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All Things Must Pass - George Harrison

George began planning 'All Things Must Pass' while he was still a member of The Beatles, obviously frustrated that he had so much difficulty trying to get his own numbers accepted as Beatles tracks due to the fact that priority was given to the Lennon & McCartney material. In October 1969 he was to discuss his solo album. "It's mainly just to get rid of all the songs I've got stacked up. I've got such a backlog, and at the rate of two or three an album with the group, I'm not even going to get the ones I've already done out for three or four years. I suppose I'm waiting till I've got myself a proper studio at home and then I can just knock 'em off when I feel like it. In future, though, The Beatles are going to get an equal rights thing, so we'll all have as much on the album".

He began recording on May 26th 1970 at Abbey Road Studios. George considered three Dylan songs - 'If Not For You', which he'd recently recorded with Dylan in New York; 'I'd Have You Anytime' which he'd co-written with Dylan and 'I Don't Want To Do It', which wasn't officially released until it was included on the 'Porky's Revenge' soundtrack in the 1980s. Other numbers included 'The Art Of Dying' which George said he "had been working on a song about reincarnation since 1966". 'Isn't It a Pity' was a number from the end of 1968, also performed during jam sessions at Twickenham Studios in January 1969. On October 9th 1970 George, Donovan and Janis Joplin were all asked by Yoko to do a special birthday song for John. Together with Eddie Klein and Mal Evans, George recorded 'It's Johnny's Birthday'. He decided to include it on the 'Apple Jam' section of the album and used the tune of 'Congratulations' for the birthday tribute. Composers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter received royalties for the track 'It's Johnny's Birthday'. While George and the other musicians did some jam sessions, the engineers left the tapes running and several hours of instrumental recording was saved and included in a third section of the album called 'Apple Jam'. There was so much material that George decided on issuing it as a triple set, in a box with a lyric sheet and poster, at double the price of a normal album.

The set entered the Billboard chart on December 19th 1970 and reached No.1 on January 2nd 1971, becoming a double platinum album, eventually selling over three million copies. The album remained in the top spot for seven weeks (the Plastic Ono Band, at same time only reached No.6). In Britain it was No.1 for 8 weeks. It created a new chart record when 'My Sweet Lord' and 'All Things Must Pass' topped the US and UK charts simultaneously - not even The Beatles had achieved that. 'All Things Must Pass' was issued in Britain and America on November 27th 1970 on Apple STCH 639. It was produced by George and Phil Spector and engineered by Ken Scott and Phil McDonald with orchestral arrangements by John Barham. Musicians on the album were: Guitars: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason. Drums and Percussion: Ringo Starr, Jim Gordon, Alan White. Bass Guitar: Klaus Voormann, Carl Radle. Keyboard: Gary Wright, Bobby Whitlock, Billy Preston, Gary Brooker. Pedal steel guitar: Pete Drake. Tenor saxophone: Bobby Keys. Trumpet: Jim Price. Rhythm Guitars and Percussion: Badfinger. Tea, Sympathy and TambourineP: Mal Evans. Introducing the George O'Hara Smith Singers. Orchestral arrangement: John Barham. Recording engineers: Ken Scott, Philip McDonald. Incidentally, it was the first time the quartet who became known as Derek and The Dominoes recorded together. George also overdubbed his backing vocals several times using the name Gerry O'Hara Smith Singers, and he missed sessions because of health problems.

All Things Must Pass - George Harrison          All Things Must Pass - George Harrison          All Things Must Pass - George Harrison          All Things Must Pass - George Harrison
The tracks were:
Record One, Side One: I'd Have You Anytime; My Sweet Lord; Wah-Wah; Isn't It A Pity (version one). Record One, Side Two: What Is Life?; If Not For You; Behind That Locked Door; Let It Down; Run Of The Mill.
Record Two, Side One: Beware Of Darkness; Apple Scruffs; Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll); Awaiting On You All; All Things Must Pass. Record Two, Side Two: I Dig Love; Art Of Dying; Isn't It a Pity (Version Two); Hear Me Lord.
Record Three, 'Apple Jam', Side One: Out Of The Blue; It's Johnny's Birthday; Plug Me In. Record Three, Side Two: I Remember Jeep; Thanks For The Pepperoni.

The thirtieth anniversary double CD set of 'All Things Must Pass' was issued on Apple 72435 30475 2 8 and included a newly recorded version of 'My Sweet Lord', recorded in 2000, which was personally supervised by George, together with four previously unreleased tracks from the 1970 recording sessions. They included 'I Live For You', an out-take not used at the time, an alternative version of 'Beware My Darkness', 'Let It Down', described as "the original guitar and vocal from the same tape as 'Beware Of Darkness' with a little overdubbing, circa 2000" and 'What Is Life', a rough mix of the backing track. In January 2001 EMI issued an advance sampler CD on CDLRLO43 with the tracks 'My Sweet Lord', 'What Is Life', 'Isn't it a Pity', 'Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)', 'Wah-Wah', 'Beware Of Darkness', 'All Things Must Pass' and 'My Sweet Lord (2000)'. George said that he wanted to include the updated version of 'My Sweet Lord' "to create something extra for the anniversary issue".

For the anniversary release, George recorded a promotional interview called 'A Conversation With George Harrison' which was released on February 15th 2001. Chris Carter conducted the interview at Capitol Studios, Hollywood. The cover of the disc had a colourised photo of George from the original album, but altered slightly to have him holding a parasol. The number was DPRO 7087 6 15950 2 4. This is a transcript of the interview:

"George, when you began the sessions for 'All Things Must Pass', did you plan to record a double album or, for that matter, a triple album?"
George: "Well, when I started the album I was just trying to do a record and I had so many songs that we just recorded one after the other and just kept doing backing tracks and one day I thought I better check out what's going on here and I had 18 tracks. Also, the accountant at Abbey Road came down the stairs and said, 'Is this record going to take much longer?' So I thought, 'Well, I think that's probably enough' and decided to put them all out at once".

"How have your thoughts changed regarding the production of 'All Things Must Pass' since it was first recorded in 1970?"
George: "Well, in those days it was like the reverb was kind of used a bit more than what I would do now. In fact, I don't use reverb at all. I can't stand it. But at the time I did the record with Phil Spector, and we did it like Phil Spector would do it. You know, it's hard to go back to anything 30 years later and expect it to be how you would want it now. I'd dare say if I did a record today, in 30 years I'd probably want to change it. That's the only thing about the production. It was done in cinemascope and it had a lot of reverb on it compared to what I would use now, but that's how it was and at the time I really liked it".

"Both you and John Lennon chose to use Phil Spector as producer for your first 'proper' solo albums. How come Mr Spector?"
George: "Well, we knew him a little bit. He needed a job! And Phil was around. If you remember, he was brought into London by Allen Klein when we had done the record 'Get Back', or 'Let It Be', it became the 'Let It Be' record. 'Let It Be' was supposed to be just a live recording and we ended up doing it in the studio and nobody was happy with it. But it was troubled times. Everybody listened to it back and didn't really like it and we didn't really want to put it out. So later on down the line Klein, this guy Allen Klein, brought in Phil Spector and said, 'Well, what do you think about Phil looking at the record?' so at least John and I said, 'Yeah, let's see'. We liked Phil Spector, we loved all his records. So, let him do it, and he did what he did and then you know everybody knows the rest. And so he was around and one day I was with Phil and I was on my way to Abbey Road to do 'Instant Karma'. As so I made Phil go with me and that's how he got to do that record as well. That is how we first started working with him".

"Your friend Eric Clapton was originally only credited on the 'Apple Jam'. How many other tracks do you recall Eric contributing to?"
George: "Well, he's on nearly every track there is, like the very first note on the album is Eric, 'I'd Have You Anytime'. In those days, the record company, both my record company and his, they didn't like you to have your name on other people's records, very possessive. So if you look on the record of the last Cream record 'Goodbye Cream', my credit is L'Angelo De Mysterioso or something. That was me. He just didn't get any credit because they said you're not allowed to. Otherwise, you've got to pay in royalties or they have to pay me royalties. You know, some silly thing like that".

"Let's talk briefly about a few of the songs here. 'I'd Have You Anytime' kind of sets the mood for the whole album. Tell me about writing that with Bob Dylan".
George: "Well, it was just one of those simple things. I just happened to be invited to Woodstock by The Band. I spent some days with Bob and I suppose we just got round to picking up guitars and he was saying 'Hey show me some of those chords, those weird chords'. And that's how that came about. It's like a strange chord, really. It's called G Major 7th. It's got all these major 7th chords. You know, we just turned it into a song. So it was really nice".

"'My Sweet Lord' was a worldwide hit single. What was it like being a solo chart topper with a song that has such a positive spiritual message?"
George: "I can't really remember. I didn't really pay much attention to the charts. It's only now that you know people keep saying that 'All Things Must Pass' was up there for seven weeks or whatever. I didn't really notice, you know. I mean. I'm not really very good at statistics or, you know, I like to just do something and let it go and then forget about it. So it was very nice, really. I mean, I got a lot of response from that record, from people. I mean, half of the Hare Krishnas joined because of that".

"Let's talk about a few of the new additional tracks added on to this special 30th anniversary release. 'My Sweet Lord (2000)', tell me about re-recording this spiritual anthem 30 years later".
George: "Well, I kind of enjoyed doing it because of a few reasons. I thought the song was, you know, at the time it was so popular and it was also very controversial and the subject matter is not something that you normally hear people sing records like that, unless it's like gospel choirs or something. So I liked the idea of going back to it and especially because in this lawsuit I had about that, it was all down to these two phrases. One was 'Doo Doo Doo', was Phrase A and 'Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo' was Phrase B. And that constituted, you know, what they said was an infringement of copyright. So I really enjoyed singing the song again and not using those three notes in that order. And so that was one of the reasons I liked to do it, and also because it had so much response from people on a spiritual level years ago. You know, many people have written to me over the years saying thanks for doing that song because that helped me to do this or go join the Krishnas or whatever or just look into myself a bit more. So I'll see if there's a reason to reinvent the song a little bit and also maybe somebody will want to play it on the radio, give it a bit more promotion and play a better slide guitar solo. So many reasons it was fun".

"Another additional track 'I Live For You' is being heard for the very first time. Tell me why this one didn't make the final cut".
George: "Well, I think originally it didn't sound like we'd got it. You know, on some of those songs we recorded them and then listened to them back and said, 'Naw, I don't like it, we haven't done it right.' And that's why there are actually two versions of 'Isn't it A Pity'. And the first version, like the more up tempo version, we did and then after doing it for a few hours, I decided I didn't like it. And then some weeks later we got round and we did it again. One of the guys in the band just started playing it and we needed to get that slow version and so then we did that. And then later I look back at the original version and I thought 'Oh, it's okay, so I'll use them both.' But on the one, 'I Live For You', it was just not right. Nobody had a feel for it except for the pedal steel guitar player and the rhythm guitarist. And so I didn't want to use it. I didn't think we got it and I think at the time I was thinking the song's a bit fruity, anyway. We've got enough songs, we leave it off. So I just went back and fixed it up, because people like to have bonus tracks".

"Okay, here's an 'Apple Jam' question: What are your memories of recording 'It's Johnny's Birthday'? Was it in honour of John Lennon's 30th birthday?"
George: "Yeah. Yoko asked us to give a recording for Johnny's birthday. So I looked in the Abbey Road tape library and I found 'Congratulations'. And I just kind of slowed it down, speeded it up, and added a few things, and made up the words. And that's what I sent to her, to Yoko. I don't know how it ended up on the jam session, but there it is".

"What are your favourite songs on 'All Things Must Pass', and have they changed over the years at all?"
George: "I think I like 'Run Of The Mill', you know it's just something about the words that what it's saying. And I like 'Isn't It A Pity'. And I like 'Awaiting On You All'. I like the same ones now as I liked then but I like them all in some way, otherwise I wouldn't have done them".

Q: "So George, the album cover's been colourised now. Did you originally want a colour cover? And I see you've added some new additions to the skyline. Tell me about the artwork".
George: "Well, originally no, it was black and white because it was more arty, looked more artistic, especially on the big box. But now, I thought, well how can we, you know, if we just put it out with the same photo, first of all it needed to go back to the original photo anyway, because over the years it had gotten slightly distorted. In fact, it looked a bit like a Xerox copy. So I thought we better get back to the original artwork. And we did that and got the photos from the photographer, Barry Feinstein. There were colour shots taken but the colour shots, they didn't make it really. The black and white was much better. So we decided to tint it like you would an old fashioned photograph. Somewhere down the line I turned to the art director and said, 'Maybe we should try having a fly over going through the back?' And then the whole thing evolved into gas stations and high-rise apartments, just as a little dig at the way our planet is going at the moment, or has gone over the last 30 years. It's just turning into a big concrete block. So it's a bit of a cynical joke on reality".

"What are your plans, if any, for the rest of your back catalogue?"
George: "Put them back out again. I think everything could do with re-mastering because originally they were done for vinyl. When CDs came in, somebody took them and digitised them. But the equipment is much better now anyways, so we can get a much more accurate sound, make a much better digital version of it. So I think to get them all back in the shops, nice and crisp and clean and fresh, that's really what we'd like to do".

"So, George, in closing, how would you sum up 'All Things Must Pass' today?"
George: "I don't know, it's just something that was like my continuation from The Beatles, really. It was me sort of getting out of The Beatles and just going my own way. And so as my first record, it was a very happy occasion. I think in some ways it stands up. The sound on some of the records are a bit old. It sounds a bit old. But I think it kind of stands up still, enough to justify what we're doing".

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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