This month, we are looking at the era that spawned Glam Rock and Heavy Metal, and everything in-between
This week we are looking at George Harrison, and his first release after the break-up of The Beatles, in the week which would have been his 75th Birthday.
‘All Things Must Pass’ was released just months after the break-up of The Beatles, however, it wasn’t George’s first solo album, as he had already released two whilst still a member of The Beatles, these were, ‘Wonderwall Music’ and ‘Electronic Sound’, released in 1968 and ’69 respectively. However, it was ‘All Things Must Pass’ which was the stand out album, from the introduction of Harrison’s distinct slide guitar, to the Buddhist influences which really shone through in this album.
This album combined heavy rock, blues, and acoustic/folk rock, and made them work together beautifully, and I don’t believe that, without the army of session musicians that this album had, it wouldn’t as good as it is, with appearances from Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann (Revolver album designer), Badfinger, Phil Collins (pre-genesis), Gary Brooker (Procol Harum) and Mal Evans (producer, roadie to The Beatles) to name a few. These musicians were the finest, most talented that could be found at the time, and when they were put together, formed an absolute masterpiece of an album. It wasn’t just the talent of the session musicians that made this album what it was though, it was the magic touch of George Harrison, and his highly-underrated songwriting and overall musicianship. The musicians for this album were like 2 pieces of a puzzle, George needed the session musicians, but they needed George just as much, and it was the chemistry between them that allowed for the album to be created.
The album features some of Harrison’s biggest hits, from ‘My Sweet Lord to ‘What Is Life’ to ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘Isn’t It A Pity’. All of which had lyrical content which outshone that of Lennon and McCartney’s solo career , (with the exception of ‘Working Class Hero’ (Lennon)) these songs were ones that really spoke to people, and really showed off how overlooked George was whilst a member of the Beatles. From the ‘I really wanna see you/I really wanna be with you’ of ‘My Sweet Lord’, to ‘Sunset doesn’t last all evening/A mind can blow those clouds away’ from ‘All Things Must Pass’, the lyrical content speaks volumes, expressing love, hope and forgiveness, which is a main focus of Buddhism, a religion which became a huge part of Harrison’s life.
It wasn’t just Harrison’s ability to write wonderful lyrics that made him shine through as a truly wonderful musician though, because his guitar playing on the album is second-to-none. The album as a whole really showcased Harrison’s ability to play beautiful slide guitar, and make it fit with slower, more relaxed songs such as ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, to the much heavier, ‘Wah-Wah’. Aside from the slide guitar, there are the catchy riffs which are scattered about this album, from the opening riff of ‘What Is Life’ to the country style riffs of ‘Behind That Locked Door’ and the acoustic riffs of ‘Run Of The Mill’. The ‘quiet’ Beatle is far from quiet in this album, and it’s really a shame that Harrison was stuck in the shadows of Lennon and McCartney for so long, because had they let him express himself more, the Beatles could have gone down so many different paths.
From a star-studded group of session musicians, to the true musical talent of Harrison, this album, for me is the best album of the 70’s, and by far the best album which was released by a Beatle during their solo career.
Remembering George Harrison on the week of his 75th Birthday (25th February 1943- 29th November 2001)