ALL THINGS MUST PASS

In Australia we did not get the impressive boxed version of All Things Must Pass. Our version was a three-panel gatefold sleeve with the lyrics printed inside. We did get the poster, though. A dark  3’ x 2’ portrait of a morose, hairy George. But our flimsy fold-out was disappointing. The box had solidity, gravitas. It was an item that said, ‘I’m an important release. I’m special’. Ours was a triple album passing itself off as a double (which actually wasn’t far from the truth). It said, ‘I just want to fit in. Nothing special here’. 

But there was.

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All Things Must Pass was two records jam-packed with outstanding songs and a third packed with jams. Looking at the poster, which you kind of had to, you noticed a mysterious pull; the dark hues and moody shadows seemed to draw you in. So much so that one might be forgiven for thinking this was a sombre record.

While it’s true some songs have a serious tone (“The art of dying” and “Isn’t it a pity”, for instance) there is something life-affirming about this wonderfully rich double album. (I call it a double as I don’t really count, nor rate highly, the ‘bonus’ LP of jams).

“What is life” has a great melody, strong lyrics and a huge brass-filled arrangement. “Wah-Wah” surges with a righteous anger that makes it an album highlight. Dylan’s “If not for you” is presented with slide guitar and a touching sincerity. 

If not for you

The winter would hold no spring

You couldn’t year a robin sing

I just wouldn’t have a clue

If not for you

It was a fondness for the simple devotion of this latter song that led me to buy the songbook.

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This stained and dog-eared volume was once bright and crisp and full of guitar chords and lyrics for the aspiring George to tackle their favourite Harrisongs. Which I duly did, as the damaged spine and coffee rings attest. I even learned “Isn’t it a pity” on piano and played it with what I imagined to be empathic sadness. 

But that songbook made me happy. It was a lovely volume that included a smaller version of the album poster, a tear-out book of the lyrics and some unique illustrations on coloured paper echoing that of the record. I loved the care and attention to detail. Still do.

And I still love All Things Must Pass.

So much so that when it came to negotiating my first feature for the Discrepancy Records blog, the quiet Beatle’s masterpiece was the one I suggested. And happily accepted the recent vinyl re-issue instead of monetary payment. It seemed a fitting way to honour an album I’ve appreciated since I was a teenager. And, of course, a chance to secure the impressive boxed version that now sits next to my original Aussie pressing. I’ve even put the old songbook with them, for company.

Some things pass, and some endure.

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This is the second part of a piece spread across three sites.

The first is at Lonely Keyboards.

The third is the Discrepancy review.

 

31 comments

  1. […] The music theme of this post continues at Vinyl Connection […]

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  2. It was always a favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this album. I’m waiting for my brother to give me his copy. I might be waiting for a while……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps if you played him the ‘jam’ LP, he might pass it on, forgetting the brilliance of the other two records?

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  4. Still got my original copy but I reckon that Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album pips this to the post as the best of the solo albums.

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    1. Now there’s a debate that would need strenuous refereeing!

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  5. I’m not that well versed in solo Beatles, but it’s my favourite of the ones I know (as long as you treat the jams as a solo disc).

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    1. The solo catalogues are not really comparable, are they? I guess I think about the period from 1970 until 8 December 1980 as the shared domain. Artificial, of course, but at least bounded.

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      1. I’m just not very excited about them – I don’t even like late period Beatles that much, although Harrison was peaking on Abbey Road as the others were fizzling out.

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        1. Hm. Not sure I’m entirely comfortable with that brief summary, Graham! But we have certainly moved on from the wonder of Rubber Soul and Revolver.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think Lennon and McCartney were better together – even if they didn’t always write together much, they still tempered each other’s work and pushed each other to greater heights.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. chris delprete · · Reply

    Absolutely love this set, even have a soft spot for the jam sides. To me after this it was sadly a case of diminishing returns for George. Though each following album had some gems it’s as if he blew his post Beatle load in one brilliant burst of sunshine. I couldn’t afford this for many years and finally scored a copy when I married a fellow music fanatic, the slightly not quite right Australian version. We were so often shortchanged back then with vinyl quality, gatefolds, inserts, etc. A few years ago I picked up my own Japanese copy. Still high on rotation and one whose quality my wife and I agree upon- an unusual situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Title acquisition by matrimony. Interesting strategy, Chris! 😉
      I still play it for pleasure too; quite uncommon for one that’s been with me so long.
      Thanks, as always, for your story.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Have you seen Scorsese’s film on George Harrison ‘Living In The Material World’? It talks about how he stockpiled in the late ’60s all the songs that Paul and John thought weren’t good enough for this great album.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a fascinating doco, Robert. And yes, it does highlight what was well known at the time – part of George’s frustration was the difficulty getting his songs onto Beatles albums. We’re the beneficiaries on this set.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice piece! The Quiet One’s always been my favourite Fab

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Quiet One’s quiet fans quietly pay hushed homage. And it is good.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Cool hat trick mate, including the Discrepancy piece! Congrats on that, very nice. And bizarre for me, as I was speculating on some of these facts just earlier this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for following the electron trail, Bill. And glad you enjoyed the Discrepancy piece. Next time I’m over for a beer, let’s yarn about writing for different settings, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post and one of my favourite albums. So much warmth to it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spot on Tony. There is a humanity in ATMP that is a big part of what Harrisonophiles love.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s a fine way of describing the triple Bruce – 2 jam-packed LPs & 1 LP of jams!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Geoff. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reviews for remuneration? the Holy Grail Bruce.

    I have never heard it, apart from a couple of tracks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Depending where you sit on George generally, it is by far his strongest album. All that pent-up frustrated energy and crowded out creativity…

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      1. I’ll pick it up if I ever stumble across a reasonable copy. I like George.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m not a post-Beatles adherent, and while I’ve heard a lot of these songs on the radio, and liked them moderately, and always liked his slide guitar, I don’t remember hearing the title track before today. As I listen to these songs, I actually appreciate his calm, unforced delivery more than I did when I was younger.

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    1. It is a mature album, Robert. Right on the money there. I know the existential songs (Art of Dying, the title track) resonate much more now than when I was a spotty youth. Wonder what that’s about?!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A pity Australia didn’t get the boxed version (sorry, I can’t believe no one said that yet, so I had to!). I remember John Lennon said something along the lines of his liking that album, but that it just kept going on and on, and was ultimately too long. That catty comment stayed with me for far too long and somehow became my own too. But a few years ago I gave the album another listen and realized I never gave it a proper chance. I now think it represents all the artistic passion from George that came exploding out after so many years of being limited by the more dominant senior members. It’s a masterpiece. – Marty

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  15. RE-posted on twitter @trefology

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