Welcome back to another in my well-established series of suggestions for your record collection. When I say well-established, I mean I’ve actually put some thought into it and come up with more than a couple of posts in the same vein!!
I’m sure by now your bank balances have recovered from the serious outlay that was the entire Beatles studio back-catalogue, so we can move on to my next offering.
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Totally inspired by the showing of Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the BBC over the weekend, my next offering is the debut solo album from the “under-rated Beatle”. Fresh from the Beatle break-up and subsequent law-suits, George Harrison found an outlet for his ever growing stockpile of songs deemed ‘not good enough’ for Beatles albums Let It Be and Abbey Road. And, boy, what an album to produce.
Released at the end of 1970, in the vinyl format of the ‘olden days’, this was a triple album, but technological advancement meant that it fit on to two cds (even the 30th Anniversary edition produced in 2001 with bonus tracks).
It starts with “I’d Have You Anytime”, a writing collaboration with Bob Dylan that gives a mellow opening before kicking up a few gears with the mammoth “My Sweet Lord”, a song that both made George a fortune and also cost him a fair bit (a lawsuit centering on the similarity between this and “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons). Play this song and before the first chorus is over, you will be singing along. I guarantee it.
Following closely behind is “Wah Wah”, written the day George walked out of the Let It Be sessions after a filmed heated discussion with Paul McCartney. The recording is distorted and noisy, thanks to Phil Spector (still basking in the perceived success of the Let It Be production), something George admitted his dislike of initially, but it grew on him.
Another gear change down brings us the first of two versions of the song “Isn’t It A Pity?”. This version is seven minutes long and beautiful. Enough said. Then George takes us back up a notch with a real gem, “What Is Life”. I first heard this song on the Goodfellas film soundtrack, just a snippet during the film – the full version became one of my firm favourites. From here, we then have a rare cover version – George’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You”. Equally as good as Bob’s version, and possibly easier on the ear! This is followed by three good solid tracks (although many artists would kill to be able to have songs like them on an album) in “Behind That Locked Door”, “Let It Down” and “Run Of The Mill”.
After this, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the quality of songs might dip. Not just yet, for we are treated to another truly wonderful song, “Beware Of Darkness”.
For me, the rest of the album does struggle to maintain the standards so far set, but one final mention should be given to the album’s title track – “All Things Must Pass”. First written and demoed during the Let It Be sessions (see the Beatles Anthology albums for the song’s Beatle-days incarnation), George finally gets to air this masterpiece of musical philosophy and gives it the platform it deserves. It would have been a crime to have this playing second fiddle to “One After 909” or “Dig It”.
And then the album finishes off with some good, solid if not unremarkable tracks including the second version of “Isn’t It A Pity”, “The Art of Dying” and the closing “Hear Me Lord”. Then we get an extra treat in the form of recorded session jams, one for the purists only I think (a banner I happily fall under).
And there we have it, a real beauty of an album, often forgotten thanks to the extensive post-Beatles outputs from Lennon and McCartney. Hard to believe it’s 10 years since George left us, but with albums like this, he’ll always, always live on.
And as George would say, “Hare Krishna”!