George Harrison in 2021
August 6th, 2021 sees the release of the most comprehensive box-set reissue of the late George Harrison’s much-loved third album, All Things Must Pass, to mark the 50th anniversary of the triple-album’s original release. As well as fully remixed vinyl and CD versions, the “uber deluxe edition” includes 70 tracks, with 42 previously unreleased demo versions, out-takes and assorted jams recorded around the same time of the original recordings that didn’t make the album’s third disc, Apple Jam, released over three discs. Also included in that “uber deluxe edition” is a 44-page book on the making of the album and a 96-page “scrapbook” of archival notes as well as song-by-song annotations.
All things began…
Harrison began recording what became All Things Must Pass in Abbey Road Studios in May 1970, and though it was his third solo release, it was his first post-Beatles album, and featured a plethora of guest musicians, among them his friend, guitarist Eric Clapton, along with Badfinger’s Pete Ham and Tom Evans as well as Peter Frampton, all contributing acoustic guitars; keyboards players Americans Billy Preston, Spooky Tooth’s Gary Wright and Bobby Whitlock and fellow Englishmen Tony Ashton of Ashton Gardner & Dyke and Procol Harem’s Gary Brooker; bass players Carl Radle and Harrison’s old Hamburg friend Klaus Voorman, and drummers Jim Gordon and, the one Beatle with whom he felt comfortable at the time, Ringo Starr, among many others.
Calling on Phil Spector
The recording sessions continued over the next four months, at Trident and The Beatles’ own Apple Studios in Savile Row as well as Abbey Road, with Harrison calling on Phil Spector, who’d produced the final Beatles album, Let It Be, to coproduce the sessions with him. “He had literally hundreds of songs and each one was better than the rest,” Spector said after having been invited to Harrison’s Victorian neo-Gothic home, Friar Park, in Henley-on-Thames. “He had all this emotion built up when it was released to me.”
By the end of the sessions, Harrison found he had more than enough material for a triple-LP, and so All Things Must Pass was released as such – 23 songs, though there were two versions of one song – Isn’t It A Pity – while the third LP, which included five tracks, was, as mentioned, dubbed Apple Jam. “For the jams,” Harrison told Billboard’s then Editor in Chief Timothy White in an interview published January 8, 2001, “I didn’t want to just throw [them] in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn’t part of the record; that’s why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus.”
My Sweet Lord
Despite being a triple-album, with a price tag to match, the album topped the charts around the world, as did the first single lifted off it, My Sweet Lord, while the second, What Is Life, made the Top 5 in most of the world – #1 in Australia.
Before Harrison himself passed…
He oversaw a 30th anniversary remastered reissue of All Things Must Pass released in January 2001, which included five additional songs – two from the original sessions as well as a new version of My Sweet Lord that included his son Dhani overdubbing additional acoustic guitar and electric piano parts as well as some additional backing harmonies.
For the 2021 reissue…
Dhani Harrison has taken on the role of executive producer and, for the remixed version of the original triple-LP version, has subtly “wound back” the “Spector effect”. As he pointed out to Rolling Stone’s David Browne, his father “hated the reverb. He said this to me a million times: ‘God, that reverb!’” (June 10, 2021) In charge of remixing was Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Paul Hicks, who has previously remixed albums by John Lennon and The Rolling Stones among others.
The All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary Edition will be available in the following formats:
- Uber Deluxe Box Set – 8LP and 5CD/BR housed in an artisan designed wooden crate, accompanied by two elegantly designed books paying homage to Harrison’s love for gardening and nature
- Super Deluxe 8LP Box Set
- Super Deluxe 5CD plus Blu-ray Box Set
- Deluxe Edition 5LP set
- Deluxe Edition 3CD set
- Standard 3LP set
- An e-Commerce exclusive 3LP coloured Vinyl set
And a standard 2CD set
By Michael George Smith, former Associate and Contributing editor at The Drum Media and The Music, freelance music journalist for RAM, Juke, On The Street, JAMM, Sonics and way more, freelance book reviewer for Overland, Island and Quadrant, author of What’s Been Did (And What’s Been Hid): A Narrative History of Australian Pop and Rock, three volumes completed to date, Volume I covering the artists and acts that emerged between 1955 and 1963, Volume II those between 1964 and 1969, and Volume III those between 1970 and 1976. Bass player with Mushroom signing Scandal 1976-78, and legendary instrumental surf guitar band The Atlantics 2006-12.