Sunday, October 30, 2011

NUMBER 1 ALBUMS: BEATLES - ABBEY ROAD

Abbey Road
Artist: Beatles
Title: Abbey Road
Year: 1969
Weeks #1: Eleven
Label: Apple
Producer: George Martin
Track listing: Come Together / Something / Maxwell's Silver Hammer / Ohl Darling / Octopus's Garden / I Want You (She's So Heavy) / Here Comes the Sun / Because / You Never Give Me Your Money / Sun King / Mean Mr. Mustard / Polythene Pam / She Came in Through the Bathroom Window / Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End / Her Majesty.


Abbey Road was an enjoyable album to make after the bad time we had with Let It Be," says George Harrison. "It was good to go back to the studio and do a new record, because the songs were good and everyone was happy."

Although Let It Be would be the last Beatles album of new material to be released, Abbey Road was in fact the last album the Beatles recorded. The band had put aside the bad vibes that had surfaced during the Let It Be sessions and came together to record one of their finest albums. The material on the album varied from John Lennon's basic rocker "Come Together" and his avant-garde ode to Yoko Ono, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," to the complex suite of songs, mostly written by McCartney, that closes the album. "We actually rehearsed," says Harrison. "We did arrangements for those songs like 'Polythene Pam' and 'She Came in Through Bathroom Window,' which were just bits and pieces of songs that were tacked together, learned them, and played it as one performance."

By that time, Harrison's confidence as a writer had grown. "'Something' and 'Here Comes the Sun' were great, because I knew they were good songs, but I was a bit worried when John wrote a song called 'Here Comes the Sun' as well," Harrison says. Eventually, Lennon altered his song's title to "Sun King."

Harrison recalls writing his two tracks: "I wrote 'Here Comes the Sun' in Eric Clapton's garden and I wrote 'Something' while we were making The White Album in number one studio at Abbey Road, which was an enormous studio they used for orchestras. I used to just go in there and kind of hang out." The latter song, which Harrison composed on piano, turned out to be one of the Beatles' finest ballads.

Ringo Starr also contributed material. His "Octopus's Garden" was composed during the Let It Be sessions. Starr can be seen working on the song with Harrison and McCartney in the Let It Be film documentary. Yet the song sounds like an outtake from the Yellow Submarine era.

Beatles
The cover photo of Abbey Road, named after the studio where the Beatles recorded 191 songs, features the band members crossing the street in front of the building. The Beatles' attire—McCartney barefoot but wearing a suit, Harrison dressed in the dungarees of a gravedigger, Lennon looking like a priest, and Starr like an undertaker—further fueled speculation that McCartney had been killed in a car crash in 1969.

Fittingly, Abbey Road winds down with "The End," a track that features solos by all four members of the band, followed inexplicably by McCartney's 23-second "Her Majesty." For the Beatles, Abbey Road truly marked the end. Says producer George Martin, "It was the last thing they ever did together, so Abbey Road has a special place for me."

The public agreed, as Abbey Road hit the top in its third week on the chart. Five weeks later, the double-A-side single "Something"/"Come Together" reached the top of the Hot 100, giving the group another double crown. The Beatles would go on to rack up three more Number One albums, but Abbey Road was their real swan song.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of November 1, 1969
1. Abbey Road, The Beatles
2. Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival
3. Through the Past Darkly (Big Hits, Vol. 2), The Rolling Stones
4. Blind Faith, Blind Faith
5. Johnny Cash at San Quentin, Johnny Cash

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