By common consent (but not actually) the best Beatles solo album*, All Things Must Pass promises and delivers on a grand scale. That the scale tends to overwhelm the quiet Beatle’s voice is one of the record’s main faults.
However, I don’t care to review George’s first proper solo album, rather, I want to discuss a peculiar phenomenon I, and perhaps I alone, associate with the Lp, viz. the way the tempo of various songs seem to slow down and speed up.
Between the ages of 11 and 18, I cleaned the second floor of the Dowds-Rudin office building. For my pocket-money, I mopped, waxed, vacuumed, cleaned sinks, toilets, &c. I had a tick list and could, as long as I did everything on the list, take as long as I wanted.
Usually, I gave myself a long break, which consisted of fetching a large Sprite from the lunch counter at SS Kresge’s downstairs, returning to my dad’s studio office (yes, I got the job through nepotism) to pore over bound volumes of late 60s/early 70s Rolling Stone at length while listening to either No Dice by Badfinger, Harvest by Neil Young or All Things Must Pass on a vintage solid state console. All three Lps (and likely the record player) had come from the local Goodwill. My copy of Pass was slightly warped giving it a slightly lurching feel, enhanced by the extensive use of George’s slide and Pete Drake’s pedal steel guitar. I assumed it was a unique fault.
And yet, years later, I sensed this same warped effect, though perhaps not as pronounced, on my 2001 CD re-issue, especially on “Awaiting On You All” and the title track. I thought maybe this was some sort of aural hangover. But when listening this morning to yet another second-hand boot faired vinyl copy (without the poster, dammit!), the characteristic wooziness reared its head. The records are in VG+ condish, not warped, nor did the Lps cause the tone arm to wobble at all.
So…am I unlucky? Is it in my head? Or was this a designed effect**?
*that would be Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, by several kilometres.
**I’m not counting the novelty song, “It’s Johnny’s Birthday”, on the Apple Jam disc, whose mechanical tempo changes are obvious and deliberate; however, this does suggest the variable-tape-speed card was in the deck.