Tuesday, 16 August 2011

12:45 Abbey Road Conclusions

Time to wrap up Abbey Road with some concluding thoughts.

First of all I still stand by all the observations I made in the introductory post Let It Be vs Abbey Road namely,

  • Though Abbey Road is far better than Let It Be both albums reflect a songwriting partnership that could no longer work together and a dysfunctional band running out of ideas.

  • The reason Abbey Road is such a good album is that in a sense it is George Martin's concept album where the 'concept' was simply to work in a businesslike fashion and make a well recorded, well constructed album.

  • Whatever the intentions may have been, the medley isn’t really a unified piece of music at all. Judging each part in it’s own right most of the songs don’t really hold up.

Having analysed every song in detail, here's what I've learned

  • Here Comes The Sun, Something, Come Together are classic songs. Others like You Never Give Me Your Money and I Want You have elements of greatness that they don't quite fulfil.
  • Abbey Road represents Ringo and George's greatest moments as Beatles composers. John Lennon has one classic on here. Surprisingly McCartney is the only one not on top form. What sapped his creative energy? Let It Be, the lawsuits or the Long One? I think the positive critical response to the Medley (and to a lesser extent A Day In The Life ) harmed Paul's songwriting in that it encouraged McCartney to release many more 'patchwork songs' from Jet to much of the Memory Almost Full album. But apart from Live And Let Die I'm struggling to name any that have really worked. (Can YOU think of any?).
  • Two songs start with lines blatantly ripped off other artists. Come Together nicks lyrics (and the vocal rhythm) from Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me and Something from James Taylor's Something In The Way She Moves. (Berry's publisher sued and won).
  • In The Ballad Of John And Yoko/Old Brown Shoe I think we have the only example in the Beatles career of a single being far worse than anything on the album.
  • There are moments on Abbey Road where you can hear the seeds of where the music scene would head in the next decade. There are hints of Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Who, Fleetwood Mac and Santana here. I'm sure that, had they continued, The Beatles would have survived and thrived in the stadium rock era.
  • But that was not to be. Lennon was fading away. He was completely absent on Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Here Comes The Sun and Her Majesty and contributed only backing vocals to Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and Old Brown Shoe.

Next time I'll put up an index of all the Abbey Road posts. Then we're movin' on people, movin' on.


  1. Well, I always liked Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. I've always cut Paul a lot of slack because we're both left-handed. Same for Ringo.

  2. I agree about Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Also Band On The Run feels pretty patched together and pretty successful to me.

  3. I like Albert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsWufNDJl4M but I guess my thoughts are (and I haven't listened to ALL McCartney's solo stuff) that jamming unrelated parts together might work every now and again, and you might get lucky, but my love for many of these patchwork songs is really a love for one part and a toleration for the rest.

    I can't think of another person that's been so successful with fragments (Pete Townsend would be a close second though!)

  4. Much like Rodii, I think that Band On The Run works for a patchwork song so to speak, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey too, but I don't think that Mr Bellamy from Memory Almost Full works all that well.

  5. Come to think of it, Rock Show has three distinct patches. I believe the song works as a unit, though.

  6. Back seat of my car is Paul in full patchwork mode w a lot of California sounds .its not perfect as he neglected to finish the words to one section and just mumbles syllables about car auto etc.
    its so close!