Album Notes - The Beatles - Abbey Road (Deluxe Edition)

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Ten months ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles self-titled double LP, better known to all as "The White Album." We're at it again with the band that, while not in the public eye, never left the hearts and minds of countless listeners the world over. September 26th marked the semi-centennial of the seminal Abbey Road and as such, a "Deluxe Edition" was released, much like recent re-releases of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles. While Abbey Road was not the Fab Four's final release, it did mark their last days recording together as a foursome. 

Coming off the disastrous Get Back sessions at Twickenham Film Studios that eventually became 1970's Let It Be, the Beatles reconvened at the studio that would bear the name of their soon-to-be final masterpiece. Each member has said that spirits were much higher upon returning to their usual stomping grounds as everyone seemed ready to put the collective ill will of the preceding sessions behind them. Those feelings are apparent in the final result, a largely happy, jubilant affair. With “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” George Harrison contributed arguably his two best Beatle tracks that stand as clear highlights. "Because" holds the best harmonies they ever laid down in the studio. The second side medley runs through a range of emotions before climaxing in Ringo's drum solo and Paul, George, and John trading guitar licks on "The End." Truly fitting in both name and execution. 

Unlike the previous "Deluxe Edition" of Sgt. Pepper's and "The White Album," the new mix prepared by George Martin's son Giles doesn't reveal many nuanced differences from the original. As the band was working fully with eight-track reel-to-reel machines for the first time, there wasn't much to touch up on. The two bonus discs which make it "Deluxe” also don’t provide any earth-shattering revelations, just slightly varied takes of what we’ve heard before. But as with anything Beatles, the outtakes are still an enjoyable treat well worth the indulgence.

Here the stars of the extras are the stripped down "Ballad of John and Yoko," which, just like the official release, only features John and Paul. Lennon telling the drumming Paul "to go a little faster Ringo" with Macca replying "OK George," shows that despite the acrimonious relationship so often depicted of the two in this era, they certainly still knew how to have a little fun. Paul's demo of "Goodbye," a song he gave to Welsh singer Mary Hopkins, is another notable inclusion. Hopkins' version hit number two on the UK singles chart, kept out of the top spot by a little ditty called "Get Back." Another Paul gift, “Come and Get It," hit number four for Bandfinger, a group you may know better for “No Matter What.” The jammed out ending of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" featuring Billy Preston going mental on the organ is another choice nugget. The a cappella "Because" featured on 1996's Anthology 3 meets its counterpart with the exquisite instrumental version offered here. 

With so much of the Abbey Road material first brought forth by the band during the Let It Be sessions, and with that album turning 50 next year, perhaps come May we'll be hearing about another "Deluxe Edition," one that would close out their career. While that was to be the Beatles' final release, Abbey Road will forever remain their parting gift to the world.

 

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