Revisiting “Abbey Road”, The Beatles Swan Song

The influential album was released on September 26, 1969

Revisiting “Abbey Road”, The Beatles Swan Song

“Abbey Road”, released on September 26th, 1969 was the last album The Beatles recorded together as a band, though it came out before “Let It Be” released in 1970 (recorded before “Abbey Road” as “Get Back”, but the band not satisfied with it’s results, delayed the release for further production and mixing). This Beatles album it’s the definitive turning point in their sound, sometimes reminiscent of 1968 “The Beatles” (White Album) however the songs are much more solid and denote a team effort as a band that lacked to it’s predecessor.  It’s no better or worst than “Revolver” or “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”, it’s different, a new musical direction and sound, partially due  prominent use of the Moog synthesizer and the Leslie speaker. Helped by collaborator Bill Preston on keyboards and produced by George Martin, who hadn’t produced their previous unreleased album “Get Back” (that would become “Let It Be”), “Abbey Road”, aside of all the imagery present on the iconic cover,  it’s one of the best Rock albums of all time, the Psychedelic influences that had taken over just 3 years before are all gone, instead,  the songs are heavily based on Blues and Progressive Rock , which was a the time in it’s infancy.



The album opens with “Come Together”, destined to become a classic, a Lennon track with crafty lyrics (reminiscent at times of Beat poetry) with a distinctive bass guitar line and electric guitar riff, George Harrison’s “Something”,  another song that was destined to become a classic, it defies the Lennon/McCartney compositions and it was actually Lennon’s favorite song in the album, the mellow distinctive signature guitar sound and vocals of Harrison are brilliant. The third track, McCartney’s “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” uses some of the classic upbeat Beatles sound that was developed during their 1966-67 era but it’s dark lyrics tells about murder, “Oh! Darling” it’s another McCartney song and one of the most memorable from the album, it’s a doo-wop style song that lays strongly on electric guitar, “Octopus’s Garden” is the Ringo Starr song on “Abbey Road”, as usual Ringo always had at least one lead vocal song on every album, this is a special one due to being the second song that Ringo Starr ever wrote by himself and he gets the full songwriting credit. An upbeat song that almost sounds like a children’s chant with catchy lyrics (sort of like “Yellow Submarine”). The first side of the album ends with Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and we can clearly recognize his late 60’s style in this song. Lots of experimental noise, background sounds and heavy guitar, by then he was forming Plastic Ono Band, the highly experimental band with Yoko Ono.  Side 2 opens with another Harrison composition, “Here Comes The Sun” another song that was destined to become a classic, an interesting thing in “Abbey Road” is the fact that George Harrison’s compositions are some of the strongest in the album, unlike what happened on Beatles previous records.”Because” was inspired by Lennon listening to Ono playing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano, it’s a mellow vocal track with three-part harmonies by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, which were then triple-tracked to give nine voices in the final mix. Harrison played the Moog synthesizer, and Martin played the harpsichord, it’s one of the album’s favorites, it represents the vocal power the 3 main voices of The Beatles had when put together. The record ends with a medley of 9 songs (almost like in a stage musical fashion), “You Never Give Me Your Money”, “Sun King”, “Mean Mr. Mustard”, “Polythene Pam”, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window”, “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry That Weight”,”The End” and “Her Majesty”. The highlights are “You Never Give Me Your Money” which is the longest song in the medley, and , “Carry That Weight”, all the tracks link perfectly together and there are mellow moments  such as “Golden Slumbers” and “Sun King”, and edgier Rock moments such as in “Polythene Pam”. “Abbey Road” it’s an essential album, not just for Beatles fans but for all music fans in general. It’s their swan song, but a fair one, a very righteous goodbye from the band. Soon after the recordings of “Abbey Road” The Beatles broke up and Lennon went on full time with the Plastic Ono Band, in part, because The Beatles had rejected his song, the raw and rough “Cold Turkey”, the song went on to become one of Lennon’s biggest hits.

 Album Art
 
The front cover design, a photograph of the group on a zebra crossing, was based on ideas sketched by McCartney and taken on 8 August 1969 outside EMI Studios in Abbey Road by photographer Iain Macmillan. He was given only ten minutes to take the photo whilst he stood on a step-ladder and a policeman held up traffic behind the camera. Macmillan took six photographs, which McCartney later examined with a magnifying glass before deciding which of the shots would be used upon the album sleeve. The cover became one of the most iconic in Rock and Pop history and it’s also an enduring reference in Pop Culture to this day.



Side 1
1 “Come Together”
2 “Something” (George Harrison)
3 “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
4 “Oh! Darling”
5 “Octopus’s Garden” (Richard Starkey)
6 “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Side 2
7 “Here Comes the Sun” (George Harrison)
8 “Because”
Medley
9 “You Never Give Me Your Money”
10 “Sun King”
11 “Mean Mr. Mustard”
12 “Polythene Pam”
13 “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window”
14 “Golden Slumbers”
15 “Carry That Weight”
16 “The End”
17 “Her Majesty”
All tracks written by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted
Personell:
John Lennon: lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm, lead and acoustic guitars; acoustic and electric pianos, Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer; white noise generator and sound effects; percussion
Paul McCartney: lead, harmony and background vocals; bass, rhythm, lead and acoustic guitars; acoustic and electric pianos, Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer; sound effects; wind chimes, handclaps and percussion
George Harrison: harmony and background vocals; lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; bass on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”; Hammond organ, harmonium and Moog synthesizer; handclaps and percussion; lead vocals (on “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”)
Ringo Starr: drums and percussion; anvil on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”;[40] background vocals; lead vocals (on “Octopus’s Garden”)
Aditional Personell:
George Martin: piano, harpsichord, organ and harmonium; percussion
Billy Preston: Hammond organ (on “Something” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”)
Recorded during: 22 February – 20 August 1969 at EMI (Abbey Road),  Olympic and Trident Studios, London
Produced by: George Martin
Release Date: September 26th, 1969
Label: Apple
Singles:
“Something” / “Come Together” Released: 6 October 1969
Strongest tracks: “Come Together”, “Something”, “Oh! Darling”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “Here Comes the Sun”, Because”, “You Never Give Me Your Money”



Watch The Beatles 1969 promotional film for “Something” 





Listen to “Abbey Road” on Spotify

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