Let Them Roll Across Your Sound System – George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” 50th Anniversary/Three Versions to Ponder

“Everyone has choice” …

Those opening lyrics to the song “Run of the Mill” by George Harrison from his classic 1970 triple album set “All Things Must Pass” certainly ring true in 2021 as far as buying physical media product is concerned.

Last Friday, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this now legendary record, a host of different versions of “All Things Must Pass” have been made available to fans for purchase.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can get:

  • A double CD of the album containing a brand new 2020 remix of the album by Paul Hix along with Harrison’s only son Dhani Harrison plus a mini poster and small booklet
  • A triple CD of the album that contains the 2 CDs mentioned above plus a CD of previously unreleased studio outtakes and demos and the mini poster and slightly fuller booklet
  • A Target store exclusive version of the 3 CD set that contains a sticker pack plus the small poster and booklet
  • A five CD/Blu-ray Deluxe box set that contains the 3 CDs mentioned above plus two more CDs of unreleased demos plus a Blu-ray disc which contains Hi Definition/Surround Sound versions of the album plus a larger 56-page booklet and bigger poster
  • A triple Lp vinyl set containing just the 2020 remix of the album plus poster and small Lp-sized pamphlet
  • An exclusive green splatter version of the above 3 Lp vinyl set on sale from http://www.georgeharrison.com
  • A 5 Lp vinyl set that contains all the audio content from the 3 CD set plus bigger poster and small Lp-sized pamphlet
  • A deluxe 8 Lp vinyl set that contains all the audio from the 5 CD/blu-ray set in two separate cases plus a hardback book as well as a large poster (truly lovely looking)
  • The grand daddy version of them all, an Uber Deluxe set that comes in a large wooden crate and contains the 8 LP vinyl set, the 5 CD/Blu-ray set plus two books as well as other memorabilia including some lovely figurines of George Harrison and the gnomes from the cover of “All Things Must Pass”. (Note: this set costs a whopping $999 plus shipping and though I didn’t get one does looks superbly well done and fantastic.)

Phew, I think that’s all! See what I mean, purchasers of physical media really have a choice.

And as usual I went overboard and bought more variations then I thought I would (or needed) but really for me I did pretty well considering all the variations out there to empty my wallet.

I ended up purchasing the Deluxe 5 CD/Blu-ray set, the 5 Lp vinyl set as well as the groovy Target exclusive 3 CD set (see photos above and below) and I have to say that I’ve had a great time reacquainting myself with this superb album and the sessions that produced it.

Now that I’ve spent over a week listening to and absorbing these beauties I bought I thought I’d share a few thoughts about them as well as about the remix of the album that has somewhat polarized the George Harrison/Beatles fanbase online.

Let’s take each point on its own.

The 2020 Remix:

Okay, let me first start off and say I’m not the biggest fan of remixing classic albums. Sometimes I like the result and other times I feel why mess up a good thing and change what wasn’t broken to begin with?

I have detailed my thoughts on previous Beatles and solo Beatles remixes here on this blog and while most of the time they are enjoyable they tend to be mastered too loud and that takes away some of the pleasure of listening to these albums.

As time has gone by I am growing to see these new remixes as nice alternative ways of experiencing these classic records and I’ve never thought of them as being in any way superior to the original mixes nor should they ever be considered such. All of these albums are of a certain time and place and the original mixes should always be considered the way to hear these records.

But I see that the remixes must have a place in keeping these artists in the public eye and aid in exposing this terrific music to new generations so if that’s the case then great, that’s a valid reason why these things should exist.

I have to say that I was really nervous about this particular remix of “All Things Must Pass” as I saw a lot of previews of the set online from Uber set buyers who got their sets delivered a week earlier than most and some of them were not too pleased about the new remix.

Then there was also a particularly nasty video from Bobby Whitlock who was one of the musicians who played on “All Things Must Pass” album back in 1970 who basically couldn’t find enough ways to say how much he hated the new remix and how bad it was and how much this was a pure cash grab – yikes!

As usual with these things I really wanted to hear this remix for myself and after having listened to the remix on both vinyl and CD I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Yes I said enjoyed. I have to say that again the mix is a bit loud for my tastes, at least the CD versions, but certainly not horrible or brickwalled and thoroughly enjoyable.

After listening to the complete remix I’d have to say this is one of my favorite of all the solo remixes so far. I think it’s world’s better than the Paul McCartney “Tug of War” remix from a few years ago which was very harsh sounding and to me it’s better than the “Imagine” and “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” remixes both of which I enjoyed. 

I love the sound of Harrison’s voice being brought up a bit in the 2020 mix with Harrison’s voice on top of the Spector mix which I rather enjoy. I love the original mix but it sounds like Harrison is more present in this new remix without losing the the Spector touch in the music. Very enjoyable. More enjoyable that I thought it would be.

I view the new remix and a cross between the majestic original Spector mix and the more intimate way Harrison sounds on the Day One demos from the 5 CD box set. Yes in places this new remix sounds a bit muddy or thick but new things still stick out with instruments I’ve never heard or noticed before and the much richer bass really works on quite a few of the tracks.

Is it better than the original mix? – no.

Is it good? – in my opinion, yes. Hell yes!  Very good and quite enjoyable.

I do find that I enjoy playing the vinyl version of the new remix a bit more than the CD as I can turn the vinyl up a bit louder and let it breath a bit more which takes me into the new mix a bit more than the CD.

The Bonus Tracks:

The bonus tracks are really worth the price of admission for this set – they are superb! I especially love the Day One demos which feature Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann which sound like Harrison’s version of the “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album albeit from a more spiritual perspective. This is “All Things Must Pass” stripped bare with an intimacy and directness that’s great to hear.

Anyone who likes the songs on the album but doesn’t like the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” will revel in this disc as it presents quite a few of the songs from the 1970 set more intimately but sounding more like a full band as there’s bass and drum as well as guitar which fleshes the songs out more than the acoustic demos from the Demos Day Two disc. The acoustic demos are great as well though and sound much better than the bootleg versions that have been making the rounds for years. 

The studio outtakes of the songs from “All Things Must Pass” are equally a trill to hear and I will definitely get many repeated plays from me as I truly love to hear the work-in-progress takes as they are newer and fresher and sound a bit livelier than the produced versions from the finished album. 

Highlights for me include the extended Take 5 of “Hear Me Lord” with a blazing guitar solo from Eric Clapton as well as the Take 1 slower version of “Art of Dying” (written in the “Revolver” era, too bad it there wasn’t a Beatles take on this superb tune) and the lovely and languid Take 27 of “Isn’t It a Pity”, a song of which I never grow tired.

I can say that almost universally fan reaction to the bonus tracks have been very favorable as well it should. The outtakes sound great and really give a nice insight into how Harrison worked in the studio.  

One misstep for me is that the lovely completed take of “I Live for You” from the 2001 reissue of this album wasn’t included. Don’t get me wrong I love the demo version from the 5 CD set but I really miss the added pedal steel guitar from the finished take which makes the song one of my favorites from the entire project. 

The Packaging:

I must say the packaging on all three of the versions I bought is truly wonderful.  I love the small box on the Target 3 CD version which closely replicates the original vinyl set as well as the sticker set that comes with it – a very nice touch. 

(Note: I just got the Target exclusive version yesterday as I guess the first shipments that came out on release day had an exclusive sticker on the box but didn’t include the sticker pack. Make sure your sticker looks like the one above and states sticker pack included and not just a red exclusive sticker to get the version with the stickers).

At first I was kind of disappointed to hear the the Deluxe 5CD/Blu-ray set would be in a smaller box but after having received it it’s very well done. I like the size. It fits in well with my Monkees Deluxe box sets which are roughly the same size and is modeled after them. The box is well done and though I feel it’s still a tad overpriced it’s VERY lovely.

I also really like the 56 page book. Lovely photos and nice information though it would have been great to have a small hardback but it’s not a bad little booklet. I would have liked a bit more session info/details but it’s still pretty nice.

The box and presentation for the 5 Lp is very nice as well and is just basically a larger version of the original Lp box set from 1970. I was just going to buy the standard 3 Lp version to have the 2020 remix on vinyl but since the 5 Lp was less than twenty dollars more than the 3 Lp set I went for that as it had the two discs of outtake material as well.

(Note 2: All five Lps in the set I purchased were perfectly flat, warp free and all were super quiet and very clean. I’ve read online that several people got warped Lps but that wasn’t the case with my set. Very well pressed and the set sounds great)

I would have loved to buy the 8 Lp set but at $200 it was way more expensive than the 5  Lp set and I really only wanted the remix on vinyl but got the 5 Lp set because it made more sense than the 3 Lp set pricewise.

The Cost:

Well here’s the sticky part. I think that the sets are all very well done and put together very well but as far as value for money the 5 CD/Blu-ray set is a bit overpriced. Had it been around $75-$80 I think it would have been a very good deal. 

Similar John Lennon and Paul McCartney sets cost much less and contain hardback books in bigger sizes than this set yet cost way less. I think the Target or regular 3 CD version is a fair price though and well worth the cost. 

The cost of the 5 Lp set wasn’t too bad and seeing how well done the 8 Lp set is with the sweet hardback book I think that set is actually  decently priced but I wish the 5 CD/Blu-ray set was a bit cheaper but nonetheless a very fine set to own.

I didn’t even consider the Uber set because quite frankly it was way out of my price range. After seeing many online videos of the unboxing of the set it does look tremendous but it’s nonetheless too big and bulky for me but it looks like it was designed superbly and with love and care.

Conclusion:

I have to say I’m overall very pleased with these 50th Anniversary “All Things Must Pass” sets as this album is one of my all-time favorite releases by a solo Beatle and really one of my all-time favorite records by anyone. It’s worth the price of admission for all this great music and since I have purchased various bootlegs of material from these sessions in the past I feel the added price is sort of a tax on having obtained some of this material unofficially.

In short the album is great, the remix is really well done and whatever version you pick you’ll be sure to get a quality reissue filled with great music! There is no better endorsement for a physical media product than to say it’s quality through and through.

Of course if you only stream your music you should at least check this album out. It’s a monumental achievement and filled with some of the best pop/rock music of the 20th century. 

That’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying these later days of summer and that you are safe and well.

Until next time be healthy and see you soon!

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