With apologies to Sir Paul, It was Forty Years Ago Today....
August 8, 1969, the cover photograph for "Abbey Road", which is my 2nd favorite Beatles album (the first being Revolver) was taken. While this isn't a political post, I think it's important to note the last album of the most important rock and roll group ever assembled. "Let It Be" was released later, in 1970, but it was recorded prior to the Abbey Road sessions which found the four musicians back with their favorite producer, George Martin. According to Martin, he initially refused to work with them again because of all the enmity that had surfaced. Paul cajoled him and the others back to the studio and the result was a terrific album full of variety and new sounds.
The Beatles were probably the most variable of the power-house bands of the 60's and 70's. Their ability to change and set new paths regarding popular music was unrivaled. Yes, Brian Jones messed with the sitar prior to the Beatles, but Harrison took it to places unheard of. Listen to "Love You To" off of the Revolver track or "Within You Without You" on their masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper. This was like nothing that had come out of a rock and roll record ever. That's just one example. The experimentation with reverb, back-tracking, incorporation of orchestral music into classic guitar band songs set the stage for the Pink Floyd's, Led Zeppelin's and U2's yet to come.
Abbey Road is one of my favorite albums because of the unique variety of the tracks on the record. "Something", arguably George Harrison's best song and the first non Lennon-McCartney Beatles song to make number 1, is on the album as is "Here Comes The Sun", another terrific Harrison composition.
The songs on the album range from bluesy "Oh Darling!", to funky "Come Together", to zany "Octopus's Garden", which was Ringo's song on the album. The B-Side of the album starts with the aforementioned Here Comes the Sun and Because, then a 16 minute medley of fast and hard rock, excellent harmony and very bizarre word pictures describing "Mean Mr. Mustard", "Polythene Pam", and some chick who came in through the bathroom window.
The final-full song on the album is fittingly called the "The End". It is at the tail-end of the medley on the B-Side and features some scorching guitar licks from George, Paul and John with a pounding drum solo by Ringo. It seems as if they were telling all of us, "This is It, and we're going out with a bang!".
There are other Rock and Roll albums that are better. Dark Side of the Moon comes to mind as does the Joshua Tree or Led Zeppelin IV, but I think Abbey Road is one for the ages.