All Things Must Pass – George Harrison, January 2, 1971
Producer: George Harrison and Phil Spector
Track listing: I'd Have You Anytime / My Sweet Lord / Wah-Wah / Isn't It a Pity (Version One) / What Is Life / If Not for You / Behind That Locked Door / Let it Down/Run of the Mill / Beware of Darkness /Apple Scruffs / Ballad of Sire Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) / Awaiting on You All /All Things Must Pass / I Dig Love / Art of Dying / Isn't It a Pity (Version Two) / Hear Me Lord / Out of the Blue / It's Johnny's Birthday / Plug Me In / I Remember Jeep / Thanks for the Pepperoni
January 2, 1971
"I've always looked at All Things Must Pass like somebody who has had constipation for years and then finally they get diarrhea," says George Harrison. "And that's what happened. I was only allowed to do my one or two [tunes] on Beatle albums, so I had a backlog of songs. When I did All Things Must Pass, it was just good to get them out of the way."
George Harrison was actually the first Beatle to record an album outside the group. In 1968, his soundtrack to the film Wonderwall reached number 49. Another album, the experimental Electronic Sound, featured Harrison dabbling on a Moog synthesizer. That album, released on the Zapple imprint, stalled at number 191 in 1969. Yet Harrison didn't record his official solo debut until 1970 with All Things Must Pass, and what a debut it was.
"I was nervous, because I had really never done a solo album before with me as an artist," says Harrison. "Yet I was very happy. The Beatles had finished. We were all tired of that. The fact that I had all these songs that had been collecting, and that I was be able to put an album out and release all this stuff, was very exciting. Most of these songs were written a couple years prior to 1970."
In fact, Beatles sideman Billy Preston, who appeared on Let It Be actually beat Harrison to the punch with a few of Harrison's songs. Preston's versions of "My Sweet Lord" and "All Things (Must) Pass" (as it was titled on Preston's album), appeared on Preston's Harrison-produced Encouraging Words months before the release of All Things Must Pass. There were even plans for the release of a single of Preston's version of "My Sweet Lord," but the plan was scrapped, so that it would not compete with Harrison's single.
Harrison was inspired to write the song by the Edwin Hawkins Singers' version of "Oh Happy Day." Says Harrison, "Basically all I did was rewrite that song. I switched the chord sequence around a bit." When the song was recorded for Preston's album, the Edwin Hawkins Singers actually appeared on the track. Ironically, Harrison was sued for plagiarizing another song -- the Chiffons Number One hit "He's So Fine." He was later found to have committed copyright infringement, but a United States District Court judge ruled that Harrison had not intentionally plagiarized the Chiffons' hit.
"My Sweet Lord" became the first solo Beatle Number One hit on December 26, 1970, but it was only a small part of the sprawling, three-LP All Things Must Pass. "It was really only a double album," says Harrison. "The third album, which was called Apple Jam, was supposed to be a free record. The price of the boxed set was supposed to be the price of the two records, because the third pressing was just a jam session, not a proper album."
All Things Must Pass, recorded in the familiar confines of Abbey Road Studios, includes several guest collaborators. Although he does not appear on the album, Bob Dylan co-wrote "I'd Have You Anytime" with Harrison on Thanksgiving Day in 1969. Harrison also covered Dylan's "If Not For You" on the album. Among the featured guest players were Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Dave Mason, Badfinger, and an uncredited Eric Clapton. "Eric was on the whole album," says Harrison. "I did a tour of Europe with Delaney & Bonnie with Eric. After they split up, the guys in the band were hanging out with Eric in London, and that's when Eric started to put together what became Derek & the Dominoes."
All Things Must Pass hit the summit a week after "My Sweet Lord" first hit the top of the Hot 100, making Harrison the first Beatle to score a simultaneous Number One album and single.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of January 2, 1971
1. All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
2. Abraxas, Santana
3. Stephen Stills, Stephen Stills
4. The Partridge Family Album, The Partridge Family
5. Live Album, Grand Funk Railroad