Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

George Harrison: All Things Must Pass

It may have sold well, but that doesn't make The Beatles' 1 any less of a bad idea: A collection of the group's most overplayed hits, it seems to have been designed solely for the casual Beatles fan. But do casual Beatles fans exist, and if so, do they deserve to own a Beatles album? Whatever the case, 1 found George Harrison in a familiar position: nearly shut out. Giving Harrison a single song, "Something," 1 once again pushed his compositions to the margins, which may have been unavoidable when they vied for space with the work of Lennon and McCartney. But it still does his talent a disservice. Harrison originally remedied the situation after the group's 1970 breakup by releasing All Things Must Pass, a sprawling triple album made up largely of songs written during his Beatles tenure. Given the pattern of belatedly recognizing Harrison's skills, it's only fitting that, in the wake of new interest in all things Beatles, All Things Must Pass would return as a remastered, bonus-added double CD. "I still like the songs on the album and believe they can continue to outlive the style in which they were recorded. It was difficult to resist remixing every track," Harrison writes in the liner notes, which is as good an argument as any against artists fiddling with past work. The tension between Harrison's pop instincts and his spiritual yearning, the deep-seated melancholy of much of the material, and co-producer Phil Spector's expansive wall-of-sound approach is the album. Whatever Harrison lost in the lawsuits that followed, the rewriting of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" into the pop hymn "My Sweet Lord" should have made it worth every penny, and the spirit of that transcendent track rolls through much of the album. Joined by Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Badfinger, and others, All Things Must Pass often feels like a carefully orchestrated, highly personal, spiritually minded pop hootenanny. "Lord," "What Is Life," "The Ballad Of Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)," and the title track all stand out, but the overall mood proves the real attraction on one of the few incontestably great post-Beatles-breakup albums. That said, it wouldn't be All Things Must Pass without some disposable material. The album-closing jam sessions probably deserve a listen for historical value, but of the new bonus tracks, only the outtake "I Live For You" needed rescuing from the dustbin. Of the new "My Sweet Lord (2000)," the album title says it best.


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