Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23: George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass"

Artist: George Harrison
Album: All Things Must Pass
Year: 1970
Label: Capitol

In the years following the break-up of The Beatles, all four members attempted solo careers, with varying degrees of success. The most impressive of all of these attempts was that of George Harrison. Instead of taking the formula of his old band and molding it into a solo affair, Harrison dared to follow his own musical ideas and pushed deep into unexplored territory. Though he is sometimes lost behind the "star power' of Lennon/McCartney, Harrison's 1970 album, All Things Must Pass is a true musical tour-de-force, and a testament to how essential he was to his former group.

Releasing three superior full-length albums is a task many musicians do not achieve throughout their entire career. However, Harrison accomplished this task in one single release. All Things Must Pass is a full SIX sides of amazing music. The first four sides are flawless songs, while the remaining two sides are more experimental and “jamming” in nature. A handful of the songs were tunes that Harrison had composed during the end of his time with The Beatles, but were never used by the group. While sides five and six are significant in their own right, I will concentrate this review on the first four sides, as that is where the true genius of the album is found.

Obviously, with all of the content, the music itself is very wide ranging. The album features influences from the time that Harrison spent in India, as well as more traditional sounding songs, which he has always excelled at writing. On All Things Must Pass, Harrison manages to infuse a rather heavy sense of spirituality or mysticism, yet the music itself does not suffer, and the music is still has a completely universal appeal. Easily transitioning from guitar to piano to a host of other instruments, Harrison also involves full orchestration in many of his songs and it helps to keep All Things Must Pass fresh and stimulating throughout.

It is whilst listening to All Things Must Pass that it be comes apparent that Harrison was easily as talented, if not moreso, than the more “popular” Beatles writing team of Lennon/McCartney. While some may see this as blasphemous, if you read the credits on Beatles’ records, most of their most beautiful (not necessarily popular) songs were penned by Harrison. Without the constraints that come with “sharing the spotlight,” Harrison uses All Things Must Pass to present many diverse arrangements, ideas, and longer songs that would not have fit in well with his former band.

A pair of songs off of All Things Must Pass have attained the title of “classic” since the albums’ release. “My Sweet Lord” and “Awaiting On You All” have cemented their place among the greatest songs ever. The former of the two songs was the lead single off the album and reached the top of the charts in both the US and UK and the album itself topped the charts in more than half a dozen countries. Both of the songs remain in heavy radio airplay across the world and are proof of just how brilliant and talented a musician there was in George Harrison.

While Lennon and McCartney made huge waves as solo artists, George Harrison took a much quieter path in his post-Beatles career. Staying true to his ideals and daring to try new musical ideas, he pushed the boundaries of music, instead of rehashing the sounds he had created with The Beatles. Though released nearly forty years ago, All Things Must Pass has withstood the test of time and remains one of the greatest musical contributions that the world has ever known.

Standout tracks: “My Sweet Lord,” “What Is Life,” and “Awaiting On You All.”

1 comment:

rockandrollguru said...

I just listened to this a couple days ago and was reminded what a truly amazing album it is. George was incredibly gifted as a songwriter.