Tuesday, December 1, 2020

All Things... 50 Years On

Harrison's triple album All Things Must Pass is a spiritual journey, touching on faith, death, life, love, evil. The first two LPs have nine tracks each, while the last record, sub-titled Apple Jam, has 5 sprawling tracks and features four jams with George and an assortment of illustrious buddies. Most of the songs are Harrison’s, the exceptions credited to Harrison/Dylan and Dylan.

Side one starts with the dreamy sounding "I’d Have You Anytime." Then comes the well-known "My Sweet Lord," the first ex-Beatle No. 1 and the biggest selling single in the world in 1970/71, followed by the lively, noisy rocker "Wah-Wah." The lyrics don’t make much sense, but it’s fun nonetheless. "Isn't it a Pity" has a fine sentimental, but a fitting end to a nearly perfect side. Side two starts in a livelier fashion with the upbeat love song "What is Life." In contrast, Dylan’s "If Not for You" is a gentle, sentimental declaration of love. "Behind That Locked Door" is another slow number with some admirable pedal steel guitar work from Pete Drake. "Let it Down" has a floating, meandering feel too much of it, but with a solid refrain, if off-kilter. "Run of the Mill," which follows it, is equally strange. Not sure what George was trying to say.

Side three opens with "Beware of Darkness" – George warning us against dark thoughts and evil in general. Despite the dark subject matter, it's a pretty song. The joyful "Apple Scruff" has a light-hearted feel to it that brings back memories of some of George’s efforts in his Beatles days, while "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)" just has some weird lyrics. "Awaiting on You All" sees George intoning us all to chant the name of the Lord. Simple faith put to a catchy tune. The side ends with George in a philosophical mood in "All Things Must Pass." Side four gets off to a shaky start in "I Dig Love" – easily the weakest track in the whole set. The up-beat "Art of Dying" finds George exploring the spiritual side of existence. Next up is a different version of "Isn't it a pity." This one benefits from being shorter than the former. "Hear me Lord" closes this part of the album with an impassioned plea that can touch even the heart of a skeptic.

With the spiritual journey at an end, and everyone suitably enlightened, the party – and the jamming - can begin. It gets off to a fairly low key start on side five with the longest of the pieces, "Out of the Blue." The silly song "It's Johnny’s Birthday" reminds us why we're having a party before the jamming resumes – "Plug Me In" is much more likely to get us dancing. On side six, "I Remember Jeep" is another lively tune spoilt by too much messing with the synth. "Thanks for the Pepperoni" closes proceedings. Together with "Plug Me In," this is the best of the Apple jams. Together the last two sides don't last much more than 27 minutes. But by now you don't feel short-changed - you're just wondering if it's ever going to end!

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