Review Summary: Music for music’s sake. A landmark album that would go on to inspire countless musicians and define the Beatles as the giants of rock music.
A little bit of history, The Beatles were on the verge of collapse. They had just finished filming the Let It Be documentary and plans for the Get Back album (later titled Let it Be) were falling apart. Paul McCartney was beginning to exert too much control over the rest of the band while George and John did not seem to be interested in what was going on around them. George constantly writing songs that no other Beatle wanted and John, too busy with his new wife Yoko. They all saw it coming and all knew that if they were to make an album, it would be their last. In the end, Paul and John contacted producer George Martin and said that they were willing to make an album. That album would become the iconic Abbey Road.
The album starts off strong, on a Lennon piece, Come Together. The driving bass and drums really make the song and create a gritty feel. John’s vocals come across much like they did on Revolution. The pace of the song has a steady, hard-tapped blues feel to it, but with John’s voice, it sounds like a classic hard rocker. A terrific and timeless track.
Something is the iconic George Harrison song. After so many years, he finally was able to have his place among the giants in the group. His songwriting abilities match both John and Paul on this track. The beautiful guitar tone, the sweeping vocals, the lush harmonies, its all there. Something creates a scene for the listener and really takes us away.
The next track comes from the third Beatle in the form of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. A very poppy song with malcontent and violent lyrics, the song was originally intended for the Let it Be album. After so many takes of it, the rest of the band began to get fed up, especially John who is not featured on the track. At one point Paul begins to laugh during the recording. It is because John mooned him from behind the glass in the studio. The track itself is passable but still is able to hold its own as a catchy tune.
Oh Darling, another Paul composition paves its way among the gallows of rock. It is a classic track that really brings out the best in Paul’s voice. Though originally John was supposed to sing the track, Paul elected to instead and blew them away. The grittiness is back from Come Together and we really feel the emotion coming through from Paul. A terrific rocker.
The fourth Beatle comes in on this next track with Octopus’ Garden, written as a sequel to Yellow Submarine. It is Ringo’s second and last composition as a Beatle but it is a little more complicated and technical than one may think. George’s solo is among his best and Ringo’s drums are actually quite technically sound. If you ignore the lyrics and the childish harmonies, the song actually stands its own ground on the album.
I Want You (She’s So Heavy) is the strongest track on the album. A predecessor to Shoegazing, the song’s riff has a counter-riff in the bass creating a beautiful harmony that last throughout the 7 minutes. The pure simplicity of it is terrific, the guitar work is there, but the biggest aspects of this song are the drums. That’s right, Ringo’s finest performance. The drums start very simply but the last two minutes of the piece, Ringo is basically just playing a fill. These drums are almost impossible to replicate when covering the song. As the song goes into a huge crescendo of white noise, it abruptly ends, leading the way to side two.
Here Comes the Sun is another strong Harrison composition. A lasting piece with a universal message, isn’t that what the Beatles are all about? George provides crisp and clear vocals on the track while the band seems to back him up in a way we haven’t heard since Sgt. Pepper’s.
One of the more overlooked songs on the album Because doesn’t scream much and seems more of a filler song than anything. However, the song is derived from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, except it is played backwards. The harmonies are some of the best the Beatles have ever done and are a perfect counterpoint to Harrison’s previous track. A great Lennon composition.
Next up is the iconic Medley. Nine songs that flow seamlessly together. You Never Give Me Your Money is a beautiful piece by Paul. It speaks of the Beatles financial troubles and really brings out all aspects in Paul’s voice. Sun King a Fleetwood Mac inspired Lennon composition is another keeper on the album. Though slow and soft, Sun King has such a beautiful guitar tone that leads perfectly up to Mean Mr. Mustard. Another Lennon composition, it’s a short and sweet little ditty that fills space in the Medley. Polythene Pam is a great accompaniment to Mustard, and shares some of the same story line as well. It brings John’s voice back to the Come Together tone and gives another gritty feel as it again flawlessly drifts into Paul’s composition, She Came In Through the Bathroom Window. A true story about a fan sneaking into Paul’s house, the piece is a great pick me up that goes well with the rest of the songs in the medley. My favourite part of the medley comes up with Golden Slumbers. A terrific vocal performance by Paul, he belts out the chorus with such passion and emotion, you forget who you’re actually listening to. Carry That Weight takes a different direction with the entire band singing the chorus. The chords from You Never Give Me Your Money reappear here as the song fades back in The End. A fitting ending piece for the Beatles career, the End wraps up Abbey Road with a solo from each member, even Ringo. The final line sums up the life of the Beatles. Just as the listener thinks the album has concluded, a hidden track put in by engineer Neil Epstein called Her Majesty finishes off the Medley in a 27 second acoustic ditty by Paul.
The album will always stand on its own as a beloved classic, an album that was truly made for music’s sake. The group wanted to finish off on a strong note and put the childishness of Let It Be behind them. Little did they know they would create a masterpiece that would stand the test of time.
With this we realize that in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.