November 22, 2021 5 min read

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary release (technically it's been about 51 years but who’s counting) of George Harrison’s landmark release “All Things Must Pass”. Join me on a rundown for Nick’s Picks Volume 9!

Often regarded as the best solo Beatle release, “All Things Must Pass” showcased George’s immense growth as a songwriter, cited as “The Quiet One” anticipation had built regarding what George would bring to the table as a solo artist after the jaw dropping greatness of “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun'' from Abbey Road one year prior. Digging for inspiration after the breakup of the Beatles, George elected to work with legendary producer Phil Spector who had recently been selected to “salvage” what he could of the Beatles’ “Let It Be '' album sessions. Spector came to “Friar Park”, Harrison’s estate (Pictured on the cover of ATMP) in early 1970 where George performed what Spector exclaimed was an “endless” amount of incredible compositions that dated all the way back to 1966. Songs such as “Isn’t It a Pity”, “Art of Dying”, I’d Have you Anytime” and the title track were all written during Harrison’s time with The Fab Four!

Recorded mostly at EMI Studios (AKA Abbey Road) the recording personnel reads like a “who’s who” of some of the greatest musicians of the era (and of all time for that matter) Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Ringo Starr, Jim Gordon, Billy Preston, Bobby Keys, Alan White (future Yes Drummer), Pete Ham, Ginger Baker, John Lennon, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton and even a then unknown Phil Collins make appearances on “All Things Must Pass.” 

Usually for Nick’s Picks I like to go through the entire record but there is simply too much material here. I’ve selected a small sample of my favorite tracks to feature in this blog. Quite honestly every track brings a level of brilliance to the table offering various genres, everything from a folky ballad to a full on orchestrated monsoon of sound (the infamous Spector “Wall of Sound”) brilliant songwriting, guitar playing and production. There is even an entire disc of blues “jams” The album begins with “I’d Have You Anytime”, a co-write with Bob Dylan. Harrison was one of a very small group of folks who would ever collaborate with Dylan in terms of songwriting. This song has a beautiful laid back feel similar to something you’d hear on The Band’s 1969 self titled release. Lots of vibey instrumentation that lays a beautiful backdrop for some fantastic guitar playing which I believe to be Eric Clapton and George Harrison trading licks.

“My Sweet Lord” is probably the most well known Harrison solo song, a spiritual rave up that might be recognized as the greatest ear worm in musical history. Harrison would of course be sued in 1971 for lifting the melody from the classic “He’s So Fine”. Clearly the melody was already stuck in George’s head. In my opinion the most important piece of this song is that it showcases Harrison’s unique, incredible and “floating” slide guitar technique.

“Isn’t It A Pity” is included twice. In my mind, this is clearly George coming to terms with the end of the Beatles. Lyrically it encompasses the end of any relationship but for George I think this is what he is touching on the most. George once said regarding “Isn’t It A Pity” “…It was a chance to realize that if I felt somebody had let me down, then there's a good chance I was letting someone else down."

“Art of Dying” is a robust rocker with some brilliant wah-wah guitar from Clapton. Much like Pink Floyd’s “Time”, the lyrics to this song capture the blunt terms of Life and Death in an incredible manner, also bringing George’s beliefs of reincarnation to the table. I can remember when George passed in November of 2001, Steve Kostan played this song on his show that evening with a simple statement of “It seems George had this all figured out many years ago”. I still remember that moment, I was age 11 and could not grasp any of this.

Finally, the title track “All Things Must Pass”, is simply incredible. Lyrically it’s one of the best songs ever in my mind. Incredible harmony vocals in the chorus, that signature slide guitar, a brilliantly recorded acoustic guitar. It’s hair raising. I also must say, anyone that bags on Ringo… If you want to hear his brilliance listen to the simplistic YET unreplicable drumming on this. Simply put, this is perfection all around. Rumors say Lennon and McCartney turned this song down during the “Let It Be” Sessions. I can confidently say, in my opinion, had this track been included on that album it would be remembered and held in the same regard as “Let It Be”, “Long and Winding Road” and “Across the Universe”. The new 50th anniversary includes a “demo” of “All Things Must Pass” recorded on Day 1 of production, this stark version proves that even without all of the bells and whistles of the album version what a brilliant moment this is.

“All Things Must Pass” has grown into an album of legend. Upon release it immediately shot to #1 on both sides of the pond. The 3 LP box is instantly recognizable with its stark cover of Harrison sitting in a chair on his lawn towering over 4 garden gnomes (Geee… who could that be?) and is often one of the most sought after albums in our store, a complete vintage copy with Poster is a piece almost any vinyl collector has or wants on their shelf.

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary “All Things Must Pass” has been issued in 7 different formats with a brand new “Remix” … yes you read that right, 7. In stock we have the 3LP which replicates the original packaging, hinged box, poster and all. A 5 LP set that encompasses the original album plus 2 discs of demos and outtakes, an 8 LP set which features even more demos/outtakes and a hardcover book! For those diehard Harrison fans there is even an “UBER” Deluxe edition which comes in a wooden shipping crate and even includes a replica of George and his Gnome pals, optimal for displaying! (We don’t have this in stock but it should be mentioned) “All Things Must Pass” is one of those records that never gets old, in fact I appreciate it more each time I listen to it. The most mind-blowing thing of all is that when this album hit stores, Harrison was just 27 years old. He had been part of the biggest band in the world, redefined an instrument and inspired millions to pick one up and amassed, recorded and released one of the greatest collections of songs that no one saw coming.



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