Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Not Always Going to be This Grey: George Harrison's All Things Must Pass is 40

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
George Harrison
All Things Must Pass
1970
Rating: **** 1/2

In April of 1970, the Beatles were no more. They had broken up and gone off with their own solo careers. Each member was now able to have artistic freedom without any fighting, which was what the Beatles had been in their last months together. For George Harrison, making a new album meant inviting all of his friends and releasing it as a triple disc set (which can now, luckily, fit all onto two CDs). Of the twelve studio albums Harrison made, All Things Must Pass is arguably his greatest. There’s a great variety of songs and they really show the true musician Harrison was.

All Things Must Pass wasn’t Harrison’s first solo album. In 1968, Harrison released Wonderwall Music which was a soundtrack to the movie of the same name (minus the “music” part). In 1969, Harrison got experimental on Electronic Sounds, which featured nothing but some forty minutes of synthesizers. All Things Must Pass is, for many fans, Harrison’s real first album. Many of the songs on the album were from the Beatles days, specifically from The White Album and Let It Be sessions.

The opening track, “I’d Have You Anytime”, is a wonderful opener. Harrison plays brilliantly on slide guitar and the lyrics are great. “My Sweet Lord” is probably the most popular song off the album, as it was the first #1 solo single for a Beatle. The background “Halleluiah” vocals give the song a very religious vibe. Harrison was sued a couple of years later, since Harrison had supposedly plagiarized the Chiffon’s hit “He’s So Fine”. Harrison’s manager and former Beatles manager, Allen Klien, was playing from both sides and may’ve started the lawsuit just for the money. Harrison ended up owning the rights for “He’s So Fine” and that was that. “Wah-Wah” is impressive for its guitar work from Harrison and his best friend, Eric Clapton, while “Isn’t It A Pity” is one of Harrison’s best ballads and also became a hit for him. “What Is Life” has a really catchy opening that’ll leave you hooked and wanting more. The music and lyrics are wonderful and I think this just might be my favorite song off the album. George also covers the Bob Dylan song, “If Not For You”. While I have yet to hear the original, this song sounds as if it’s George’s. “Behind That Locked Door” is a bit bluesy as George plays slide guitar (or is that a ukulele). The sound is hallow and echoes, which makes it special. “Let It Down” is a bit of a rocker that goes back to the Let It Be sessions while “Run of the Mill” concludes the first disc nicely.

The second disc opens with “Beware of Darkness”, a very chilling song. “Watch out now” sings George at the beginning of each verse. As always, George is shining on guitar. The next two songs are, in some way, autobiographical. “Apple Scruffs” is supposedly about Beatle fans that would wait outside of Apple Corps or Abbey Road Studios. “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)” is about the man himself, who was the original owner of George’s mansion Friar Park. “Awaiting on You All” follows in the same vein as “My Sweet Lord” but this time, there’s a lot more going on instrument wise. The song suggests that by “chanting the name of lord” you’ll be free. “All Things Must Pass” was rehearsed during the Let It Be sessions. This song shows how great George was at writing moving songs. “I Dig Love” is a bit dull but the second version of “Isn’t It A Pity” makes up for it. The album ends with the powerful “Hear Me Lord”. However, it isn’t really the end of the album. The third record (or today, it’s on the second disc) is a whole blues jam with George’s fans. Like most jam sessions, it goes on for a long time and it’s easy to lose interest.

All Things Must Pass earned George Harrison a hit album in the charts. Due to the album’s success, Harrison was able to continue his success with more wonderful music. In 2001, George Harrison reissued the album with bonus tracks and a new front cover, now in color. Harrison even re-recorded “My Sweet Lord” as a bonus track. Harrison died on November 29, 2001 after his long battle with cancer. All Things Must Pass is, without a doubt, George’s finest piece of work.

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