Classic Album – Beatles – Abbey Road (CD review)

Beatles – Abbey Road (Apple) – CD review –

Breaking up never sounded this good.

The Beatles had just come off the worst recording experience of their lives; the grueling sessions for the Let it Be movie preserved on film the bickering and fighting that was becoming the norm for the once Fab Four.  Many bands faced with similar circumstances would’ve called it quits right there.  Instead, John, Paul, George & Ringo reconvened one more time to record Abbey Road, and it is quite possibly, their finest moment.

Yeah sure, Sgt. Pepper blah blah blah.  I find that I come back to Abbey Road far more often than Pepper.  While the former is wrapped in dated studio trickery, the latter is full of great songs.  Abbey Road also sounds nothing like previous Beatles’ records; it’s got a warm, lived-in feel, that’s far more reminiscent of early Seventies rock than anything they’d done before.  Plus, the clever use of early keyboard technology, as in the solo to “Because” add to it as well.  It doesn’t hurt that George Harrison turns in two of his finest songs in the dreamy “Something” and the optimistic “Here Comes the Sun.”  The multi-layered harmonies on the aforementioned “Because” is staggering.

While Lennon sounded downright bored on the Let it Be sessions (“Dig It” was a turd), here he turns in the biting, Dylanesque “Come Together,” and the proto-heavy metal “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”  The remainder of the LP is all Paul McCartney; it was his idea to string the little bits of songs into the song cycle on side two.  And, while “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” are not on par with Lennon’s better songs, McCartney makes them work in this setting.

“The End,” however conscious an attempt at a swan song, still is one of the greatest moments in the Beatles’ storied history: beginning with the only drum solo Ringo ever laid to tape, followed by the other three all trading short guitar licks: McCartney, Harrison, then Lennon.  It’s quite obvious who is who:  Paul’s solos are clean, George’s slinky, and John’s primitive, yet full of emotion.  I’m not sure you can name another band that knew this was their last effort, yet still was able to make it a great one.  — Tony Peters