George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (50th Anniversary) Super Deluxe (Apple/Capitol/UMe, 5 CDs + Blu-ray). As The Beatles years were winding down, Harrison had a lot of frustration in that he was writing more songs, but only a few were making it onto The Beatles’ records, as he was seen as the third songwriter behind John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Thus, it is no surprise to find in this wonderfully expanded edition of his first proper solo album many songs that were older, even rehearsed by The Beatles, but never found their way onto an album. Most of the recording began six weeks after The Beatles’ April 1970 breakup.

Harrison already had released two solo projects in the “Wonderwall Music” film soundtrack (1968) and the synthesizer experiment “Electronic Sound” (1969), both mostly instrumental efforts. Harrison had written or begun so much material by the time of this first proper solo album that he and Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr and sometimes Beatles’ bassist Klaus Voormann demoed 30 songs on the first of two days of rehearsals. “All Things Must Pass,” the resulting album, ended up being 18 songs on two vinyl LPs, plus a third disc, “Apple Jam” (a clever pun on The Beatles’ label name), with four jams, recorded with guitarist Eric Clapton and his fledgling Derek and The Dominos, and “It’s Johnny’s Birthday,” sung to the tune of Cliff Richard’s 1968 hit “Congratulations” and recorded as a gift from Harrison to mark Lennon’s 30th birthday. I would call nine of the 18 songs genuine classics due to their sheer songcraft and the powerful spirituality he brought to many of the songs.

The music encompasses rock ‘n’ roll, country, gospel, blues, pop, folk, R&B, Indian classical music and devotional songs. The original album was produced by Phil Spector, who also produced The Beatles’ “Let It Be” (1970).

Harrison brought together a stellar roster of friends and fellow musicians to record the album, including Ringo, Voormann, keyboardist Billy Preston (who often worked with The Beatles), plus Clapton and his new American bandmates, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Gordon, who would take the name Derek and The Dominos by the time the recording sessions ended. Badfinger’s Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbons, who were signed to Apple Records, contributed additional acoustic guitars and percussion. Spector’s fondness for multiple pianos, layers of acoustic guitars and more drums saw the addition of guitarist Peter Frampton and Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth keyboardist Gary Wright, Plastic Ono Band veteran and future Yes drummer Alan White, Traffic guitarist Dave Mason, Procol Harum keyboardist Gary Brooker and the horn section of Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Legendary Nashville session musician Pete Drake plays pedal steel guitar on several tracks, including “Behind That Locked Door.” Longtime collaborator John Barham arranged the strings and horns.

For this 50th anniversary edition, the triple album has been completely remixed from the original tapes, executive produced by Harrison’s son, Dhani, produced by David Zonshine and mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon). The new mix transforms the album by sonically upgrading it, making it sound brighter and fuller.

The Super Deluxe Edition box set, presented on 8LP (180g) or 5CD plus a Blu-ray audio disc, explores the 1970 album sessions through 47 (42 previously unreleased) demos and outtakes. The Blu-ray presents the main album in high-res stereo, enveloping 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes. The collection comes with a beautiful 60-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images and comprehensive track-by-track annotation. It also includes a replica of the original album poster.

“Since the 50th anniversary stereo mix release of the title track to my father’s legendary ‘All Things Must Pass’ album in 2020, my dear pal Paul Hicks and I have continued to dig through mountains of tapes to restore and present the rest of this newly remixed and expanded edition of the album you now see and hear before you,” said Dhani Harrison in a press release. “Bringing greater sonic clarity to this record was always one of my father’s wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed in 2001. Now, 20 years later, with the help of new technology and the extensive work of Paul Hicks we have realized this wish and present to you this very special 50th anniversary release of perhaps his greatest work of art. Every wish will be fulfilled.”

The demos for the album were recorded by the trio on May 26 and then Harrison played another 15 songs for Spector on May 27. All 30 of these demo recordings are included here, including 26 tracks never before officially released and several songs that did not make the album. The latter include “Cosmic Empire,” “Going Down to Golders Green,” “Dehra Dun,” “Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna),” “Sour Milk Sea” and “Mother Divine.”

Among the songs The Beatles had rehearsed, but never recorded, are “Isn’t It a Pity” and the title track. Also from those preceding years were “Wah-Wah,” “Beware of Darkness” and “Run of the Mill.” Harrison’s spirituality comes through on “My Sweet Lord,” “Awaiting on You All” and “Hear Me Lord,” as well as the demos “Dehra Dun” and “Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna).” Harrison wrote the glorious “What Is Life” while producing Preston’s 1969 Apple Records solo debut but it was not used then. It is one of several songs featuring slide guitar, which both Harrison and Clapton played.

There is a heavy Bob Dylan influence on the album. Harrison’s close friendship with Dylan lead to two songs: the album-opening “I’d Have You Anytime,” which they co-wrote, and the classic “If Not For You,” which, at the time, was an unreleased Dylan composition. Included are previously unreleased demo recordings of both songs, as well as “Nowhere To Go” and “I Don’t Want To Do It,” another original Dylan song later recorded by Harrison for a 1985 soundtrack, but which remains unrecorded by Dylan himself. Additionally, the main album’s “Behind That Locked Door” was inspired by Dylan.

“Let It Down” is one of the busier tracks, with Harrison, Ringo, Preston, Derek and The Dominos, Wright and Badfinger all playing on it. The tremendous “Beware of Darkness” features Harrison, Clapton and Mason on guitar. “Apple Scruffs,” which features harmonica, was a love letter to the mostly female fans who would wait on the steps outside of the recording studio with flowers. “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” is about the man who designed the castle-like home, Friar Park, that Harrison bought.

The anthem-like “My Sweet Lord,” which weaves a chorus of “hallelujah” with a chant of the Hare Krishna mantra, became a worldwide smash upon its November 1970 single release, making history as the first solo single by a former Beatle to reach No. 1 in the U.K. or the U.S. Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014, the song of spiritual and religious unity remains one of the world’s most beloved songs and named among the “Greatest Songs of All Time” by both Rolling Stone and NME magazines.

The original album is on the first two CDs, while disc three contains 15 demos recorded on May 26, 1970, only three of which have previously been released. “What Is Life” is more playful here, while “Awaiting on You All” has more bounce. The pass at “Going Down to Golders Green” is a bit rockabilly and sounds suitable for Elvis Presley. The mostly instrumental “Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna)” and the chant “Dehra Dun” are of such a high quality that both easily could have fit on the finished album. “Sour Milk Sea” was a bluesy song that Harrison ended up giving to Jackie Lomax, but first demoed for The Beatles’ “White Album.”

Disc four is the 15 demos from May 27, 1970, including the folkish and fast “Window Window,” the unfinished “Beautiful Girl,” Dylan’s “Nowhere To Go,” the upbeat “Cosmic Empire” with Harrison’s trying a different style of singing, and a cover of Dylan’s “I Don’t Want To Do It,” which eventually ended up on the “Porky’s Revenge” soundtrack. “Beautiful Girl” eventually showed up on his 1976 solo album, “Thirty Three & 1/3.”

Disc five contains 17 session outtakes and jams. The version of “Isn’t It a Pity” here has funny lyrics: “Isn’t it so shitty/ Isn’t it a pain/ How we do so many takes/ And now we’re doing it again.” There is the first pass at “Wah-Wah” and Harrison speaks to correct the opening of “Art of Dying.” There is a very slow take of “Isn’t It a Pity,” which is about the only thing I dislike in the entire five-disc set. “Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)” is a jaunty take on a 1920s standard that could be a reflection of The Beatles’ breakup. There is a country feel here. Another unexpected cover is a fun, 2:05 take of The Beatles’ “Get Back.” The jam version of “Hear Me Lord” extends to 9:30 with a long instrumental close. “Woman Don’t You Cry for Me” is country blues.

The album spent seven weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top LPs chart and eight weeks atop the U.K.’s official albums chart. Certified six-times platinum by the RIAA, the album received a 1972 Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year, and “My Sweet Lord” earned a Grammy nod for Record of the Year. “What Is Life,” the album’s second single, also became an international hit. There also are 3CD, 3LP and 2CD versions of the release, with fewer tracks. Grade: A+

Aretha Franklin: Aretha (Rhino, 4 CDs). This worthwhile, deep dive into Franklin’s six-decade career was originally set for release last year. Among the collection’s 81 newly remastered tracks, are 19 making their CD debut, including alternate versions of classic hits, demos, rarities and live tracks, like her stunning performance of “(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman” at “The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” in 2015 and her live performance of the operatic “Nessun Dorma.” Putting Franklin’s life and career into perspective are the liner notes written by Rochelle Riley, author and director of arts and culture for the City of Detroit, and David Nathan, Soulmusic.com founder and historian who interviewed Franklin more times than any other living writer.

The collection, which includes recordings from every label she was associated with, also features stunning artwork by celebrated artist Makeba KEEBS Rainey, who provides her signature style to a classic portrait of the Queen of Soul by renowned photographer Neal Preston. The box set arrives shortly before the premiere of “Respect,” the highly anticipated biopic about Franklin’s life that stars Jennifer Hudson.

The box set is mostly arranged in chronological order, starting with her 1956 first single “Never Grow Old” and “You Grow Closer” for J.V.B. Records. The two gospel songs were recorded at New Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was the longtime pastor. Then comes 10 recordings she made for Columbia Records between 1960 and 1966, a period during which she recorded 10 albums, before finding real success with producer Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records. Of the Columbia recordings, “Are You Sure” is solid, the backing singers highlight “Operation Heartbreak” and “One Step Ahead” is a soulful ballad. From 1966 come two demos, a forceful “My Kind of Town” that substitutes Detroit for the original Chicago, as Frank Sinatra sang it in the film “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” and a slow version of “Try a Little Tenderness.” Both were recorded at her home.

The Atlantic years were Franklin’s glory period and they make up the last 12 tracks on disc one and all of disc two, with disc two also having a lot of alternate takes and six live recordings. Among the familiar Atlantic hits are “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Do Right Woman – Do Right Man,” “Respect,” “You Send Me,” an alternate version of “Chain of Fools” and the U.K. single version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” There are first releases of alternate versions of “Call Me” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” as well as a longer version of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and work tapes of “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “Brand New Me.” From TV comes a duet with Tom Jones on “It’s Not Unusual/ See Saw.” There are alternate mixes of “Spanish Harlem” and “Rock Steady.” Live highlights are “Dr. Feelgood” and, with Ray Charles, “Spirit in the Dark.”

Six tracks on the third CD see their first release, including demos of “The Boy from Bombay,” “’Til It’s Over” and “Oh Baby,” all written by Franklin. A highlight is her own “Mr. D.J.” from 1975, while Curtis Mayfield’s produced her recordings of his “Something He Can Feel” and “Look Into Your Heart.” “Almighty Fire (Woman of the Future)” is forceful, while a “Soul Train” duet of “Ooo Baby Baby” is with Smokey Robinson.

Disc four contains seven of her recordings for Arista Records (1980-2207), including the hits “Jump To It” and “Freeway of Love” (no “Pink Cadillac,” though). The final disc also is heavy on collaborations, including “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” with the Eurythmics and the chart-topping “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” with George Michael. Other collaborations are with Lou Rawls and Ronald Isley, and there is her dramatic version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” with her backing singers doing the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” refrain. Grade: A