Abbey Road Album Mar 21, 2009 0:43:05 GMT -5
Post by yerblues1968 on Mar 21, 2009 0:43:05 GMT -5
ABBEY ROAD (ALBUM)
Released: 26 September 1969
Recorded: 22 February 1969 - 20 August 1969
at Abbey Road Studios, Olympic Studios, and Trident Studios
Label: Apple, Parlophone, EMI
Producer: George Martin
Abbey Road is the eleventh official U.K. album and seventeenth U.S. album released by The Beatles. Though work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, making it the final album recorded by the band, Let It Be was the last album released before the Beatles' dissolution in 1970. Abbey Road was released on 26 September 1969 in the United Kingdom, and
1 October 1969 in the United States. It was produced and orchestrated by George Martin for Apple Records. Geoff Emerick was engineer, Alan Parsons was assistant engineer, and Tony Banks was tape operator. It is regarded as one of The Beatles' most tightly constructed albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. Rolling Stone magazine named it the 14th greatest album of all time.
After the near-disastrous sessions for the proposed Get Back album (later retitled Let It Be) Paul McCartney suggested to George Martin the group get together and make an album "the way we used to" free of the conflict that began with the sessions for The White Album. Martin agreed, stipulating that he must be allowed to do the album his way. In their interviews for the Beatles Anthology series the surviving band members stated they knew at the time this would very likely be the final Beatles' product and therefore agreed to set aside their differences and 'go out on a high note.'
The Beatles warming up for the Abbey Road
With the Let It Be album partly finished, the sessions for Abbey Road began in April, as the Ballad of John and Yoko / Old Brown Shoe single was completed. Most of the album was recorded between 2 July and 1 August 1969. After the album was finished and released, the Get Back / Let It Be project was re-examined. More work was done on the album, including the recording of additional music. Thus, though the bulk of Let It Be was recorded prior to Abbey Road, the latter was released first, and Abbey Road properly was the last album started by The Beatles before they disbanded. In September 1969, just shortly before the release of the album, John Lennon was on hiatus from the group with the Plastic Ono Band, effectively being the first official sign of dissolution.
The two album sides are quite different in character. Side one is a collection of single tracks, while side two consists of a long suite of compositions, many of them being relatively short and segued together. The main impetus behind the suite approach was to incorporate the various short and incomplete Lennon and McCartney compositions the group had available into an effective part of the album.
Abbey Road became one of the most successful Beatles albums ever. In the UK the album debuted straight at #1. Abbey Road spent its first 11 weeks in the UK charts at #1, and then was knocked off just for 1 week to #2 by the Rolling Stones debuting at the top with Let It Bleed. However, the following week—which was the week of Christmas—Abbey Road returned to the top for another 6 weeks, completing 17 weeks at the top. In all it spent 92 weeks inside the UK Top 75, making a big re-entry after over 16 years in 31 October 1987, when it was released for the first time on CD and reached #30. In the UK Abbey Road was the best-selling album of 1969 and the fourth best-selling of the entire 1960s, and the eighth best-selling album of 1970.
Reaction in the U.S. was similar. The album debuted at #178, then moved to #4 and in its third week to #1, spending 11 non-consecutive weeks at the top, but was not the best-selling album during the Christmas week. Abbey Road spent a total of 129 weeks in the Billboard 200, re-entering the charts at #69 on 14 November 1987 when it was released for the first time on CD. It was the 4th best-selling album of 1970 in the US and is now certified 12x platinum by the RIAA.
The album opener Come Together was a Lennon contribution. The chorus was inspired by a song Lennon originally wrote for Timothy Leary's campaign for governor of California titled Let's Get It Together. A rough version of this can be heard in outtakes from Lennon's second bed-in event in Canada. It has been speculated that the verses, described by Lennon as intentionally obscure, refer cryptically to each of the Beatles - eg he's one holy roller allegedly refers to the spiritually inclined Harrison. The song was later the subject of a lawsuit brought against Lennon by Morris Levy because the opening line in Come Together - Here come old flat-top - was admittedly lifted from a line in Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me. Come Together was later released as a double A side single with Something. In the liner notes to the Love album George Martin described the track as a personal favourite.
The Beatles "Come Together." (4:23 minutes)
Something, the second track on the album, later became Harrison's first A-side single. Originally written during the White Album sessions, the first line is based on the James Taylor song Something in the Way She Moves (Taylor was signed to Apple at the time). After the lyrics were refined during the Let It Be sessions (tapes reveal Lennon giving Harrison some songwriting advice during its composition), Something was initially given to Joe Cocker, but was subsequently recorded for Abbey Road. Something was Lennon's favourite song on the album, and McCartney considered it the best song Harrison had written. Frank Sinatra once commented that Something was his favourite Lennon-McCartney song and the greatest love song ever written. The song was released on a double-sided single.
The Beatles "Something." (3:00 minutes)
Harrison was rapidly growing as a songwriter, and with Abbey Road, he made his most significant contributions to a Beatles album. Something became the first Beatles number one single that was not a Lennon-McCartney composition; Here Comes the Sun has received significant radio airplay despite never having been released as a single. Something was sung by McCartney, accompanied for the first part of the song just on ukulele, at Concert for George on the first anniversary of Harrison's passing. Eric Clapton sang the rest with McCartney on harmony vocals and band accompaniment.
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
Maxwell's Silver Hammer, McCartney's first song on the album, was first performed by the Beatles during the Let It Be sessions (as can be seen in the Let It Be documentary).
According to Geoff Emerick's book, Here, There and Everywhere, John Lennon said the song was more of Paul's granny music, and refused to participate in the recording of the song.
Beatles performing "Maxwell Silver Hammer."
Taken from "Let It Be" film. (2:14 minutes)
When recording Oh! Darling, McCartney attempted recording only once a day, so that his voice would be fresh on the recording. Lennon was of the opinion that was the type of song that he would've sung the lead on, remarking that it was more his style. On the Anthology 3 album, Lennon can be heard singing the lead on an ad-libbed verse regarding the news that Yoko Ono's divorce from her first husband had just come through.
The Beatles "Oh! Darling!" (3:27 minutes)
Starr wrote and sang one song for the album, Octopus's Garden, his second (and last) composition released on a Beatles album. It was inspired by a trip to Sardinia that occurred when Starr left the band for two weeks with his family during the sessions for The White Album. While there, he composed the song, which is arguably his most successful writing effort. While Starr had the lyrics nearly pinned down, the song's melodic structure was partly written in the studio by Harrison (as can be seen in the Let It Be film), although Harrison gave full songwriting credit to Starr. (Harrison and Starr would later collaborate on Starr's solo single Photograph, and Harrison also probably collaborated with Starr in writing It Don't Come Easy).
The Beatles "Octopus's Garden."
Taken from the "Let It Be" film. (3:03 minutes)
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
I Want You (She's So Heavy), is a combination of two somewhat different recording attempts. The first attempt occurred almost immediately after the Get Back / Let It Be sessions in February 1969 and featuring Billy Preston on keyboards. This was subsequently combined with a second version made during the Abbey Road sessions proper, and when edited together ran nearly 8 minutes long, making it The Beatles' second-longest released song (Revolution 9 being the longest). Perhaps more than any other Beatles song, I Want You (She's So Heavy) reveals a pronounced progressive rock influence, with its unusual length and structure, repeating guitar riff, and white noise effects; the I Want You section has a straightforward blues structure. It also features one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesizer to create the white-noise or wind effect heard near the end of the track. During the final edit, as the guitar riff continues on and on, Lennon told engineer Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there" at the 7:44 mark, creating a sudden, jarring silence which concluded side one of Abbey Road. The final overdub session for I Want You (She's So Heavy) would be the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together.
The Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." (7:47 minutes)
Here Comes the Sun
Here Comes the Sun is Harrison's second song on the album and one of his best-known songs, written in Eric Clapton's garden while Harrison was sagging off from an Apple board meeting, which he considered tedious. It was influenced by the Cream song Badge, which was co-written with Eric Clapton and George. While not released as a single, the song has received frequent radio airplay since its release. Joe Brown would later sing it at Concert for George.
The Beatles "Here Comes The Sun." (3:06 minutes)
Because features a Moog synthesizer, played by Harrison. The chords in Because were inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which Lennon heard Ono play on the piano, after which, according to Lennon, he played the chord progression backwards. Because features three-part harmonies by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, which were then triple-tracked to sound like nine singers. The results of this have been compared in sound to the Beach Boys.
The Beatles "Because." (2:47 minutes)
The climax of the album is the sixteen-minute medley consisting of several short songs, both finished and unfinished, blended into a suite by McCartney and George Martin. Most of these songs were written (and originally recorded in demo form) during sessions for The Beatles and the Get Back / Let It Be sessions.
You Never Give Me Your Money is the first song of the Abbey Road suite. It was written by McCartney and based loosely on The Beatles' financial problems with Apple. It slowly and quietly follows into Sun King (which, like Because, showcases Lennon's, McCartney's, and Harrison's overdubbed harmonies), Mean Mr. Mustard (written during The Beatles' trip to India), and Polythene Pam (all of these Lennon compositions). These in turn are followed by four McCartney songs, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (written after a fan came into McCartney's residence literally through the bathroom window), Golden Slumbers (based on lyrics but not the music of Thomas Dekker's 17th-century song of the same name), Carry That Weight which features chorus vocals from all four of The Beatles, although Lennon was in hospital at the time of the primary recording due to a car accident with Ono, his son Julian and Ono's daughter Kyoko (he recorded his vocals at a later date), and the climax, The End. The latter is notable for featuring Starr's only drum solo in The Beatles catalogue. Starr hated solos and had to be persuaded to do it. It was even edited down several bars from its original recorded version. Toward the end of the song, immediately prior to And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make line played over piano chords, are eighteen bars or measures of guitar solo: the first two bars are played by Paul McCartney, the second two by George Harrison, and the third two by John Lennon, then the sequence repeats. Each had a distinctive style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities: McCartney's playing included string bends similar to his lead guitar work on Another Girl from the Help! album; Harrison's was melodic with slides yet technically advanced and Lennon's was rhythmic, stinging and had the heaviest distortion. Immediately after Lennon's third solo, the piano chords of the final line And in the end.... begins.
An alternate version with Harrison's lead guitar solo played against McCartney's (with Starr's drum solo heard slightly in the background) appears on the Anthology 3 album. The song ends with the memorable final line, And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
The Beatles Abbey Road Medley - Part 1. (10:46 minutes)
Her Majesty, tacked on the end, was originally part of the side two medley, appearing between Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam. McCartney disliked the way the medley sounded when it included Her Majesty, so he had the medley re-edited to remove it. However, second engineer John Kurlander had been instructed never to throw out anything, so after the group left the recording studio that day, he picked it up off the floor, spliced 14 seconds of red leader tape onto the final mix reel, and then spliced in Her Majesty immediately after the leader tape. The box of the album's master reel had a notation stating to leave Her Majesty off the final product, but the next day when Malcolm Davies at Apple received the tape, he (also trained not to throw anything away) cut a playback lacquer of the whole sequence, including Her Majesty. The Beatles liked this effect and left it on the album. On the first printing of the LP cover, Her Majesty is not listed, although it is shown on the record label. Her Majesty opens with the final, crashing chord of Mean Mr. Mustard, while the final note of Her Majesty remained buried in the mix of Polythene Pam. This was the result of Her Majesty being snipped off the reel during a rough mix of the medley. The cut in the medley was subsequently disguised with further mixing although Her Majesty was not touched again and still appears in its rough mix.
The Beatles Abbey Road Medley - Part 2. (5:55 minutes)
Abbey Road was the only Beatles album mainly recorded on an 8-track tape machine, rather than the 4-track machines that were used for prior Beatle albums starting with A Hard Day's Night. This is noticeable in the better sound separation and mixing of the drum kit. EMI's conservative management had not yet approved the use of their then-new 8-track Studer deck, and that accounts for why this was one of the rare Beatles albums to be recorded at three different studios (Trident, Olympic, and Abbey Road). The album was also the first to be recorded and mixed entirely on a solid state sound board, giving the album's sound a noticeably different feel from its predecessors; Harrison later remarked that the new sound was too harsh for his liking. Also, the Moog synthesizer is featured on the majority of tracks, not merely as a background effect, but sometimes playing a central role, as in Because where it is used for the middle 8. It is also prominent on Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Here Comes the Sun. The instrument was introduced to the band by Harrison after a stay in Los Angeles where he was introduced to the instrument. (The first landmark pop song to employ the Moog was Daily Nightly by The Monkees.) Earlier in 1969, Harrison had released Electronic Sound, which featured dissonant sounds entirely made from a Moog, on Apple's short-lived experimental label Zapple.
One of the assistant engineers working on the album was a then-unknown Alan Parsons. He went on to engineer Pink Floyd's landmark album The Dark Side of the Moon and produce many popular albums himself with The Alan Parsons Project. John Kurlander also assisted on many of the sessions, and went on to become a successful engineer and producer, most noteworthy for his success on the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
ALBUM COVER PHOTOGRAPH
'At some point, the album was going to be titled Everest after the brand of cigarettes I used to smoke', recalls Geoff Emerick. The idea included a cover photo in the Himalayas but by the time the group was to take the photo they decided to call it Abbey Road and take the photo outside the studio on 8 August 1969. The cover designer was Apple Records creative Director Kosh. The cover photograph was taken by photographer Iain Macmillan. Macmillan was given only ten minutes around 11:30 that morning to take the photo. That cover photograph has since become one of the most famous and most imitated album covers in recording history. The man standing on the pavement in the background is Paul Cole (1911 ? - d 13 February 2008) a US tourist unaware he had been photographed until he saw the album cover months later. The zebra crossing today remains a popular destination for Beatles fans.
The Volkswagen Beetle parked next to the zebra crossing belonged to one of the people living in the apartment across from the recording studio. After the album came out, the number plate was stolen repeatedly from the car. In 1986, the car was sold at an auction for $23,000 and is currently on display at the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The Abbey Road Volkswagen Beetle now in display in a Germany museum.
In 1997, Abbey Road was named the 12th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM; it received the same ranking in a 1998 poll of Q magazine readers. In 2000, Q placed it at number 17 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 8th greatest album ever, and, in December 2003, it was named the 14th best album by Rolling Stone. In 2006, the album was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best albums of all time. In 2006, Abbey Road was rated as Australia's fourth favourite album on My Favourite Album, a television special done by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired on 3 December 2006 (it was the highest position for a Beatles Album on that list).