Last night on television, I watched a special on the Beatles. After viewing this show, it became clear as to why I have not done a review of these guys. They are the pinnacle of rock and roll music. To review them, is to review my own life!
To realize how much this band means to me, I can give you this example. This album was released when I was 9 years old. I (with parents permission) waited in line overnight with my older brother to be one of the first to get it! Even at that age, I was a music fanatic and the Beatles were the driving force that lead me to my obsession with rock and roll!
I had every Beatles album that they ever made. I mowed lawns, raked leaves, shoveled snow, whatever I could find to do, to raise money to feed my habit! I can sympathize with the junkie, my drug of choice was something completely different though. It was the high I got from great music!
So, after all that, why did I choose this album as my first Beatles review? Well, that is because it is their last album as a band. I am going to trace their history backwards.
It also is one of their crowning achievements. A masterpiece that will live forever in the hearts and minds of the real musical aficionados. There is enough jems on here to fill a pirates treasure chest. It is some of the best known music in the world!
So it is with both joy and sadness that I write the review of Abbey Road. Joy that I can finally start to talk about the first and really the one band that deserved the title "The Only Band That Matters." Sadness that this music is becoming something lost on the new generations. Even with the attempts to reissue a lot of their music, it is becoming very clear that many who are listening to todays stuff, do not even know about this band!! Maybe this will help to open some new ears out there!!!
This magical album starts out with one of the Beatles heavier works. The song "Come Together" has one of the most driving bass lines in any of their work. McCartney sets a dark tone as he plays the bass almost like it was a lead guitar! Ringo leans heavily on the bass drum to also add that bluesy, thumping guttural quality to this dynamic piece. This is a Lennon tune though. His lyrics sound like the chemical induced type of thing that he seemed to favor during this time period. His vocals are biting and seem to cut through the thick undercurrent running through this number. As in many of their compositions this contrast between vocals and melody are the thing that makes the song dynamic! Looking back now, this is the perfect opening for what they knew was going to be their last studio effort! I like to think that this is John's last try as a Beatle to promote his message of peace. When he sings the line, "Come together, over me." I like to think that he is saying, our music will always be here, give a listen, hear the message and forget our differences. Just come together over me! (My music.) As a last note, this song was covered very well years later by Aerosmith for the very bad movie, St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Another thing that they often did on each album, is make sure that each song is a complete contrast to the previous one. This is never more evident than with the previous one and this one. "Something" is George Harrison's greatest achievement! It is also one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. George's voice has such a sweet lullaby quality as he sings about his love and devotion. Paul adds one of the greatest bass lines that I have ever heard. It is sensual and alluring as again it provides the contrast to Harrison's vocals. Also George himself, provides one of the most carnal guitar pieces every conceived! This song is a pure aphrodisiac! The strings that are added are the bed upon which this story plays out. Strong and powerful each time I hear it. Excuse me why I go see my woman for a few minutes!!
For the next song, McCartney throws in a bit of whimsy, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Done in a ragtime style, this song about a slightly disturbed boy, is one of the few songs that make murder fun! I think that once again it is the thought of such a serious subject put to such a fluffy melody that exemplifies the Beatles use of irony in their compositions. You can tell that they are having fun during this one. At one point, Paul cannot contain a laugh while singing! They left it in instead of pulling it, nice touch. Years later, Warren Zevon ripped off this idea for his story song "Excitable Boy."
How about a little bit of 50ish rock and roll with just a tad of the blues thrown in! "Oh! Darling" has all of these elements. Add to that, Paul singing as if he knew that this is the final Beatles statement. His voice is stretched almost beyond it's limits as he sings about lost love!! This one has the whole band on the top of their game as the guitar playing is magnificent to say the least. This song shows just how much this band has grown up yet at the same time, it gives us a brief glimpse at the raw power and energy that started this inferno called Beatlemania!!
Well Ringo has to take a turn too!!! His lone writing credit and vocal on this album is the bubbly "Octopus's Garden." Done in a style somewhere between Nashville and Tony Orlando, this song is one that belongs on Ringo's PBS series. I just envision him singing it to a group of kindergarteners. A nice happy song that is typical of the nutty Beatle. Something like he continued with during his solo career.
"I Want You(She's So Heavy)" has John providing a stirring vocal performance as George mimics his lyrics on lead. (And you thought Zepplin started this technique) As John vocalizes his angst about the woman he wants, you can feel the ache in his loins as he desperately seeks the release that he needs!! This jazzy little number about sexual frustration demonstrates this terrible problem, using music...As it builds and builds to what should be a fantastic climax, instead of giving the release so needed, it just ends!! Leaving you unsatisfied!
Once again, the Beatles make sure that the next number reflects nothing of the previous. Here we get a song that sums up that year, also known as the summer of love. "Here Comes The Sun" is another Harrison tune that shows his ability is, at least in some examples, the equal of both Paul and John! A very light acoustic piece that uses a very subtle string arrangement in the background to provide a beautiful uplifting feel to this song. John's harmonies also gives it that hippie type feel of freedom! This song is like a breath of fresh air! What a great piece to listen to as I sit her and it is about 20 degrees out and snowing!!
"Because" is a song that can only be described as operatic. What sounds like a harpsichord, off set by a very underplayed electric guitar provides a provincial touch to this selection that flows along like a trip down a lazy river. The harmonies blend so well on this song it is as if the wind they are singing about is the lead singers! Almost an eerie touch to this piece! Very powerful music.
From there we go to a McCartney composition that is just dynamic! "You Never Give Me Your Money" Starting out with Paul on piano, providing a very elegant melody to accompany his very mellow vocals, This song lulls you in with it's beautiful melody. Then suddenly the song takes a roaring 20's turn with a honky tonk piano played against what sounds like McCartney singing through a megaphone! Then again as suddenly, it jumps us back into present day rock and roll for a great finale. This is almost like three songs put together! Very strong songwriting by the best! This song also has one of their more famous fade outs..."1,2,3,4,5,6,7,...all good children go to heaven"
A very melodic guitar opens the song "Sun King." It takes you to the perfect harmonies that the Beatles provide to this pretty little song. Very interesting in presentation and also has a very strange ending. The words at the end are in foreign languages and could be interpeted a few different ways. Most seem to think that it says:
"If for much, my love of happy heart world paparazzi my love, girl green for sun king this open deception, very much, cake and eat it, care of sun."
Isn't any more clear after translation!!
But that song leads into the next one, "Mean Mr Mustard." This song sounds as if it is being played at the wrong speed. A very strange tune that tells of a bum that is never going to change his ways! The combo of Ringo and Paul on piano gives this song an off kilter feel that does not let you ever get settled in. It then explodes into the next song...
"Polythene Pam" is another in this medley that makes you wonder just what they are talking about! No wonder so many thought that their lyrics were drug induced! A Who like power acoustic chord kicks off this song. Then Ringo provides the power behind this tune that can be best described as a song about a person with an identity crisis. One neat thing about this song is that you can tell it was recorded "live". If you listen closely, you can hear the guys talking back and forth at different times in the song. Great fun that takes us to the song....
"She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" A great little ditty that does not mean anything lyrically but has a great feel thanks in part to the terrific guitar delivered by Lennon. Paul sounds very soulful as he tries to provide a bit of R & B to this song. Short and sweet, this song I would have liked to hear expanded! Also, Joe Cocker did a very strong cover of this song a few years later!
Another of my favorite Beatles songs, "Golden Slumber is a song that makes you look back. It may be Paul nostalgic look back at the band and finally putting it to rest! But it is a very beautiful song and one that is a true lullaby. I can just imagine singing this to the woman asleep next to you. It has that great loving feel. I also can imagine a woman singing this to the man she cares for too! I would be at the feet of any woman who would do that!!! But then this song carries right into the next one.....
"Carry That Weight." This song is an anthem quality tune that seems to say that the band is gone but they are going to be Beatles forever!! Then it revisits the song "You never give me your money" for one verse as if to say this is the wrap of all that we have done. Looking back one last time before reaching.....
"The End" The Beatles take us out, like they brought us in, rocking!! Ringo performs a short drum solo before the guitars break in to deliver the Beatles most electric work on record!! Each take a final bow on this song and it is phenomenal!! Then knowing that this is the final word from the band, what words do you want to leave to the world? Well I bet John had a lot to say about what these final words would be!
"And in the end, the love you take is equal to, the love you make."
A great way to end a fine career!!!!
As an afterthought, "Her Majesty" sounds like an add on to remind everyone where they come from! A little thank you to the queen maybe?
Well there you have it..This is what makes up a masterpiece. One of the greatest albums of all time! If you do not own it, well.....there is no excuse not to own it!!!
The thing about Beatles albums is that so many of them are essential that none of them can really stand out in the overall Beatles discography as THE essential Beatles album. None of them really stand out as their greatest work because you can argue that so much of it - with the POSSIBLE exceptions of their earlier work - is their greatest work. I have a great love for the Beatles, but when I talk about it, I tend to come off as a hater because I focus a lot on the band's demigod reputation, one … more
Forget the appeal of the music on this album for a second, and let's just consider the album cover, specifically in its relation to the myth that Paul McCartney was dead at the time and that the band had been for years concocting a media hoax to cover it up. The myth extends in earnest backward two years before the 1969 release of Abbey Road to the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which McCartney is pictured with a hand over his head--a gesture that, at the time, was incorrectly … more
'Abbey Road' is actually the last album the Beatles recorded together. It is a triumph and a fine way to end their time together as history's most celebrated rock band. They agreed to do two "sides"--as was conventional before C.D.'s--each one uniform. Side one is rock and roll unadulterated. Side two is a pop symphony that is carefully melded together with several segues, making the songs melt into one another. It is correctly considered one of their great works, but the polish makes it different … more
Pros: beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring, etc. Cons: last Beatles album :( True story: Tonight, I was planning on taking a shower, so I decided to put on a CD. I intended to pause it when I was ready to shower and start playing it again when I got out. The CD I happened to choose was the Beatles' "Abbey Road." Big mistake. When the entire glorious album was over some 40 minutes later, I had taken off my wrist watch-- and that's all. What was … more
Pros: Beautiful Songs and Production Cons: Melancholy All good things must come to an end sooner or later, and Abbey Road for the Beatles was their sweet goodbye. This was the last George Martin production for the Beatles, which is direct contrast to the Phil Spector production of the Get Back sessions. The arrangements on Abbey Road are lush and full and especially so on the 2nd side as mostly all of the songs glide into one another. … more
One wonders what direction the Beatles would have gone in had they remained together. Truthfully, they broke up when they were at the top of their game. This final studio recording of all original material(although not a final release, Let It Be)shows many classic songs and varying styles. The sleazy Come Together, the happy go lucky Octopusses Garden, the creative suite on Side 2 all great. Not to mention George Harrison's two gems. Even some good guitar solos by John and George. Classic song stylings … more
ABBEY ROAD, recorded in the summer of 1969, was the last album recorded by the Beatles (LET IT BE was released in 1970, but recorded in early '69). The Beatles: Paul McCartney (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass); John Lennon (vocals, guitar, keyboards); George Harrison (vocals, guitar, synthesizer); Ringo Starr (vocals, drums, percussion). After the laborious disorganization and infighting that characterized early 1969's LET IT BE sessions (as famously captured on film), the fractious four were willing to let George Martin take the reins and to work with him as a cohesive unit for the much more succinct production of their (and the decade's) swan song, ABBEY ROAD. The superb performances make the album an artistic high point for all members of the group. Paul McCartney inspired the suite of songs that begins with "You Never Give Me Your Money." Often thought of as two long medleys, the songs that fill most of the second half of ABBEY ROAD segue seamlessly into one another, but are programmed as separate CD... Song List: Disc 1 1. Come Together 2. Something 3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer 4. Oh! Darling 5. Octopus's Garden 6. I Want You (She's So Heavy) 7. Here Comes the Sun 8. Because 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. End 17. Her ...