The Cracks in Abbey Road Are Even More Apparent Fifty Years Later
Great Cover Belying Mediocre Songs Makes Abbey Road The Opposite Of The White Album
The Fab Four's Last Studio Album Sounds Uninspired And Lacks Innovation
It might be celebrating birthday number fifty at number one, but it currently rests on album shelf number three in my music room. That designation is the home of my least-liked records, which usually include just one or two songs I have even the faintest idea of wanting to listen to.
So how does a guy who considers himself a huge fan of The Beatles, quick to identify every song in the band's vast catalogue, and up demoting Abbey Road to shelf three? After all, its other inhabitants are albums of obscure bands such as Silver Condor or Dick Diver or Leroux, among dozens of others that rarely get a spin on my turntable.
The last studio album by The Beatles, which came out in 1969, naturally hit number one when it was released. Nor was it all that surprising when, upon its reissue for its 50th anniversary, it again topped the charts.
In spite of its popularity, Abbey Road remains my least favorite album in the band's discography. The four members were at the end of their tolerance for one another, which is tragically evident in the songs, and they would officially breakup after the release.
It was a huge disappointment , especially after the sensational self-titled White Album. The latter had been a delicious return to good old rock and sharp songwriting, two characteristics that had been forsaken during the work on Sgt. Pepper the preceding year.
With its lush production and innovative orchestration, Sgt. Pepper had been a refreshing change for the Fab Four. They used a similar approach on Abbey Road but, the innovation having worn off, it comes across as tired and somewhat forced.
Nowhere is this flaw more noticeable than on side two, which is actually almost a dozen short songs supposedly connected by a theme. Unfortunately, the association is far-fetched between an overproduced Sun King and a tresspasser through the bathroom window, the bases for two of those short cuts.
Probably the only two tracks worthy of a spin on the turntable are John Lennon's "Polyntheine Pam" and " Mean Mr. MUstard", which carry some of the novelty priorly heard the White Album. Both characters could be siblings of Bungalow Bill, even though neither track ever came close to receiving consistent airplay.
Radio stations instead played, and still do play, the pair of George Harrison songs from Abbey Road. Neither the cliched metaphor in "Here Comes the Sun" nor the sappy "Something" is worthy of The Beatles, being void of the originality Harrison had displayed on the White Album's "Piggies" and "Savoy Truffle."
That same problem infects "Oh Darling", Paul McCartney's generic plea to a Jane Doe that suffers from a complete lack of feeling. Sir Paul sounds much more enthused about his overdone delivery than he does about the woman he is addressing, rendering the tune even less likable than the one about the murderous Maxwell Edison and his silver hammer.
Lennon's side one contributions, "Come Together" and "I Want You", are only slightly less unlikable. The former is palatable only if viewed as a biography of the band, and the latter uses a mere eleven words in an insufferable seven minute track.
My favorite thing about the record is its iconic cover, depicting the quartet crossing the road while Paul is shoeless. Upon refection, I may take Abbey Road from my disfavored third shelf, and instead put it in a frame as a wall decoration.