|First posted 11/27/2011; updated 12/29/2019.|
All Things Must Pass
Released: November 27, 1970
Charted: December 19, 1970
Peak: 17 US, 18 UK, 19 CN, 18 AU
Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.1 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
All songs written by George Harrison unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 105:59
4.521 out of 5.0 (average of 16 ratings)
Quotable: “Without a doubt, Harrison’s…best.” – Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
About the Album:
With his first solo outing, George Harrison “changed the terms of what an album could be.” PF As the first triple album issued by a solo artist, WK All Things Must Pass “reinforced that the album could be an epic novel for a different sort of age.” PF The album shredded Harrison’s reputation as “the quiet Beatle,” proving that he had plenty to say. As he said on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, “I had such a lot of songs mounting up that I really wanted to do, but I only got my quota of one or two tunes per album.” PF Pitchfork called it “the heaviest and most consequential Beatles solo album.” PF
Enhanced by Phil Spector’s lush orchestral production, and Harrison’s own superb slide guitar, nearly every song is excellent.” RU This is “a very moving work” RU that is, “without a doubt, Harrison’s…best.” RU Amazon’s Jerry McCulley described it as “Harrison’s unequaled masterpiece.” AZ Peter Doggett, managing editor of Record Collector said that at the start of 1971, Harrison was “arguably the most successful rock star on the planet.” WK His music of the time reflected the spiritual mysticism of Eastern philosophy “without sacrificing his gifts for melody and grand, sweeping arrangements.” RU
Most notable in balancing the spiritual and the commercial is the chart-topping My Sweet Lord. Years later the song would gain notoriety when Harrison was sued for “unconscious plagiarism” because of the song’s similarity to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” Harrison started writing the song in late 1969, inspired by the top-five gospel single “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins’ Singers. CR At the time he was touring with Delaney & Bonnie. Their backing groug included Eric Clapton, Carl Radle, Boby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon – players who went on to form Derek & the Dominos and play on All Things.
They were just part of the rich assembly of talent featured on the album. Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, future Yes drummer Alan White, members of Badfinger, and even a young Phil Collins appear on the album. Harrison’s willingness to share the spotlight reflected how he had “been elbowed out of a room too many times before [and] it seemed, he was staunchly unwilling to do the same to others.” PF Peter Frampton said Harrison “was sort of ego-less,” explaining that “everyone was there because they were great players…no one was treated as a session musician.” CR
Harrison had faced enough rejection as a Beatle, being confined to one or two songs per album. Here, he finally gets to introduce some of those songs. Isn’t It a Pity dated back to the Beatles’ 1966 Revolver album. PF During the Beatles’ 1969 Get Back sessions that eventually become 1970’s final Beatles’ album, Let It Be, Harrison introduced early versions of the Let It Down, Window, Window, and the title track, WK which “now seems like a very prescient admission that the game was almost up.” CR
Some of the songs were also a result of Harrison’s friendship with Bob Dylan. He and Dylan co-wrote I’d Have You Anytime in 1968 when Harrison visited Dylan and the Band in Woodstock, New York. Harrison also tackles a Dylan cover, If Not for You, a result of Harrison’s participation in Dylan’s starting sessions for the 1970 album New Morning. WK There’s also Behind That Locked Door, which Harrison wrote about his friend’s shyness. CR
While there were “dark, tortured undertones” CR to some of the music, there were also “creations that brimmed with real joy: the euphoric What Is Life, I Dig Love, and Awaiting on You All.” CR The latter, with lines like “You don’t need no love-in” and “You don’t need no bed pan” were “a pretty obvious dig at John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and the two infamous weeks they spent in bed, so as to somehow further the cause of peace.” CR
Harrison enlisted famed producer Phil Spector, who worked on the Beatles’ Let It Be, to give the album “a heavy and reverb-oriented sound.” WK Harrison later regretted the decision, saying in the press kit for the album’s 30th anniversary reissue that it resulted in “too much echo” WK and apologizing for the “big production.” AZ As an example of Spector’s production, the “biting Wah-Wah,” PF which Harrison wrote during his temporary departure from the Beatles WK about his “vexed relationship with [Paul] McCartney,” CR is “layered with so many different guitar tracks it feels like three guitar rock songs fighting each other.” PF
Originally the album was packed as two LPs for the vinyl release and then a third album, called Apple Jam, collected informal instrumental jams which Harrison led with accompaniment by some of his famous musician friends. This latter material makes for the albums only “significant flaw: the jams… are entirely dispensable, and have probably only been played once or twice by most of the listeners that own this record.” RU They were “the deluxe cuts and alternate takes of their day.” PF
The original vinyl release was a triple album. The CD reissue is comprised of two discs. A 30th anniversary reissue added bonus tracks.