As the last recordings The Beatles made and as the last album they recorded together there is an understandable emotional reaction among hardcore Beatles fans. Well, to simply be overwhelmed by ‘Abbey Road’ and to be unable to view it at all objectively. The snatches of songs on side two are occasionally very enticing, the two George songs on side one are the finest things on side one, true classics. ‘Abbey Road’ gives off a deceptive unity which was of course the entire point. .
I know how everyone hated the fact that The Beatles had to break up, but in all honestly that was probably the best thing they could have done. Had they gone on together through the ’70s, there’s no freaking way they would have continued to write music at the same level. No way. They quit while they were ahead,and now everybody regards them as immortal gods, which they were! But really, The Beatles, as a collective unit, had basically quit after Sgt. Pepper. They weren’t functioning as a band anymore. Lennon and McCartney were constantly at each other’s throats. Harrison and Starr quit the group for brief periods of time. An album they were working on had fallen apart (Get Back, to be released later as Let it Be). Things were not happy in Beatles-land. So, the break-up had to happen if they were going to write music anymore. And, as I’ve said before, the best thing to come out of The Beatles breaking up was ex-Beatle solo albums!
As the legend goes, The Beatles knew they were going to call it quits, and they wanted to exit the stage with a massive bang. They worked extra-hard to come up with an album that they wanted people to remember them by! Well, The Beatles were working damn hard as it was, and all I can say is their efforts paid off. Abbey Road is every bit as good (if not better) than anything they released. A lot of people dub it to be their favorite, and it’s easy to see why.
Now, let’s talk about these fabulous songs! The first one is the iconic, Lennon anthem “Come Together.” When I first started listening to this album, I thought it was a little too heavy-hitting for my tastes, but that’s sort of the point of it. It’s one of the most menacing things these guys have ever done, and of course the melody is brilliant. We all know it by heart, don’t we? Everybody’s already made up their minds about it, and it’s usually positive. The second song is “Something,” indeed. It had very tough competition, but “Something” manages to gain distinction as my favorite song of Abbey Road. It’s also Frank Sinatra’s favorite Beatles’ song, and George Harrison wrote that one, of course. It’s a complete pleasure to see that guy finally come out and shine just as brightly as his colleagues. He not only does that once, but twice with the equally gorgeous “Here Comes the Sun.” What attracts me to those two songs in particular is the intense spirituality that he expresses. Harrison would continue doing that profoundly in his solo career, but he hardly ever topped these two efforts.
‘I Want You’ shares some of the darkness in tone that surrounded ‘The White Album’. ‘I Want You’ is rambling compositionally, yet together as a performance. John is on excellent form here and this near eight minute song is unlike anything else The Beatles ever did, it demonstrates potential blues/progressive directions that The Beatles could have taken on in their never to be the future. As for the suite of songs taking up all of side two, we have one lovely McCartney number in particular, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ which has been split up into two parts to aid the suite concept. This suite also contains the utterly gorgeous harmonies of ‘Sun King’ and the rocking coda of ‘The End’. ‘Mean Mr Mustard’, ‘Polythene Pam’ and the heart-breaking ‘Golden Slumbers’ come across as snippets of larger songs and create a yearning within you that they actually were larger and longer songs. Frequently gorgeous is this second half of ‘Abbey Road’ but you have to ask yourself how it really connects to the first half, if at all. McCartney reputedly wanted the entire album done in the style of ‘the suite’ but was voted down. Considering ‘Abbey Road’ as a whole piece is therefore quite difficult for me because of this. Well, Side one is a collection of unrelated songs and side two is a mood piece with brilliant and touching melodies along the way. This lack of cohesion mean I’ve marked down ‘Abbey Road’ just a notch, yet it remains an excellent album and a good closing chapter in the career of The Beatles.