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The Beatles – Abbey Road [Album Review]

April 1, 2012

 

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

As the last recordings The Beatles made and as the last album they recorded together there is an understandable emotional reaction among hardcore Beatles fans and even music fans in general. Well, to simply be overwhelmed by ‘Abbey Road’ and to be unable to view it at all objectively. The snatches of songs on side two are occasionally very enticing, the two George songs on side one are the finest things on side one(which honestly makes me so happy) true classics. ‘Abbey Road’ gives off a deceptive unity which was of course the entire point. The ‘Let It Be’ sessions had been fairly disastrous, all things considered despite a few hits here and there. The Beatles were clearly not much longer for this earth as an ongoing concern yet wanted to leave a better taste in peoples mouths than ‘Let It Be’ would have apparently provided. Still…. let’s talk about ‘Come Together.’ Well, why not? Let’s see. It has a great groove and great vocals but imagine it sung by somebody else or played by somebody else. Is this a great song? Maybe i’m undecided? Can I hear it played on acoustic instead? I like it a lot as a rock performance but I don’t love the actual song. This isn’t the sound of genius just the sound of good performance and a good McCartney bass groove what makes the track. The two George songs possibly are the sound of genius, although bordering on solo Harrison rather than Beatles but these tracks are honestly masterpieces, beautifully written and preformed in every way. But then ‘Maxwells Silver Hammer’ and ‘Come Together’ are bordering on solo McCartney and solo Lennon respectively. The Beatles as a unit, with playing and vocal flourishes, make these group songs rather than solo efforts. These group performances are important on ‘Abbey Road’, the first side especially. The vocals harmonies on ‘Maxwells Silver Hammer’ rescue the song from utter mediocrity, add in ‘Octopus’s Garden’ and you start to wonder about all the claims to greatest album ever made.

‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ shares some of the darkness in tone that surrounded ‘The White Album’. ‘I Want You’ is rambling compositionally, yet together as a performance. John is on excellent form here and this near eight minute song is unlike anything else The Beatles ever did, it demonstrates potential blues/progressive directions that The Beatles could have taken on in their never to be future. As for the suite of songs taking up all of side two, we have one lovely McCartney number in particular, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ which has been split up into two parts to aid the suite concept. This suite also contains the utterly gorgeous harmonies of ‘Sun King’ and the rocking coda of ‘The End’. ‘Mean Mr Mustard’, ‘Polythene Pam’ and the heart-breaking ‘Golden Slumbers’ come across as snippets of larger songs and create a yearning within you that they acually were larger and longer songs. Frequently gorgeous is this second half of ‘Abbey Road’ but you have to ask yourself how it really connects to the first half, if at all. McCartney reputedly wanted the entire album done in the style of ‘the suite’ but was voted down. Considering ‘Abbey Road’ as a whole piece is therefore quite difficult for me because of this. Well, Side one is a collection of unrelated songs and side two is a mood piece with brilliant and touching melodies along the way. This lack of cohesion mean I’ve marked down ‘Abbey Road’ just a notch, yet it remains an excellent album and a good closing chapter in the career of The Beatles.

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