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30 Best Loved Albums - Abbey Road

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?


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Abbey Road is a great Beatles album, but my favorite has always been Revolver. I don't think the Beatles released a better album, but Abbey Road would be a close second. Honestly, I think Lennon mailed it in on Abbey Road. He wrote "Come Together" for Tim Leary (not for the album) and "I Want You" gets really old, really fast. And as far as the medley, McCartney and Martin put that together and Lennon didn't even like it (if memory serves me correctly). McCartney couldn't get Lennon to finish his songs, so he stuck them all together (along with snippets of his own) in what can only be described as pure genius.

Revolver features all the Beatles contributing some of their best work (especially McCartney) and truly working in a collaborative fashion. For it to be on the Definitive 200 list at 42 is a travesty. It should be number one.

Don't get me wrong, I love Abbey Road, but it is a last gasp. A great one, to be sure, but I can't help but feel depressed when the album ends.

The thing that I like most about Abbey Road is the positive vibe after the somewhat darker Revolver, White Album, etc. (although these are outstanding albums, too). I also enjoy the tunes by George Harrison and his continued maturation as an artist. I think he is the most underrated Beatle (not Ringo!). "Here Comes The Sun" always puts a smile on myself, and reminds me of Spring. Great choice in your list.

Freealonzo - I will be interested to see if you think the new Wilco album reminds you of Abbey Road. Let me know once it is released!

Hey Freealonzo-
Dude I totally remember Ebert layin in a bean bag chair at Herbs house with his eyes closed and the end of "I Want You" repeating over and over, while we giggled and blew on him 'til he thought he was on the ocean (or something, who knows- we were high) and when the ending came he opened his eyes, freaked and passed out immediately. Man we laughed. Incidently, according to the "Anthology" book, said ending was cut off abruptly because the tape spooled off the tape machine before they could finish it properly.
Abbey Road is my favorite as well, and not only because of the fond memory of the foggy haze I was in when I first learned to love it. I mean, my babysitter used to let me listen to her copy of it.I have a history tied to this record! George finally gets to show what the Dark Horse is capable of given the opportunity, and his songs are my favorites. I held my baby boys close and bounced them singing softly to "Here Comes The Sun". The harmonies in "Because" are fantastic. Production values are the Beatles best ever. These songs are good to start but no one could ever deny how much George Martin meant to the band to help make them great. Revolver was a simpler record and that is its charm, but Abbey Road was the cherry- not as over produced and stretched out over so much musical turf as Pepper, yet still covering a lot of musical ground. I think the Fabs set out to make their musical masterwork with this record, knowing full well it was really over, and I think they pulled it off.

Shane, I love Revolver too, and if I had to lay the albums out song by song, Revolver would probably have more in it's column, especially the UK release which includes a song called "And Your Bird Can Sing," which I think is a overlooked gem (apparently Lennon hated that song too). Due to my personal history (you can't imagine how many hours I spent on a beanbag chair listening to this album on headphones) Abbey Road, as an album, wins out. Also that fuzz guitar 3/4 of the way through "I Want You" is mindblowing. I think I get a contact high just listening to it.

Jeff T, as we have discussed before, I am definitely in the Wilco=Beatles camp, looking forward to getting the new Wilco release and if it is good as the buzz, will probably discuss it here.

Spleen, my alter ego, according to the Herstgaard book (thanks Shane), Lennon actually chose the exact spot where he wanted I Want You to stop. Not sure what is the truth, wouldn't be surprised if the tape-going-out story is correct. We did a lot of that kind of stuff to Ebert didn't we.

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