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George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary, Part 4: The Vinyl Experience

Mark Smotroff wraps the CD journey and sets his sights on the vinyl box…

Last week I previewed the wondrous new stereo remix of George Harrison’s 1970 classic album All Things Must Pass in high resolution audio on Blu-ray disc as well as the lovely 5.1 surround sound reinvention. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, this set comes in a multitude of different variations for you to consider. 

If you missed part one of this review series about the new stereo remix please click here. For part two exploring the surround sound mix click here to catch up. Yesterday we spoke about the wealth of demo, alternate and out-take recordings that are included in the Blu-ray  and CD versions of the collection. Again, click here if you missed that portion.  

Today we’re going to explore the eight LP super deluxe edition vinyl box set in this 50th anniversary celebration of All Things Must Pass. For those of you who are into the long playing record format this may well be your jam. For those of you who are especially big fans of Harrison and this album in particular, this special edition is certainly one of the more deluxe ways to get this music without breaking the bank. In case you haven’t heard there’s an uber-deluxe version that costs about $1000 and comes housed in a wooden treasure chest with all sorts of goodies including scale models of the famous garden gnomes on the cover of the album. I’m sure that box is quite fantastic.

The new version of the core three LP set of All Things Must Pass sounds terrific in the new mix. It is a different experience than on the Blu-ray which you can hear it at 192 kHz and 24-bit resolution but I think they did a nice job on the vinyl mastering, bringing a certain amount of additional warmth to the playback experience.  Both are similar sounding in some ways and each version has its pluses and minuses. The 180-gram dark black vinyl pressings here on the 50th Anniversary reinvention of All Things Must Pass are excellent, dead quiet and well centered.  

Overall, I have found the new mix a very interesting complement to the original Phil Spector-focused mix. Harrison’s vocals are decidedly clearer sounding while the bass and drums are much more distinct and punchy. A lot of the dense, reverb-drenched effects as heard on the original album mix has been pared back and thus the music sounds overall much more transparent. New details are revealed which were more or less previously masked or even buried in the mix.  

So, either way you go into this, do recognize that this new version of the album will sound different. However, I think it still sounds like All Things Must Pass.  It is, simply a new way to consider the music, the songs and the arrangements. You can no doubt get more inside the album now than in previous incarnations.

From my vantage point I can see at least two reasons why you would want this set on vinyl. If you are a serious fan of George Harrison and want to hear the demos in the warmest possible manner — closer to how the rest of the album sounds on vinyl — then you’ll want to get them on LP (or the Blu-ray Disc), and not just on CD (note: the latter sound fine for the car or portable devices but to get the full experience you’ll want to hear it on LP or Blu-ray Disc). 

I particularly liked how the extended jams sounded on these vinyl pressings. The music really opens up, especially as you pump up the volume to push your amplifier and speakers a bit. I have found that compared to the CDs, everything on this set jumps out out of my speakers much more boldly and vividly when listening to them on vinyl.

To that, perhaps my only nit on this 50th Anniversary series is that that the Blu-ray Disc version did not include the demos on that high resolution format — they are only on CD and vinyl.  

Another reason why you’ll want to consider the new 50th Anniversary version of All Things Must Pass is for the more sophisticated and elegant packaging. 

Now, I love the compactness of the Blu-ray/CD set and for what it is, the producers did a lovely job on it. But this super deluxe vinyl set notches up the experience dramatically. Extra love and care was put into the creation of the beautiful hardcover book that comes with it the set and it shows with high-quality binding, excellent print quality and gorgeous photography throughout. They didn’t cut any corners here.

All in all, reviewing the new 50th Anniversary version of All Things Must Pass has been a fantastic journey through George Harrison’s master work. It has been given a fresh, timeless perspective that is not chained to the era in which it was made.  Now, listeners across the ages can discover this music and it will play well alongside modern music on streaming playlists, mixtapes and radio (as well as television and film, if tracks get used) without sounding dated. 

George may be gone but his musical history lives on beyond The Beatles, and all of us for that matter. I have no doubt that his music will continue to inspire new generations of fans for decades — hopeful centuries! — to come.  And for those who are just immersing themselves in this amazing masterwork for the first time, the new All Things Must Pass deluxe editions are a great place to expand the George Harrison journey beyond the original mix.

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