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The Beatles - Abbey Road CD (album) cover

ABBEY ROAD

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.49 | 680 ratings

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sealchan
3 stars The Beatles were before my time and undoubtedly I do not appreciate them as much as I would have had I heard them when their music was new. I have had to wade back from my musical birthing grounds in the early 80's through countless songs undoubtedly influenced by or stemming from a musical inheritance from the work of The Beatles. To remain true to my subjective perspective, I cannot provide the best testimony to their value and influence.

Come Together - Groovy cool song; heavy sound but laid back. I imagine the lyrics were considered "totally far out man" at the time. They are still inventive and poetic. With lyrics that balance sense with non-sense you can achieve an unconscious impact that can make it harder to separate lyrics from music.

Something - Sultry keyboards and guitar and strings all melt together as they swell the sentimental passion. Beautifully expressive guitar solo. Poignant song that dilutes its sadness with hope.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer - Back to the march step rhythm section of The Beatles earlier work; nursery rhyme lyrics and light-hearted music barely conceal the successive acts of violence making what is psycho a bit of crazy fun.

Oh! Darling - 50s sound; Paul McCartney pleads desperately to good effect with his lover.

Octopus's Garden - Part two of "Yellow Submarine"? This song caught my attention as a child. Guitar accents sound right for this underwater adventure.

I Want You (She's So Heavy) - The sound here is reminiscent of "Come Together". One reason I suspect that I don't like this song as much as I would like is that I am not a blues fan. Another is that try as they might, The Beatles are not a blues band. I have meager amounts of the blues to compare it to but it does not compare favorably. Still they try admirably. Also, this must be one of the Beatles' longest songs and for that reason also I wished I appreciated it more. What was an appetite for the coda on "Sgt. Pepper..." and "Magical Mystery Tour" has found its way deeper into the song bringing you to the progressive, instrument-oriented music not just once but twice. This song has a psychedelic strain with a slightly disturbing wind sound that evokes a strange, alien atmosphere and then leaves you startled and gasping for breath at the song's abrupt end. For me these are positive elements that don't make up for other elements in a song that I'm sure many will consider much more favorably than I do.

Here Comes the Sun - Although this song's lighter than air openning is a stark contrast with its predecessor it moves towards a similar instrument-oriented progressive passage; this time in more favorable terms. The guitar provides the elegant path through which this song strolls. Again what would have been an interesting coda is brought in in the midst of the song and again at the end. This same song form is used frequently by bands with superior instrumental abilities to great effect. The Beatles ability to bring us into the high of "the jam" however is tragically limited. This song and its predecessor point the way to a great many great progressive rock song.

Because - Slow chant comes off slightly comic with its 60s mysticism, but poised as it is just before the Medley it is full of presentiment as well as sounding like a conclusion to what preceeded it.

Medley

You Never Give Me Your Money - This medley frames the songs ahead just as "Sgt. Pepper..." with its openning track and reprise framed that album. There is a note of sadness under the light-hearted lyrics. The various moods and melodies in this song also give it an overture-like, mini-medley feel preceeding the series of much shorter songs which follow. Moreso than any of the other songs in "The Medley", this song could stand alone. As the song fades we gradually discern night-time crickets and the next song starts right up...

Sun King - ...as a kind of brother song to "Because" with its slow pace and 60s mysticism. Hot summer day slow tribute to the sun I presume. There is a strange tension between a joyous appreciation and a lazy tempo, a tension which resolves somewhat with the latin verses at the end. Spills out into...

Mean Mr. Mustard - ...a much shorter song that also picks up the tempo. We have the familiar Beatles march style rhythm with the just as typical catchy tune. One verse ends and...

Polythene Pam - ...one more notch up on the tempo and on the energy brings us to the next song. Complex drums, cryptic lyrics, rock guitar solo rests languidly on the rhythm section and drops us into...

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window - ...the next song which has us in the bathroom relaxing the energy a bit. The rhythm kicks back a notch and the guitar and the vocals have a vigorous back and forth. Golden Slumbers - After the first significant gap between songs since the medley began, sweet strings and gentle piano surge with passion and quieten again. Two times we breathe in and out and then into...

Carry That Weight - ...a triumphant anthem. Horns come in to shout joy in a short progressive chorus. Then the reprise of "You Never Give Me Your Money" comes in as if somehow we never left it so many melodies ago.

The End - Sudden transition to a rock n roll mini-melody with an slightly understated drum solo. One of the harder guitar solos for The Beatles is found here. Another sudden transition brings up down a notch and back up for the final orchestral climax.

Her Majesty - Couldn't leave on a serious foot; hidden track although not too far down the groove, an outrageous poke at nobility.

(3 stars) I rate the medley ("You Never Give Me Your Money" through "The End") as a single song with 5 stars. The other songs on the album just don't add up to enough for me to justify a higher overall rating. I'm sure that this has a lot to do with the fact that the elements of these songs I've heard first elsewhere and performed in ways I prefer. Had I heard it first from The Beatles, my rating would have been higher. I've chosen to rate the albums from my own subjective view. This certainly will rub many people the wrong way but I think it is more honest. Undoubtedly my favorite music will receive a great many ratings knocks from the majority that don't appreciate it.

I heartily recommend "The Medley" to progressive rock fans for its outstanding collection of catchy tune ideas strung together in a highly effective way. Although I am not as turned on by "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Octopus's Garden" as I would like to be, those songs along with "Here Comes The Sun" may also appeal to the progressive rock fan. As The Beatles bow out of the recording studio as a band an era of music has just been inspired that is where I find my heart and soul: progressive rock.

sealchan | 3/5 |

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