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Abbey Road: The 50 Year Conformation
September 28th 2019 sees the release of Abbey Road in its definitive form, and what do we find within those hallowed grooves? Answer, we find perfection as a mark in time, and yet so far ahead of everyone it's conformation that The Beatles are still the greatest band ever to grace this planet.
Coming after the back to basics White Album, things had moved on so much its very release showed us all way back then that they the fabs, were incapable of being usurped as the worlds no 1. It's not just sheer brilliance, it's actually frightening to hear and believe it even now !!
50 years later, this package conforms what we all knew, and the world is a much more joyous and a better place for it.
The music is a welding of so many styles, facets, and forms, coupled with stellar song writing and production it defies all logic to realise it was all done 50 years ago.
Electronics were nothing then, but the subtle use of the synthesiser, not only decorated several songs it became an integral part of them and signposted the way ahead. Disco baselines were there 6 years before they became the norm, and heavy progressive rock was neatly packed away to be extolled and immediately ended in a group slash ending bringing back that idea of the ending chord from Sgt Pepper. The immaculate little bonus some 16 seconds after the end still has the power to surprise us all, it's like that reformation, that they are still here, only now so much stronger.
We can safely now bow our heads in acknowledgement of the superior force.
Come Together, that perfect opener, bass driven by McCartney with that superb drumming from Ringo is played into the background by John's driving vocal, personifying menace, yet urging togetherness in an orgasm of expression.
Rip away the song except for the baseline and you have that disco driver long before anybody else got on the bandwagon.
Something written by George is perhaps the greatest love song ever written, if its not then blame Paul for Yesterday, it's that good. the adoration George felt at the time for Patti oozes out via a multi layered collage of drums, bass and electric guitars, coupled with sublime singing from Paul and George, its hypnotic it just blows you away. Yet there is more,with that oh so fabulous string score, only now can the ignorant finally sink their eyes and ears in wonder. We, (Everybody else) knew it all the time, but until now we only ever imagined the full beauty.
Maxwell's Silver Hammer, that annoying cloying comedy song that irritates then etches itself into your brain with affection for such a simple tune endears itself like no other can. Will we ever be rid of Rose and Valerie screaming from the gallery? we know that answer better by far.
Oh Darling! is purely Paul leading the band via "1969 Blue Eyed Soul" yet playing a firm rock beat which drives along with such power it shows that this band could take one type and fuse with another and you end up with a song firmly in both fields. It's masterful, and also displays that long overlooked talent that the band held within, they were gifted backing vocalists, and we just took that for granted without ever really realising it except on the odd occasion. "Lady Madonna comes instantly to mind"
Ringo's lead with Octopus's Garden takes us back to Yellow Submarine only this time we actually dived beneath the waves to feel the water surround us and rest our weary heads, absolute charm, thank you boys we needed it!
I Want You.. She's so Heavy, is a tortuous piece lasting nearly seven minutes encapsulating so many styles, Rock, Blues Guitars, rousing vocals, and yet it was two recordings fused into one, bringing out "electronic white noise" half way through like you would never know or expect. The bane of recording engineers is always kept to a minimum, yet here is John actually introducing it and feeding its strength to envelop the whole proceedings until that final urgent slash to end it all !!
The first two tracks on side two Here Comes The Sun and Because really endear themselves together like no two other tracks side by side on any other album. from the acoustic based opener to the sublime Beethoven inspired piece bringing those wonderful hypnotic vocals to the fore, accompanied by that tasty moog just extols the sheer talent they possessed, others deemed it so unfair, yet The Beatles just used it to full effect and left it there for all to hear.
The piano opening of You Never Give Me Your Money ushers in the Long One as it was called yet brings in that collage of styles and craft that no other has even tried. Each track finely tuned and segued together shows a full face of vision and style that simply cannot be defined. From boardroom scuffles, to laying in the Spanish sun with Sun King, to the unsavoury side of London life with that Mean Mr Mustard with his sister Pam dressed in Jackboots and stilts paint a seedy picture of underground life.
The lady coming through the bathroom window shining like a brilliant sun is perfectly portrayed by the joyful playing of the four, leaving us all with a bright expectation of what was to come.
Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End is the second collage or medley you encounter starting with an old English lullaby, and ending with the expression that they were all carrying that weight of expectation, pressure, money problems, and the impending shattering of everyone's view that The Band would be around for ever. We needed them , you cant quit now can you, the world seemed to be asking.
The sheer musical vision of what was held within on this part is staggering, the trick of the whole orchestra coming out on the back of a bass note has never been done again, Ringo's amazing drumming ushers in his only ever solo, and the peerless guitar playing fuse the whole spectacle together for that cataclysmic ending where the band sound like Led Zeppelin before Led Zeppelin got there, it is irreplaceable and still so inspiring , and that sudden ending slash again leaving the piano and Paul extolling the virtues of love equals what you make by what you take sums it all up so eloquently, it is quite simply beyond belief.
Then that little acoustic bonus of Paul telling all his love for The Queen is so British, it is taken not for granted, but understood in it's sheer simplicity and cheek that only The Beatles could ever get away with.
In 2019, it stands still as possibly the best sounding album of all time merely because not that it's that good because it is, or not because it's The Beatles, or finally it's not because of the songs encased within, it's all of those facets, coupled with the fact that so many things were started here and fused into sheer musical excellence, that one is still left in total awe 50 years later.
Quite simply, Abbey Road is without doubt beyond reproach, and to sum it all up in such a way that no other artist can compete. so is With The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper, The White Album, and there should have been more oh so much more .