Album of the Week 51-2015: George Harrison – All Things Must Pass


George Harrison’s proper solo debut is easily the best record released by anyone ever involved with The Beatles. The Quiet Beatle’s songs were always my favorite of the legendary British quartet, but one listen to ‘All Things Must Pass’ is enough to make the listener realize that whatever reasons John Lennon and Paul McCartney had for not alowing more Harrison compositions on their records, they weren’t musical. Don’t let the fact that some of these songs were rejected by The Beatles fool you: this triple album is filled with amazing songwriting, a great deal of variation and an almost tangible joy of performing.

While McCartney was probably the best musician in The Beatles, Harrison was always craving musical innovation and that shows on ‘All Things Must Pass’. All of the songs have a strong Pop vibe, but there’s experiments with Folk, Americana, Rock, Blues and Gospel throughout the record and almost all of them are successful. In addition, Harrison assembled a cast of friends around him that consisted of musical legends like Eric Clapton, former Beatle Ringo Starr and the always amazing Billy Preston, while Bob Dylan contributed to the songwriting. But the true power of the album lies within the songs themselves.

Best known are the Gospel-light of ‘My Sweet Lord’ and the uplifting, almost celebratory ‘What Is Life’, but that’s not where the highlights stop. Opening track ‘I’d Have You Any Time’ is a surprisingly brooding ode to friendship, ‘Beware Of Darkness’ and ‘Hear Me Lord’ are brilliantly structured ballads that build toward fantastic climaxes. ‘The Art Of Dying’, which was recorded with what would become Derek And The Dominos, is a driving Hard Rock track with a dark vibe, awesome dual lead vocals and amazing lead guitar work by Clapton. Speaking of lead guitars: this is the record where Harrison’s slide guitar really came into its own.

Much of the album’s criticism is aimed at “Apple Jam”, the third record of Bluesy jam sessions. While I tend to agree that some of them go on a little too long and it would have been better had they been more evenly distributed over the records, it’s a delight to just hear the musicians play without any pretense or assertiveness. Even Phil Spector doesn’t dominate the record; where I usually consider his productions too busy, ‘All Things Must Pass’ sounds exactly like it’s supposed to sound. Harrison, co-producing the record, probably reigned him in a little.

Even people who aren’t necessarily into The Beatles should give ‘All Things Must Pass’ a chance. It’s a lot of material, but honestly: it’s worth it. What you hear here is a music lover with loads of different ideas who is finally free to share them with the world. How can I not love that? And while Harrison would continue to record quality albums afterward – ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Living In The Material World’ and his closing statement ‘Brainwashed’ most prominently – this is still the one that highlights all sides of his broad musical spectrum best. Recommended to everyone.

Recommended tracks: ‘The Art Of Dying’, ‘Hear Me Lord’, ‘Beware Of Darkness’

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: