All Things Must Pass
|All Things Must Pass|
|Studio album by George Harrison|
|Released||27 November 1970
30 November 1970 (UK)
|Recorded||26 May−late October 1970
Abbey Road Studios, London; Trident Studios, London; Apple Studio, London
|Genre||Rock, folk rock, gospel|
|Producer||George Harrison, Phil Spector|
|George Harrison chronology|
|Singles from All Things Must Pass|
Cover for the album's 2001 reissue
All Things Must Pass is a triple album by English musician George Harrison, released in November 1970 following the break-up of the Beatles seven months earlier. It includes the hit singles "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life", as well as songs such as the title track and "Isn't It a Pity" that were turned down by the Beatles. The album reflects the influence of Harrison's musical activities outside the group in 1968–70 – with Bob Dylan, the Band, Delaney & Bonnie, Billy Preston and others – and his growth as an artist beyond his allotted, junior role to bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney during that time. The album introduced Harrison's signature sound, the slide guitar, and the spiritual themes that would be implicit throughout his subsequent solo work. The original vinyl release consisted of two LPs of songs and a third disc of informal jams, titled Apple Jam. It was the first studio triple album by a single rock act and the first box-set studio album in the history of rock music. Commentators interpret Barry Feinstein's album cover photo, showing Harrison surrounded by four garden gnomes, as a statement on his independence from the Beatles.
Production on the album began at London's Abbey Road Studios in May 1970, with extensive overdubbing and mixing lasting through to the end of October. 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, Preston, Klaus Voormann, John Barham, Badfinger and Pete Drake. The sessions produced a double album's worth of extra material, most of which remains unreleased.
All Things Must Pass was critically acclaimed on release and, with long stays at number 1 on charts around the world, commercially successful. The album was co-produced by Phil Spector and employs the latter's Wall of Sound production technique to notable effect; Ben Gerson of Rolling Stone described the sound as "Wagnerian, Brucknerian, the music of mountain tops and vast horizons".1 Reflecting the general surprise at the assuredness of Harrison's post-Beatles debut, Melody Maker's Richard Williams likened the album to Greta Garbo's first role in a talking picture and declared: "Garbo talks! – Harrison is free!"2 A number of music critics consider All Things Must Pass to be the best of all the Beatles' solo albums.
Following a successful reissue campaign to mark its 30th anniversary, the album was certified 6x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in March 2001. In 2012, Rolling Stone placed All Things Must Pass 433rd on its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
British music journalist John Harris has identified the start of George Harrison's "journey" to making All Things Must Pass as his visit to America in late 1968, following the acrimonious sessions for the Beatles' White Album.3 While in Woodstock in November,4 Harrison established a long-lasting friendship with Bob Dylan3 and experienced a creative equality among the Band that contrasted sharply with John Lennon and Paul McCartney's domination in the Beatles.56 Coinciding with this visit was a surge in Harrison's songwriting output,7 following his renewed interest in the guitar, after three years spent studying the Indian sitar.89 As well as being one of the few musicians to co-write songs with Dylan,3 Harrison had recently collaborated with Eric Clapton on "Badge",10 which became a hit single for Cream in the spring of 1969.11
Once back in London, and with his compositions continually overlooked for inclusion on releases by the Beatles,1213 Harrison found creative fulfilment in extracurricular projects that, in the words of his musical biographer, Simon Leng, served as an "emancipating force" from the restrictions imposed on him in the band.14 His activities during 1969 included producing Apple signings Billy Preston and Doris Troy, two American singer-songwriters whose soul and gospel roots proved as influential on All Things Must Pass as the music of the Band.15 He also recorded with artists such as Leon Russell16 and Jack Bruce,17 and accompanied Clapton on a short tour with Delaney Bramlett's soul revue, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.18 In addition, Harrison identified his involvement with the Hare Krishna movement as providing "another piece of a jigsaw puzzle" that represented the spiritual journey he had begun in 1966.19 As well as embracing the Vaishnavist branch of Hinduism, Harrison produced two hit singles during 1969–70 by the UK-based devotees, credited as Radha Krishna Temple (London).20 In January 1970,21 Harrison invited American producer Phil Spector to participate in the recording of Lennon's Plastic Ono Band single "Instant Karma!"2223 This association led to Spector being given the task of salvaging the Beatles' Get Back rehearsal tapes, released officially as the Let It Be album (1970),2425 and later co-producing All Things Must Pass.26
Harrison first discussed the possibility of making a solo album of his unused songs during the ill-tempered Get Back sessions, held at Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969.2728nb 1 At Abbey Road Studios on 25 February, his 26th birthday,29 Harrison recorded demos of "All Things Must Pass" and two other compositions that had received little interest from Lennon and McCartney at Twickenham.3031 With the inclusion of one of these songs – "Something" – and "Here Comes the Sun" on the Beatles' Abbey Road album in September 1969, music critics acknowledged that Harrison had bloomed into a songwriter to match Lennon and McCartney.3233 Although later that year he began talking publicly about recording his own album,34 it was only after McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles, in April 1970, signalling the band's break-up,35 that Harrison committed to the idea.36 Despite having already made Wonderwall Music (1968), a mostly instrumental soundtrack album, and the experimental Electronic Sound (1969),37 Harrison considered All Things Must Pass to be his first solo album.38 This is a view held by biographers Leng39 and Joshua Greene40 also, as well as by music writers and critics such as John Harris,3 David Fricke38 and Richie Unterberger.41
Spector first heard Harrison's stockpile of unreleased compositions early in 1970, when visiting his recently purchased home, Friar Park.42 "It was endless!" Spector later recalled of the recital, noting the quantity and quality of Harrison's material.42 Harrison had accumulated songs from as far back as 1966; both "Isn't It a Pity" and "Art of Dying" date from that year.43 He co-wrote at least two songs with Dylan while in Woodstock,44 only one of which, "I'd Have You Anytime", appeared on All Things Must Pass.45 Harrison wrote "Let It Down" in late 1968 also.46
He introduced the Band-inspired47 "All Things Must Pass", along with "Hear Me Lord" and "Let It Down", at the Beatles' Get Back rehearsals, only to have them rejected by Lennon and McCartney.4849nb 2 The tense atmosphere at Twickenham fuelled another All Things Must Pass song, "Wah-Wah",53 which Harrison wrote in the wake of his temporary departure from the band on 10 January 1969.54 "Run of the Mill" followed soon afterwards, its lyrics focusing on the failure of friendships within the Beatles55 amid the business problems surrounding their Apple organisation.56 Harrison's musical activities outside the band during 1969 inspired other compositions on the album: "What Is Life" came to him while driving to a London session that spring for Preston's That's the Way God Planned It album;57 "Behind That Locked Door" was Harrison's message of encouragement to Dylan,58 written the night before the latter's comeback performance at the Isle of Wight Festival;59 and Harrison began "My Sweet Lord" as an exercise in writing a gospel song60 during Delaney & Bonnie's stopover in Copenhagen in December 1969.61nb 3
"I Dig Love" resulted from Harrison's early experiments with slide guitar, a technique that Bramlett had introduced him to,60 in order to cover for guitarist Dave Mason's departure from the Friends line-up.64 Other songs on All Things Must Pass, all written during the first half of 1970, include "Awaiting on You All", which reflected Harrison's adoption of chanting through his involvement with the Hare Krishna movement;6566 "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)", a tribute to the original owner of Friar Park;67 and "Beware of Darkness".68 Shortly before beginning work on All Things Must Pass, Harrison attended a Dylan session in New York on 1 May 1970,69 during which he acquired a new song of Dylan's, "If Not for You".53 Harrison wrote "Apple Scruffs", which was one of a number of Dylan-influenced compositions on the album,70 towards the end of production on All Things Must Pass, as a tribute to the diehard fans who had kept a vigil outside the studios where he was working.6671
The songs are variously based in the rock, soul, gospel, country and folk genres, and Leng notes aspects of Indian classical music in the melodies of "Isn't It a Pity" and "Beware of Darkness", as well as Harrison's fusing of the Hindu bhajan tradition with gospel in "My Sweet Lord".72 The recurrent lyrical themes on the album are Harrison's spiritual quest, as it would be throughout his solo career,73 and friendship, particularly the failure of relationships among the Beatles.7475
On the original LP's third disc, entitled Apple Jam, four of the five tracks – "Out of the Blue", "Plug Me In", "I Remember Jeep" and "Thanks for the Pepperoni" – are improvised instrumentals built around minimal chord changes,76 or in the case of "Out of the Blue", a single-chord riff.77 The title for "I Remember Jeep" originated from the name of Clapton's dog, Jeep,78 and "Thanks for the Pepperoni" came from a line on a Lenny Bruce comedy album.79 In a December 2000 interview with Billboard magazine, Harrison explained: "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."80nb 4
The only vocal selection on Apple Jam is "It's Johnny's Birthday", sung to the tune of Cliff Richard's 1968 hit "Congratulations", and recorded as a gift from Harrison to Lennon to mark the latter's 30th birthday.82 Like all the "free" tracks on the bonus disc,83 "It's Johnny's Birthday" carried a Harrison songwriting credit on the original UK release of All Things Must Pass,84 while on the first US copies, the only songwriting information on the record's face labels was the standard inclusion of a performing rights organisation, BMI.85 In December 1970, "Congratulations" songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter claimed for royalties,82 with the result that the composer's credit for Harrison's track was swiftly changed to acknowledge Martin and Coulter.78
Aside from the seventeen compositions issued on discs one and two of the original album,86 Harrison recorded at least twenty other songs – either in demo form for Spector's benefit, just before recording got officially under way in late May, or as outtakes from the sessions.8788 In a 1992 interview, Harrison commented on the volume of material: "I didn't have many tunes on Beatles records, so doing an album like All Things Must Pass was like going to the bathroom and letting it out."89nb 5 As well as "Wah-Wah", "Art of Dying" and others that would soon be developed in a band setting, Harrison's solo performance for Spector included the following songs,90 all of which remain unreleased:28nb 6
- "Window, Window" – another composition turned down by the Beatles in January 196992
- "Everybody, Nobody" – the melody of which Harrison adapted for "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp"90
- "Nowhere to Go" – a second Harrison–Dylan collaboration from November 1968, originally known as "When Everybody Comes to Town"93
- "Cosmic Empire", "Mother Divine" and "Tell Me What Has Happened to You".2894
Also from this performance were two tracks that Harrison returned to in later years.87 "Beautiful Girl" appeared on his 1976 album Thirty Three & 1/3,28 and the Dylan-written "I Don't Want to Do It" was Harrison's contribution to the soundtrack for Porky's Revenge! (1985).53
During the main sessions for All Things Must Pass, Harrison taped or routined early versions of "You", "Try Some, Buy Some" and "When Every Song Is Sung".9596 Harrison offered these three songs to Ronnie Spector in February 1971 for her proposed (and soon abandoned) solo album on Apple Records.97 After releasing his own versions of "Try Some, Buy Some" and "You" between 1973 and 1975,98 he offered "When Every Song Is Sung" (since retitled "I'll Still Love You") to former bandmate Ringo Starr for his 1976 album Ringo's Rotogravure.99 "Woman Don't You Cry for Me", written in December 1969 as his first slide-guitar composition,100 was another song that Harrison revisited on Thirty Three & 1/3.64 Harrison included "I Live for You" as the only all-new bonus track on the 2001 reissue of All Things Must Pass.101 "Down to the River" remained unused until he reworked it as "Rocking Chair in Hawaii"102 for his final studio album, the posthumously released Brainwashed (2002).103
Harrison recorded the following compositions during the All Things Must Pass sessions but they have never received an official release:96
- "Dehradun" – written during the Beatles' stay in Rishikesh in early 1968, and unveiled by Harrison in a brief performance on ukelele for the 1995 TV broadcast of The Beatles Anthology87
- "Gopala Krishna" – also known as "Om Hare Om",96 with all-Sanskrit lyrics,104 and described by Simon Leng as a "rocking companion" to "Awaiting on You All"105
- "Going Down to Golders Green" – a Sun Records-era Presley parody based on the melody of "Baby Let's Play House".96
The precise line-up of contributing musicians is open to conjecture.106107 Due to the album's big sound and the many participants on the sessions, music writers have traditionally referred to the grand, orchestral nature of this line-up108109110 – in 2002, Rolling Stone contributor Greg Kot described it as "a who's who of the decade's rock royalty",48 while Harris writes of the cast taking on "a Cecil B. De Mille aspect".53
The musicians included Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Dave Mason,111 all of whom had recently toured with Delaney & Bonnie.112 Along with Eric Clapton, there were also musicians whose link with Harrison went back some years, such as Ringo Starr and Billy Preston, and German bassist Klaus Voormann,113 formerly of Manfred Mann and a friend since the Beatles' years in Hamburg.114 Handling much of the keyboard work with Whitlock was Gary Wright,106 who went on to collaborate regularly with Harrison throughout the 1970s.115 From within Apple's stable of musicians, Harrison recruited the band Badfinger, future Yes drummer Alan White, and Beatles assistant Mal Evans on percussion.116117 Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins' powerful tambourine work led to Spector giving him the nickname "Mr Tambourine Man", after the Dylan song,53 while bandmates Pete Ham, Tom Evans and Joey Molland provided rhythm acoustic-guitar parts that, in keeping with Spector's Wall of Sound principles, were to be "felt but not heard".66 Orchestral arranger John Barham also sat in on the sessions, occasionally contributing on harmonium and vibraphone.118 Other guests included Nashville pedal steel player Pete Drake, Procol Harum's Gary Brooker and a pre-Genesis Phil Collins.119 For contractual reasons, on UK pressings of All Things Must Pass, Clapton's participation on the first two discs of the album remained unacknowledged for many years,120121 although he was listed among the musicians appearing on the Apple Jam disc in Britain.122nb 7 Harrison was unaware of Collins's contribution until putting together the 30th anniversary reissue of the album in 2000,126 at which point he offered Collins his belated thanks.127 Clapton's former bandmate in Cream and Blind Faith, Ginger Baker, participated in the session for "I Remember Jeep" only, according to the album's sleeve notes.96
Simon Leng consulted Voormann, Barham, Molland and Delaney Bramlett for his chapter covering the making of All Things Must Pass and credits Tony Ashton as one of the keyboard players on both versions of "Isn't It a Pity".128nb 8 Some sources suggest that Peter Frampton may have been among the rhythm guitarists on some songs,131 while similarly unsubstantiated claims exist regarding possible guest appearances from John Lennon,132 Maurice Gibb133 and Pink Floyd's Richard Wright.134135 In addition, for some years after the album's release, rumours claimed that the Band backed Harrison on the country-influenced "Behind That Locked Door".136
The date for Harrison's run-through of songs for Spector, at Abbey Road Studios, is generally thought to have been 20 May 1970, the same day as the Let It Be film's world premiere,138 with recording sessions beginning on 26 May.2888139nb 9 With assistance from former Beatles engineers Ken Scott and Phil McDonald,116 Spector recorded most of the album's backing tracks live,141 in some cases featuring multiple drummers and keyboard players, and as many as five rhythm guitarists.53126
According to authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter, the majority of these backing tracks were taped on 8-track at Abbey Road, with the first batch of sessions taking place from late May through to the second week of June.142 The first song recorded was "Wah-Wah";143 "What Is Life", versions one and two of "Isn't It a Pity", and the songs on which Drake participated, such as "All Things Must Pass" and "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp", were among the other tracks taped then.144nb 10 The Apple Jam instrumentals "Thanks for the Pepperoni" and "Plug Me In", featuring Harrison, Clapton and Mason each taking extended guitar solos,148 were recorded later in June, at the Beatles' Apple Studio, and marked the formation of Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon's short-lived band Derek and the Dominos.131 Harrison also played slide guitar on "Roll It Over", the B-side to Derek and the Dominos' debut single "Tell the Truth",149 produced by Spector and recorded at Apple on 18 June.131 The eleven-minute "Out of the Blue" featured contributions from Keys and Price,150 both of whom began working with the Rolling Stones around this time.151
Although Harrison had estimated in a New York radio interview that the solo album would take no more than eight weeks to complete,152153 recording, overdubbing and mixing on All Things Must Pass lasted for five months, until late October.131154 Part of the reason for this was Harrison's need to make regular visits to Liverpool to tend to his mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer.155156 Participants at the recording sessions identify Spector's erratic behaviour as another factor affecting progress on the album.53131157 Harrison later referred to Spector needing "eighteen cherry brandies" before he could start work, a situation that forced much of the production duties onto Harrison alone.53156 In July 1970, by which time sessions had resumed at Trident Studios,87 Spector fell over in the studio and broke his arm.137 Early that month, work on All Things Must Pass was temporarily brought to a halt as Harrison headed north to see his dying mother for the last time.158nb 11 EMI's growing concerns regarding studio costs added to the pressure on Harrison,137 and a further complication, John Harris notes, was that Clapton had become infatuated with Harrison's wife and adopted a heroin habit as a means of coping with his guilt.53nb 12
In Spector's absence, Harrison had completed the album's backing tracks and preliminary overdubs by 12 August.131 He then sent early mixes of many of the songs to his co-producer, who was convalescing in Los Angeles,116 and Spector replied by letter dated 19 August with suggestions for further overdubs and final mixing.163 Among Spector's comments were detailed suggestions regarding "Let It Down",55 the released recording of which Madinger and Easter describe as "the best example of Spector running rampant with the 'Wall of Sound'", and an urging that he and Harrison carry out further work on the songs at the superior, 16-track Trident Studios facility.163164 Spector then returned to oversee conversion of the 8-track recordings to 16-track masters,156 a process that allowed for more freedom when overdubbing new instruments.116
John Barham's orchestrations were recorded during the next phase of the album's production,165 starting in early September, along with many further contributions from Harrison, such as his lead vocals, slide guitar parts and multi-tracked backing vocals (the latter credited to "the George O'Hara-Smith Singers").166 Leng recognises Barham's arrangements on "pivotal" songs such as "Isn't It a Pity", "My Sweet Lord", "Beware of Darkness" and "All Things Must Pass" as important elements of the album's sound,105 while Spector has praised Harrison's guitar and vocal work on the overdubs, saying: "Perfectionist is not the right word. Anyone can be a perfectionist. He was beyond that ..."42 Harrison's style of slide guitar playing incorporated aspects of both Indian music and the blues tradition;47 from its introduction on All Things Must Pass, Leng writes, Harrison's slide guitar became his musical signature – "as instantly recognisable as Dylan's harmonica or Stevie Wonder's".167
On 9 October, while carrying out final mixing at Abbey Road, Harrison presented Lennon with the recently recorded "It's Johnny's Birthday".168nb 13 The track featured Harrison on vocals, harmonium and all other instruments, and vocal contributions from Mal Evans and assistant engineer Eddie Klein.82 That same month, Harrison finished his production work on Starr's 1971 single "It Don't Come Easy", the basic track for which they had recorded with Voormann in March at Trident.170 Aside from his contributions to projects by Starr, Clapton, Preston and Ashton during 1970, over the following year Harrison would reciprocate the help that his fellow musicians on All Things Must Pass had given him by contributing to albums by Whitlock, Wright, Badfinger and Keys.171nb 14
On 28 October, Harrison and Boyd arrived in New York, where he and Spector carried out final preparation for the album's release, such as sequencing.116 Harrison harboured doubts about whether all the songs they had finished were worthy of inclusion; Allan Steckler, Apple Records' US manager, was "stunned" by the quality of the material and assured Harrison that he should issue all the songs.28 Spector's signature production style gave All Things Must Pass a heavy, reverb-oriented sound, which Harrison came to regret with the passage of time.173 Outtakes from the recording sessions became available on bootlegs in the 1990s.174 One such unofficial release, the three-disc The Making of All Things Must Pass,175 contains multiple takes of some of the songs on the album, providing a work-in-progress on the sequence of overdubs onto the backing tracks.165
Harrison commissioned Tom Wilkes to design an "elaborate hinged cardboard box" in which to house the three vinyl discs, rather than have them packaged in a triple gatefold cover.78 Apple insider Tony Bramwell later recalled: "It was a bloody big thing ... You needed arms like an orang-utan to carry half a dozen."123 All Things Must Pass was the first studio album in rock-music history to be issued in a box set,2 and the packaging caused some confusion among retailers, who associated boxed albums with opera or classical works.123
The stark black-and-white cover photo was taken on the main lawn at Friar Park66 by Wilkes' Camouflage Productions partner, Barry Feinstein.78 Commentators interpret the photograph – showing Harrison seated in the centre of, and towering over, four comical-looking garden gnomes – as representing his removal from the Beatles' collective identity.176177 The gnomes had recently been delivered to Friar Park and placed on the lawn; seeing the four figures there, Feinstein immediately drew parallels with Harrison's former band.123 "What else could it be?" he reflected in 2001. "[It] was over with The Beatles, right? And that title: All Things Must Pass. Very symbolic."123 Rolling Stone critic Mikal Gilmore has written that Lennon's initial negativity regarding All Things Must Pass was possibly because he was "irritated" by this cover photo;155 Harrison biographer Elliot Huntley attributes this negativity to Lennon's "jealousy" during a time when "everything [Harrison] touched turned to gold".178nb 15
Apple included a poster with the album, showing Harrison in a darkened corridor of his home, standing in front of an iron-framed window.181 Wilkes had designed a more adventurous poster, but according to Beatles author Bruce Spizer, Harrison was uncomfortable with the imagery.182nb 16 Some of the Feinstein photographs that Wilkes had incorporated into this original poster design appeared instead on the picture sleeves for the "My Sweet Lord" single and its follow-up, "What Is Life".78
EMI and its US counterpart, Capitol Records, had originally scheduled the album for release in October 1970, and advance promotion began in September.131 An "intangible buzz" had been "in the air for months" regarding Harrison's solo album, according to Alan Clayson, and "for reasons other than still-potent loyalty to the Fab Four".183 Harrison's stature as an artist had grown over the past year through the acclaim afforded his songs on Abbey Road,184 as well as the speculation caused by his and Dylan's joint recording session in New York.185 Noting also Harrison's role in popularising new acts such as the Band and Delaney & Bonnie, and his association with Clapton and Cream, NME critic Bob Woffinden concluded: "All in all, Harrison's credibility was building to a peak."184
All Things Must Pass was released on 27 November 1970 in the United States, and on 30 November in Britain,180 with the rare distinction of having the same Apple catalogue number (STCH 639) in both countries.83 Often credited as rock's first triple album,155186 it was the first by a single act, the multi-artist Woodstock live set having preceded it by six months.156 Adding to the commercial appeal of Harrison's songs, Clayson writes, All Things Must Pass appeared at a time when religion and spirituality had become "a turn-of-the-decade craze" among Western youth, just as the Twist had been in 1960.187 Another factor behind the album's first weeks of release was Harrison's meeting with Lennon and McCartney in New York, the failure of which led to McCartney filing suit in London's High Court to dissolve the Beatles' legal partnership.188
Apple issued "My Sweet Lord" as the album's first single, as a double A-side with "Isn't It a Pity" in the majority of countries.189 It was highly successful, topping singles charts around the world during the first few months of 1971,66 on its way to becoming the most performed song of that year.190nb 17 Discussing the song's cultural impact, Gilmore credits "My Sweet Lord" with being "as pervasive on radio and in youth consciousness as anything the Beatles had produced".155
The album was number 1 in the UK for eight weeks, although until 2006, chart records incorrectly stated that it peaked at number 4.192nb 18 In America, All Things Must Pass spent seven weeks at number 1 on the Billboard 200, from 2 January 1971 until 20 February, part of which coincided with "My Sweet Lord" holding the top spot on the singles chart.193 Harrison's so-called "Billboard double" – whereby one artist simultaneously holds the top positions on the magazine's albums and singles listings – was a feat that none of his former bandmates equalled until Paul McCartney and Wings repeated the achievement in June 1973.194nb 19
All Things Must Pass was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America on 17 December 1970196 and it has since been certified six times platinum.197198 According to John Bergstrom of PopMatters, as of January 2011, All Things Must Pass had sold more than Lennon's Imagine album (1971) and McCartney and Wings' Band on the Run (1973) combined.199
|Rolling Stone (2000)||204|
|Rolling Stone (2001)||(extremely favourable)205|
All Things Must Pass received almost universal critical acclaim on release – as much for the music and lyrical content as for the fact that, of all the former Beatles, it was the work of supposed junior partner George Harrison.2173207 Beatles author Robert Rodriguez has written of critics' attention being centred on "a major talent unleashed, one who'd been hidden in plain sight all those years" behind Lennon and McCartney.208 "That the Quiet Beatle was capable of such range," Rodriguez continues, "from the joyful "What Is Life" to the meditative "Isn't It a Pity" to the steamrolling "Art of Dying" to the playful "I Dig Love" – was revelatory."208 Most reviewers tended to discount the third disc of studio jams, accepting that it was a "free" addition to justify the set's high retail price,76122 although Anthony DeCurtis recognises Apple Jam as further evidence of the album's "bracing air of creative liberation".204
Ben Gerson of Rolling Stone deemed All Things Must Pass "both an intensely personal statement and a grandiose gesture, a triumph over artistic modesty" and referenced the three-record set as an "extravaganza of piety and sacrifice and joy, whose sheer magnitude and ambition may dub it the War and Peace of rock and roll".1 Gerson also lauded the album's production as being "of classic Spectorian proportions, Wagnerian, Brucknerian, the music of mountain tops and vast horizons".1 In the NME, Alan Smith referred to Harrison's songs as "music of the mind", adding: "they search and they wander, as if in the soft rhythms of a dream, and in the end he has set them to words which are often both profound and profoundly beautiful."84
Melody Maker's Richard Williams summed up the surprise many felt at Harrison's apparent transformation: All Things Must Pass, he said, provided "the rock equivalent of the shock felt by pre-war moviegoers when Garbo first opened her mouth in a talkie: Garbo talks! – Harrison is free!"2 In another review, for The Times, Williams opined that, of all the Beatles' solo releases thus far, Harrison's album "makes far and away the best listening, perhaps because it is the one which most nearly continues the tradition they began eight years ago".207nb 20
That the album sounded so contemporary in 1970 contributed to All Things Must Pass seeming dated and faddish later in the decade.120 Never a Harrison fan,210 Robert Christgau considered the album to be "featureless" and bemoaned the "anonymity" of Harrison's vocals.202 In their book The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Roy Carr and Tony Tyler were likewise lukewarm in their assessment, criticising the "homogeneity" of the production and "the lugubrious nature of Harrison's composing".122 Writing in The Beatles Forever in 1977, however, Nicholas Schaffner praised the album as the "crowning glory" of Harrison and Spector's careers and highlighted the title track and "Beware of Darkness" as the "two most eloquent songs on the album, musically as well as lyrically".211
More recently, Allmusic views All Things Must Pass as "[Harrison's] best ... a very moving work",41 while MusicHound describes the set as "epic and audacious".203 Film-maker Martin Scorsese has written of the "powerful sense of the ritualistic on the album ... I remember feeling that it had the grandeur of liturgical music, of the bells used in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies."212 Rolling Stone's Greg Kot describes this grandeur as an "echo-laden cathedral of rock in excelsis" where the "real stars" are the songs;48 in the same publication, Mikal Gilmore calls the album "the finest solo work any ex-Beatle ever produced".213 In his PopMatters review, John Bergstrom likens All Things Must Pass to "the sound of Harrison exhaling", noting: "He was quite possibly the only Beatle who was completely satisfied with the Beatles being gone."199 Bergstrom credits the album with heavily influencing bands such as ELO, My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, as well as helping bring about the dream pop phenomenon.199
Among Harrison's biographers, Simon Leng views All Things Must Pass as a "paradox of an album": as eager as Harrison was to break free from his identity as a Beatle, Leng suggests, many of the songs document the "Kafkaesque chain of events" of life within the band and so added to the "mythologized history" he was looking to escape.214 Ian Inglis notes 1970's place in an era marking "the new supremacy of the singer-songwriter", through such memorable albums as Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, Van Morrison's Moondance and Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, but that none of these "possessed the startling impact" of All Thing Must Pass.215 Harrison's triple album, Inglis writes, "[would] elevate 'the third Beatle' into a position that, for a time at least, comfortably eclipsed that of his former bandmates".215
All Things Must Pass features in music reference books such as Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die216 and Chris Smith's 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music.217 In 1999, All Things Must Pass appeared at number 9 on The Guardian's "Alternative Top 100 Albums" list, where the editor described it as the "best, mellowest and most sophisticated" of all the Beatles' solo efforts.218 In 2012, it was voted 433rd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".219
To mark the 30th anniversary of the album's release, Harrison supervised a remastered edition of All Things Must Pass, which was issued in January 2001, less than a year before his death from cancer at the age of 58.220nb 21 The reissue appeared on Gnome Records, a label specifically set up by him for the project.222 Harrison oversaw revisions to Wilkes and Feinstein's album artwork,127 which included a colorised "George & the Gnomes" front cover127 and, on the two CD sleeves and the album booklet, further examples of this cover image showing an imaginary, gradual encroachment of urbanisation on the Friar Park landscape.81nb 22 The latter series served to illustrate Harrison's dismay at "the direction the world seemed headed at the start of the millennium", biographer Gary Tillery observes, a direction that was "so far afield from the Age of Aquarius that had been the dream of the sixties".223nb 23
The new version of the album contained five bonus tracks, including "I Live For You", two of the songs performed for Spector at Abbey Road in May 1970 ("Beware of Darkness" and "Let It Down") and "My Sweet Lord (2000)", a partial re-recording of Harrison's biggest solo hit.225 In addition, Harrison resequenced the content of Apple Jam so that the album closed with "Out of the Blue", as he had originally intended.80127 Assisting Harrison with overdubs on the bonus tracks were his son, Dhani Harrison, singer Sam Brown and percussionist Ray Cooper,80 all of whom contributed to the recording of Brainwashed around this time.226
With Harrison "[throwing] himself wholeheartedly" into promotional work, the 2001 reissue was a critical and commercial success.227 In America, the reissue debuted at number 4 on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog Albums chart228 and topped the magazine's Internet Album Sales listings;229 in the UK, it climbed to number 68 on the national albums chart.230 Following Harrison's death on 29 November 2001, All Things Must Pass returned to the US charts, climbing to number 6 and number 7, respectively, on the Top Pop Catalog and Internet Album Sales charts.231 In October 2007, it re-entered the US Top Pop Catalog chart once more and peaked at number 3.232
For the 40th anniversary of All Things Must Pass, in November 2010, EMI reissued the album in its original configuration, in a box set of three vinyl LPs, via participating Record Store Day retailers.233 In what Joel Bergstrom notes as a contrast to the more aggressive marketing campaign run simultaneously by John Lennon's estate, to commemorate Lennon's 70th birthday,199 a digitally remastered version of the album was made available for download from Harrison's official website.234
All tracks written by George Harrison, except where noted.
- "I'd Have You Anytime" (Harrison, Bob Dylan) – 2:56
- "My Sweet Lord" – 4:38
- "Wah-Wah" – 5:35
- "Isn't It a Pity (Version One)" – 7:10
- "What Is Life" – 4:22
- "If Not for You" (Dylan) – 3:29
- "Behind That Locked Door" – 3:05
- "Let It Down" – 4:57
- "Run of the Mill" – 2:49
- "Beware of Darkness" – 3:48
- "Apple Scruffs" – 3:04
- "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)" – 3:48
- "Awaiting on You All" – 2:45
- "All Things Must Pass" – 3:44
- "I Dig Love" – 4:55
- "Art of Dying" – 3:37
- "Isn't it a Pity (Version Two)" – 4:45
- "Hear Me Lord" – 5:46
Side five (Apple Jam)
- "Out of the Blue" – 11:14
- "It's Johnny's Birthday" (Bill Martin, Phil Coulter, Harrison) – 0:49
- "Plug Me In" – 3:18
Side six (Apple Jam)
- "I Remember Jeep" – 8:07
- "Thanks for the Pepperoni" – 5:31
Tracks 1–9 as per sides one and two of original issue, with the following additional tracks:
- "I Live for You" – 3:35
- "Beware of Darkness" (acoustic demo) – 3:19
- "Let It Down" (alternate version) – 3:54
- "What Is Life" (backing track/alternate mix) – 4:27
- "My Sweet Lord (2000)" – 4:57
Tracks 1–9 as per sides three and four of original issue, followed by the reordered Apple Jam tracks, for which all participants are believed to now be credited as composers also.nb 24
- "It's Johnny's Birthday" (Martin, Coulter; new lyrics by Mal Evans, Harrison, Eddie Klein) – 0:49
- "Plug Me In" (Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Harrison, Dave Mason, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock) – 3:18
- "I Remember Jeep" (Ginger Baker, Clapton, Harrison, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann) – 8:07
- "Thanks for the Pepperoni" (Clapton, Gordon, Harrison, Mason, Radle, Whitlock) – 5:31
- "Out of the Blue" (Al Aronowitz, Clapton, Gordon, Harrison, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Radle, Whitlock, Gary Wright) – 11:16
- George Harrison – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, harmonica, Moog synthesizer, harmonium, backing vocals
- Eric Clapton – electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Gary Wright – piano, organ, electric piano
- Bobby Whitlock – piano, organ, backing vocals
- Klaus Voormann – bass, electric guitarnb 25
- Jim Gordon – drums
- Carl Radle – bass
- Ringo Starr – drums, percussion
- Billy Preston – organ, piano
- Jim Price – trumpet, trombone, horn arrangements
- Bobby Keys – saxophones
- Alan White – drums, vibraphone
- Pete Drake – pedal steel
- Dave Mason – electric and acoustic guitars
- Pete Ham – acoustic guitar
- Tom Evans – acoustic guitar
- Joey Molland – acoustic guitar
- Mike Gibbins – percussion
- John Barham – orchestral arrangements, choral arrangement, harmonium, vibraphone
- Tony Ashton – piano
- Gary Brooker – piano
- Mal Evans – percussion, backing vocals
- Phil Collins – percussion
- Ginger Baker – drums
- Al Aronowitz – unspecified
- Eddie Klein – backing vocals
- Dhani Harrison – acoustic guitar, electric piano, backing vocals (2001 reissue only)
- Sam Brown – vocals, backing vocals (2001 reissue only)
- Ray Cooper – percussion, synthesizer (2001 reissue only)
- In conversation with Lennon, Harrison remarked that he already had enough compositions for the next ten years of Beatle releases, given his usual quota of two tracks per album and the occasional B-side.2728
- "Isn't It a Pity" was another song passed over during these sessions,50 having similarly been turned down, by Lennon,51 for inclusion on the Beatles' Revolver album (1966).52
- Soon after the tour, Harrison gave "My Sweet Lord" and "All Things Must Pass" to Preston,62 who released the songs on his Encouraging Words album in September 1970, two months before Harrison's versions appeared.63
- The "separate label" was a face label that appeared on each side of disc three, containing a jam jar painted by designer Tom Wilkes to show a piece of fruit inside the jar and two apple leaves on the outside.81 To complete the literal pun on the words "apple jam", Wilkes painted the title of the bonus disc on the jar's lid.81
- In other interviews, Harrison similarly likened his situation to being "constipated for years" artistically while in the Beatles.86
- Fifteen of the these tracks are available unofficially on the Beware of ABKCO! bootleg.9091
- For similar reasons regarding record companies being "possessive"123 of their artists,124 the musician credits on Cream's Goodbye album (1969), Jack Bruce's Songs for a Tailor (1969) and Delaney & Bonnie's On Tour (1970) could only list Harrison under a pseudonym, "L'Angelo Misterioso".125
- Like Barham, Tony Ashton had been a significant contributor to Harrison's Wonderwall Music album.129 In March 1970, Harrison and Clapton participated in the recording of "I'm Your Spiritual Breadman" by Ashton's new band, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke.130
- In his liner notes accompanying the 2001 reissue of All Things Must Pass, however, Harrison gives the date for the run-through as 27 May.126140
- Drake also played on the bootlegged instrumental "Pete Drake and His Amazing Talking Guitar",145 before returning to Nashville to gather material for Starr's country album, Beaucoups of Blues (1970),146 sessions for which began in the last week of June.147
- This personal tragedy was the inspiration for a new Harrison composition, the 1971 B-side "Deep Blue".159160
- Clapton's feelings for Boyd inspired many of his songs on Derek and the Dominos' only studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970).124 After Boyd rejected him in November 1970, Clapton descended into full-blown heroin addiction,161 which led to the break-up of the band in early 1971 and the sidelining of his career until 1974.162
- Session tapes reveal that Lennon was recording his song "Remember" in one of the other studios there when Harrison arrived.169
- The albums were released, respectively, as Bobby Whitlock (1971), Footprint (1971), Straight Up (1971) and Bobby Keys (1972).172
- According to Harrison's recollection in a 1977 interview for Crawdaddy magazine,155 Lennon first saw the artwork at Friar Park and remarked to a mutual friend of theirs that Harrison "must be f***ing mad" to be releasing a triple album, and described him as "look[ing] like an asthmatic Leon Russell" on the cover.178 Later, in what author Alan Clayson describes as a case of "needling Paul rather than praising George",179 Lennon told Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner that he "preferred" All Things Must Pass to the "rubbish" on McCartney's eponymous solo album, released in April 1970.180
- Part of this original poster was a painting of a bathing scene featuring naked women (one of whom was blonde, representing Pattie Boyd) and a "mischievous" Lord Krishna, who had hidden the bathers' clothing in the branches of a nearby tree.78
- Aside from the popularity of Harrison's recording, the song attracted a large number of cover versions in 1971.190 The widespread success of "My Sweet Lord" worked against Harrison when a near-bankrupt music publisher, Bright Tunes, pursued an ultimately successful claim of plagiarism against him in the US district court, for unauthorised copyright infringement of the 1963 song "He's So Fine".191
- This error was due to a postal strike in Britain during February and March of 1971, when the national chart compiler failed to receive any sales data from retailers.192 In July 2006, the Official UK Charts Company changed its records to show that All Things Must Pass was the top-selling album throughout that time.192
- Immediately after Wings' success, Harrison again held both number 1 positions, with his "Give Me Love" single and its parent album, Living in the Material World.194195
- Aside from non-vocal albums such as Harrison's Wonderwall Music and Electronic Sound, and Lennon's experimental work with Yoko Ono, beginning with Two Virgins (1968), the solo albums up to January 1971 were as follows: Lennon's Live Peace in Toronto (1969), Starr's Sentimental Journey (1970), McCartney, Beaucoups of Blues, All Things Must Pass, and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970).209
- EMI had scheduled the release for 21 November 2000, close to the true date for the anniversary, but the album was delayed for two months.221
- In Britain, Gnome/EMI released the remastered album on vinyl also, the packaging for which contained four stages in this pictorial series compared with the three available in the CD box.81 The revised artwork for All Things Must Pass was credited to WhereforeArt?81
- Adding to this ecological message, during promotion for the reissue, Harrison jokingly suggested that the title for his next studio album, the long-awaited follow-up to Cloud Nine (1987), might be Your Planet Is Doomed – Volume One.224
- The 2001 album booklet lists the musicians on these tracks straight after the song titles although publishing rights for all bar "It's Johnny's Birthday" are with Harrisongs only.235 Inglis gives composers' credit to all the participants,236 while Leng acknowledges Harrison alone.237
- In Leng's book, Voormann claims it was him playing lead guitar with Harrison on "Out of the Blue" and not Clapton, as credited by Harrison on the Apple Jam sleeve: "[George] thought it was Eric, because I was playing a little thing like Eric."239
- Ben Gerson, "Reviews: George Harrison All Things Must Pass", Rolling Stone, 21 January 1971 (retrieved 20 February 2012).
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- Chris Smith, 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music, Oxford University Press (New York, NY, 2009; ISBN 978-0-19-537371-4).
- Bruce Spizer, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, 498 Productions (New Orleans, LA, 2005; ISBN 0-9662649-5-9).
- Doug Sulpy & Ray Schweighardt, Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of The Beatles' Let It Be Disaster, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, 1997; ISBN 0-312-19981-3).
- Gary Tillery, Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, Quest Books (Wheaton, IL, 2011; ISBN 978-0-8356-0900-5).
- Richie Unterberger, The Unreleased Beatles: Music & Film, Backbeat Books (San Francisco, CA, 2006; ISBN 0-87930-892-3).
- Bob Woffinden, The Beatles Apart, Proteus (London, 1981; ISBN 0-906071-89-5).
- All Things Must Pass official website
- All Things Must Pass (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)