In 1970, George Harrison released "All Things Must Pass," a masterpiece solo album, and some argue, the best Beatles solo album of all. A few days ago (as I write this), a "super deluxe" edition of that album was officially released. I noticed that edition contained a bunch of acoustic demos, almost enough to make an entire acoustic version of the album. Unfortunately, a handful of songs were rocking, full-band versions. Happily, I figured out a way to turn those into acoustic versions (as I will explain in more detail below).
The one gripe some people have about "All Things Must Pass" is that the producer, Phil Spector, drenched the album in his typical "Wall of Sound" production that sometimes veered into overproduction. Well, this takes things in the opposite direction, re-imagining the album strictly as a solo acoustic one! Whatever you think about Spector's production, this allows you to enjoy the album in a different way.
"All Things Must Pass" is a triple album. The first two albums are full of great songs. The third album is a bonus album of jams that I'm going to completely disregard, because those jams have nothing to do with the acoustic format, and they're largely forgettable anyway. The first two albums have a total of 18 songs. Out of those, I was able to find acoustic demos for 11 of them, mostly drawing on the super deluxe edition, but also a few other sources, including the album "Early Takes, Volume 1," the Beatles album "Anthology 3," an unreleased take, and an iTunes only bonus track.
That left seven songs. There were interesting demo versions for all of them from the super deluxe edition, both those either included a drummer and bass, or a full rocking band. I searched the Internet for other acoustic versions. I didn't find any, but during the search I came across an amazing (and free) program I'd never known of before, called Spleeter. This program splits any sound file into five tracks, one containing the vocals, another containing the bass, another the drums, another the piano, and finally one that's everything else. I tried this for the first time on some "All Things Must Pass" songs, and I was amazed at the results! I plan on using this program a LOT more in the future. I thought separating out the different instruments in a recording was next to impossible. But this program has come along in the last year, and while it's not perfect - sometimes there's some loss of audio quality - it's way better than anything I've ever seen before.
The one issue I have with the program is that it doesn't specifically separate out the guitar parts into its own track. The guitar is lumped in with everything else that isn't vocals, bass, drums, or piano. But in the case of the "All Things Must Pass" demos, the "other" is usually just guitar. For instance, some of the songs were just vocals, drums, bass, and guitar (with the guitar sometimes electric, sometimes acoustic). So for the purpose of this album, at least, the program worked great. Even really rocking, full band songs like "What Is Life" now sound like solo guitar demos, though with electric guitar instead of acoustic.
Note I also included the bass on some songs, as I felt having some bass helped cover for some of the sonic imperfections of the Spleeter program. But I generally kept the bass at a relatively low volume, for more of a subtle bass presence.
Anyway, the final result, I believe, sounds exactly as if all the songs were demos done just by Harrison and his electric or acoustic guitar. I'd be curious what you think of my use of this program, and if you can tell the difference between the ones I used it one (which are marked with "[Edit]" in the name) and the ones I didn't.
By posting this, I don't want to take away from sales on the newly released super deluxe edition of the album. On the contrary, I hope this will whet the appetite of George Harrison fans and remind them to buy that. It contains tons of other great things, including three discs of rarities. It really is an excellent release. Plus, the remixed version of the original album included in it is a revelation.
As an aside, I've always thought it weird that the album contains two versions of "Isn't It a Pity," especially since we now know Harrison recorded a bunch of original songs for the album that remained unreleased. But he did include two versions of it, so I tried to do my best with that. The first version here is a different take than the album version, an unaltered solo acoustic demo. For the second version, I used the exact album version, but ran it through the Spleeter program to turn it into another acoustic version.
The first two albums of "All Things Must Pass" are an hour and 18 minutes long. This album is an hour and one minute long. The number of songs is the same, but it's 17 minutes shorter because the acoustic versions are sometimes shorter, especially because they often didn't include the space for solos.
01 I'd Have You Anytime (George Harrison)
02 My Sweet Lord [Edit] (George Harrison)
03 Wah-Wah [Edit] (George Harrison)
04 Isn't It a Pity (George Harrison)
05 What Is Life [Edit] (George Harrison)
06 If Not for You (George Harrison)
07 Behind that Locked Door (George Harrison)
08 Let It Down (George Harrison)
09 Run of the Mill (George Harrison)
10 Beware of Darkness (George Harrison)
11 Apple Scruffs (George Harrison)
12 Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp [Let It Roll] [Edit] (George Harrison)
13 Awaiting on You All [Edit] (George Harrison)
14 All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
15 I Dig Love [Edit] (George Harrison)
16 Art of Dying (George Harrison)
17 Isn't It a Pity [Version 2] [Edit] (George Harrison)
18 Hear Me Lord (George Harrison)
For the cover art, I tried to do something similar to the original cover, but different. The original used a black and white photo. I found a color outtake from that same photo session to use. I also found the same font used for the original. But I put the text higher up, so it wouldn't get hidden by the darkness of the trees.