GEORGE HARRISON-ALL THINGS MUST PASS.
GEORGE HARRISON-ALL THINGS MUST PASS.
Following the breakup of The Beatles in 1970, John, Paul and Ringo embarked upon solo careers. Most of the attention centred around John and Paul. This suited George Harrison fine.
George Harrison’s solo career began in November 1968, nearly two before the breakup of The Beatles. That’s when George Harrison released the soundtrack to Wonderwall Music.
Wonderwall Musicwas the soundtrack to Joe Massot’s film. The soundtrack was a fusion of two musical cultures. Indian classical music and rock sat side-by-side on Wonderwall. This isn’t surprising. George Harrison had been interested in Indian music since 1966. Now George had the opportunity experiment with his new musical love.
Recording of Wonderwall Music took place between November 1967 and February 1968. On Wonderwall Music, George Harrison collaborated with renowned classical pianist and orchestral arranger John Barham. He played an important part in Wonderwall Music. So did a number of Indian musicians, including of the other Mahapurush Misra, Shivkumar Sharma and Aashish Khan. However, it wasn’t just classical musicians that featured on Wonderwall Music.
Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Peter Tork featured on Wonderwall Music. So did Tony Ashton and his band The Remo Four. Once recording of Wonderwall Music was complete, it was released on The Beatles’ new record label Apple.
Before Wonderwall Music was released, it failed to catch the attention of critics. Many didn’t even bother to review Wonderwall Music. They perceived it as “just a soundtrack.” However, since then, critics have reevaluated Wonderwall Music. It’s now perceived as a compelling and innovative album. Indeed, Wonderwall Music is now one of the most underrated solo albums by a former Beatle. Not many people would’ve realised this in 1968.
Wonderwall Music was released in Britain on 1st November 1968, it failed to chart. A day later, Wonderwall Music was released on 2nd November 1968. It peaked at number forty-nine in the US Billboard 200. This vindicated George Harrison’s decision to release such a groundbreaking album. The followup to Wonderwall Music saw George’s music head in a much more avant garde direction.
Just over a year later, George Harrison released his sophomore album, Electronic Sound. It was an album of avant garde music. Electronic Sound was released on The Beatles’ short lived Zapple label in May 1969.
Zapple was an imprint of Apple. Its raison d’être was to release of avant garde music. However, Zapple didn’t last long. When Allen Klein started managing The Beatles, he closed the label down. This was one of his cost cutting measures. One of the few albums it released was Electronic Sound.
Electronic Sound was recorded during November 1968 and February 1969. The album featured just two lengthy pieces played on the Moog snyth. Under the Mersey Wall lasted nearly nineteen minutes and No Time or Space was a twenty-five minute epic. These two songs became Electronic Sound, which was released in May 1969.
Just like Wonderwall, critics weren’t interested in Electronic Sound. Reviews were few and far between. That’s not surprising. Here was an album that ahead of its time. Very few people understood what George was trying to achieve. Later, when critics revisited Electronic Sound, it was deemed as an album for completists only or those interested in pioneering electronic albums. Electronic Sound hadn’t stood the test of time. Neither was it a commercial success.
Electronic Sound was released in Britain on 9th May 1969, and failed to chart. Just over two weeks later, Electronic Sound was released in America on 25th May 1969. History repeated itself and Electronic Sound failed to chart. However, George’s luck was about to change. His third album All Things Must Pass, which was recently released by Commercial Marketing as a double album, would transform George Harrison’s career.
All Things Must Pass.
While his first two album had been adventurous and groundbreaking, George Harrison’s third album All Things Must Pass is much more traditional. All Things Must Pass showcases George’s talent as a songwriter.
For All Things Must Pass, George headed to the studio with eighteen tracks. Many of the songs were new songs. Some of the tracks on All Things Must Pass were written while George was a member of The Beatles. They turned down tracks like All Things Must Pass and Isn’t It A Pity. So George kept them for his solo career. Now was the time to showcase these songs on All Things Must Pass.
Sixteen of these tracks were written by George. The exceptions were I’d Have You Anytime, which George and Bob Dylan cowrote. If Not For You was the other track on All Things Must Pass. It was a cover of a Bob Dylan song. These eighteen songs were part of what became a triple album. It was recorded in three top studios and featured an all-star cast.
Recording of All Things Must Pass began on 26th May 1970 and finished in late October 1970. Three studios were used. This included Abbey Road Studios, Trident Studios and Apple Studios. During that five month period, the great and good of music played a walk on part on All Things Must Pass.
During the recording sessions for All Things Must Pass, Derek and The Dominos featured. Jim Gordon played drums, Carl Radle bass and Eric Clapton acoustic and electric guitars. Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr played drums. Billy Preston who played with both The Beatles and Rolling Stones played piano and organ. Another Beatles’ confident, Klaus Voormann, played guitar and bass. Ginger Baker of Blind Faith played drums. Dave Mason of Traffic played electric and acoustic guitars and Phil Collins of Genesis percussion. Alan White of Yes added drums. These big names were joined by some top session players.
This included Bobby Whitlock. He was formerly a member of Delaney and Bonnie, and in 1970, session musician to the stars. Bobby played piano, organ, tubular bells and harmonium. Horns came courtesy of saxophonist Bobby Keys and trumpeter and trombonist Jim Price and pedal steel Pete Drake. Playing acoustic guitar were Pete Ham, Tom Evans and Joey Molland. Pianists included Tony Ashton and Gary Brooker. Joining this crack band of session players was Beatles’ roadie Mal Evans, who played percussion. He played a small part in what would become the most successful album of George Harrison’s career, All Things Must Pass.
With All Things Must Pass completed, it was scheduled to be released on 27th October 1970. Before then, the music critics passed judgment on All Things Must Pass. There was not one dissenting voice. Critics hailed All Things Must Pass as a classic. Critical acclaim accompanied All Things Must Pass. It was, without doubt, the greatest album of George’s three album solo career. It was a coming of age for George Harrison.
It was as if George Harrison had been freed from the shackles that were The Beatles. He was being held back by the Lennon-McCartney axis. They dictated what songs featured on albums. George’s songs were rejected out of hand. He was about to have the last laugh though.
The cover of All Things Must Pass saw George Harrison surrounded by four comedic looking gnomes. They were meant to represent The Beatles. Beatles watchers saw this as George commenting on his removal from The Beatles. No longer was he a Beatle. After all these years as a Beatle, George was had his own identity back. Even better, he was about to release a classic album All Things Must Pass.
27th October 1970 was D-Day for George Harrison. That was the day All Things Must Pass was released as a triple album. The first four sides featured the main part of All Things Must Pass. It was produced by George and Phil Spector. On sides five and six, was Apple Jam. It featured five jams. The lavish triple album that was All Things Must Pass, was about to become one of the most successful solo albums by a former Beatle.
The lead single released from All Things Must Pass during 1970 was a double A-Side. This was My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity. It reached number one in America, Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Having sold one million copies in America, My Sweet Lord was certified gold. It was then nominated for a Grammy Award. There was a problem though.
Anyone familiar with Ronnie Mack’s He’s So Fine, will immediately spot similarities between the two songs. So did Bright Tunes Music. They filed a write against George’s Harrisongs Music on 10th February 1971. Nearly five years later, on 23rd February 1976, the case was settled. It was held that George Harrison “subconsciously copied” He’s So Fine. Damages totalled $1,599,987, which was deemed 75% of the North American royalties. For George, the case caused him huge problems. He became so paranoid about subconsciously copying some else’s work, that he could hardly write. However, back in 1970, that wasn’t the case.
On the release of All Things Must Pass on 27th October 1970, it reached number one in America, Australia, Britain, Canada, Holland, Norway and Sweden. All Things Must Pass also reached number four in Japan and number ten in Germany. Given how successful All Things Must Pass was, it’s no surprise it was certified gold in Britain and Canada. In America, All Things Must Pass was certified platinum six times over. That equates to sales of six million copies of All Things Must Pass. Never again, would George Harrison reach these heights. After all, All Things Must Pass is a stonewall classic.
After the release of All Things Must Pass, no longer was George perceived as a junior partner in The Beatles. That was far from the case. He was a talented and prolific songwriter. The sixteen songs he wrote for were just the tip of a musical iceberg. For years, George had been quietly writing songs. By 1970, he had accumulated a vast body of work. Now was the time to let the record buying public hear what he was capable of on All Things Must Pass.
All Things Must Pass was George’s Magnus Opus. It’s an epic album. Lavish, epic arrangements are the perfect foil for George’s vocal. The music is both melodic and mystical. Especially when George draws inspiration from Indian music. This is part of All Things Must Pass’ spiritual sound.
During All Things Must Pass spirituality and religion play an important part. This is apparent on My Sweet Lord. Just like other tracks on All Things Must Pass, My Sweet Lord is a mixture of rock ’n’ religion. It’s an anthemic modern day hymnal. However, there’s other influences on All Things Must Pass.
This includes The Band, Bob Dylan and of course Phil Spector. His arrangements are part of the albums lavish, grandiose sound. Phil Spector co-produced All Things Must Pass. He was yin to George’s yang. Now that George was freed from the constraints of Lennon and McCartney, Phil helped the genie escape from the bottle.
In doing so, Phil Spector helped George Harrison record an album he’d never better, All Things Must Pass. Cerebral and spiritual, beautiful, thoughtful and spiritual, the music is sometimes wistful and melancholy. Always, you’re compelled during six sides of music. There’s many highlights.
Some of the many highlights include My Sweet Lord is a stonewall classic. It’s one of the best songs from a former Beatle. A spiritual song, written in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, George calls for the abandonment of religious sectarianism. Sadly, forty-four years later, this beautiful song is just as relevant.
The thoughtful Isn’t It a Pity was written after the demise of The Beatles, George is in a reflective mood. There’s a sadness in his voice that no longer are The Beatles such close friends. On All Things Must Pass, it’s as if George has come to terms that The Beatles are no more. Considering they were a part of his life for so long, this couldn’t have been easy.
George is in an equally reflective mood on What Is Life? Written in 1969, it’s one of George Harrison’s love songs. This is something he does so well. In this song, the lyrics aren’t just about a woman, but a deity too.
Beware Of The Darkness is another spiritual song. The lyrics reflect the supposed philosophy of Radha Krishna Temple. It’s a song full of powerful imagery. This gives the track a cinematic sound and feel. Art Of Dying is another spiritual track. This time, it deals with reincarnation and the need to avoid rebirth. Closing All Things Might Pass is Hear Me Lord. Originally, George put the song forward for Let It Be. It was rejected and makes its debut on All Things Might Pass. A personal prayer in a rock gospel style, George asks for help and forgiveness from his deity.
Apple Jam, which fills sides five and six, allows George Harrison’s all-star band to cut loose. On the longer tracks Out of the Blue, I Remember Jeep and Thanks for the Pepperoni they showcase their versatility and considerable talents. This is a fitting way to end All Things Must Pass.
Although George released nine further solo albums, he none of them match All Things Must Pass in terms of success and quality. Most of his albums were commercially successful. However, All Things Must Pass was a career defining album. Never again would George Harrison reach the same heights.
Try as he may, George always came up short. All Things Must Pass was George Harrison’s Magnus Opus. Freed from the shackles of The Beatles, George blossomed. He was no longer the quiet Beatle. George was only quiet because he never had was given opportunity to speak musically. When he did, it was a case of tokenism. The Beatles would come to regret this.
Just six months after Paul McCartney announced he was leaving The Beatles in April 1970, George Harrison released All Things Must Pass. It sold over seven million copies and reached number one in Australia, Britain, Europe and North America. Then there was the small matter of two Grammy Award nominations.
When the Grammy Award nominations came out, George was nominated twice. All Things Must Pass was nominated for for the Album of The Year Award. My Sweet Lord was also nominated for Record of the Year. For George Harrison, he’d come of age as a solo artist.
George did it his way. This meant no bed ins or adaptations of nursery rhymes. Instead, George, one of the most respected figures in music, was joined by some of the biggest names in music.
The track listing to All Things Must Pass reads like a who’s who of music. They recorded twenty-three songs that became All Things Must Pass, which was recently released by Commercial Marketing as a double album. All Things Must Pass became the most successful solo album released by a former Beatle.
After the success of All Things Must Pass, none of the rest of The Beatles’ replicated this success. Forty-four years later, All Things Must Pass remains the most successful solo album released by a former Beatle. It’s no wonder that All Things Must Pass is a classic album.
Rolling Stone magazine agree. They included All Things Must Pass in their list of 500 albums of all time. It’s without doubt, an album that should feature in any self respecting record collection. All Things Must Pass was very different from George’s two previous albums.
1968s Wonderwall and 1969s Electronic Music were much more avant garde and groundbreaking albums. However, All Things Must Pass saw George Harrison return to a much more familiar sound. The only difference was All Things Must pass marked the debut of George Harrison’s trademark slide guitar sound. Washes of slide guitar play an important part in All Things Must Pass’ sound. This sound would feature on further George Harrison albums.
There would be another nine George Harrison albums. His final album was Brainwashed. It was released posthumously in 2002, a year after George Harrison’s death. He left behind a rich musical legacy. This includes the albums he recorded with The Beatles and the twelve solo albums he released between 1968 and 2002. George Harrison’s Magus Opus was All Things Must Pass, a stonewall classic, that’s the most successful album released by a former Beatle.
GEORGE HARRISON-ALL THINGS MUST PASS.