Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abbey Road: The Album

The Beatles' final album, released before Let It Be, is the source of several interesting Beatles facts. George Martin was surprised that McCartney wanted to record with the Beatles again, but he assured Martin, who was leery, that the group felt they should get back into the studio and make a really good record after the debacle of Let It Be.

Lennon and McCartney, openly hostile to each other at times, had different visions of what the album should be. Lennon wanted to do straightforward rock and roll, while McCartney wanted to do a kind of rock opera. The compromise resulted in Side A being done as Lennon wanted, with side B as McCartney desired. Side B was filled with bits of partial songs that neither Lennon nor McCartney had ever finished, so they were run together in many cases. Starr, however, thought this effect stunning and believed it was some of their best work. Abbey Road is also the only album on which Ringo ever did a drum solo.

The album was recorded from February 22 to August 19, 1969 at Abbey Road, Olympic Studios, and Trident Studios. While the album is regarded by most fans and critics as great work, far more professional than the Let It Be tracks, there was still some bickering in the studio among all four Beatles. Comments by many engineers and close Beatles' friends bear out this fact. McCartney admitted to being more of a bossy producer at this stage, and George and Ringo were at times openly hostile. Nevertheless, the group, while still not in the studio together for all sessions, were able to record a great album as evidenced by the complex, rehearsed harmonies on "Because." Also, it is a fact that Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney took turns playing lead in the final guitar solo at the end of Side B. Both Lennon and McCartney felt that Harrison's "Something" was the best song on the album. With Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun," this period marks the complete maturation of Harrison as a songwriter.

After recording for the LP was finished, Lennon was quoted as saying that the Beatles had been "together" more than at any recent time in the past, although he would later say that he thought Side B to be inferior because it was just bits of songs. George Martin remembers the album as a positive experience. That having been said, the Beatles broke up shortly after the LP was finished, with Lennon saying he wanted a divorce from the group.

The actual cover of the album, now iconic, played into the "Paul is dead" hysteria since McCartney walked across the street in bare feet. All of the above facts make this last Beatles album totally unique.

The tracks include:

Come Together
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
Oh Darling
Octopus's Garden
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Here Comes the Sun
You Never Give Me Your Money
Sun King
Mean Mr. Mustrad
Polythene Pam
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End
Her Majesty

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