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ABBEY ROAD

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.49 | 688 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

thehallway
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Amazing; the best Beatles album and a triumph in 20th century pop music. It seems that 1969 was a peak in British and American music, and that certainly applies to George Harrison, who on this record delivered two of the greatest pop songs ever written. Paul was prolific as ever in his creation of mega-catchy melodies and innovative genre-blending, while John continued to write increasingly complex music (touching on progressive rock), and Ringo proves he can also write a decent song. Enhancing the fab four and helping defuse their explosive arguments, keyboard extrordinaire Billy Preston, who mingles in soulful jazz electric piano and pure rock organ. Add to that a plethora of super-producers (including the formidable organiser of sound Alan Parsons, and proven master of instrument clarity Ken Scott) all under the masterful eye of George Martin himself, and you can see exactly how and why the greatest and most innovative band to walk the Earth managed to go out on an unequaled high.

'Come Together' is smoky, funky jam rock with great singing and playing from everybody. 'Something' has beautiful chords, simply effective lyrics and is expertly arranged. Both reached number one, at a time when that meant something. 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' is one of Paul's whimsical pieces of "granny music", made wonderful by the lyrics, contagious melody, and great interludes on the then- new Moog synthesizer. 'Oh! Darling' is nothing new, in fact it harks back to Fifties 6/8 swamp pop, yet it's sheer style and passionate singing makes it one of my absolute favourite Beatles songs. Then we have Ringo's 'Octopus's Garden', which is lovely enough to listen to that you forget about the grammatical error in the title. Closing an overwhelming first side is the rather epic 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)', which sees John Lennon influenced by the latest blues rock guitar styles. Preston makes this track even better. The time signature alternates to an incredibly dark, foreboding passage that never ends (until it is cut off without mercy by an engineer).

The second half of Abbey Road wows me even more, starting with 'Here Comes The Sun', surely the song where George overtakes Paul as the best writer of melodies in the band. 'Because' is a haunting, philosophical masterpiece from John, where thick, three-part harmonies are laid over harpsichord and guitar arpeggios. Then, it is the suite; the indicator that The Beatles would have been a prog band in the Seventies if they'd not split up. 'You Never Give Me Your Money' is another of the band's great group pieces, without a chorus or a verse, rather a linear journey across many moods and times. It flows via nature sounds into the Fleetwood Mac inspired 'Sun King'. More lush vocals create a Mediterranean feel, and Lennon's chords are as original as they get. Things naturally segue into 'Mean Mr Mustard' and 'Polythene Pam', a pair of rock songs that are just good fun. 'She Came In Through The Bathroom Window' has a great beat to it, and a brief pause signals the finale of the album, consisting of 'Golden Slumbers', a beautiful vocal piece, 'Carry That Weight', which climactically reprises the start of the suite, and then, 'The End'. This song features solos from all four members of the band, and concludes with one of the best couplets ever. There is a misplaced 26 seconds of folk in 'Her Majesty', just to outline that this was a band that never took itself too seriously, even in the end (uh, the very, very end).

Everybody should hear Abbey Road. It has the most consistently high quality songwriting of any Beatles album, the crispest sound, the best playing and solos, and feels more like a piece of art than a 'collection of tunes'. I love it, and I will listen to it as long as I live.

thehallway | 5/5 |

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