Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ABBEY ROAD - The Beatles

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Apple

TRACK LISTING: Come Together, Something, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Oh! Darling, Octopus's Garden, I Want You (She's So Heavy), Here Comes the Sun, Because, 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, Her Majesty

BONUS TRACKS: None unless you consider the fact that "Her Majesty" was originally a "hidden track" i.e. it was not listed on the album cover. The reason for this was that originally it was part of the side 2 medley between "Mean Mr. Mustard" & "Polythene Pam" but Paul McCartney didn't like it there so it was cut. Engineers had been trained NEVER to throw anything away so it was spliced onto the end of the master tape with 14 seconds of red leader and mistakenly recorded onto the final master. The Beatles, however, liked it there and left it.

IMPRESSIONS: ABBEY ROAD is the Beatles' 11th album and the last one they recorded (although LET IT BE would be released after it). This is my 2nd favourite Beatles album after "THE WHITE ALBUM". ABBEY ROAD is also the very first non-kiddie "grown-up music" album I ever bought with money I got for my 7th or 8th birthday. Not a bad way to start, right? As you will probably begin to notice, I'm a sucker for albums which run songs together into "song suites" and it probably originates with this album; side 2 of course runs songs together into a "song cycle".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Something, Oh! Darling, I Want You (She's So Heavy), Because, Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End

GUEST ARTISTS: Billy Preston plays organ on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

FACT SHEET: After the acrimonious debacle of the "Let It Be" sessions, Paul McCartney suggested to producer George Martin that they try making another album; Martin agreed only if he would be allowed to produce it like they used to do in the old days. The Beatles, probably sensing this was their last hurrah, agreed to put their differences aside and came up with their most cohesive, harmonious album in years. Side 1 or "the John Lennon side" contains separate songs independent of each other with several "rockers" while Side 2 or "The Paul McCartney side" features songs integrated into a connected song cycle (obviously an influence on Kate Bush's HOUNDS OF LOVE album and scores of others). "Something" would become the first Beatles #1 single NOT written by Lennon/McCartney and subsequently everybody's favourite George Harrison Beatles song. "Octopus's Garden" would be the final Ringo Starr-penned Beatles song and "The End" would feature the one and only drum solo by Ringo in the entire Beatles catalogue. The last time the Beatles would ever record together in the studio was on the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy). The (for want of a better term) chorus of "Golden Slumbers" is actually adapted from the Elizabethan lyric poem by Thomas Dekker from "PATIENT GRISEL":  "Golden slumbers kiss your eyes/Smiles awake you when you rise/Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry/And I will sing a lullaby./Rock them, rock them, lullaby./Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,/You are care, and care must keep you./Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,/And I will sing a lullaby./Rock them, rock them, lullaby."One of the assistant engineers on ABBEY ROAD was an unknown Alan Parsons who would go on to a major producing career (including the perennial seller Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON) as well as helming his own group The Alan Parsons Project. The iconic (and much imitated) cover photos were taken by Iain Macmillan on the zebra crossing in front of Abbey Road Studios.

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