Just two years after 30th Anniversary edition of “Sgt. Pepper’s” and one year after “The Beatles” (i.e. White Album), the new deluxe “Abbey Road” has just been announced. This shows you how quickly the entire Beatles phenomenon and artistic evolution happened, from their first album in 1962 and their last in 1970, just eight short years.
It was 1957 when John Lennon and Paul McCartney met and bonded over their shared obsession for American rock-n-roll music, forming various bands together, picking up George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe along the way with Pete Best acting as their drummer/manager (along with Pete’s mother who helped out). They honed their chops and their outlook on life in Hamburg Germany, getting gigs to play in the red light district months on end, trying not to repeat themselves if possible with every set.
Then in 1962, The Beatles were “discovered” by a first-time manager named Brian Epstein who got them a chance to audition at EMI Parlaphone for producer George Martin, who was skeptical of this skiffle-turned-rock group. He did not like their drummer and he did not think they should release an original song for their first single. They sacked Pete Best, who couldn’t keep time, and substituted Ringo Starr whom they’d known for awhile and admired greatly (yes, he was a great drummer!), and pushed their original material on Martin.
Martin allowed them to record their original songs but hired a studio drummer to play on their first single, “Love Me Do”. Please enough with the results, he allowed it to be released and it hit number 17 on the charts. This led to a second single, “Please Please Me”, on which Ringo was allowed to play, hitting No. 2 in the U.K., making them stars. The rest is history and in eight short years, they revolutionized culture around the world, finally coming apart in 1970 due to various personal and business conflicts. How did they go from the innocence of “Love Me Do” to the beauty and wistfulness of “Something”, the snarl of”Come Together?” and the heaviosity of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” in such a short amount of time?
Although many think that “Let It Be” was The Beatles’ final album, it was actually “Abbey Road” that was their last work together. “Let It Be” had been recorded and then abandoned due to increasing tensions within the group, with everyone coming back three months later to record a proper album, “Abbey Road” which they all seemed to know was their last. And it may be their best. (“Let It Be” was then given to the notorious Phil Spector who added glop on top – much to Paul McCartney’s outrage – before release in 1970; Paul later stripped off the glop with a new version called “Let It Be…Naked” in 2003).
George Martin’s son, Giles, has remixed the album as he did with “Sgt Pepper’s” and the “White Album”, bringing forth the bass and drums more prominently into the mix; these sounds had been buried due to the limited playback technology at the time. The super-deluxe version will include the original album and two additional CDs of different takes along with songs recorded at the time but not included in “Abbey Road” such as Paul McCartney’s “Come and Get It” which he gave to Badfinger. A fourth disc will include a Standard 5.1 and a Dolby Atmos mix on a blu-ray disc, if you’re set up for that. Then there are further configurations: three-LPs, a two-CDs, single LPs and CDs, along with a picture disc. Personally, I’ll go for the Japanese SHM-CD version, if I can get it.
Because they started the 50th Anniversary on the back end of The Beatles’ catalog, I’m assuming we’ll see a 50th Anniversary hybrid of the Spector/McCartney “Let It Be”, then perhaps a 60th Anniversary edition of their first album, “Please Please Me” in 2022? And will I have bought my third or fourth copy of that album? Most likely.
Here’s the only promotional clip (i.e. video) produced for the album, a real historical time capsule of the end of The Beatles.