I figured for this week's installment of My favorite albums, I'd finally feature a rock group that probably should have already been featured here, The Beatles.
Ahh, yes the Beatles.
I'll readily cop to being extremely biased when it comes to the Beatles. I've already mentioned ending a friendship over them, and other such moments revolving around the Fab Four.
But today, I'm simply reviewing an album of theirs that undoubtedly's been talked about and reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of times before.
But just not by me:)
Today I review their last true album, Abby Road. True, Let It Be's technically their last one, since it was the last one released, but Abby Road was made first.
Starting things off, let's look at the entire 17 track-long masterpiece that is Abby Road.
First up is "Come Together". Written mostly by John Lennon, the main origin and point of this song, undoubtedly comes from the intense inner turmoil the group was undergoing at the time this album was recorded. Lennon was coming under fire from his band-mates over his insistence to have his new wife Yoko attend every meeting and session alongside him, despite the fact that none of the other Beatles ever brought their girlfriends or wives with them. Not to mention stress from running their joint venture and personal creation, Apple Records, the war in Vietnam, and the yearning to simply quit and do his own thing, all helped to inspire this song.
Now wikipedia.org states that officially the song was written for Timothy Leary during his campaign to run as Governor of California. So that seems to be the official genesis behind this song, but I don't see why the above reasons don't fit either.
It's a classic song, with crazy lyrics, that's become an instant radio staple.
We all know how crazy the lyrics are but I found this one website that seems to explain them away, for me, those seem to be the best explanations for the song I've come across.
Here's the link:
"Something", written by George Harrison, is another long-time radio staple. Heavily influenced by a James Taylor song, "Something in the way she moves", this song has been highly regarded as one of the best love songs ever written, and one of Harrison's best songs ever!
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is fun song that was a massive undertaking by the group production and cost wise. Described as one of the most expensive songs the Beatles ever made, this baby was all Paul's, and listening to it, you can really tell!
Now this was strictly Paul's baby, or "granny music" as called by Lennon, as again, the whole production of the song was very costly, and was worked on tirelessly by Paul and the band until Paul thought it was perfect. This helped further deepen the ever-growing divide between the band-mates, as the others were becoming more and more frustrated by the all the time and money being spent on what was supposed to be a major money-making single. It wasn't, but is still a fun classic to listen to.
Next up is another McCartney song, "Oh! Darling."
Just listening to this one, you can tell how much of an influence music from the 50's was on Oh! Darling. Hell, the whole song sounds as if it came straight out of the 1950's with the "wooing" and piano parts, that seem to be a nod to pioneering legends of that era like "The Killer" Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and Little Richard.
An interesting note I came upon, was that John Lennon felt that this was the type of song he should have sung lead on, since as he said "'Oh! Darling' was a great one of Paul's that he didn't sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better—it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he's going to sing it."
Very interesting indeed. I wonder what John's version would've sounded like, and just how similar or dissimilar it would have been.
Who doesn't love the next song, "Octopus' Garden"?
Created as a funny, light-hearted song for the album. Word is that Ringo wrote the song while on vacation with his family and actor Peter Sellers(from those original Pink Panther movies from the 60's).
It was also during this time that the boat's captain was explaining to Ringo about how octopuses gather shiny objects, like stones and shells, to build their gardens. And from there, a song was born.
The first time I ever heard the song was on The Muppets, as seems to be the case for me with hearing a lot of classic songs for the 1st time. Here's the Muppets' version just for the hell of it:
Damn I miss that show:(
From Ringo to George, "Here comes the Sun" is another classic Harrison track, and his second on the album.
Anyone who's ever heard it can relate to the song and what the lyrics mean and represent. It's about how to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, or the silver lining in the clouds, or whatever hopeful analogy or saying you want to use. But basically it's about being able to overcome whatever shitty situation you're in and find the hope and will to move on to better things.
I know this song has personal meaning to me, and the crazy, messed-up year I've had, I don't doubt other people feel the same way. I Imagine Harrison writing and singing this both to and for himself and by extension the band, while they were all going through their own personal problems and inevitable break-up.
Again, you can never go wrong with classics like these by Harrison. I think also illustrates just how much he was held back as far as contributing songs, since he was by no means, horrible or unworthy of contributing his own songs. A point that became very clear once he started his solo career.
Up next is "Because." I didn't discover this song until I bought the Beatles' Love album, and heard that version of this song. But the original is just as good, and definitely worth listening to.
Written by Lennon, Because was inspired by Lennon's wife Yoko listening to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."
Lennon was so inspired, he wondered if he could play the chords backwards, and from there, Because was born.
The coolest part of the song, is the way it's a basic 3-part harmony, w/Paul's, John's, and George's vocals dubbed over and over until it sounds like 9 people singing. Very cool.
Next up is the major 16-minute medley that covers the rest of the album with the exception of "Her Majesty", "You never give me your money."
A lot of topics are covered during this medley, and all usually based off of personal experiences.
Take "You never give me your money." for example. Written by McCartney as to how he felt about then Beatles' manager Allen Klein. Klein was brought in over McCartney's objection by the other three Beatles to serve as their manager, replacing their former one, Brian Epstein who had died of a drug overdose in '67. Klein used to the Rolling Stones' manager, but was fired due to a general feeling that Klein was a con-man and liar who had swindled the 'Stones out of a lot of money. Hell, Mick Jagger even wrote a note to the Beatles warning them about Klein and his dishonest business practices.
So yeah, McCartney was not a big Klein fan.
This segues into three Lennon songs, "Sun King", "Mean Mr. Mustard", and "Polythene Pam." Each one is short, but brilliant, and so typical of the Beatles' style.
I like the 1st two the best, as "Sun King" is a beautiful, whimsical song, with an awesome beginning, and "Mean Mr. Mustard" is just plain silly, but entertaining to listen to.
Well that, and I'm quite fond of Mustard as a condiment, so there's that:)
They all lead in to McCartney's "She came in through the bathroom window", a truly autobiographical song based off a fan actually breaking into Paul's house through the bathroom window of course, to get an autograph. Crazy shit man!
Joe Cocker covered this, and ever since I heard his version, I'm kinda' stuck, as I really like both versions, but prefer Paul's of course;)
Here's Paul's version:
And here's Joe Cocker's:
Two different styles that both sound great in my opinion.
"Golden Slumbers" is next, which again is vintage McCartney. Inspired by 17th century dramatist Thomas Dekker's poem, "Cradle Song", Golden Slumbers is a big production-sounding song that leads into "Carry that weight."
As always, personal tragedy and inner turmoil always make for good songwriting and Carry that weight is no exception, as it elegantly describes what Paul felt as he believed he was the sole person keeping the Beatles together and putting out albums. Of course that's how he felt, which I'm sure the other's would have probably disagreed with that assessment nonetheless it serves as another inspirational song by the Beatles to keep going no matter tough things get. I dig it.
Who doesn't love "The End"?
With that classic last verse going, "And in the end; the love you take, is equal to the love you make."
Beautiful man, simply beautiful.
That reminds of the time Paul McCartney guest-starred on SNL in the early 90's, and was in sketch w/ Chris Farley, where Farley asks him if that last line is true or not.
The last track on the album, is the short ditty "Her Majesty." that was initially supposed to be included in between the "Mean Mr.Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" songs. Paul and the other Beatles didn't care for it where it was, and had it cut altogether from the album. But studio engineers kept it, spliced it, and put it where it wound up staying, at the end of the album. Interesting story for a short song that wasn't even acknowledged on early releases of the album in both the US and UK.
And that's Abby Road in a nutshell.
The last true album the Beatles ever made together, Abby Road stands as a testament to the musicianship and integrity of the band to record this album despite all the conflicts and personal issues that would eventually and ultimately break the band up.
And that my friends, is only part of the reason why I love and admire them so much.