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All Things Must Pass Turns 50

50 years ago today George Harrison released his critically acclaimed triple LP All Things Must Pass. The first solo record by a Beatle after the dissolution of the band, Harrison shocked the world with a magnum opus of songs that showed off his songwriting competency. The quiet Beatle seemingly came out of nowhere and put out an album that stands along some of the finest work that The Beatles did as a group. So how did this happen so suddenly after the breakup of The Beatles that George Harrison emerged as a brilliant songwriter? The answer has to do with The Beatles themselves and the frictions within the band.

As it has been well documented, Lennon and McCartney had developed a bit of a rivalry between the two. They would try to best each others song's by writing back and forth with a lot of experimentation happening on the production side of things in the studio as well. Meanwhile George was writing a lot of the songs that would end up on All Things Must Pass. Lennon-McCartney would ignore Harrison's songs and be generally dismissive of any of his contributions, despite the fact he was writing some of the arguably best songs on later Beatles albums (While My Guitar might be the standout track off the White Album and you could pick either Something or Here Comes The Sun off of Abbey as the highlight). So while John and Paul were reaching new heights with their songs, Harrison was keeping ground with them and possibly surpassing them. But due to the egomanical pissing match going on between John and Paul, these songs never got a chance to be recorded.

It turns out that in the end, this would benefit Harrison greatly. He had amassed a fair share of quality material written over the course of 3-4 years in addition to what he was writing during and after The Beatles imploded. Free from his controlling bandmates, he was finally able to record these songs alongside the legendary Phil Spector and fully realize his musical aspirations. The album comes out with low expectations and George blew everyone away. In my opinion, it is the greatest Beatles solo release and the only double album where all the songs are fantastic. Usually whenever I hear a double album there's always at least 2-3 tracks I'll skip over or there's a feeling it's a double album just for the novelty. All Things Must Pass does not exhibit any signs of this (although you could make a case that the second version of Isn't It A Pity is padding). I should mention the third record is just instrumental jams which while good aren't required listening. Also worth mentioning as a side note of you like Phil Collins (who doesn't) he was used as a session musician on Art Of Dying pre-Genesis days. He tells a hilarious story about the recording session in his autobiography and I believe it was one of his first times in a studio.

It's a beautiful album with a lot of top quality material, so if you're a Beatles fan but have never checked out the solo work after the group split up, I highly recommend this album. Hell I highly recommend this album to anyone. Finally, it goes without saying that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us. I find it fitting that 50 years later George is here to remind us once again that all things must pass. RIP George, we still miss you 😢

 

Maiden Voyage

Gold™ Member
50 years ago today George Harrison released his critically acclaimed triple LP All Things Must Pass. The first solo record by a Beatle after the dissolution of the band, Harrison shocked the world with a magnum opus of songs that showed off his songwriting competency. The quiet Beatle seemingly came out of nowhere and put out an album that stands along some of the finest work that The Beatles did as a group. So how did this happen so suddenly after the breakup of The Beatles that George Harrison emerged as a brilliant songwriter? The answer has to do with The Beatles themselves and the frictions within the band.

As it has been well documented, Lennon and McCartney had developed a bit of a rivalry between the two. They would try to best each others song's by writing back and forth with a lot of experimentation happening on the production side of things in the studio as well. Meanwhile George was writing a lot of the songs that would end up on All Things Must Pass. Lennon-McCartney would ignore Harrison's songs and be generally dismissive of any of his contributions, despite the fact he was writing some of the arguably best songs on later Beatles albums (While My Guitar might be the standout track off the White Album and you could pick either Something or Here Comes The Sun off of Abbey as the highlight). So while John and Paul were reaching new heights with their songs, Harrison was keeping ground with them and possibly surpassing them. But due to the egomanical pissing match going on between John and Paul, these songs never got a chance to be recorded.

It turns out that in the end, this would benefit Harrison greatly. He had amassed a fair share of quality material written over the course of 3-4 years in addition to what he was writing during and after The Beatles imploded. Free from his controlling bandmates, he was finally able to record these songs alongside the legendary Phil Spector and fully realize his musical aspirations. The album comes out with low expectations and George blew everyone away. In my opinion, it is the greatest Beatles solo release and the only double album where all the songs are fantastic. Usually whenever I hear a double album there's always at least 2-3 tracks I'll skip over or there's a feeling it's a double album just for the novelty. All Things Must Pass does not exhibit any signs of this (although you could make a case that the second version of Isn't It A Pity is padding). I should mention the third record is just instrumental jams which while good aren't required listening. Also worth mentioning as a side note of you like Phil Collins (who doesn't) he was used as a session musician on Art Of Dying pre-Genesis days. He tells a hilarious story about the recording session in his autobiography and I believe it was one of his first times in a studio.

It's a beautiful album with a lot of top quality material, so if you're a Beatles fan but have never checked out the solo work after the group split up, I highly recommend this album. Hell I highly recommend this album to anyone. Finally, it goes without saying that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us. I find it fitting that 50 years later George is here to remind us once again that all things must pass. RIP George, we still miss you 😢


I've only really just begun to dig into Harrison's catalog in the past year or so.

There is a 2020 Mix of ATMP up on streaming sites. I think there will probably be a re-issue at some point.


Edit: Yep re-issue planned. Details coming later this year:
 
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#Phonepunk#

Banned
i love this record! George was really quite a brilliant song writer and the internal band politics of the Beatles made him save up all his best material over years for this masterwork.

when you look at it, this is almost a genre-hopper of a record. i really like the Glowy 70's Soft Rock mystical opener "I'd Have You Anytime"


he had all kinds of gospel pop like "My Sweet Lord" and "Awaiting on You All". the latter is one of my favorite song on this record. it's basically like a Motown pop song about God.


it also has some bangers like "Wah Wah", which almost feels like a psychedelic version of an early Beatles b-side. written one day after a fight with Paul McCartney over his guitar playing during the making of Let it Be. the first of several diss tracks Paul McCartney would inspire in his bandmates ;-p


i've found that a lot of indie rock music is indebted to things on this album. for instance i always thought "Let it Down" was a proto-Spiritualized song. you can definitely imagine Jason Spaceman listening to this Phil Spector produced 3xLP while fucked up on psychedelics


by the way, George Harrison was involved in a number of other musical projects during this time, including working with a London Krishna temple to produce a pop single version of the Krishna mantra in 1969. really another magical recording from George.


turns out when your band is falling apart you have all this time to make your own work!

much respect to this legend.
 
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#Phonepunk# #Phonepunk# Awaiting On You All is one of my favourites off the album too! It's just such a fun song with a killer hook. I think I mentioned this in the Let It Be Peter Jackson thread (probably to you and Maiden Voyage Maiden Voyage :p) but George writing songs about his bandmates being children always turn out great. While My Guitar, I Me Mine or in this case, Wah Wah.

A couple other of my favourite tracks off the record (besides the big ones, My Sweet Lord, Isn't It A Pity, ATMP and the previously mentioned Awaiting and Wah Wah) in order which they appear:

If Not For You
Behind That Locked Door
Apple Scruffs
I Dig Love (just a groovy little tune)
Art Of Dying (shred till yer dead)
Hear Me Lord

The amount of sonic territory covered by George is on the album is also great. There's some rockers, some ballads, some country-esque vibes, some soul/Motown inspired. He really covered pretty much everything up to that point in popular music.
 

highrider

Banned
George and Ringo could both write, but they maybe had one album of material and that’s it. All the Beatles were far lesser as solo artists imo, Paul being the only one that sustained any real success long term producing new music. The Beatles had no Brian Wilson, they were all talented but only Paul could churn out pop nuggets and popular rock/adult contemporary.
 

NeoGiffer

Member
George and Ringo could both write, but they maybe had one album of material and that’s it. All the Beatles were far lesser as solo artists imo, Paul being the only one that sustained any real success long term producing new music. The Beatles had no Brian Wilson, they were all talented but only Paul could churn out pop nuggets and popular rock/adult contemporary.

 

highrider

Banned

I think John could have as well but he was kind of more counterculture than Paul. He wasn’t a guy imo that was going to turn out radio hits, only Paul seemed to be able to do that on his own and he didn’t maintain it for long but certainly his immediate catalogue post Beatles with Wings was pretty great if you like melodic rock/pop tunes. Paul was never the poet or deep thinker John was, he was a pretty well adjusted guy, but he was the technical glue that made the Beatles imo. And hey at least I’m making an effort beyond an lol and gif 🤷‍♂️
 
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I think John could have as well but he was kind of more counterculture than Paul. He wasn’t a guy imo that was going to turn out radio hits, only Paul seemed to be able to do that on his own and he didn’t maintain it for long but certainly his immediate catalogue post Beatles with Wings was pretty great if you like melodic rock/pop tunes. Paul was never the poet or deep thinker John was, he was a pretty well adjusted guy, but he was the technical glue that made the Beatles imo. And hey at least I’m making an effort beyond an lol and gif 🤷‍♂️

I kind of agree with you and your previous post. I wouldn't say that they only had one albums worth of material but rather their later albums weren't back to front great. Making great albums start to finish is a pretty hard task and the reason why The Beatles did it so consistently was because you had John and Paul bouncing ideas off each other with George contributing a few songs along the way and George Martin helping them flesh their ideas out. When they all went their separate ways they could no longer rely on each others songs to fill out the album so they had to start including weaker efforts to get a full album done. Which is why Brian Wilson single handily putting out fantastic record after fantastic record keeping ground with The Beatles until his breakdown blows my mind. That was just one guy doing everything by himself, he had no one to fall back on. I always thought it would have been great if Paul and Brian did something together back in the 60s. When Paul came down to peep the SMiLE sessions it would have been dope if they wrote a few tunes since the mutual admiration was there.

Oh and QSD QSD . Die. 😐
 

NeoGiffer

Member
I think John could have as well but he was kind of more counterculture than Paul. He wasn’t a guy imo that was going to turn out radio hits, only Paul seemed to be able to do that on his own and he didn’t maintain it for long but certainly his immediate catalogue post Beatles with Wings was pretty great if you like melodic rock/pop tunes. Paul was never the poet or deep thinker John was, he was a pretty well adjusted guy, but he was the technical glue that made the Beatles imo. And hey at least I’m making an effort beyond an lol and gif 🤷‍♂️

 

Happosai

Gold Member
50 years ago today George Harrison released his critically acclaimed triple LP All Things Must Pass. The first solo record by a Beatle after the dissolution of the band, Harrison shocked the world with a magnum opus of songs that showed off his songwriting competency. The quiet Beatle seemingly came out of nowhere and put out an album that stands along some of the finest work that The Beatles did as a group. So how did this happen so suddenly after the breakup of The Beatles that George Harrison emerged as a brilliant songwriter? The answer has to do with The Beatles themselves and the frictions within the band.

As it has been well documented, Lennon and McCartney had developed a bit of a rivalry between the two. They would try to best each others song's by writing back and forth with a lot of experimentation happening on the production side of things in the studio as well. Meanwhile George was writing a lot of the songs that would end up on All Things Must Pass. Lennon-McCartney would ignore Harrison's songs and be generally dismissive of any of his contributions, despite the fact he was writing some of the arguably best songs on later Beatles albums (While My Guitar might be the standout track off the White Album and you could pick either Something or Here Comes The Sun off of Abbey as the highlight). So while John and Paul were reaching new heights with their songs, Harrison was keeping ground with them and possibly surpassing them. But due to the egomanical pissing match going on between John and Paul, these songs never got a chance to be recorded.

It turns out that in the end, this would benefit Harrison greatly. He had amassed a fair share of quality material written over the course of 3-4 years in addition to what he was writing during and after The Beatles imploded. Free from his controlling bandmates, he was finally able to record these songs alongside the legendary Phil Spector and fully realize his musical aspirations. The album comes out with low expectations and George blew everyone away. In my opinion, it is the greatest Beatles solo release and the only double album where all the songs are fantastic. Usually whenever I hear a double album there's always at least 2-3 tracks I'll skip over or there's a feeling it's a double album just for the novelty. All Things Must Pass does not exhibit any signs of this (although you could make a case that the second version of Isn't It A Pity is padding). I should mention the third record is just instrumental jams which while good aren't required listening. Also worth mentioning as a side note of you like Phil Collins (who doesn't) he was used as a session musician on Art Of Dying pre-Genesis days. He tells a hilarious story about the recording session in his autobiography and I believe it was one of his first times in a studio.

It's a beautiful album with a lot of top quality material, so if you're a Beatles fan but have never checked out the solo work after the group split up, I highly recommend this album. Hell I highly recommend this album to anyone. Finally, it goes without saying that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us. I find it fitting that 50 years later George is here to remind us once again that all things must pass. RIP George, we still miss you 😢

The title track was demoed during the Abbey Road Sessions with just Harrison and an electric guitar. It gave a pretty good idea of how he wasn't letting the Beatles stop him from becoming a solo artist. He already made that decision prior to the break up. In fact, it should be noted that George was already using Beatles sessions to record solo works (as was Paul) as early as 1967. George recorded over 100 takes of "Not Guilty" and yet it never saw a proper release until years after the breakup. George's eponymous album is my favorite.
 

Kreen101

Member
The greatest solo Beatle album of all time, thanks to a plethora of amazing songs and, maybe above all else, genius Phil Spector's production. It's a rare case of an album where every song is either a stone-cold classic or a great album track. No filler at all (unless you count the jams on the third record -- I don't, they're basically just bonus tracks).

Avoid like the plague the 2001 remaster, which ruins the album's Wall of Sound. The 2010 remaster is the way to go.
 

Kreen101

Member
I've only really just begun to dig into Harrison's catalog in the past year or so.

There is a 2020 Mix of ATMP up on streaming sites. I think there will probably be a re-issue at some point.


Edit: Yep re-issue planned. Details coming later this year:

This 2020 remix is about weakening Uncle Phil's Wall of Sound, which is heresy and vandalism.
 
Great OP, thanks for the background on the album and George's experiences in the band.

I started listening to my mum's Beatles LPs when I was a teenager (around 25 years ago. God, that makes me feel old!). She had All Things Must Pass and it was always one of my favourites. When you compare the stuff they all did as solo artists Ringo's is as forgettable as you'd expect, John's is ok, Paul's is pretty poor but George's is by far the best of the lot.

Shamefully, I had no idea that Here Comes the Sun was written by Harrison, I'd always assumed it was John Lennon.
 

Kreen101

Member
I prefer Let It Be... Naked over the original.

Uncle Phil's magic touch is limited on the Let It be tracks, as he didn't add his Wall of Sound to any of the songs. His contribution was choosing the best takes and putting the whole package together. Even on The Long and Winding Road, he added a choir and strings, but that's not the Wall of Sound as he used it in the Sixties, or as he would use it -- in a different style -- on many of the songs on All Things Must Pass, like Wah-Wah or What is Life.
 
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