Posts Tagged ‘All Things Must Pass’

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George Harrison released the 3 LP set “All Things Must Pass” on November. 27th, 1970. “All Things Must Pass” was a triple album recorded and released in 1970. The album was Harrison’s first solo work since the break-up of the Beatles in April of that year, and his third solo album overall. It included the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life.” The record introduced Harrison’s signature sound, the slide guitar, and the spiritual themes that would be present throughout his subsequent solo work.
Among the large cast of backing musicians were Eric Clapton and Delaney & Bonnie’s Friends band – three of whom formed Derek and the Dominos with Clapton during the recording – as well as Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, John Barham, Badfinger and Pete Drake. The sessions produced a double album’s worth of extra material, most of which remains unissued.
The record was critically and commercially successful on release, with long stays at number 1 on charts around the world. “All Things Must Pass” is “generally rated” as the best of all the former Beatles’ solo albums. George Harrison may have been “the quiet Beatle” but he was still one fourth of what was probably the most important band on the planet, whose contribution to the group, and popular music in general, cannot be underestimated. His use of the 12 string electric on the “A Hard Day’s Night” album, and subsequent movie had such a profound impact on Roger McGuinn, that he soon went out and bought himself a Rickenbacker. Harrison also changed the direction of pop music when he introduced the sitar on 1966’s Rubber Soul, thus creating a sound that would within a few months forever become synonymous with the psychedelic movement.

But it wasn’t until 1970, after the Beatles announced their breakup that Eric Clapton introduced him to Delaney Bramlett, where within a matter of weeks George developed the unique slide technique he is remembered for today, a style which owes itself less to the blues or rock and roll, and more to Harrison’s soul.

No doubt Lennon and McCartney’s domination in the song writing department must have proved to be a great frustration for Harrison, who was often forced to take a back seat. Thus Harrison found himself in the enviable position of having a rich cache of material to draw from, and so he set to work on his first solo album proper (with the exception of Wonderwall Music, which was really a soundtrack anyway), assembling a cast that included Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Dave Mason, Badfinger, and probably whoever else was hanging around the studio at the time.

“Beware of Darkness.” If you’re looking for a little spiritual uplift about now, look no further than this George Harrison heartfelt meditation on the perils of living in the material world. “Beware of Darkness,” irom Harrison’s triple album “All Things Must Pass.” Clearly, George had been filing away songs that never made it to Beatles‘ albums, so “All Things Must Pass,” opened the floodgates for him to explore his more inner-directed concerns with glorious results. The song features Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitars, Carl Radle on bass, Bobby Whitlock on piano, Gary Wright on organ, and old trusty, fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr on drums. It represented an extension of Harrison’s spiritual awakening in India in 1968 when he and the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh to meet up again with Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, whom they had met in 1967 in Wales. Harrison had included “Within You, Without You,” on Sgt. Pepper in 1967, and had incorporated the sitar even earlier on “Rubber Soul” in 1965, and “Revolver” in 1966, indicating a slowly shifting focus.

“Beware of Darkness,” possesses a sweetness, beauty and depth of feeling that only could have come from Harrison at that time. “All Things Must Pass,” including this song, are his answer to his fellow Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who for years limited Harrison to one song on most albums. Though a single album brimming with greatness might have been preferable, George felt the need to demonstrate his own writing prowess over three albums, with stellar results.

The resulting triple LP, “All Things Must Pass”, was and remains the finest musical statement made by a solo Beatle. It was also a global hit, thanks mainly to the single “My Sweet Lord”, a spiritual pop-rock paean to Harrison’s recent conversion to the teachings of Hare Krishna. That people went out and bought it in droves is a testament not only to the quality of the tunes contained within its grooves, but also the talent behind it.

“I’d Have You Anytime” gets things off to a low key and leisurely start, where he hear Clapton’s sweet and endearing guitar tones complement Harrison’s pleading and plaintive vocals. A lovely piece overall. Next is the big one, “My Sweet Lord”, perhaps the song Harrison is most identified with post Beatles, which is fair enough. Now whether he ‘subconsciously’ borrowed from the Chiffons 1963 hit “She’s So Fine” is a matter of conjecture. Because at the end of the day, who really gives a shit. It’s a great song, and that’s all that’s matters.

We then get the bigger than Hollywood, Phil Spector produced “Wah-Wah”, dominated by Clapton’s own wah-wah, and Harrison’s gorgeous slide guitar. It’s a monumental track and one where everyone seems to be flying by the seat of their pants. “Isn’t It a Pity” is a philosophical number, and finds Harrison reflecting on all that’s wrong with the world, in that epic “Hey Jude” kind of way, only with a bit more spirituality thrown in. “What Is Life” lifts the listener up then puts him (or her) down again in one glorious swoop. Imagine Bob Dylan meets The Ronettes. And speaking of Dylan, “If Not for You” first appeared on his 1970 album New Morning. But this is my favourite rendition. Hands down.

Now I’m not much of a fan of country, however “Behind that Locked Door” aches with a yearning which speaks to me every time I hear it. “Let It Down” starts off all big and bombast before falling into a relaxing groove. Billy Preston provides some soothing organ, while Harrison laments about his state of mind. “Run of the Mill” is another intellectually searching opus, albeit in less than three minutes. But putting aside the ‘what do our lives mean’ aspect, it’s a great song nonetheless. And one I never seem to tire of.

The second LP, and yes I do own the vinyl version, the best in my opinion, begins in depressing fashion with “Beware of Darkness”, hardly the sort of song you want to play to someone on a first date. Suffice to say I’m quite a fan of it nonetheless. The same goes with “Apple Scruffs”, which is not only a summation of everything Harrison had learned from the Beatles (just listen to the harmonies), but also a great play on words, at least in relation to the Apple label which his previous band had founded, and which wound up costing them huge sums of money in the process.

“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” is one of the most haunting tunes of the record, but I can’t tell you why. Call it the mystery of music. “Awaiting On You All” is a short uplifting gospel number, although the listener finds himself on the psychiatrist’s couch again with the title track, a song that probably sums up Harrison’s career at that point, and one that forces the him to gaze out on the horizon, and reflect on his own life.

Harrison gets playful on “I Dig Love”, before we get all serious and musical with “The Art of Dying”, a tune which has some superb playing by Clapton and everyone else involved. We hear a reprise of “Isn’t It a Pity”, just in case you didn’t get the message the first time, before ending with a plea to the Almighty on “Hear Me Lord”, which is really a nice song, and I guess an expression of a man who has been though a lot and was at a point where he was truly grappling with some important issues.

The third LP is a bit of hit and miss, depending on your state of mind. “It’s Johnny Birthday” is basically a self indulgent write off, though “Plug Me In” is more like it, an effervescent guitar jam, where the amps must have been running red hot. We get all late night and jammy on “I Remember Jeep”, before some High Octane Chuck Berry kicks in on “Thanks for the Pepperoni”. The only issue I have at this point of the album, is that one either has to be pissed or on some kind of drug to enjoy it.

No matter which way you look at it, All Things Must Pass was a landmark release. Harrison had made it clear that from now on he would be doing things his way and that there could not be any turning back. The man poured his heart into this record, a quality which shines through some forty years later. Harrison might not have been the most perfect human being, but his quest for some kind of universal purity in the world was a noble one at best. And while an individual who was not always at peace with himself, he wanted nothing but peace for the world.

Happy 50th Birthday to “All Things Must Pass”

All Things Must Pass – An Appreciation

Classic album is a term that’s used way too much when describing records but of course, one person’s classic album is another’s long-forgotten record, but we think that without fear of contradiction George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is definately a CLASSIC album… 45 Years ago, released on 19th December 1970.

There’s an old adage in the music business that talks of, ‘the difficult third album’, well this was George’s third solo album and there’s nothing difficult about it, every track is worthy of its place, it was originally released as a triple vinyl album when it came out on 27th November 1970. Truth is George considered this to be his first solo album proper, having originally released his movie soundtrack, Wonderwall Music and his synthesizer album, Electronic Sound.

The genesis of All Things Must Pass can be said to have begun with George’s visit to America in November 1968 when he established his long-lasting friendship with Bob Dylan while staying in Woodstock. George’s songwriting output was increasing and becoming increasingly more self-assured, for example he co-wrote ‘Badge’ with Eric Clapton for Creams Goodbye album that came out in early 1969.

George’s involvement with Apple Record’s signings, Billy Preston and Doris Troy in 1969, as well as his tour playing guitar with Delaney and Bonnie in a band that included Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon, began to influence his writing with elements of gospel and the kind of sounds that we have come to call ‘Americana’.


George’s spiritual journey saw him involved with the Hare Krishna movement that would also become another vital piece in the jigsaw of sound that makes up All Things Must Pass. In February 1969, on his 26th birthday, George recorded a demo of his song, ‘All Things Must Pass’, along with ‘Old Brown Shoe’ and ‘Something’. The latter two songs went on to be recorded by the Beatles and for whatever reason ‘All Things Must Pass’ was not recorded by the Beatles; the song is based on a translation of part of chapter 23 of the Tao Te Ching, “All things pass, A sunrise does not last all morning. A month earlier George also made a demo of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, one of the standout tracks on All Things Must Pass, but this song too failed to make the cut for a Beatles album. It wasn’t until early 1970 that initial preparatory work began on George’s solo album; it was at this time that he played producer Phil Spector demos of songs that he had been writing while with the Beatles.

Some of these songs went back as far as 1966, specifically, ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Art of Dying’ and he had written ‘’I’d Have You Anytime’ with Bob Dylan in late 1968 while in Woodstock. George had tried to get the Beatles interested in ‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘Hear Me Lord’ and the beautiful, ‘Let It Down’, during rehearsals for the Get Back album, but the other Beatles seemed not to be interested. ‘Wah-Wah’ and ‘Run of the Mill’ both dated from early 1969, while ‘What Is Life’ came to George while he was working with Billy Preston on his album, That’s the Way God Planned It. ‘Behind That Locked Door ‘ was written in the summer of ’69, just before Dylan’s performance at the Isle of Wight Festival and he started to write the epic, ‘My Sweet Lord’ in Copenhagen while on tour with Delaney and Bonnie in late 1969.

It was while on tour with Delaney Bramlett that the Americans asked George to play slide guitar and his ‘I Dig Love’ is an early experiment with a sound that George came to make his own. Other songs on All Things Must Pass were all written in the first half of 1970, these include ‘Awaiting on You All’, ‘Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, a tribute to the original owner of George’s home, Friar Park and ‘Beware of Darkness’. Shortly before the sessions for his album began, George was at a Dylan session in New York, which is where he heard, ‘If Not for You’ and in turn George was inspired to write the Dylanesque, ‘Apple Scruffs’ as the All Things Must Pass sessions were winding up, it was in tribute to the girls who hung around outside Apple Corps offices where he was working, or Abbey Road Studios in the hope of meeting a Beatle.

Recording the album began in late May 1970 and such was the frustration within George at being unable to get his songs on Beatles’ albums that it is of little surprise that there were so many on All Things Must Pass. The third record included in the original triple album is entitled Apple Jam and four of the five tracks – ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Plug Me In’, ‘I Remember Jeep’ and ‘Thanks for the Pepperoni’ – are i instrumentals put together in the studio. According to George “For the jams, I didn’t want to just throw [them] in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn’t part of the record; that’s why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus.” The fifth track, It’s Johnny’s Birthday was a present for Lennon’s 30th and it is sung to the tune of Cliff Richard’s ‘Congratulations’.

Such is the big sound of All Things Must Pass that it is hard to be precise as to who appears on what track. Aside from those already mentioned there is Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and German bassist Klaus Voormann who also did the artwork for the cover of the Beatles’ Revolver album. Members of Apple band, Badfinger were included, helping to create the wall of sound effect on acoustic guitars, and besides future Derek and the Dominos’ keyboard player Bobby Whitlock the other principal keyboardist was Gary Wright who had been a member of Spooky Tooth and later in the 1970s had some big hits in America. Other keyboard players included, Tony Ashton, and John Barham who both played on Wonderwall Music

The drummers were future Yes man, and member of the Plastic Ono Band, Alan White, Phil Collins in his pre-Genesis days and Ginger Baker on the jam, ‘I Remember Jeep’. Other musicians included Nashville pedal steel player Pete Drake and Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker.

700614 D & t D first gig

Originally George had thought it would take just two months to record All Things Must Pass but in the end recording lasted for five months, not finishing until late October. George’s mother was ill with cancer during the recording and this meant that he needed to head back to Liverpool on a regular basis to see her; she died in July 1970. Phil Spector also proved somewhat unreliable and all this led to George himself doing much of the production work himself.

Final mixing of the record started at the very end of October in New York City with Phil Spector. George was not entirely happy with what Spector did, but nothing can take away from the brilliance of this record that still stands up to the test of time. Tom Wilkes designed the box to hold the three LPs and Barry Feinstein took the iconic photos of George and the four garden gnomes on the grass in front of Friar Park.

Scheduled for release in October, the delays meant it came out in America on 27th November 1970 and three days later in the UK. The first triple album by a single artist, it captivated audiences everywhere, entering the Billboard album chart in December it spent 7 weeks at No.1 in America starting with the first chart of 1971. In the UK it only made No.4 on the ‘official’ album chart, although it topped the NME’s chart for 7 weeks. George’s lead single from All Things Must Pass was, ‘My Sweet Lord’ and it topped the singles chart on both sides of the Atlantic.


As time passes we have come to love this amazing record even more. It is the kind of record that says so much about what made music so vital as the 1960s became the 1970s. It is full of great songs, and lyrics that not only meant something then but still resonate today. As future decades come and go, and new generations of music lovers look back, this is the kind of record that will take on almost mythical status. It’s one thing being able to read about its making, it’s quite another thing to allow it to envelop you, to caress you and to make you feel the world is a better place in which to live having listened to it.

All Things Must Pass is George’s spiritual high, truly a classic and unquestionably one of the greatest albums ever made…triple, double or single.

All Things Must Pass was remastered for 2014 and is included in George Harrison’s The Apple Years 1968-1975 box set.