George had developed as a songwriter, but even Abbey Road didn’t prepare you for the creative outpouring of this triple-elpee set.
Kronomyth 3.0: My journey is ended, everything is splendid.
The Rolling Stone Record Guide of 1980 called this a “grand gesture,” and one was needed after the letdown of The Beatles’ breakup. None of the Fab Four had sketched out a roadmap for the future, Paul McCartney opting to recycle ditties from the past, and All Things Must Pass became something of a beacon. Great works from John, Paul, even Ringo would follow, but it took George to call their bluff.
Spread out across three albums (now two discs), All Things Must Pass confirmed what many already knew: George was a good songwriter just waiting for a patch of sun to call his own. No longer overshadowed by John and Paul, the quiet Beatle has a lot to say about the breakup, God, and (on the album of jams) his own guitar heroes. Phil Spector sometimes suffocates good ideas under too much varnish (“Wah-Wah,” “Awaiting On You All”), but more often elevates these acoustic songs into powerful statements (“My Sweet Lord,” “Beware of Darkness,” “Isn’t It A Pity”).
With Bob Dylan contributing half of “I’d Have You Anytime” and “If Not For You” (given a more earnest reading on his own New Morning), it’s perhaps no surprise that All Things Must Pass sounds like a son of the Nashville skyline, all cool country charm when the mood strikes. You can imagine “Let It Down,” “Behind That Locked Door” and “All Things Must Pass” sharing a train ride with “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” Maybe it’s the pedal steel guitar or the fertile arrangements, maybe it’s the easy way these songs just roll along with an offhand genius.
And then there’s the joy apparent on All Things Must Pass. It’s at the heart of songs like “What Is Life,” “My Sweet Lord” and “Awaiting On You All,” a sort of revival-meeting energy that sweeps you up. Toss in some songs that recall the solo work of John (“Beware of Darkness” in its demo version) and Paul (compare “Art of Dying” to “Mrs. Vanderbilt”) plus a few nods to The Beatles (“I Dig Love,” the second version of “Isn’t It A Pity”) and you may have the most substantive solo musical statement in all of Beatledom. The album of instrumental jams, while often overlooked, show Harrison, Eric Clapton and Dave Mason blowing off some steam in various settings. Of course, Jimi Hendrix left vaults full of stuff like this behind, so they’re best seen as a bonus disc of curiosities rather than a balanced contribution.
Original 3LP Version
1. I’d Have You Anytime (George Harrison/Bob Dylan)
2. My Sweet Lord
4. Isn’t It A Pity
5. What Is Life
6. If Not For You (Bob Dylan)
7. Behind That Locked Door
8. Let It Down
9. Run of The Mill
1. Beware of Darkness
2. Apple Scruffs
3. Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
4. Awaiting On You All
5. All Things Must Pass
6. I Dig Love
7. Art of Dying
8. Isn’t It A Pity (Version Two)
9. Hear Me Lord
1. Out of The Blue (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Gary Wright/George Harrison/Jim Price/Bobby Keys/Al Aronowitz)
2. It’s Johnny’s Birthday (George Harrison/Mal Evans/Eddie Klein, based upon “Congratulations” by Martin and Coulter)
3. Plug Me In (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Dave Mason/George Harrison)
4. I Remember Jeep (Ginger Baker/Klaus Voormann/Billy Preston/Eric Clapton/George Harrison)
5. Thanks For The Pepperoni (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Dave Mason/George Harrison)
2CD Expanded Reissue
1. I’d Have You Anytime (George Harrison/Bob Dylan) (2:57)
2. My Sweet Lord (4:37)
3. Wah-Wah (5:35)
4. Isn’t It A Pity (7:08)
5. What Is Life (4:22)
6. If Not For You (Bob Dylan) (3:29)
7. Behind That Locked Door (3:05)
8. Let It Down (4:57)
9. Run of The Mill (2:51)
10. I Live For You (3:36)
11. Beware of Darkness (3:20)
12. Let It Down (3:55)
13. What Is Life (4:22)
14. My Sweet Lord (2000) (4:58)
1. Beware of Darkness (3:48)
2. Apple Scruffs (3:04)
3. Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) (3:46)
4. Awaiting On You All (2:45)
5. All Things Must Pass (3:44)
6. I Dig Love (4:54)
7. Art of Dying (3:37)
8. Isn’t It A Pity (Version Two) (4:45)
9. Hear Me Lord (5:48)
10. It’s Johnny’s Birthday (George Harrison/Mal Evans/Eddie Klein, based upon “Congratulations” by Martin and Coulter) (0:49)
11. Plug Me In (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Dave Mason/George Harrison) (3:18)
12. I Remember Jeep (Ginger Baker/Klaus Voormann/Billy Preston/Eric Clapton/George Harrison) (8:05)
13. Thanks For The Pepperoni (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Dave Mason/George Harrison) (5:32)
14. Out of The Blue (Jim Gordon/Carl Radle/Bobby Whitlock/Eric Clapton/Gary Wright/George Harrison/Jim Price/Bobby Keys/Al Aronowitz) (11:13)
All songs written by George Harrison unless noted.
George Harrison (vocals, guitar), Badfinger (rhythm guitars & percussion), Gary Brooker (keyboards), Eric Clapton (guitar), Pete Drake (pedal steel guitar), Mal Evans (tea, sympathy and tambourine), George O’Hara-Smith Singers, Jim Gordon (drums & percussion), Bobby Keys (tenor saxophone), Dave Mason (guitar), Billy Preston (keyboards), Jim Price (trumpet), Carl Radle (bass guitar), Ringo Starr (drums & pecussion), Klaus Voormann (bass guitar), Alan White (drums & percussion), Bobby Whitlock (keyboards), Gary Wright (keyboards) with Ginger Baker (drums), John Barham (orchestral arrangements), Sam Brown (additional lead & backing vocals on track 1.14), Phil Collins (congas on track 2.7), Ray Cooper (tambourine on track 1.14), Dhani Harrison (Fender Rhodes, backing vocals, acoustic guitar). Produced by George Harrison and Phil Spector; engineered by Ken Scott and Philip McDonald; engineering assistance by Eddie Klein.
George’s great feast was first released on November 27, 1970 in a tastefully packaged triple-elpee boxed set and not-quite-so-tasteful double 8-track cassette in the UK, US, Australia and Canada (Apple, STCH/8XWB-639), Mexico (Apple, SLEM-268) and the following year in Japan (Apple, AP-9016C) on red vinyl. It reached #4 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (RIAA certified 6X platinum record). The original photography was credited to Barry Feinstein.
The boxed set has been re-pressed and re-issued over the years: in 1977 in Japan (Apple, EAS-67107/9), in 1979 in the UK (Apple, STCH-639), in the 1980s in the UK (Apple, STCH-639), and in 1985 in Brazil (EMI Odeon, 31C 166 04707/9). It was also re-issued as a 3LP and 2CS set in the US (Capitol, STCH/4XWB-639).
It was re-issued on 2CD and 2CS in the US (Capitol, CDP7/C4-46688) and in Japan (EMI, TOCP-65547/8). In 1992, ATMP was released in Russia (Antpro, ATR-30033/6) as a 2LP set with the last four jam tracks omitted and a different cover. On January 29, 2001, ATMP was released in a 30th anniversary edition as an expanded 2CD with five bonus tracks in the UK (Parlophone, 530474), the US (Capitol, 30474) and Taiwan (EMI, 530474). The 30th anniversary edition featured slightly modified artwork redesigned and art directed by Sian Rance & David Costa for Wherefore Art? In 2010, the original 3LP set was re-pressed in the UK (EMI, STCH-639) to commemorate its 40th anniversary.