This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Abbey Road” by The Beatles. Released in September 1969, the album is considered by many as one of the best full-length records ever made by the group, up there with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Revolver.” More, “Abbey Road” is hailed by critics as one of the greatest albums of the 20th century.
Beatle-company Apple Corps and their old label Capitol celebrate the anniversary by releasing the “Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition.” Fans of the band, as well as audiophiles (who happen to be fans as well), will appreciate the expanded edition. This includes a whopping 40 tracks, with newly remixed versions of all the beloved songs from the original, plus previously unreleased recordings and demo songs.
Right off the bat, the sound just jumps out and grabs you. John Lennon’s “Come Together,” with its iconic slithering bass riff, seems to reverberate endlessly. The George Harrison gem “Something” sparkles in its latest audio incarnation. And you can absolutely hear the youth and vitality in Paul McCartney’s voice as he tears through “Oh, Darling.”
Of course, we all know how good these songs are. But the remix exposes a whole new layer about the band; how good John, Paul, George and Ringo Starr are as players.
As a song, “Here Comes The Sun” not only comes off as a glimmering piece of positivity and hope, but also as testament to Harrison’s stature as an ace songwriter. Within its structure, we are also exposed to the genius of McCartney as a bassist. In said song, one can listen closely to the lines of Macca, which not so much play as support as to play harmony to every melody that can be heard on the track.
While we’re on the subject of guitars, The Beatles have one of the greatest rhythm guitar players in John Lennon who can rock, roll and howl on his guitar throughout any set. And by George, what a tasty lead player Harrison is/was. Praise also goes to Ringo Starr, whose impeccable tone and timekeeping is spot-on whether it’s a demo or the final take. That’s a rockstar’s steady stomp right there!
Also, for just a four-piece band, nobody can beat The Beatles with the amount of talent they have on singers when you have Lennon, Macca and Harrison on the same lineup. Check out those harmonies on “Because” and at the start of “You Never Give Me Your Money.”
This deluxe edition of “Abbey Road” is exceptional in that these demos of the songs, as the band works on perfecting them, have that fly-in-the-wall feel for the listener. It certainly feels that way, as we hear John and Paul chat before going through “The Ballad Of John And Yoko (Take 7).” Or George’s very much live-sounding turn on “Old Brown Shoe (Take 2).” Or Ringo botching up “Octopus’s Garden(Take 9)” and apologizes for it. He later jokes it’s either “he came early” on one section of the track, “or everybody else came in late.”
And just to prove that The Beatles are OC, they’re heard playing every song in the “Abbey Road medley” one by one on the bonus discs. Check out the band’s warm up take on “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight (Takes 1-3).”
The remix of this album was deftly handled by producer Giles Martin, son of original producer George Martin; and studio engineer Sam Okell. The duo does a fantastic job of bringing 20th century analog source material and combining it with 21st century tech.
Still, Martin credits the job the boys did all those summers ago in ’69.
“The magic comes from the hands playing the instruments, the blend of The Beatles’ voices, the beauty of the arrangements. Our quest is simply to ensure everything sounds as fresh and hits you as hard as it would have on the day it was recorded,” he was quoted in the liner notes.
Indeed, it does.