All Things Must Pass

George Harrison

Apple / Capitol Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Gordon T. Gekko


In 1970, after months of speculation, the Beatles broke up. Millions of fans saw it as a nightmare, while others simply saw it as the band reaching the point of its natural demise. Indeed, would the Beatles be so revered today if the acrimony between the members had reached the point that they began releasing mediocre albums? One could ponder such a question indefinitely, and it would be futile since that chapter in rock history is forever closed.

In that first post-Beatles year, each member released a solo album (or two). John released the hauntingly personal John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Paul released his self-titled folksy album, on which he plays all of the instruments. Ringo released two albums, neither of which were, by definition, rock, and played on the Lennon album, along with the album reviewed here.

I'm sorry to dwell on history, but it is these circumstances surrounding All Things Must Pass which make it all the more credible, and arguably the best post-Beatle album by any of the Fab Four. Lennon and McCartney were the dominating songwriting presence in the Beatles, but as George matured, his songwriting skills equaled those of John and Paul as seperate pens, and are at least comparable to those of the team. He still lacked the influence in the band to get many of his songs onto the albums, and had developed a severe backlog of material. The only way to clear this vault was to release a triple LP consisting of pop masterpieces. (Okay, the history lesson is over, I promise. I won't even go into the superstar session list, including Ringo, Badfinger, Billy Preston, and Derek and the Dominoes).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Harrison is a pop genius, and the album is evidence, containing the hits "What Is Life," "If Not For You," and "My Sweet Lord," which I will skip over because everyone knows the unfortunate history behind that song. Borrowed melody aside, it is urgent and well-written and unifies the album. Be warned that it will easily make the most weathered cynic cry. By far, the title track is the best song on the album, and has the quality of being simutaneously enlighting and disturbing.

"Awaiting On You All" is a gospel masterpiece, and "Isn't It a Pity" (both versions) is about as profound as rock 'n' roll gets. "Art Of Dying" is a uninspired, mechanized version of these songs, and "Apple Scuffs" is a Beatle-tribute-wannabe, which comes out sounding resentful towards the fans.

Such extended jams such as "Out Of The Blue," and "I Remember Jeep" are impressive, if boring, and some filler remains unexplained. The only reason I can come up with for the 50-second "It's Johnny's Birthday" is to max out two albums, and warrant a third one. Even the spiritually motivated are looking for some extra income. Running fairly close to two hours, however, it may be one of the few albums of the period to truthfully warrant a $30+ sticker price.

There are very few who will love the entireity of All Things Must Pass, but the electisism here makes it almost worth buying for anyone. There is so much great music here that you won't even notice the fact that the filler is intentional. It is Harrison's ultimate statement. Looking inside, outside, and all around, it is almost as if he recites: "Look here, chaps, I made a wall. It's not very sturdy but boy is it tall!" Big, bombastic, and over indulgent in a way that would make King Crimson squeal, it is one of the best albums of its decade. If you are a Beatle fan, get it. Harrison fan, Clapton fan, or lover of good music, ditto. In fact, if you hate rock music, go get a copy of Dark Side Of The Moon, Layla, then this album. This is Harrison's gift to everyone.

Rating: A

User Rating: B


© 1998 Gordon T. Gekko and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Apple / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.