The Beatles. Even today, they are one of the most respected bands in the music scenario. Within a mere eight years (from 1962’s Please Please Me
to the album in question), the group had managed to radically alter their style, going from sugary love-song boyband to experimentational, hippy-influenced studio group. Abbey Road
, a tribute to their second home, the Abbey Road Studios, was the group’s final recorded work (although their «real» last album was Let It Be
, which had been recorded prior to this one).
As had happened with their last few opuses (say, from Sgt.Pepper’s
onward), this is an album where the separation between the group’s members is clearly evident. John kept his sarcasm running high (Polythene Pam
being a good example), while Paul took care of the poppier songs, like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
, and George…well, George was doing his thing, although mercifully there are no sitar-driven numbers on this one. Instead, he pens and performs the delightful Here Comes The Sun
and the ballad Something
. As for Ringo, he has his usual upbeat, happy number with the catchy Octopus’s Garden
However, this is not a particularly happy Beatles album. Many of the song lyrics are sarcastic, and in fact these are the best moments on the album. Take the sequence Mean Mr.Mustard/Polythene Pam
. The first song talks about an old derelict (or, if you will, a «mean old man») whose daughter
Takes him out to look at the queen
Only place that he’s ever been
Always shouts out something obscene
In certain ways, this song reminds you of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung
, to be released a few years later. As for Polythene Pam, she is, according to John:
So good looking but she looks like a man
Enough said, I think…
Another very sarcastic track is Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
, about a med-school serial killer, who murders – in turn – a classmate, his teacher and a guard at the museum. The lyrics are hilarious and the music will stick in your head for days, making this one of the high points of this album.
But not all of Abbey Road
was about sarcasm. There were also some precursory signs of what would in a few years become hard rock. Check out Come Together
, for example, or even I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
, a dragging, nearly sludgy song…at a time when sludge hadn’t even been invented yet! And then, of course, there was the gentle farewell call of The End
, which sounds to all the world like a «thank you» note from the group to their fans. Sort of like «we can’t carry this through anymore, thanks for everything.» It’s a very heartfelt, touching piece that should have closed the album, although it is followed by secret track Her Majesty
, which last a mere 23 seconds.
However, and although it definitely had its moments, Abbey Road
was far from the most consistent Beatles album. The good songs were intertwined by dull moments such as the psychedelic Sun King
. When heard as a whole, though, the album truly shines. It may not be the group’s best, but it’s better than most of what’s being done by newer groups these days.
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Here Comes The Sun