Monday, November 22, 2021

George Harrison “All Things Must Pass”

(Capitol / UMe, 2021)


A little hysterical perspective here, if I may, as that once-Fabulous Four deign to Get Back to Disney: 

November of 1970: The very first thing I can recall about All Things Must Pass was it cost me (actually, truth be told, it cost my dear grandmother) a whopping $7.99 Canadian! ...and that was still after Sam the Record Man's gigantic in-store, pre-Xmas deep deep discount. And even though Capitol/Apple's enticing shrinkwrap sticker boasted “3 LP's For The Price Of 2 Including Full Color Poster” – the “free” LP being Side 5 and 6's Apple Jam ...and no, I doubt I played it more than once either – that big 23-by-35-inch image of George stayed stuck to the inside of my bedroom door clear through the arrival of his rhythm guitarist’s Imagine album's Tittenhurst piano-white poster, causing many over thirty in my household to repeatedly exclaim “Oh my, who is that scary looking old man??”

All domestic aesthetics aside, ATMP was in fact the first Box Set to proudly become part of my collection, and each Harrisong's pretty holier-than-me lyric reprinted upon its dust sleeves point quite directly towards the similarly vinyl boxed Jesus Christ Superstar due just a little later, if I may draw such a parallel. But when all was said and sung, strictly secularly speaking this great big George box remains every bit as weighty – literally, historically and socio-musically today as it did as ‘70 became '71 ...while the man's fellow ex-Fabs were still busy crooning about getting on yer feet and entering the streets, taking a morning bath and wetting hair, and not shouting or leaping about may I remind everyone.  


The deceptively Quiet Beatle did indeed have a LOT boxed up to get off his chest and onto tape after at least a half-decade of being, as he most revealingly explained to Dick Cavett at the time, “subtly sat upon” by Messrs. Lennon, McCartney and Martin. As a result the melodies were absolutely astounding, the chords beneath surprisingly serpentine, and as noted the lyrical sentiments were much more often than not perceptive, profound, and deeply penetrating to the extreme. All the better then to be sonically supported by Phil Spector's equally sweeping Wall of Sounds; wholly suitable productions which today remain even more unique and, yes, spectacular ...especially when A/B'd against those comparatively anemic mixes on the album's previously-re-issued 30th anniversary bonus material: Thank God, or Whomsoever, George resisted, as I quote his 2001 threat of, “remixing every track to liberate the songs from the big production that seemed appropriate at the time but now seems over the top.” Really, George? May I just say those gorgeous, big productions tower proudly over what could have been diluted via, for example, your pal Jeff Lynne ...perish the very thought.

Now it could be argued by some, myself included, that George never again approached the pomp or majesty of All Things Must Pass (perhaps he shouldn't have used up all his best material on his first post-Beatle release?) and along with – for entirely different rhymes and reasons of course – John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band it remains one of the special few long-players that can still stand loudly and proudly alongside... oh, say, Rubber SoulRevolver, or even Beatles VI. Yes, it was in 1970 the sound and sentiment of a man, and musician, demonstrating among many other things just how sweet life can be by setting oneself free. And it all still sounds every single bit as lustrous and liberating – not to mention unquestionably box-worthy – all the way up here in 2021. Let it continue to roll into the night.

And, as for his old bandmates? Can we just Let It Be now …PLEASE. 

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