Good Things Coming Together
Continuing our UK inspired articles, a Sunday visit to the beautiful city of Canterbury brought to my mind the word abbey… Inspired by this, I will try to write a few words about perhaps the greatest album released by the Beatles, Abbey Road.
Even though the word Abbey on the title of the album has no religious roots (it is the name of the road where the EMI Studios were located), the band has received almost religious following by many fans. Recording this album was a nice way for the band to put some distance from the unpleasant sessions of Get Back/Let It Be project (which would surface later on 1970 as the ‘Let It Be’ album), and get involved with the producer George Martin. Thus the recordings started on the 22nd of February 1969 and produced a collection of beautiful songs that would remain in the music pantheon forever.
Elements of progressive rock, psychedelic atmosphere, clear deep sound with marvellous arrangements but mostly that unique feeling of exhilaration, love and unity dominate both sides of the vinyl.
Starting with the rocking opener ‘Come Together’ with the emblematic opening bass groove, the album is a whirlwind of dancing melodies. It is followed by ‘Something’ (a song which was initially written for Joe Cocker), a beautiful hymn of being in love written by George Harrison with its eerie string arrangements and great solo, just makes you smile. Maxwell’s ‘Silver Hammer’ and ‘Octopus’s Garden’ are classic samples of the pop yet crafty Beatle songs, that are ever-present (did you know that Octopus’s Garden was written by Ringo Star and inspired by a trip to Sardinia aboard Peter Sellers’ yacht?). ‘Oh! Darling’ is a heart-breaking, bluesy piece with an amazing vocal performance by McCartney which brings us to the end of side A: The heavy psychedelic masterpiece of ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. Written by Lennon for his muse Yoko Ono, it starts as a bluesy love tune, it develops to a dark heavy progressive rock opus with odd time signatures and white noise tape effects which has hypnotizing effects to the listener. Definitely one of the greatest Beatles songs.
Side B starts with another great tune: ‘Here Comes the Sun’, a hymn to optimism inspired during one day in the garden of Eric Clapton in Surrey. This song makes you feel the warmth of the sun if you close your eyes and just listen… The eerie ‘Because’ follows, written by Lennon and inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata. The harpsichord played by George Martin, some of the most complex vocal harmonies recorded by the fab four and beautiful Moog synthesizer played by Harrison. And then we have the ‘Medley’, a collage of 8 small compositions glued together as one suite, which contains all the elements we love in the band. The small outro of ‘Her Majesty’ closes this monumental album leaving you with a big smile.
Released on September 26th, 1969, Abbey Road still stands as one of the monumental albums of contemporary music. From the iconic cover, which made the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios a pilgrimage for music fans, to the amazing production of George Martin and the craftsmanship of people involved such as Alan Parsons, this record is destined to shine forever!