For years I accepted on faith that the best album ever made was Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. While that album remains a stunning example of the summer of love, the true trinity of the Beatles oeuvre are Rubber Soul, Revolver and Abbey Road--with the nod going to Abbey Road as the Beatles final studio album.
There is not a false note on this album. It kicks off with a powerful vocal from John Lennon on "Come Together," which is balanced by the tenderness of "Something," one of George Harrison's best songs (and only Beatles A-side single contribution). With "Because" Lennon wrote one of the loveliest melodies of his career. Even the silliness of McCartney's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and Ringo Starr's child-like "Octopus's Garden" exude charm and warmth from a band that was on the verge of fragmenting forever and taking some of the innocence of the sixties with them.
And then there's the side-2 suite (tracks 9-16)which still makes for powerful listening thirty years later. Sir Paul McCartney summed it all up in "The End": "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." And so the curtain rang down on the best rock 'n' roll band in our lifetime. ESSENTIAL
Here's a brief update of the 2009 remastered release of ABBEY ROAD:
THE SONGS: There are no new songs or demos included on this rerelease. It contains only the original tracks from the 1969 release.
THE REMASTERING: This CD has been remastered from the original stereo analogue master tapes. Since this is one of the few Beatles albums to be recorded in stereo (YELLOW SUBMARINE and LET IT BE are the only other two), there is no mono version. The muffled, sometimes muddy sound of the 1987 CD issue has been replaced with a crisp, clean sound that creates an entirely new listening experience.
THE BOOKLET: There is a 16-page booklet with brief "Historical Notes" as well as "Recording Notes," which are serviceable but not overly thorough. A full eleven of the pages are devoted to photos, including three from their final photo shoot on August 22, 1969, at John Lennon's home at Tittenhurst Park. Also, of historical note, are several proofs from the ABBEY ROAD cover shoot.
THE MINI-DOCUMENTARY: First of all, anyone expecting a VH1 Behind the Music-style documentary will be sadly disappointed. The video runs less than four minutes and contains very little actual video. There is some footage used from the "Something" promotional video. Otherwise it is all still photos. [Although there is some clever computerized gimmickry used to make it appear as if the Beatles are actually walking across the pedestrian crossing in front of Abbey Road Studio.] The documentary also includes voice-over commentary from McCartney, Harrison, Starr and producer George Martin. As for the music, there is a snippet of a demo of "Come Together." Otherwise, only samples of final take versions are heard. [Total running time - 3:46. Note: You will need QuickTime to view this on your computer.]
THE CD CASE: The cardboard CD case is not ideal for two reasons: First of all, it's a trifold case so it will not lay flat and it will be more prone to wear. Secondly, the CD is awkward to get out of the slipcase without touching the recorded side of the disc.
THE VERDICT: Ignore the naysayers. Buy this album. It's like hearing the album for the first time!
Until recently, the only thing I knew about The Beatles' "Abbey Road" was the goofy album cover where all four band members are crossing the street. Now I consider it one of the best, most innovative rock 'n' roll albums ever released. And I mean innovative and fresh by today's standards, not just the standards of the late 1960s. These guys practically invented the art of making melodic rock music, and they certainly weren't afraid to experiment with sounds and ideas.
"Abbey Road" offers something for everybody; a 90-year-old senior citizen could enjoy this album as easily as a 5-year-old kid. The sounds and tastes of this record are all over the map. For instance, whereas "Come Together" is a serious rock anthem with a heavy message, songs like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (Lennon-McCartney) and "Octopus's Garden" (Ringo Starr) are silly pop nuggets. Romance is also present, like on George Harrison's beautiful "Something" (which includes a swooning string section), and on the dramatic "Oh! Darling," where Paul McCartney belts out the lyrics in his most sincere tone. Overall, there's a boyish, innocent quality to these songs, especially lyrically, yet a sophistication to the sound and musical development. In short, the Beatles, as well as their producer, George Martin, possessed the resources, talent, musicality and what must have been a sense of finality to create one of the best records ever.
Though the Beatles were on their way out with "Abbey Road," the seven-minute-plus "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is reminiscent of another British band on their way in back in 1969, Led Zeppelin. The song features longing lyrics and an indelibly heavy guitar riff in the style of Jimmy Page before he became a household name. Conversely, songs like "Because" and "Sun King" are positively airy and lightweight, unbelievably catchy. The Beatles thrived on hazy, dreamy songs that featured their head-in-the-cloud choruses and melting melodies, making it all seem as easy as a summer breeze.
Beginning at "You Never Give Me Your Money," the album transforms into a hot-potato medley of one sublimely melodic song after another, a shockingly creative assembly line of tracks that magically blend together, thanks mostly to producer George Martin. It's comparable to a movie score with words or a spur-of-the moment "Best of" mixture. McCartney and Lennon deserve the lion's share of credit for creating this 20-minute joyride, on the second side of one album. Despite the inevitable end of the band, the guys sound excited, joyful, happy to be alive, inspiring, a little crazy and willing to experiment on their way out.
As the music on "Abbey Road" mutates from one moment to the next -- sometimes in the space of just one song -- the lustrous sounds and sky-high choruses mix perfectly with the weightless lyrics. As the album winds down and such greats as "Mr. Mustard" and the punk-ish "Polythene Pam" rage on, the band opt to go out on a positive and touching message that truly resonates. Overall, I understand now why many have said that there are the Beatles and then there is everyone else.
on June 15, 2005
Hi. This was my first Beatles album. I am normally a fan of Metallica, Guns and Roses, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, so I never really thought that I would like the Beatles. Well, I was suprised when I listened to this album. It really is great. Every song is genius. I know this may not sound like much coming from a hard rock/metal fan, but what I am trying to say is that I think anybody can apprecitate this album, it really is a work of art!
While Let It Be was their final release, Abbey Road was the result of the last time they recorded together in the studio. Despite the annonmosity and frayed tensions among the band, Abbey Road shows that they could produce music head and shoulders above everyone else. "Come Together" has a Chuck Berry riff and George Harrison's "Something" has became a standard with even Frank Sinatra recording a version. "Oh! Darling" has Paul McCartney flexing his vocal muscles and "Octopus' Garden" is a fun and goofy Ringo Starr composition. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is aptly titled as it has an urgency and yearning John Lennon vocal with heavy guitar playing. "Here Comes The Sun" is the best song George Harrison did with the Beatles with it's optimistic lyrics playing in stark contrast to the dark clouds surrounding the band at the time. The song suite that closes the album shows the band were still willing to push boundaries and it is appropriate it closes out with a song called "The End". Abbey Road marked the close of the recording career of the greatest group in music history. In the six years that they made music in the studio together, they produced songs that not only affected the music world, but the world as whole. From their hair, to their clothes to just about everything they did, they gripped the public's image and attitudes.
on December 10, 2000
After the hardest studio sessions they've ever had to stand ("White Album" and "Get Back/Let It Be"), The Beatles knew the end was coming. So they made the effort of reuniting, despite all their differences and made one of the greatest popular music album ever recorded and listened by the human race.
I have said before I prefer "Revolver" because you can get out of it a complete philosophy to your life, and the lyrics and musical experiments were never better than on that album, but I have to recognize that the production and orchestral work made with this CD can be considered as the best music The Beatles made in their whole succesful carrer. It's so removing, you can get deep emotions by the listening experience, you can feel lots of noises, like the constant presence of death and dark perceptions of the world, the optimism, the humour, the social comments, I mean... The Beatles' lyrics here are getting simpler, but more to the point. They are writing rock'n'roll again, the songs with deep and hidden meanings are gone, as are the strange but interesting instrumental arrangements and studio experiments they made in their more psychedelic albums from 1965-1967. They are PLAYING MUSIC again, that's the final gift they gave to the world.
The first side of the album is a very hard-to-unify bunch of songs. "Come Together" finds John Lennon at his funkiest mood, laughing at them all, as always, and the rocky guitars (and specially the Fender Rhodes piano solo played by Paul) make the perfect dark environment this acid song needs to have. "Something" has to be the loveliest ballad ever written, its simple structure and lyrics are adorned by the expert orchestral arrangements by George Martin, the guitar solo by the singer/composer George Harrison, is stunning, as is the middle-eight. This particular track also shows The Beatles as a band, with John playing a notorious wah-wah rhythm guitar, Paul playing his bass guitar at his best (hear those chord variations!) and Ringo getting his turn at the drums. Notable. It gets into your subconscious, and it also was a big hit by the Fab-Four in 1969 (you can get a remastered version in the recently released "1" CD). "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Octopus's Garden" are underrated humoristic and ironic songs. Written by Paul and Ringo respectively, they help to make the album a little lighter, and to remember those days where the music and the lyrics were not mean to be something with deep meaning, but most notably something to enjoy the experience of playing music. Plus, Ringo's lead vocal on "Octopus's Garden" is one of his best, his lyrics are intriguing and very psychedelic, making this song a pleasant surprise and one of the high points of the album. "Oh! Darling" is a lovely and heart-breaking ballad with an impressive vocal interpretation by Sir James Paul McCartney (John said he could have done it better!) and a bluesy air that can remove all the hairs in your body... "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", with its weak lyric, is no more than a great jam by the biggest band in the world (but they knew how to make it into a great rock'n'roll moment!) The final noises can REALLY scare you.
George Harrison finally gets the chance to show how a good songwriter he was on this album. Apart from "Something", he wrote the best song on "Abbey Road": "Here Comes The Sun" (the opening track for side 2) which also has very good orchestral arrangements (Martin takes care of the production in both Harrisongs, and you can note it!), optimistic lyrics and the brilliant acoustic guitar work that George made by himself. It can really blow your mind. And it's relaxing and lovely.
After that, the album gets a spirit of unity and you can't realize where does a song finish or another begins: "Because" is the Lennon version of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", and shows the greatest vocal performance ever made by John, Paul and George in 9 voices! The lyrics are intriguing, and the electric harpischord (played by George Martin) with the Moog Synthesiser (played by George Harrison!) make the song sound even more electrifying! "You Never Give Me Your Money" is the first part of a McCartney medley, with a complex structure, brilliant guitar moments, and... ask Paul what he's singing about. Then, there is the medley: "Sun King", "Mean Mr.Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" are John's songs, beautifully arranged and almost always accompanied by Paul on backing vocals. Then there is "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window", a lovely and intriguing acoustic/pop/rock song. All of those songs are unified and glued to each other so you can't really define which is which...
And then, they wave goodbye. "Golden Slumbers" sends you to sleep in a quiet but removing mood. "Carry That Weight" is sung by the four of them, and in "The End"... the love you take is equal to the love you made. The drum solo by Ringo and the three guitar solos (by Paul, George and John, in that order) are the oportunity they have to say goodbye to the world. They do it, and it's simply thrilling. I mean, listen to them: they are a BAND again!
And when you think it's all over, "Her Majesty", a very strange but simple song by Paul closes the album. They have made it at their best, and they know a door is closed, and a new time begins...
So they have made it perfectly. They were capable of give the world the best music, and when they felt the work was finally done (with this masterpiece), they left. And the love they took was equal to the love they made. This album IS pop & rock absolute perfection. Buy it and enjoy it. It's hard to take it off from your stereo.
(P.S.: If some fans want to review the album with LONG texts, leave them. Sometimes is necesarry to open your mind and listen to another points of view. Just be patient...)
on February 5, 1999
Abbey Road is the pinnacle of the Beatles achievement. Recorded in their last days together as a group, it shows them at their most mature stage. The songs are like a summary of their career together. There is Rock N' Roll (The End, I Want You, Oh! Darling, Come Together) ballads (Because, Something), guitar pieces (Sun King), orchestral pieces (Carry That Weight, Golden Slumbers) and even Sgt. Pepper style tape loops, strange new instruments and studio tricks (I Want You, Sun King, Maxwell's Silver Hammer)
All members of the group contribute songs to the album, and every one is an excellent example of their individual talents. Particularly outstanding is George's contributions, Something and Here Comes The Sun. Probably two of the greatest songs ever written. Even Ringo's composition skills impress, Octopus's Garden being one of the most catchy tunes on Abbey Road.
Performance wise, all four members excel. Ringo's drumming is innovative, prominent and adds real depth to the sound. George's lead guitar work is outstanding, as is John's rhythm guitar. Paul's bass often forms a tune in its own right. In addition, John, Paul and George play other intruments, including a Moog synthesiser.
Side One is excellent, but Side Two, which is a medley of songs, is truly outstanding. Paul and John contribute songs for the long piece and the transition from one song to the next is perfect.
Abbey Road is a remarkable farewell for the Beatles, and is a must have for anyone, no matter what their musical tastes.
on September 15, 2009
My copy of the remastered Abbey Road just came in late yesterday. I listened to it on my stereo system, then ripped a copy to my computer. On my computer I then listened to the 1987 remaster, then the 2009 remaster. The following are my conclusions.
Overall there is an improvement in the sound. The bass is a little more precise, the drums are crisper, the accoustic guitars ring more and the electric guitars have more crunch. The biggest single improvement that I noted was in the organ and Moog work. On I Want You the organ is more prominent and much more involved than in the original remaster, while the Moog really stands out to me in the songs Here Comes the Sun and in Maxwell's Silver Hammer. The latter of which, while not really a song I care much about, feels much more whimsical and less annoying with this remaster, the Moog taking a more central part from the middle of the song onward.
All that being said, I feel that this album gets the least overall from the remastering process. This is most likely because it was the last one recorded, on the most modern (at the time) equipment. If you have moderate to low end equipment, or you just want to listen to it on your iPod, keep the 1987 remaster and don't get this. If you have moderate to high end equipment and like to sit back and LISTEN to the album for a listening experience, you'll enjoy this version.
As far as the music itself, I feel that this is the Beatles' finest album and it shows nicely on this remaster. Five stars. Highest of recommendations.
on September 24, 1998
If the Beatles had to split up and go their seperate ways, Abbey Road was an excellent way to say goodbye. Many listeners figure that Let it Be was the Beatles final outing. But although Let it Be had a later release date, Abbey Road was recorded last. This makes for the Beatle legacy to end on pleasant notes rather than negative ones. There is a great deal of difference in the tones for "The End" and "The Long and Winding Road". Let it Be was supposed to be their last record. But the band decided to compose an album full of cheers and silliness but still to be nothing short of legendary. Three of my all time favorite songs come off of this album. ("Come Together","Here Comes the Sun" and the combination of "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", and "The End") "Come Together" shines by being somewhat sneaky yet clever with a grooving bass, courtesy of Paul McCartney, that never relents until the final 30 seconds of the song. "Here Comes the Sun" is arguably George Harrison's best song and "The End" just shows how much fun the Beatles had in making this album as opposed to grueling time they put themselves through in making Let it Be. "The End" is also Ringo Starr's best outing on drums to date. Abbey Road is fun, fresh, and unforgettable. A timeless masterpiece in the realms of rock and roll.
Only the Beatles could produce a throw-away album at the end of their career and *still* produce more great songs than the best efforts of most bands. It's simply amazing how many gems can be found on this album. Two of Harrison's greatest compositions: "Something", and "Here Comes The Sun". An amazing three-guitar jam ("The End") in which McCartney, Lennon and Harrison trade guitar licks, and show that any one of them could have filled the lead seat in any 60s guitar band. Plenty of inventive McCartney tunes with witty and inventive lyrics, like "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"- a song that made a great hit for Joe Cocker some years later. And hard-edged Lennon songs like "Come Together".
And it all flows well together, thanks to George Martin's production. Maybe not the best of the Beatles' albums, but a great album in anyone's book.
on November 30, 1999
They never said to each other that this was going to be their last album, but in their hearts they knew it... and it shows.
This is truly a classic album to have in your collection whether you're a Beatles fan or not. Moving away from their psychedelic roots, they recorded an album that was heavy, gentle, sweeping, and fitting.
Many people will know it for songs like "Something" or "Come Together" which stand as monumental singles. However, people tend to forget the two sweeping medleys that take up the second half of the album. Unlike things they had done previously, The Beatles once again took their artform to another level by placing multiple song medleys to end off their career.
Also, don't forget the heavy rock displayed by Lennon's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Add the playful songs such as "Octopus' Garden" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and you have a complete Beatles' album fitting enough to finish their career and dazzling enough to influence new ones.