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The Beatles - Abbey Road CD (album) cover

ABBEY ROAD

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.47 | 977 ratings

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baz91
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Abbey Road, what an album. After seeming distant from each other on the last few albums, to the point where some of the tracks had become solo works, it's really heartwarming to hear the band on this album, sounding as close as they ever did! With this album, we don't hear the psychedelic or eclectic noodling that made the other albums stand out. Instead, The Beatles take us back to basics, and just play extremely good rock music.

I never really liked Come Together as the opening to this album. It seems like quite a dark song, for an album that is mainly very bright. It's quite a cool track, but I have actually heard better covers!

When compared to any of The Beatles' love songs from their earlier period, Something shows you just how much this group had moved on. This is a deeply moving track with really sweet lyrics.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer is a deeply twisted track! The bouncy melody seems like just the wrong theme tune for the brutal, yet comic, murders that are outlined in the lyrics, but instead I think this song comes out just right. I really like the fun lyrics, although I've never understood the Maxwell character. Not the best song on the album musically, but a fun little track nonetheless.

Oh! Darling is best known for Paul's soulful singing. He really pours emotion into those lyrics, making this a very difficult song to cover! Fantastic song.

The reason Ringo has never been taken seriously is because of songs like Octopus's Garden. You get the feeling that he probably didn't take himself that seriously either, because he actually wrote this! It's a fun melodic track, but this is another children's song! Thematically, it's extremely close to Yellow Submarine, but this track is an improvement. It's an important song, and it's definitely well remembered, but I really wish Ringo could have concocted something more fulfilling.

Talking of fulfilling, next up is I Want You (She's So Heavy), which remains my favourite Beatles track. Structurally, it's a very simple track, and with all three verses having exactly the same lyrics. However, this track has some of the best music around. At 7:47, this is the longest proper Beatles song (discounting Revolution 9 which is ...). I particularly like the jazzy instrumental verse section, with brilliant drumming, and a great subtle guitar solo. However, this is nothing compared to the jawdropping 3:10 coda, played entirely in 6/8 with one of the greatest chord progressions ever. The chords repeating in this way set a prog rock standard, and there are countless songs that finish in such a way! To name a few, Yes's Starship Trooper, Uriah Heep's July Morning and Steve Hackett's Shadow of the Hierophant. In fact, Dream Theater made a much more direct tribute in their song Pull Me Under which finishes in the same abrupt way as this track. Bursting with prog, this is undeniably The Beatles' most epic track.

Here Comes The Sun opens the second side, and what a beautiful track this is. This is a song for all the proggies, as the 'Sun, Sun, Sun, here it comes' section has many odd time signatures built into it.

I've always found Because to be incredibly creepy. This song borrows the 6/8 theme from I Want You but turns it into a 4/4 theme. The lyrics are really deep, and possibly pretentious, but I won't judge them.

The next 8 tracks form a 16 minute piece of music commonly known as the Abbey Road Suite. I recently joined these tracks together on my computer for two reasons. Firstly, I'm a prog fan and in my world, longer generally means better. Secondly, if I didn't, then I'd barely every give tracks like Sun King a listen. The medley starts with You Never Give Me Your Money which is a great standalone song. It's quite progressive in nature too, as there are several parts to the song. Sun King is quite dull, and towards the end gets a bit silly, with nonsense lyrics made to resemble Spanish. The next couple of songs, Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam have a rough unfinished feel to them, and I've never been a particular fan of either. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window is an improvement with good lyrics, and more structured writing. The music temporarily stops before Golden Slumbers begins. This is a beautiful section with lovely lyrics, and mature instrumentation. Carry That Weight is an anthemic track which brings back a theme from the beginning of the medley, making this feel more like a prog epic. The End has always been my favourite part of the medley. There is a brilliant drum solo from Ringo, followed by a wonderful guitar solo which is actually played by all three guitarists. Some brilliant 'words of wisdom' help bring this epic, and indeed The Beatles, to a close.

However, there's a surprise 'encore'! Her Majesty is actually an out-take from the medley, which was originally placed between Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam, before Paul had it edited out as he felt it was out of place. It accidentally got stuck on the end of the album, and as a result, does not appear on the vinyl sleeve, making it one of the first 'bonus tracks'. I do agree with Paul's decision, and, in fact, it's quite sweet that you just get to hear a little bit more of The Beatles before they were really gone. Very much like an encore indeed.

Abbey Road is one of the most iconic and well known albums of all time. It's one of my favourite Beatles albums and deserves to be in everyone's music library. I feel quite sad reviewing this album, as Abbey Road marked the end of a musical legacy that has transcended time. The Beatles are objectively one of the best bands in the history of rock music, and I don't think there's any band that could come close to being as musically ingenious and well-recognised as them. With some brilliant pop tunes, some very progressive songwriting, and an amazing 16-minute faux-epic medley, this album deserves no less than the perfect five-star rating.

baz91 | 5/5 |

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