Saturday, September 04, 2021

Does the 50th Anniversary of George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ prove that this is the best solo album to come from a Beatle?

We could spend all day discussing our favourite Beatle and oftentimes, George Harrison isn’t as popular as Paul or John. However, Harrison’s album ‘All Things Must Pass’, is one of the best records to come out of the band's separation. 

With Lennon and McCartney taking the lead in creating songs for The Beatles, George wasn’t left with much space to contribute his own music. 

He was eventually allowed to have one song per vinyl side, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t a great deal. 

This did mean that he had an extensive backlog of songs which he was able to use to compose this beautiful album we have the pleasure of listening to today.

The initial release of the triple LP gave us an insight into what Harrison was bringing to the table and it shocked a great deal of people. Harrison wasn’t afraid to experiment with music, exploring the likes of Indian and Electronic music, for example, and this record was no exception. It wasn’t just a rock album and it wasn’t just regurgitated Beatles tunes, it was all his own. 


The 50th Anniversary of ‘All Things Must Pass’ not only offers us a remix of the original album but we get an extra three discs that feature unreleased material from Harrison’s recording sessions. This insight into the mind of George, via outtakes and jam sessions, makes the record more intimate and personal. Listeners get to understand his process and how these wonderful songs came to be. 


Harrison explores a variety of genres within the album, making it hard to pigeon hole. The likes of ‘Wah-Wah’ and ‘Art of Dying’ give us classic rock, whilst ‘Behind That Locked Door’ offers us a touch of country. Furthermore, the big hit ‘My Sweet Lord’ holds tones of Gospel music. This variation in genre highlights his skill as a musician and songwriter. Further depth was added to the tracks with his inclusion of keyboards, horns, tambourines and the likes, building these highly sophisticated songs which are backed by his outstanding vocals. The tunes were composed in a way that made them sound big on all the state-of-the-art sound systems of the 1970’s. When reinventing this record, George’s son Dhani wanted the songs to stand alongside contemporary music, making them suitable to be listened to through headphones. When ensuring the longevity of music, it seems sensible to assess the current climate and alter them to suit. With that being said, they made sure the album remained true to George and was tweaked to his wishes.


During the recording of the album, Harrison enlisted some big names, including the likes of Ringo Starr (former Beatle), Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Bobby Whitlock, to name a few. It was clear Harrison was eager to give other musicians room to collaborate and air their thoughts and this just elevates the record to a whole new level. It wasn’t just about George taking the reins and doing it all himself, he knew the importance of working with others and this is one of the reasons why the album was such a success. It is important fifty years on that we remember the dedication and time that went into creating this album from all parties. 


Harrison used his experiences throughout his life to create songs that explored a variety of themes, both light, and dark. He touches on his embrace of Hinduism throughout his music and in ‘My Sweet Lord’, he cleverly morphs the backing vocals of ‘Hallelujah’ into the Hare Krishna mantra. Harrison suggested in his autobiography that the two concepts mean relatively the same thing. 


The sheer celebration of the 50th anniversary of ‘All Things Must Pass’ highlights how incredible this record was and still is. Harrison’s music is timeless and will go on to be remembered through generations.


Catherine Frediani


Image: Official Album Artwork 


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