horn section of Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Pete Drake, legendary Nashville session musician, provided pedal steel guitar on several tracks. Arrangements for strings and horns came from long time collaborator John Barham.

All Things Must Pass was an overdue artistic release for Harrison as a songwriter and musician. It overflows with a voluminous range of ideas, musical styles and influences, spanning rock ’n’ roll, country, gospel, blues, pop, folk, R&B, Indian classical music and devotional songs. Despite the album being wildly successful and Harrison’s affection for it, he would write in the liner notes for the 30th anniversary remaster, released in 2001, “I still like the songs on the album and believe they can continue to outlive the style in which they were recorded,” adding, however, “it was difficult to resist re-mixing every track. All these years later I would like to liberate some of the songs from the big production that seemed appropriate at the time.”

It wasn’t his first solo album—he’d already released the synth experiment Electronic Sound and the Wonderwall soundtrack. But this is where he found his voice and took it to an epic scale. Even in the tossed-off jams or folkie dirges, you can hear his fierce determination not to get trapped in the past. In May 1970, when he first cut demos for the album, it was still an open question whether the Beatles were over, and George was the one taking the high road. “I think there may be what you’d term a little bitchiness,” George said diplomatically in an April 1970 radio interview. “It’s just being bitchy to each other. Childish. Childish.”

He had good reason to feel confident. The world was still in shock from “Abbey Road“, the Beatles’s biggest album yet, where he stole the show with “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun.” As John admitted in NME, “George has got songs he’s been trying to get on our records since 1920. He’s got to make an album.” 

The first day of demos was George at Abbey Road, backed by two trusted old friends—Ringo on drums and Klaus Voorman on bass. They banged out 30 songs that day; the next day he did 15 more solo acoustic demos for producer Phil Spector. The demos are full of major songs, many of which would have fit perfectly on the album. “Nowhere to Go,” cowritten with his friend Bob Dylan in 1968, lays out his disenchantment with the rock-star hustle.  “I get tired of being Beatle Jeff / Talking to the deaf,” he complains, in his poetic sneer. “I get tired of being Beatle Ted / Talking to the dead / Every time some bobby’s getting blown.”

There’s a wonderfully snide outtake of “Isn’t It A Pity” where he sings, “Isn’t it so shitty / Isn’t it a pain / How we do so many takes / And now we’re doing it again.” There’s also an early take on “Beware of Darkness” where he sings “Beware of ABKCO,” a dig at the Beatles’ new management, perhaps already showing a degree of disenchantment with Allen Klein.

Decades in the making and lovingly crafted by the Harrison family, All Things Must Pass has now been completely remixed from the original tapes. Executive produced by Dhani Harrison, product produced by David Zonshine and mixed by triple GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon), the new mix transforms the album by sonically upgrading it–making it sound brighter, fuller and better than ever before.

Super Deluxe Edition

The 5-CD + 1-Blu-ray Super Deluxe Edition

The boxed set, presented on 8 LP’s (180g) or 5 Cd’s adding 1 Blu Ray audio disc, explores the 1970 album sessions through 47 (42 previously unreleased) demos and outtakes. The Blu-ray allows fans to experience the main album in high-res stereo, enveloping 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes. The collection contains a beautiful 60-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more. It also includes a replica of the original album poster.

Uber Deluxe Edition

The Uber Deluxe Edition

Available via GeorgeHarrison.com, this very limited boxed set includes the album on 8 LPs (180g), 5 CDs + 1 Blu-ray audio disc housed in an artisan designed wooden crate (approx. 12.4” X 12.4” X 17.5”). The collection explores the 1970 album sessions through 47 (42 previously unreleased) demos and outtakes, offering an inside look into the creative process. The Blu-ray allows fans to experience the main album in high-res stereo, enveloping 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes.

The crate contains two books, an elaborate and expanded 96-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more; while a second 44-page book chronicling the making of All Things Must Pass through extensive archival interviews with notes is also contained therein. The elegantly designed book pays homage to Harrison’s love of gardening and nature. The book also contains a wooden bookmark made from a felled oak tree (Quercus Robur) in George’s Friar Park. This truly unique box will also contain 1/6 scale replica figurines of Harrison and the gnomes featured on the iconic album cover, a limited-edition illustration by musician and artist Klaus Voormann, as well as a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Light from the Great Ones” and Rudraksha beads, contained in individual custom-made boxes.

All Things Must Pass” will also be released in multiple physical and digital configurations, including as a 5-LP or 3-CD Deluxe Edition that pairs the main album with the sessions outtakes and jams. The main album will be available on its own as 2 Cd’s, 3 LP’s or limited edition 3-LP coloured vinyl.

In the June 10th announcement, Dhani Harrison said, “Since the 50th anniversary stereo mix release of the title track to my father’s legendary All Things Must Pass album in [November] 2020, my dear pal Paul Hicks and I have continued to dig through mountains of tapes to restore and present the rest of this newly remixed and expanded edition of the album you now see and hear before you. Bringing greater sonic clarity to this record was always one of my father’s wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed in 2001. Now, 20 years later, with the help of new technology and the extensive work of Paul Hicks we have realized this wish and present to you this very special 50th Anniversary release of perhaps his greatest work of art. Every wish will be fulfilled.”

The All Things Must Pass sessions began just six weeks after the April 1970 announcement of The Beatles’ break-up. Two days were spent recording 30 demos in Studio Three at EMI Studios, Abbey Road in St. John’s Wood, London. The first day, May 26, saw Harrison record 15 songs backed by Ringo Starr and Harrison’s longtime friend, bassist Klaus Voormann, beginning with “All Things Must Pass.” The next day, May 27th, Harrison played an additional 15 songs for co-producer Phil Spector. The All Things Must Pass Uber and Super Deluxe Editions collect all 30 of these demo recordings, including 26 tracks never before officially released and several songs that didn’t make the album, like “Cosmic Empire,” “Going Down to Golders Green,” “Dehra Dun,” “Sour Milk Sea,” “Beautiful Girl,” “Nowhere to Go,” and “Mother Divine.”

But the overall vibe of the music is sheer excitement. The demos include stripped down versions of “What Is Life (even better than the final album  version) and “All Things Must Pass,” with just George and his acoustic guitar. He digs into country blues with “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me.” The original album has never sounded better, with classics like “My Sweet Lord,” “Wah-Wah,” and his benevolently affectionate love song to the Beatles’ girl fans, “Apple Scruffs.” Here’s an exclusive tour of the 10 most revelatory moments on “All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition“.

“Isn’t It A Pity (Take 27)”

This stately hymn was written back in 1966, but it became the centerpiece of All Things Must Pass, and arguably his greatest solo moment ever. This outtake is more tranquil and serene than the more grand versions on the album. 

“Sour Milk Sea”

A great spiritual rocker that he demoed for the White Album—it really should have made the cut instead of “Piggies.” Harrison never released the song himself, choosing to donate it to his old pal Jackie Lomax, who turned it into a U.K. hit. This version is the closest we’ve got to a definitive Harrison version, just him and his acoustic guitar, with a bluesy edge. 

“Nowhere To Go”

A song writing collaboration with Bob Dylan, dating back to 1968. You can hear his seething anger as he rails against the strictures of celebrity life, with echoes of his 1969 drug bust when he sings, “I get tired of policemen on the prowl / Picking in my bowel / Every time somebody’s getting high.”

“Om Hare Om (Kopala Krishna)”

This guitar meditation not only should have made the original album—it would have been one of the highlights. Harrison writes his own Indian hymn, chanting the names of the Lord, but his acoustic guitar has a deeply Celtic drone. Not far at all from what bands like the Velvet Underground or Fairport Convention were trying at the time.

“Cosmic Empire”

Another acoustic demo that would made a top-tier song on the album. It’s that’s a surprisingly upbeat spiritual ditty, with Harrison singing, “I’m waiting in the queue to go the cosmic empire / I want a front-row pew at the cosmic empire.

Five decades after it was recorded, “Cosmic Empire” now sees the light of day and features Harrison performing the song on acoustic guitar on the second day of recording.

“Get Back”

“Take it, Jojo!” George yells in this surprisingly joyful bash at a song from his former band, full of affection for both the song and the lads. During the solo, he calls out to long time aide-de-camp Mal Evans with a request: “Mal, get a mop and another glass of orange juice!”

“I Don’t Want To Do It” 

George opened the original album with a Dylan song, “I’d Have You Any Time,” and also covered “If Not For You.” This would have been the album’s third Dylan tune, a song full of regret (“I don’t want to do it / I don’t want to say goodbye”) that might have hit too close to home in the disintegration of the Beatles. George revisited the song years later to finally give it an official release—on the soundtrack for the 1985 teen-trash comedy Porky’s Revenge. The Eighties, man. 

“Beautiful Girl”

A disarmingly romantic folk tune, with a touch of Smokey Robinson in the melody and the intricate touch of his own songs from Rubber Soul. It’s still a work in progress, which is probably why he salted it away for his 1976 solo album Thirty Three and a Third—it took his wife Olivia to inspire him to finish it. (The album had another great Robinson tribute, “Pure Smokey.”)

“Dehra Dhun”

“Many roads can take you there, many different ways,” George sings in this light-hearted spiritual chant. “One direction takes you years / Another takes you days.” It was inspired by India—Dhera Dhun is near the Maharishi’s base in Rishikesh—as George likens pilgrims to “beggars in a gold mine.”

“Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine”

One of the most comic moments in the whole box: George steps out with this jaunty version of an old standard from the 1920s. The song must have hit home for him at the time, given the Beatles’ split. (It also haunted John, who quoted it in his “Lennon Remembers” interview in Rolling Stone, and Paul, who played it in the Anthology.) You can hear his affection for people and things that went before. But there’s no sadness in it. He’s a new man, ready to face the future, making the most confident music of his life.

Harrison had been stockpiling material for nearly half a decade, with a number of songs – including “Isn’t It A Pity” and the title track – rehearsed with, but not recorded by, The Beatles. Further songs evinced Harrison’s growing frustration over those preceding years, including “Wah-Wah,” “Beware of Darkness” and “Run of the Mill,” the latter named by both George and Olivia Harrison as one of their all-time favourites.

Written by Harrison while producing Billy Preston’s 1969 Apple Records solo debut but saved for his own album a year later, the glorious “What Is Life” highlights the artist at his most exultant.

An anthem weaving a chant of the Hare Krishna mantra and “hallelujah,” “My Sweet Lord” proved a worldwide smash upon its November 1970 single release, making history as the first solo single by a former Beatle to reach #1 in the U.K. or the U.S.

Harrison’s close friendship with Bob Dylan begat two songs: the album-opening “I’d Have You Anytime” was co-written with Dylan, while the classic “If Not For You” was at the time an unreleased Dylan composition. The Super Deluxe Edition includes previously unreleased demo recordings of both songs as well as “Nowhere to Go” and “I Don’t Want to Do It,” another original Dylan song later recorded by Harrison for a 1985 soundtrack but remains unrecorded by Dylan himself.

The original release of All Things Must Pass collected 18 songs over two LPs alongside a third LP – dubbed “Apple Jam” – showcasing four improvised instrumentals including a pair recorded as part of Derek and the Dominos’ first ever official recording session in June 1970. In addition, the “Apple Jam” disc includes “It’s Johnny’s Birthday,” sung to the tune of Cliff Richard’s 1968 hit “Congratulations” and recorded as a gift from Harrison to mark John Lennon’s 30th birthday.

The All Things Must Pass session tapes created in 1970 include over t25 hours of music on 49 1” eight-track tapes, four 2” 16-track tapes, and 44 ¼” stereo tapes. Richard Radford, Archivist for the George Harrison Estate, oversaw the preservation of the tape collection, with the original analogue multi-track and stereo tapes transferred to 192 KHz/24bit digital preservation copies.

The original album was met by unanimous critical acclaim and spectacular commercial success, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart and eight weeks atop the U.K.’s official albums chart (though chart records until 2006 mistakenly stated that it had peaked at #4). Currently certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA, All Things Must Pass later received a 1972 GRAMMY® Award nomination for Album of the Year, while “My Sweet Lord” earned a GRAMMY® nod for Record of the Year.

george harrison all the thing must pass

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