Alex Fenton looks back upon The Beatles’ penultimate studio album.
Released September 1969.
Few bands have emulated the success of The Beatles and while everyone has their favourite album, Abbey Road is surely up there at the band’s zenith. Their penultimate studio album was ranked the 14th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone and has an iconic place in both British culture and music history.
The album features a contrast of sounds, arguably tying together a decade’s worth of work as the Beatles would be no more by the following year. Classic love-based tracks are featured such as ‘Oh! Darling’, while more psychedelic songs appeared in the form of ‘Because’ and ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. The opening track ‘Come Together’ is one of the finest late gifts The Beatles would leave behind. A mellow McCartney bass line underpinned the classic, as Lennon sang the lyrics in staccato style. Singing ‘One thing I can tell you is you’ve got to be free’, it’s almost as if they knew the infamous Sixties, and everything that came with the period, were over. A fine guitar solo is featured midway through the song, reflective of The Beatles at their best and showing they were by no means out of ideas come this album.
Contrary to the Lennon/McCartney focus, Harrison was also a vital part of The Beatles and the songs he wrote were among their best (yes he was my favourite Beatle). ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun’ show his musical ability could align with the over spoken front duo. ‘Something’ holds true to the classic love ballads that have won over so many, while ‘Here Comes the Sun’ has a certain feel good factor. As the acoustic guitar plays and the lyrics begin, one knows the winter is well and truly gone. While it would be unfair not to mention Ringo’s ‘Octopus’s Garden’, his features have always seemed like a frivolous bonus track to each album, despite holding a questionably enjoyable appeal.
Abbey Road remains an iconic album and image today, with the artwork displaying the quartet on the zebra crossing outside EMI studios being a famous staple of popular culture. At the very least Abbey Road holds a sentimental value, as the Beatles wound down their unrivalled career. At its best, it represented a decade of musicianship whose image and sound would be recognised to this day.