2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 7 on the list:
7. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)
It’s tough picking a favorite Beatles album. Sgt. Pepper is an obvious choice. Even the Definitive 200 thinks so, as do others. However, as groundbreaking as it was in 1967, I feel that Sgt. Pepper hasn’t aged well and while I appreciate its place in music history, it is not one of my favorites. For me it comes down to Revolver and Abbey Road. Revolver may have better songs overall (and I might include it later on as a choice in my top 30), but I chose Abbey Road. It’s a choice that has both music and personal merit.
Most people know the back story behind Abbey Road. The Beatles had pretty much called it quits after the disastrous Let It Be sessions and George Martin stated that he wasn’t going to work with the Beatles again. The lads decided to give it one last try and coaxed George Martin back to the studio with the promise that the bickering would be kept to a minimum. What resulted was an album in which all four Beatles were intimately involved (not the case with The White Album or Let It Be), is comprised of a number songs that greatly contributed to the Beatles canon, and concludes with a 16-minute, 8-song musical opus that rivals anything found on Sgt. Pepper.
Personally, this album represents the time when I discovered the mind-expanding possibilities of music. Being 17 in 1980 was a time when marijuana was quite readily available and most young people smoked it, from burnouts to captains of the hockey team. Countless times I listened to this album through headphones, blissed out on the music, lyrics, and groove this album presented. Side 2 (this was in the time of albums) was especially a treat to listen to late in the evening before falling asleep. Furthermore, there is nothing better than staying up all night long and watching the sun come up while listening to Here Comes the Sun and Sun King. Other weed-enhanced highlights would include the fuzz-tone guitar at the end of I Want You, the abrupt ending of I Want You, the achingly slow beginning to Sun King, the almost imperceptible "shoot me" in Come Together and those weird horns in Because. What's also nice about this album is that there isn't a lot of the studio trickery weirdness involved like there had been in every Beatles album since Rubber Soul. Abbey Road has wild musical moments but its more due to the music and not George Martin's studio tricks.
As mentioned above, there are a couple of songs here that rank with some of the Beatles best, including two by George Harrison: Something and Here Comes the Sun. Come Together is the other. In addition to those three songs there are a number of highlights: Because is a beautiful song consisting of George, Paul and John’s three-part harmony. Oh Darlin' is a straight ahead rock screamer that harkens back to some of the Beatles’ early work and I Want You is a blues-based song with a Paul’s heady bass work. Given that the song consists basically of one line, the listener never gets bored with the song.
The 8-song (one song) ending is a perfect conclusion to the Beatles recording career as a band, especially the last song which includes a drum solo by Ringo and guitar solos by each of the three other Beatles playing off each other. The album concludes with the line: "And in the end… the love you take is equal to the love you make." A powerful message in a time of war from the world’s most popular rock band and a long way from "I want to hold your hand."
Rank in the Definitive 200: 12th on the list.
What's your favorite Beatles album?