The breakup of the Beatles, the beginning of the new decade, and George Harrison coming into his own.
Driving. It’s also excellent for a party of old folks (like me).
Almost any film about the end of the 60s would benefit from some of these tracks. In addition, I can hear the more spiritual songs in scenes in a movie about a religious quest.
The 2017 vinyl reissue of All Things Must Pass replicates the original cover art, including the inner sleeves and full-color poster of George Harrison. Ron McMaster cut the vinyl from 24-bit/96kHz files remastered at Abbey Road Studios. The remaster uses less compression than what’s on the original U.K. pressing of the album. Here, Harrison’s voice comes out front more and the sound benefits from better balance. The new LP is also cut at a lower output level, so a small volume boost opens the music up and lets it expand more than on the original.
On “I’d Have You Anytime,” the guitars sound harmonically denser on the earlier U.K. pressing, and Eric Clapton’s guitar lines possess more punch. However, the new master brings out subtle details, such as the vibraphone on the aforementioned track. Clapton’s technique, too, seems more refined. The acoustic guitars on “My Sweet Lord” sound more organic on the new pressing, and you can more easily pick out each guitar. Harrison’s slide sounds sweeter, and other instruments, including harmonium and zither, feel more audible.
“What Is Life” will always sound crowded in the Phil Spector manner. But on this set, the recording is more transparent. It’s possible to better hear the acoustic guitars, while the horns and strings naturally integrate into the overall arrangement. Harrison’s slide guitar is still mixed back, but has more presence, as do the background vocals. On the new pressing, the Quiet Beatle’s voice is also more focused on “If Not for You” and Gary Wright’s piano more immediate.
During “Isn’t It a Pity,” the guitar and organ gain from added nuance, and as the song builds, it is less cluttered than on the original. The guitars on “Beware of Darkness” feature a more distinct tone while the occasional Leslie speaker effect on Harrison’s guitar rings out clearer. Moreover, the layers of instruments on “Awaiting on You All” more astutely register and the song feels less glassy and harsh than on the earlier version. The title track, too, now comes across with a gentler, more sensitive feel befitting its message.
Even the two sides that comprise the third LP—known as the “Apple Jam”— benefit from sound that gives the instruments more room. Still, the first two LPs signify the main event, and this pressing serves as a very enjoyable alternative to the original U.K. Apple release. It doesn’t have the bottom end punch of the latter, but offers enhanced bass definition. And while the drums on the rock-oriented tracks hit harder on the original pressing, the new remaster lets the music flow more easily and fluidly.
It goes without saying that if you have a U.S. pressing of All Things Must Pass, you’ll hear significant improvement on this remaster, superbly pressed by Optimal in Germany and beautifully packaged. Even if you have a clean U.K. copy, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
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