The Love you take is equal to the love you make. How prescient! Released on September 26, 1969, Abbey Road is actually the final Beatle record even though Let It Be was released at a later date. I can remember walking down Lexington Ave from school and listening to Abbey Road on my transistor radio. It is amazing how certain songs can transport you back to the exact moment you were listening. I can see all of the stores on both sides of Lex as I walked downtown. Early October, sunny skies, Indian Summer!
After the near-disastrous sessions for the proposed Get Back album (later retitled Let It Be) Paul McCartney suggested to George Martin the group get together and make an album “the way we used to” free of the conflict that began with the sessions for The White Album. Martin agreed, stipulating that he must be allowed to do the album his way. In their interviews for the Beatles Anthology series the surviving band members stated they knew at the time this would very likely be the final Beatles product and therefore agreed to set aside their differences and ‘go out on a high note’.
Tapes reveal Lennon giving Harrison some songwriting advice during its composition), the song was initially given to Joe Cocker, but was subsequently recorded for Abbey Road. Something was Lennon’s favourite song on the album, and McCartney considered it the best song Harrison had written. Frank Sinatra once commented that “Something” was his favourite Lennon/McCartney song and “the greatest love song ever written”.
I Want You is a combination of two somewhat different recording attempts. The first attempt occurred almost immediately after the “Get Back/Let It Be” sessions in February 1969 and featuring Billy Preston on keyboards. This was subsequently combined with a second version made during the “Abbey Road” sessions proper, and when edited together ran nearly 8 minutes long, making it The Beatles’ second-longest released song (“Revolution 9″ being the longest). One of my friends in High School actually returned the LP because he thought the abrupt ending of I Want You was a defect!
The End is notable for featuring Starr’s only drum solo in The Beatles catalogue. The drums are mixed across two tracks in “true stereo” and the 18 bars of guitar solo go like this: 2 bars of McCartney, 2 bars of Harrison, and two bars of Lennon repeated 3 times.
Her Majesty was originally part of the side two medley, appearing between Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam McCartney disliked the way the medley sounded when it included “Her Majesty”, so he had the medley re-edited to remove it. However, second engineer John Kurlander had been instructed never to throw out anything, so after the group left the recording studio that day, he picked it up off the floor, spliced 14 seconds of red leader tape onto the final mix reel, and then spliced in “Her Majesty” immediately after the leader tape. The box of the album’s master reel bore an instruction to leave “Her Majesty” off the final product, but the next day when Malcolm Davies at Apple received the tape, he (also trained not to throw anything away) cut a playback lacquer of the whole sequence, including “Her Majesty”. The Beatles liked this effect and left it on the album. Original US pressings of Abbey Road do not list “Her Majesty” on the album’s cover nor on the record label, making it a hidden track.
I think in retrospect, as the Woodstock Festival was roughly 6 weeks earlier and the Altamount Concert was 6 weeks later, a new decade was beginning and change was most certainly in the air. I find an undeniable melancholy whenever I listen to this LP and I think it has to do with the transition I was about to go through graduating High School, going out on my own, and entering the real world.
Perhaps through intuition, I knew that this was the Beatles swan song?
Released May 8, 1970 Let it Be was actually recorded, or most of it in January 1969. It was originally scheduled for release in mid 1969 and the original title was Get Back.
By late 1968, Paul McCartney was eager for the Beatles to perform live again, more than two years after they gave up touring. At the time, there was a great deal of tension among the Beatles, who had been pursuing a number of personal projects over the course of the previous six months. The sessions for the previous year’s White Album had been badly affected by a number of serious arguments and strained relations among the group. McCartney felt a major problem came from years without touring and using the studio not to record ensemble performances but to make increasingly multi-layered and complex recordings (made up of numerous instrumental parts played individually by each Beatle asoverdubs rather than as a group). That, McCartney felt, caused the Beatles to grow apart and lose their collective group spirit. Additionally, McCartney suggested that the new project could be turned into a multimedia extravaganza, comprising a live concert (or tour), album and motion picture, the latter to take the form of a documentary film recording the making of the album right from the first rehearsals to the proposed live performances (this aspect of the project would also have the handy side effect of fulfilling the group’s contractual obligation to United Artists to produce a third motion picture, dating back to the original deal signed with the company in 1963 which had thus far produced A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. The other three Beatles were, however, less than wholly enthusiastic about McCartney’s proposals – not only had they only just completed work on their previous album, but they were sceptical about the realistic prospects of returning to live performance.
I remember going to see the movie and when I saw them performing on the rooftop, there was no way that I wasn’t going to be a professional musician. Fur coats, the wind blowing through their hair, girls, fans, more girls, more fans! What was a 15 year old boy going to do? The film was originally planned as a television documentary which would accompany a concert broadcast. When plans for a broadcast were dropped, the project became a feature film.
Initially mixed and assembled by Glyn Johns, the Beatles were unhappy with it and the version we know was constructed by Phil Spector. It was a tough time for the Beatles. George Harrison walked out and quit during the rehearsals. Since all the rehearsals were to be filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and his film crew, the decision was made to use a film studio for rehearsals and the sound stage at Twickenham Studios was chosen. The group began rehearsals there on 2 January 1969. This transpired to be a mistake since Twickenham was quickly discovered to be a fairly uninspiring environment (coloured lighting was set up by the film crew to try and improve the aesthetic appeal of the studio but the lights simply succeeded in annoying Lennon) and worse, the large studio proved to be freezing cold in the winter mornings. Lennon also found the continuous presence of the film crew to be highly intrusive and the other Beatles had similar feelings about the attendance of Lennon’s girlfriend Yoko Ono.
Unsurprisingly given the conditions at Twickenham and the group members’ personal differences, the rehearsals quickly disintegrated into acrimony. By the third day, the group openly discussed whether they should simply break up.
Hey Jude is a 1970 collection of non-album Beatles singles and B-sides, as well as “I Should Have Known Better” and “Can’t Buy Me Love”, two singles released by Capitol Records whose only previous American album appearance had been on the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack album which had been released by United Artists Records.
This album was not compiled by Capitol; the project was conceived by Allen Klein and Apple Records. Klein had negotiated a more lucrative contract for the group in 1969 and was anxious to sweeten the pot with an additional album. Originally, the album was to be named The Beatles Again. Shortly before the record was released, however, the title was changed to Hey Jude, in order to promote the inclusion of the top-selling song that led off side two. Unfortunately, the name-change occurred after the labels were printed, and an untold number of copies of the album were sold with Apple labels on the vinyl containing the title The Beatles Again. The front and back cover pictures were taken at the last-ever Beatles photo session, on 22 August 1969, at John Lennon’s new house,Tittenhurst Park.
So here in 1970 is where the Beatles left off. Of course there were a number of releases after this but…
I hope you have enjoyed the past five weeks as much as I have.
Stay tuned for something new(no pun intended) next week!