Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All Things Must Pass: The Album

Because George Harrison's All Things Must Pass was issued as a triple album, it is associated with dozens of fascinating Beatles facts. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios from May to September, 1970, the LP was released on November 27, 1970 on Apple-EMI. It was produced by Harrison and Phil Spector.

Harrison had written many of the songs, such as "Isn't It a Pity," as early as 1966. Other songs, such as "All Things Must Pass" and "Hear Me Lord" were written slightly later and played during the Let It Be sessions. An elegant acoustic version of "All Things Must Pass" is featured on Anthology. Other songs were written while visiting Bob Dylan and The Band at Woodstock circa 1968. In fact, Harrison and Dylan co-wrote "I'd Have You Anytime." "Behind That Locked Door" was written for Dylan, who had left the stage at the Isle of Wight concert feeling disheartened after performing songs from Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding, songs that were understated compared to Dylan's more energetic electric/acoustic period--songs that did not receive the kind of enthusiastic response Dylan was anticipating. "Wah Wah" is allegedly a song aimed at McCartney, who had become overbearing during Beatles' sessions from the White Album on. Harrison, it is said, didn't want all of Paul's criticism, advice, and "wah wah." "The Ballad of Frankie Crisp" is an allusion to the nineteenth-century builder of the mansion at Harrison's estate at Friar Park, Sir Frank Crisp. Harrison learned "If Not For You" while attending a Dylan session for Dylan's New Morning LP. "Apple Scruffs" referred to Beatles fans that would wait outside of Abbey Road Studios or Apple headquarters at Saville Row to see the group. "It's Johnny's Birthday" was a gift for John Lennon.

Harrison played approximately fifteen songs for Spector on his acoustic guitar at the album's inception in May, 1970, these songs representing Harrison's growing backlog of songs accumulated before the Beatles' break-up since Harrison was only allotted one to three songs per album by the group. Some songs did not make Spector's cut and have never been issued: "Cosmic Empire," "Tell Me What Happened to You," "Mother Divine," Nowhere to Go," and "Window, Window." Other songs not included on the LP would find release on other Harrison albums and/or projects.

The third vinyl record (titled "Apple Jam") in the All Things Must Pass package consisted of long jam sessions with musician friends. Featured on the album are musicians such as Ringo Starr, Badfinger, Alan White, Billy Preston, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Klaus Voorman, Peter Frampton, and John Lennon.

The other Beatles were reportedly astonished at the success of Harrison's album, which reached the number one spot in both the UK and U.S. for eight and seven weeks respectively. The break-out single on the album was the immensely popular "My Sweet Lord" that would eventually embroil Harrison in a controversy over ownership of the song since the Chiffon's music company claimed it borrowed the melody from their hit, "He's So Fine."

In 2001, a remastered All Things Must Pass was issued, including recently re-recorded parts of "My Sweet Lord." Harrison had worked on the re-mastering of the triple LP in 2000 but died shortly after its release. The cover was changed from the original box set, which featured Harrison sitting on the grounds of Friar Park surrounded by short statues of gnomes. The work is now available on a two-CD mini-box set.

Covers of various tracks from "All Things Must Pass" were done by Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Tom Petty, Joe Cocker, Nina Simone, and the Rutles.

The tracks included:

I'd Have You Anytime
My Sweet Lord
Wah Wah
Isn't It a Pity (version 1)
What Is Life
If Not For You
Behind that Locked Door
Let It Down
Run of the Mill
Beware of Darkness
Apple Scruffs
Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
Awaiting on You All
All Things Must Pass
I Dig Love
Art of Dying
Isn't It a Pity (version 2)
Hear Me Lord
Out of the Blue
It's Johnny's Birthday
Plug Me In
I Remember Jeep
Thanks for the Pepperoni

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