The Beatles – Abbey Road

The cover of Abbey Road has no printed words. It is a photo of the Beatles, in side view, crossing the street in single file.
Apple Records

In February of 1969, the Beatles went into Abbey Road studio to record the last sessions the group would ever record together. Let It Be (1970), might be their last album released, however much of the material was recorded before Abbey Road. On Abbey Road, the Beatles incorporated blues rock (“Oh! Darling,” “You Never Give Me Your Money”), early progressive rock (“I Want You You (She’s So Heavy),” “Because”), and a few cliché sixties Summer of Love styled pop songs (“Here Comes the Sun”). Entirely, this is the Beatles album that is for dads to call the “greatest album of all time,” but lets not go that far. Many might consider it to be one of the best because it’s Beatles collapsing and each member becoming artistically different and dealing with it civilly. Abbey Road is sort of a preview of what each Beatles member would accomplish during their solo career.

Abbey Road opens with the lead single “Come Together,” – the first Beatles song I came to love as a child, when listening to 1 (2000), an album my mother would constantly play. Lennon’s whisper of “shoot” is actually Lennon saying, “shoot me,” followed by a hand-clap, in which McCartney’s elevating thick bass line muffles out “me.” It is followed by the best George Harrison Beatles song, “Something.” It includes very warm vocals and smooth organ playing from Billy Preston, which overshadows Lennon’s piano playing. Frank Sinatra called it “the greatest love song ever written” and he certainly wasn’t wrong. Then comes the quirky and ever-glorious Moog synthy “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” which then transitions into the Beatles echoing a Zappa doop-wop on “Oh! Darling.” It also echoes some early Beatles rhythm and blues/early rock n’ roll songs. Even Ringo gets to sing the brilliantly deep “Octopus’s Garden.” The Beatles aka King Crimson, later pioneer progressive rock on the bluesy “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” with a repetitive guitar riff and white noise from the Moog synthesizer, which has a powerful effect on the piece. The song ends abrupt, after leaving you hypnotic. The group later shows up the Beach Boys in harmony and makes Beethoven rollover on the harpsichord with “Because.” On side two, there is an epic medley, which starts off with the punchy honky-tonk piano driven “You Never Give Me Your Money,” which sounds like a later Paul McCartney solo number. It is followed by the mellow psychedelic “Sun King,” a track similar to “Because,” in an exotic harmony. Then comes the Harry Nilsson influenced  “Mean Mr Mustard.” “Polythene Pam” picks up the energy during the medley with Lennon’s singing and Harrison’s assertive guitar work. The guitar boogie “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” oddly has McCartney playing lead guitar and Harrison playing bass – usually its the other way around. The pleasant “Golden Slumbers,” which has McCartney’s vocals greatly emphasized, as it shares a similar melody to the symphonic “Carry That Weight,” which includes vigorous brass during the bridge, as it also reprises the opener of the medley. The title of the closer, “The End” isn’t the only sign of the band departing. You can tell in the recording especially in the harmony section, it’s the band saying goodbye; it sounds more of a farewell than “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” did. After the energetic but depressing closing track, “The End” the group left another hidden track, “Her Majesty,” but this time instead of it being obnoxiously freighting like it was before, its simply charming.

It might be the most influential Beatles album cover, but its certainty not their best album. The Beatles had a good run throughout the sixties, but since they started experimenting with their sound in the mid-sixties, each member started separating themselves and came to realization that their material was more noteworthy than the other. They were still young and optimistic, but not for Beatles material. This was the end.


Favorite Tracks: “Come Together,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” “Because,” “Mean Mr Mustard,” “Polythene Pam” 

Least Favorite Tracks: “Sun King,” “The End” 

Listen to The Beatles’ Abbey Road here

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