All Things Must Pass remains one of the grand albums in music history. Released November 27, 1970 it helped bring the sixties to a close, while opening a new door to the seventies. It was philosophically, spiritually, and musically excellent and avoided some of the excess and preachiness that would plague some of his later releases.
George Harrison was the quiet Beatle always taking a back seat to Paul McCartney and John Lennon. While he recorded such songs as “Taxman,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Something,” he had trouble placing his songs on Beatles albums. Little did people realize at the time but he had amassed a number of unissued quality songs.
George Harrison used his backlog of material to release the first triple album by a solo artist. Containing such hit singles as “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life” it would sell six million copies in The United States alone, and be the number one album in the country for seven weeks. It would also reach the top of the album charts in such countries as Canada, Norway, Australia, The United Kingdom, and Italy.
A virtual who’s who of rock’s finest musicians would back Harrison. Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, John Lennon, Klaus Voorman, Carl Radle, Billy Preston, Gary Wright, Ringo Starr, Alan White, Ginger Baker, Bobby Keys, and many more all brought their talents to the album. Even Phil Spector managed to keep himself under control and produced a polished album which fit the music well.
The two hit singles remain the most memorable tracks. “My Sweet Lord” topped the American singles charts for a month and was a wonderful spiritual interlude as The Vietnam War raged. I am still thrilled by Harrison’s opening riff on “What Is Life.” He was always a brilliant guitarist, but this fact would become more apparent after The Beatles dissolved.
“Wah-Wah,” “Hear Me Lord,” and the gospel tinged “Awaiting On You All” are all first rate. He pays homage to some groupies who formed the title of “Apple Scruffs.” Even the proprietor of Harrison’s mansion was immortalized by “Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll).” He also includes a fine version of Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You.”
The third disc, titled “Apple Jam,” contains jams by some of the musicians who were present. They are more interesting than essential, but when you have so many artists together why not jam and see what happens? It can be considered a bonus disc, as it does not really fit in with the music of the first two discs. I find the best of the lot to be “Thanks For The Pepperoni” but all contain some interesting bits.
In the final analysis it remains George Harrison’s masterpiece and a hallmark album. All Things Must Pass, except the music contained here.
Article first published as on Blogcritics.org