My favourite Beatles album is Abbey Road. It has been for as long as I can remember. I’ve had multiple versions on CD, and when I first got a record player a few years ago, one of the first pieces of vinyl I picked up was Abbey Road (the other, if you might be wondering, was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heat’s Club Band).
Abbey Road, to my ears, has always been musical perfection from a band that pretty much defined the concept. The Beatles, in their relatively short career, never put out a bad record. In fact, the majority of their output tends to skew towards words like “masterpiece” and “brilliant.” So, your favourite album often comes down to, as it should, personal taste. And for me, Abbey Road has always hit the sweet spot I love between catchy hooks and prog rock ambition. Side One is all standalone songs, including one of George Harrison’s most beloved works in “Something.” Ringo Starr shines on “Octopus’ Garden,” while John Lennon and Paul McCartney contribute classics like “Oh Darlin'” and “Come Together.”
It’s Side Two that really gets me, as it does for so many people. With the majority of it pieced together from snippets of songs that hadn’t quite been completed, the flow has always been superb to my ears. It’s my favourite music from The Beatles.
Abbey Road celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and as befitting such a monumental occasion, the band released a Super Deluxe version of the album. The first CD features a new remix by Giles Martin, son of the band’s beloved late producer George Martin. Giles is now the guiding light of Beatles reissues, and his remix demonstrates a deft hand. The album had already been mixed in stereo upon its release, so the remix isn’t an entire revelation. It’s simply the best Abbey Road has ever sounded.
For die-hard fans, its the second and third discs that make dipping into the Abbey Road pool again essential. Here we are given alternate takes that show the band developing the material that would eventually make the album. Different sounds and lyrics abound, and for anyone that loves the album, its fascinating to hear its development. Along with a raw vocal from John Lennon on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, my personal highlight is hearing an alternate take of the Side Two medley, complete with “Her Majesty” in the middle of the proceedings. It’s not better, mind you, just different.
The Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition also comes with the album on Blu-ray with a variety of listening options; the whole set is housed in a slipcased book that tells the entire tale of this monumental album, from song creation to the now-iconic cover photo. It is essentially the final word on what many consider to be one of, if not, the greatest rock album of all time.
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