Sgt George's Passing-Things Club Band - Side One
Brendan Chenowith | Chicago, Illinois | 03/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been 7 years old in 1970, I didn't know the Beatles had broken up, even though I was also aware of John's and Paul's solo albums, which my brother was wise enough to pick up right as they came out. Out of the three, I much preferred All Things Must Pass. I didn't know it then, but George was my favorite Beatle and he always will be. Paul and John were much too extreme in their respective charming showman and curmudgeonly angry-young-man cynic, but George had a nicely measured blend of both, and it is apparent in this album.
Since all albums typically open with a strong lead-in track, "I'll Have You Anytime" seems to be an odd choice on the surface, but its production stays with you and packs a punch. It immediately sets the tone for the entire album, and the remastering brings out the underlying atmosphere of the recording that I knew was there before, but it's more apparent now. It's one of the songs that bears repeated listening. It really makes you want to reach out to people you love. It's devastating. "My Sweet Lord" and "Wah-Wah" are his versions of "Plastic Ono Band - Primal Album" material. Reaching out to God for peace and lambasting his former bandmates for giving him headaches (to say the very least) are just as potent as Lennon's "Love" and "I Found Out" as well as, ironically enough, "God". John and George are both basically saying they'd had enough of Paul Mc Cartney, that he was making them physically ill and that he made himself out to be much more than he actually was, thereby suffocating the two, and they have to break away from the Beatle thing or else they'll both go insane.
"Isn't It A Pity" packs a punch in so many ways. It not only echoed Lennon's feelings about society in general, but it's also George's way of smirking in Paul's face as a parody of the structure of Paul's beloved "Hey Jude" with its simple acoustic guitar opening leading to the bombastic coda repeating "what a pity", not to mention the song's 7-plus minute length. Thankfully, George was wise enough to not do any annoying scat singing at the end.
This album has so much bright about it that it bears a separate review for each side, so that's exactly what I'm doing here. Individual reviews of sides 2, 3 and 4 will follow on their own, then I'll have as look at the bonus tracks.
It's getting a bit late, so I must be on my way to face another day.
George Harrison's Wall of Sound
D. A. Rich | Boston, MA | 04/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The late George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, originally released in 1970 shortly after the break-up of the Beatles, is an outstanding album and is probably the best "solo" album released by any of the former Beatles. The album was originally a three-LP box set (with opulent and beautifully colored interior packaging) with two LPs of "songs" and a third "bonus" LP titled "Apple Jam," containing extended jams performed by the all-star lineup of musicians that appear on the album. All of the music, and more, is included in this reissued set. The original album also contained a large poster of George, which is not included here.
When he recorded All Things Must Pass, George Harrison was on a creative roll, having contributed "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun" the previous year to The Beatles' Abbey Road. All Things Must Pass (and his headlining of the star-studded benefit Concert For Bangla Desh the following year) marked George Harrison's high water mark as a solo artist, and contains some of his finest songs, including the hit singles "My Sweet Lord" (according to the judicial system, a reworked cover of The Chiffons' early 60's hit "He's So Fine") and "What Is Life" (without your love), the chilling "Beware of Darkness," "Isn't It A Pity," "Apple Scuffs," "Wah-Wah," "Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)," "Awaiting On You All," "If Not For You" (a Dylan cover), "I'd Have You Any Time" (co-written by Harrison and Dylan) and the title track. The three original LPs fit nicely onto two CDs with room for some extra songs. The first CD contains the first LP from the original album plus five additional tracks: "I Live For You," an excellent outtake featuring stellar pedal steel playing by the late Pete Drake, an acoustic demo of "Beware of Darkness," alternative versions of "Let It Down" and "What Is Life" and a new (circa 2000) version of "My Sweet Lord." The second CD contains the second LP and the bonus "Apple Jam" LP from the original album.
The playing on the album is first-rate. The album contains a virtual who's who of backing musicians, including: Derek and the Dominos (Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock); Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann (the Beatles contingent); Gary Brooker (of Procul Harem); Alan White (later to join Yes); Phil Collins (later to join Genesis); Pete Drake; Dave Mason (on leave from Traffic); Badfinger (including Pete Ham); Bobby Keys (Rolling Stones sideman); and others.
This Phil Spector produced album features Spector's famous "wall of sound" which permeates the album. As George notes (apologetically) in the liner notes, the sound is a bit dated, but at the time it suited the songs well. The CD remastering is excellent; this is one case where the CDs may actually sound better than the original LPs.
The packaging of the original version of this CD reissue was really nice. Originally this set (the version I have) was offered in a mini-box replica of the original album, with a colorized version of the original black and white album cover. The mini-box contained individual sleeves for each of the two CDs with alterative versions of the colorized cover, and a nice booklet with an essay by George, some cool photos, the lyrics and information on the artists appearing on the album. The set is now offered as a digipak; I am not familiar with the newer packaging. (Apparently, Amazon offers both the mini-box and digipak versions of this release. If you purchase this set, I'd recommend picking up the boxed edition if it is available).
In short, this is a must purchase if you are into the Beatles and/or George Harrison."