header

Living To Music – The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’

ARTIST: THE BEATLES

ALBUM: ‘ABBEY ROAD'

LABEL: APPLE

YEAR: 1969

This Sunday (Oct 3rd), at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. Full lowdown here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

My brother and sister weren’t big Beatles fans – we had a few of the singles knocking around the house, but no albums, so it was in other peoples’ houses that I originally got to know ‘Abbey Road’. Along With ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ this was the first Beatles album that made a big impression on me.

‘Abbey Road’, named after the London studio where they’d  recorded since signing their deal with Parlophone back in 1962, entered the UK chart almost 41 years ago to the day, on October 4th 1969, and would spend seventeen of the next eighteen week at the top of the chart (‘Let It Bleed’ by The Rolling Stones interrupting the run). It would be #1 as the 60’s ended and the 70’s begun.

It was the final Beatles album recorded, but the penultimate one released - ‘Let It Be’ would surface in May ’70 from the infamous ‘Get Back’ sessions, salvaged by Phil Spector having been recorded prior to ‘Abbey Road’. It was clear that the band realised that this would be their farewell album, each taking a goodbye solo in ‘The End’ before bowing out with the final Beatles lyric (bar the tagged on ‘Her Majesty’), perfectly summing up their philosophy - ‘and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’.

Your own memories are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session,  it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Abbey Road Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_Road

Living To Music Facebook Event Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161305237213536&ref=mf

, , , , , ,

25 Responses to Living To Music – The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’

  1. Alexis October 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Well...........................I don't know what to say really...............just read what you said about the album Greg and without having read that, it seemed to me the sum of all the influences they had loved, from the immensely personal and deep to the flippant!
    Sgt Pepper's is the only album by The Beatles in my vinyl collection, which I bought after hearing sumptuous harmonies at a neighbours party (through the wall ) and having asked what they were listening to at 2am, was told it was the aforementioned.
    Harmonies that soar and don't go where you expect them to....delicious!
    And tracks that i was just getting to grips with that then suddenly stop!
    Lyrics, regardless of the subject matter (and some seemed very stream of consciousness, or was that just the drugs?) stuck in my head and as Paul said before Her Majesty...
    And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make!
    SIGH....................cheers Greg and guys, it was great to be with you!

  2. Nadia October 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    'Once there was a way to get back home' I think that is what I listen to music for.For the length of this album I felt like I knew the road I was walking down. Thanks

  3. avo68 October 3, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    The sign of a real classic album I believe is when it sounds better after each listening. Abbey Road was the only Beatles album recorded onto eight-track apparently, with the rest only on four. Makes you wonder what they might produce today! But then .... that was part of their genius I think. And anyone who doubts Ringo's skills with the sticks should listen to this album for one of the best drum solos I've heard.

  4. Maz October 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Well after a very stressful Friday & Saturday - Abbey Road Living to music could not have come around quick enough. I listened to Abbey Road at 9pm with no other distractions and just thoroughly enjoyed listening to it in it's entirety. So, much so I've just listened to the Magical Mystery Tour, Revolver and now I'm playing Rubber Soul before I hit the hay - Amazing band, quality music and took me back a few years as well as bringing back some FAB memories! Thanks Greg :-)

  5. greg wilson October 4, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    Next Saturday will be the 70th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Ringo Starr was 70 earlier in the year and Paul McCartney reaches that milestone in 2012 (for George Harrison it would have been 2013). The Beatles generation has very much entered its old age – those girls who were screaming their hearts out at the height of Beatlemania are now pensioners. Lennon’s 70th marks the passing of time.

    The fact is that, for the majority of the population, ‘Abbey Road’ and all the music previously recorded by John, Paul, George and Ringo is, in relative terms, ancient history. It’s actually quite shocking when you stop to think that this is an album from 41 years ago.

    It’s apparent from the blog that I’m a Beatles obsessive. Having been born in 1960, their music was, of course, part of the soundtrack of my youth, but it wasn’t until I was 25 that I started to really think about just how deep this whole thing goes, and as deep as it gets there’s always something else to take it that bit deeper still – 25 years on and I still hear myself going ‘wow’, and I don’t doubt that I’ll be going ‘wow’ in another 25.

    They only recorded for 7 years – just think of all those incredible songs in such a short time frame - nuts !

    For me, ‘Abbey Road’ is a gift from the gods. The game was up after the ‘Get Back’ sessions, yet somehow they managed to summon up one final gargantuan effort. Watch the film of ‘Let It Be’ (a fly on the wall warts and all documentary of the ‘Get Back’ sessions) and the full scope of their achievement in somehow re-grouping (and re-focusing) to record ‘Abbey Road’ is all the more apparent.

    With the tidied up ‘Let It Be’ later issued as a swansong, the final image is a world-weary Beatles (epitomized by a bearded McCartney at the piano singing about ‘times of trouble’), but the truth is that they left us on a much more upbeat note, underlining their central message of love in a finale fitting of their legendary status, as the four lads who shook the world.

    “boy, you’re going to carry that weight a long time”

  6. ron story (BC Canada) October 4, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    Wow, I have listened to bits of this here and there for the past few decades but it's been years since I sat and listened to the whole thing like I did when I was a child. I was born in 58, and like Greg, had two older siblings that were my sisters. I listened to the records they bought as well until I was older. This brought back memories of the old "monster" console stereo unit my parent had in our livingroom. Abbey Road would be stacked up (literally stacked up) amidst Sly and the Family Stone "Dance to the Music" and all three Woodstock records. Man those were the days of Black & White T.V. and "Mankind" getting ready to land on the moon. Then came the Reel to Reel, Greg ;-D
    .
    The track "Oh Darling" really highlights Paul McCartney's voice at its peek in my opinion. At the end of side one I realized how ahead of their time and of how versatile the Beatles were with how Bluesy-Jazzy the track "I Want You" is. Fusion came naturally to the Beatles.
    With old school vinyl and the choice to start with side one or two, I found myself going to side two a lot with Abbey Road when I was young. The Medley is a testimonial to “Fab 4” Greatness and is the highlight of this masterpiece. (again in my opinion)

    "I want to tell the Beatles that I love'm a lot, but I got to get a belly full of wine. The Beatles are a pretty fine group, some day I'm gonna make'm mine...oh yeah... some day I'm gonna make'm mine".♫♫

    When I visited NYC in 1985, I stood outside the Dakota with a tear in my eye and Imagined!

    I am a Beatles fan for eternity!

    Cheers all and thanks so much Greg!

    Ron

  7. TC October 4, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Think much of what I wanted to say has been said. This is the album that reminds me, whenever I think that Paul is a tad cheesy, just what an incredible voice he has! "Golden Slumbers"......wow! I forgot totally that "Come together" was on this album...and then to be followed by another huge song, "Something". The signatory fills that Ringo adds to the album do indeed, and irrefutably, negate any idea that Ringo was not a worthy musician. I love the edited together medley and everything about "Polythene Pam" prophesies what was to come with Punk 10 years later....spooky!
    Even though The Beatles rallied and put aside differences to make this album it is still obvious that John was disconnecting as his contribution doesn't seem as much as in previous albums. George gets two songs on this where he usually only got one. (Actually I think George might have wrote Octopus's Garden for Ringo too). I might be wrong there, Greg, I'm sure you'll put me right :)
    And at the end, George Martin adds his signature too. Good on them all for saying goodbye in style...

  8. Nige B October 4, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    I have never listened to this album before. I knew the more famous tracks. First impressions are very positive. Perhaps their most coherent album. I was impressed by the passion, the experimentation, the sound, and it seemed to me - with the light of hindsight - to pressage the 70s and, in particular, progressive rock. I will definitely be returning to this again. Especially side two, which I was particularly impressed by. Thanks Greg, I could have gone a whole lifetime without embracing this album, I'll pop back - after subsequent listens - if I have anything else I think is worth mentioning.

  9. Steve October 4, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Originally posted here: http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

    Steve 03. Oct, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Re Abbey Road ,
    Set the alarm to 5.45 am,
    resigned to the fact, I didn't manage to get a copy in the pouring rain yesterday,
    I got the track listing off discogs, and wrote it down, so I could
    sequence the album on youtube.
    Made myself a coffee and jiggled round the kitchen to "come together",
    settling down, for the beautiful "something" the mind wanders through past life experiences,
    slightly irritated by the quirkyness of "maxwell's silver hammer" and quite macabre lyrics.
    Octopus's garden instantly reminds me of times spent with Sgt pepper album.
    The cool blue's of I want you, hard not to sing along.
    The comforting intro of Here comes the sun and a warm sensation envelopes me, as I notice the sun peaking through my closed curtains, and I think of you guy's listening in the dark over in England,I make a mental note of how great the pitch is in this track, really sinking into the experiance now, and start to feel the momentum of the album.
    "because " drifts along beautiful harmonies swirl around the head ,
    "you never give me your money" such a sentimental piano intro, just lost in the verse,
    other standout moments were 1,2,3, 4 ,5 ,6, 7 all good children go to heaven, great hook.and hypnotized by the sound effects at the end of the track.
    The guitar intro of polythene sam reminding me of" the who" ,
    By the start of Golden slumbers, my favourite track on the album, I was in full karaoke mode, Man that track evokes such strong feelings in me, so anthemic , by the end I feel a bit of tingling sensation knowing we shared this experiance on a global scale,
    Thanx Greg and everyone who did the same, and the neighbours who probably woke to my computer belting this out. Peace Steve

  10. Dave G October 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    From start to finish without a single mistake or wrong footing, Abbey Road has always been one of those songy-songy albums that just flows. Your psyche was revealed between the end of side one and start of side 2 though. You had to get through the hell of one, to reach the paradise of the other. Here comes the sun, indeed.

  11. Paul Wright October 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I read following the previous listening to music session that Dark Side of the Moon ends with an almost inaudible 'ticket to ride' from the beatles. Alledgedly it was left unintentionally on the tapes used to make the Pink Floyd album, a very fitting mistake if that was the case. I still haven't heard it but thought the next session would be a beatles one so maybe I did! Anyway a great link into this album...

    Being born in the mid-seventies I had obviously been exposed to a plethera of beatles on the radio. I can actually remember the news footage of John Lennons departure (he was sat on a stool playing nowhere man on an acoustic guitar). I have a vivid memory of this though at the time had very little idea who the beatles were or how much of an impact they would have on my life.

    Neither of my parents really listened to the beatles (my older brother certainly didn't!). I can remember listening to a greatest hits album they had when I was nine years old. Instantly I was struck by it and would listen over and over again. Songs like ticket to ride, paperback writer, hello goodbye. There was something about the beatles that even today I struggle to write coherently about how they have affected me.

    Soon after this first listening experience I had decided to join a brass band, one of my close friends parents were beatles mad :) They had allsorts of beatles memorablia including beatles coat hangers that were some of the more obscure stuff they had which stood out to me. Thankfully they were a great source of beatles music and I made tapes of most of their beatles albums.

    As young adolscents we would listen the classics such as Sergeant Peppers and also watch the likes of magical mystery tour, yellow submarine in some funny states to say the least!

    I can really connect with what other folks have said here in the sense and feeling of love that they beatles could convey in their song. By the time I was 17 I was genuinely very idealistic in my view of people and the world. For the most part I can attribute this to the beatles and it stays with me even today.

    I had Abbey Road on cassette but it was Univerisity by the time I really connected with it (perhaps knowing it was the last led me to avoid it). A listen through with friends in Manchester followed by another in Yorkshire well and truely cemented this album with me. No longer would it sit in the shade but holds in-place amongst some of my other 'greatest ever' albums.

    When I was 21 and feeling a bit flush I bought everything from Rubber Soul to Abbey Road (including Let it Be), in one go. I'd also just bought some brand new separates and it was great to listen to them on my brand new system.

    I certainly get the feelings of love from this album that I do from so much of the beatles work I also get the sense of a goodbye message running through this.

    Here is a bit of what I took from the album:

    Come together- a very engaging introduction that compels you to listen with immediate effect. Excellent rolling drumming from Ringo, fantastic bass work, a real nice funky feel to the track and a general richness- this is truely polished beatles.

    Something- A very well expressed song of love, the song conveys a feeling of very much being in love. George Harrisons guitar work is very much full of feeling and emotion, complementing the vocal and lyrics perfectly. Love can work if we work at it.

    Maxwells Silver Hammer- the bass has an almost brass tuba style to it, the cowbell sound of the silver hammer. Three unexpected deaths- the student, the teacher and then Maxwell.

    Oh Darling- this has a bluesy sound to me, great honky tonk piano work, quite raw and powerful vocal style. Classic beatles harmonic backing vocals.

    Octupuses Garden- More humour from Ringo! Fantastic piano backing, great vocal harmony backing continues. This song is about getting away from it all, to a lovely retreat; a joyous and safe place to go. Bubbling sounds- underwater, water pipe?

    I want you- more of a melancholic introduction, great guitat-vocal link up; more of a jazzy feel to this track. The hammond backing is quite punctuated and contrasts to the funky/windy feel of the vocal/guitar. Powerful chorus with scaling movements up and down. There is a switch in the track to a more ambient and almost balearic feel, great guitar solo and very powerful vocal work. The track ends on a strong crescendo with guitars stepping in and out of each other.

    Hear comes the sun- Sweet guitar intro, this track is beautiful, it exudes sunshine and it is very much about looking forward to the future. Vocal harmonies are lovely, the scaling on the guitar and hammond has some similarities to the previous track but much gentler this time. This has to be one of my favourite tracks of all time you can almost feel the drops of water melting from the ice in brilliant sunshine.

    Because- More scaling guitar work, clearly stepping up and down. Not sure it means anything but the shear amount of scaling up and down in the songs of this album almost says to me they reached their heights and now they are stepping down. Yet more incredible vocal harmonies. The song is about being in awe of the world and the beauty of it. Almost brassy sounding synth work.

    You never give me your money- beauiful piano and guitar harmonies, this song says to me that the magic is still there but where to go with it now, more indications of saying goodbye.

    Sun King- this blended beautifully with the previous track, great cymbal work, a very serene feeling to this one, grasshoppers, dreamy guitar work, very atmospheric. The song sounds and feels very similar to albatross (fleetwood mac), more balearic drumming work. One of my favourites from the album.

    Mean Mr Mustard- first part of the medley, not sure what they're on about with this one apart from a miserly old man, lyrically interweaves with polythene pam (his sister)- apparently one of the early beatles fans- alledgedly she would melt down plastic and eat it?! She takes him to see the queen, wonder if this has any sigificance with ending of the album?

    Polythene pam great to hear John pelting it out in true scouse fashion, great! Lots of humour being thrown into this...kind of girl that would make the news of the world..ha ha!

    She came through the bathroom window- great (almost country style) guitar returns from the vocal.

    Golden slumbers- here I always get emotional knowing this is the end of something incredible. Very often play this track at the end of the night. Outstanding effort from Paul. Orchestral backing with the piano, bass and guitar....fantastic!

    Carry that weight- this really pulls it all together for me,a fitting departure,very strong vocals, clanging piano instrumental that so typifies the beatles. A long time..immortal in my eyes.

    The end- fantastic drum solo from Ringo, one final funk off- George giving it loads with the repeating vocal of 'love you', 'love you'. An inspiring vocal at the end..

    Her Majesty- ?

  12. Meeko October 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    For me personally this was listening to something that was largely unfamiliar, though love both Harrison tracks, and in all honesty thought Here Comes the Sun was a Harrison single and not a Beatles track.

    I'd have to honestly say that it was an ok listening experience for me on this occasion, and hadn't connected as much as DSOTM, BUT what i have to acknowledge here is that this was at the end of their musical journey, and what it has really motivated me to do is start from the beginning, and follow each album from the start right through to the end, while at the same time reading Shout by Philip Norman...it is only then that i feel i will feel the true breadth and depth of the Beatles experience come alive.

    Greg - Got your email about future LTM's and any album recommendations and i will list 3 below.

    David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
    Led Zeppelin 4
    ABC - The Lexicon of Love

    Look forward to the next one

  13. Emma Chaplin October 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Wow. My first Living To Music experience - I have been intrigued by this idea and followed peoples' reactions on this blog and facebook. I have been itching to join in and this weekend was finally able to...

    Thanks Greg for the vision, for reminding me of the beauty of just stopping and listening.

    I listen to music whenever I possibly can, but always passively, as I inevitably will be doing something else aswell. Life is fast, there never seems to "be time!" This event gave me the permission, that for some strange reason I seemed to need, to just stop and listen to the music. And what an album to listen to...

    From that raw rock and guttural vocals to the sublime and beautiful tight harmonies to the downright ridiculous and actually quite irritating (Maxwell!) this album made me marvel at life and its strangeness and charm, the weird and wonderful situations we find ourselves in and the total power of music to transport us. It also made me realise quite how big an impact the Fab Four have had on British music in particular. Every chord, riff or harmony made me think of a contemporary band. Let alone music The Beatles are almost an ingrained part of growing up the in UK. Their music seeps into your subconscious, their message into your psyche. Strange that I didnt know this album yet knew at least 50% of the songs on it...

    I managed to rope in two friends to listen with me. We were all sceptical about sitting in slience. Could we do this for the best part of an hour!? At first there was some nervous giggling, trying not to make eye contact and watching of the clock... but sometime during "Something" we all disappeared off into our own worlds and then next thing we knew we were being jolted back to life with "The End" only to be blessed with "Her Majesty!"

    There were so many good things about this experience, I could go on and on... but one of the best things was the knowledge that many other heads were nodding in time around the country and even the world. Friends I have known a long time and every degree of separation possible after that. That was a pretty special feeling, and powerful too. It made me think of Reiki, distance healing, Universal Life Energy. I think we cooked up some of that last night, the Chi was truly flowing, which can only be a good thing!

    Greg, I salute you, global musical consciousness rocks!

  14. Li'l Timmy Collins October 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Emma Chaplin spoke for me in the second paragraph of her comment, I myself don't know this album to well,

    but do know several tracks, even from my early years,

    with "Here comes the sun".

    such a beautiful track, always loved George, loved his singing voice, the man he was, special,

    special guy.

    But what stands out for me on this album is Paul and John's voices, "Golden Slumbers" Oh,

    Paul's voice, and the lyrics always drew breath on me, even as a child, and still do, and maybe

    even more so than they ever did. So "poignant."

    It was Emma's first "Living To Music" experience, and she's right, it's a good feeling listening

    to music together, a very good feeling.

    Welcome Emma.

    Thanks Greg, x

  15. greg wilson October 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    I’m currently reading a book on the history of record production (‘Good Vibrations’ by Mark Cunningham) and I just came across this passage where George Martin talks about ‘Abbey Road’:

    “It’s very dear to my heart because after all the trauma of ‘Let It Be’ we really got it together. When we did ‘Let It Be’ I just thought it was the end and what a sad way it would have been to have gone like that because from ‘Sgt Pepper’ I thought we were pointing the way to a new style of recording. We were establishing a trend and I wanted to follow it up, but ‘Let It Be’ was recorded in a quite different way. When I was asked to come back and produce another album I didn’t believe that it would work out. I told Paul that I wasn’t very sure that I wanted to do it. I said ‘I’ll only do it if I’m really allowed to do it the way we used to’. He assured me that everybody was very keen and I went along with it’.

    ‘Abbey Road’ was the development of my own idea to establish something of a classical form in rock ‘n’ roll music, and I urged John and Paul to think of their songs as subjects in a symphony, using them more than once in different keys, have them in counterpart with each other and make up a longer work. Of course, one side of the album does reflect that. The other side doesn’t but it was a good compromise, I thought.”

  16. Marty Foster October 6, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Wow!
    So far, I haven't been able to absorb myself in Abbey Road along with the rest of you as part of the Living To Music concept. However I am very familiar with the recordings (to the point of being able to deconstruct each track to an embarrassingly finite measure!) and, as I have been reading all the above comments here, I could immediately take my ears, heart and mind to the songs, lyrics and moments mentioned because the album is so powerful to me.
    I think most of the "pop music boffins" since 1967 have cited Sgt Peppers as the groundbreaking album from The Beatles. I agree with them on the grounds of technical achievement when it comes to the use of new technology and how their current technology was pushed into new uses. As a music production student in the early 1990s, I was given an assignment where I had to study and deconstruct a track from Sgt Peppers. I argued with the tutor that we should be selecting tracks from Abbey Road instead on the basis of it "being a far more influential and beautiful album than Peppers" (my words). His reply was, "Sgt Peppers came first." He was a music boffin and stoic and snobbish about it.
    I'm going to try de-stressing and put myself into the right 'spiritual' place to simply sit and enjoy Abbey Road as soon as I can after being excited by this concept and after reading everybody's comments here. My problem is that I know I'll get carried away by singing along through every recording! So, for the first time in over 20 years, I'm going to try listening to the album with fresh (20 years younger) ears.
    Thanks Greg.

  17. Emma Chaplin October 7, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    Thanks Li'l Timmy Collins, for the welcome, I look forward to listening again with you soon :O)

    PS I agree with Meeko, Ziggy Stardust yes please!

  18. greg wilson October 7, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    On the Ziggy Stardust tip check out the new blog post I've just added:

    http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/10/hazy-cosmic-jive/

  19. Brian E October 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    Love the opening track's 'slap back' echo, hi hat figure and tom fills - very unique! Fantastic lyrics "Hold You in his armchair you can feel his disease" Not sure what that's about but it's interesting!

    'Something' - what an incredibly well crafted production as all of this album is. When you think it was done on an 8 track it's all the more remarkable. Who needs an Apple Mac and music software (I do actually but still can't get anywhere near this)!

    I love 'She's So Heavy' especially when it goes into the 6/8 'She' So....................................Heavy! Great guitar riffs abound.

    There's so many good moments in the album from the harmonies of 'Because' to the pounding drum solo. What a great feel from Ringo!

    I first heard this album when I started playing in a band at school at the bassists house. Even then we had discussions about if this was a session musician on drums or the man himself. It seems those rumours have always been around. Who knows if it's true but it would probably be more out in the open by now so many years after the recordings so I'm inclined to take my hat off to Ringo, the perfect drummer for The Beatles.

  20. ron story (BC Canada) October 9, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    @Brian E. ... hats off to Ringo for sure. I remember my older sisters categorizing who was the best Beatle in the correct order ha ha ha. It must have been hard to be Ringo when most attention was on the talents of John, Paul & George.
    A bit of trivia for you... Colin Hay, originally from Scotland and the lead for "Men at Work" said in an interview I heard on CBC, that he always wanted to be like one of the Beatles as a kid. He moved to Australia back in the day, formed Men at Work and was very successful during the 80s. Now he has Ringo drumming on his solo projects with him. Ironically, a dream comes true for Colin.

    Ringo Star… of the four, not the best singer, but an excellent drummer with a big smile.

    R

  21. Lou Lou October 10, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    Once again, a listening experience with surprises. I actually own this album and couldn't believe that i'd completely missed the ending "her majesty". I even checked my copy to make sure it wasn't a different version and i HAD missed it. Just goes to show what a valuable "event" this is.

    I found the album to be heavier than I'd remembered. The vocals on "oh darlin" made me swallow hard. However, "here comes the sun" and "octopuses garden" had me smiling as ever. I still worry about how much i enjoy "maxwell's hammer", until it was pointed out that it's just like a child's nursery rhyme.

    Beautiful beautiful vocals throughout that have been ringing through my ears ever since. I spent a fair amount of the time trying to work out what the instruments being played were, but once again the layers in this album blew me away.

    What struck me most, was the comment above from the guy setting his alarm to wake and listen simultaneously somewhere else in the world miles away, saying he was imagining us listening in darkness, whilst for him the sun was just rising as "here comes the sun" began. I had a similar feeling at that point of us all listening and experiencing the same music but in such different environments, and each coming out with something just for ourselves. And by the looks of it, all good.

    Thanks Greg and each of you for sharing the time. It's now a regular night off for me. A new religion maybe? ')

  22. Cosmo October 11, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    We had our first communal and audiophile Classic Album Sundays listening session yesterday and it was beautiful. Some people had never heard the whole album in full and the others that had (including myself) heard new things they hadn't heard before (like George Harrison's Moog playing which really came through).

    It was great to share the experience with a larger group where everyone could share their thoughts after the album finished. I purposely didn't play any music after the album finished for this reason and also so that people would leave with "Abbey Road" ear worms. It is still in my head this morning.

    There is so much to say about Abbey Road but the comments above are so amazing and reflect what many of us felt last night. However, I would like to share the tech spec for the listening session as many people were asking and it may be of interest:

    Koetsu Urushi Signature Moving Coil Cartridge
    Koetsu Tonearm
    Technics 1100 Turntable (Modified with the Koetsu Tonearm)
    Koetsu Step Up Transformer
    Mark Levinson ML-1 preamp
    2 Quad Mono Block Amps (15 watt valve amplifiers)
    Chord Epic Twin Speaker Cable
    2 Klipschorns

    The basic idea of the system is to get the playback to correspond as closely as possible with the original recording without any "additives". There is no equalisation and no compression so what is actually on the record is what you get. I also used pink noise at our sound check to balance the system which is necessary in any playback situation but especially when you are using valves as each valve has its own personality. Tricky bunch I tell you!

    Prior to the session, the record was cleaned on a Moth Record Cleaning Machine. This "Hoovers" all of the dust/mould deep in the grooves and opens up the sound considerably. Even new records should be cleaned before playing as there is residue from the factory. I gave my poor husband a stack of about 20 dirty records from 1968 - 1970 to clean yesterday. He must really love me.

    Another thing I should mention is that the first step of the sound system is room acoustics. One of the reasons I used the Hanbury Arms rec room is because the room acoustics are pretty good (not on the level of a music hall but maybe someday we can reach that goal ;). There are wooden floors and walls interspersed with glass to give a good balance of materials that reflect and absorb. I get so depressed when I see venues that are concrete boxes as they just aren't sympathetic to listening. The Hanbury also has good ceiling height and shape (not an arch or A-frame which can be acoustic nightmares) and a good reverb time (not too long). This is the first step of any sound system as it doesn't matter which equipment you have if it's going to be used in an acoustic minefield.

    We tried to make the setting as much like a living room as possible including incense, candles and an oil lamp and sofas and cushions on the floor. We even had Twiglets! We only used one turntable so it wouldn't be a "DJ" night.

    We're looking forward to the next session with Kate Bush "Hounds Of Love". It will be interesting as it's from another musical and recording era. I am going to pick out some other tunes from 84, 85 and 86 to play beforehand so I better get cleaning now.

    I hope some of you can join us!

  23. Howard Hill October 11, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Sorry I'm a bit late commenting about this but it brought back wonderful memories. I was 16 when Abbey Road came out and living in Runcorn, Cheshire. On Saturday nights I used to travel around with my mate on the back of his scooter going to parties or dances in church halls in the surrounding villages. I remember vividly one night someone saying that we MUST go to a particularly party. MUST because they were going to have a copy of Abbey Road which had, I think only been released that day. When we arrived the album was playing as it continued to be all night and a gaggle of people were standing round the record player reverently handing round the cover - which I have to say seemed a little disappointing after the triumph of Sgt Peppers. However, it is a perfectly constructed album and now living near St Johns Wood I find it wonderful that every single day that same zebra crossing is full of tourists from around the world recreating that walk to the annoyance of motorists. Not sure if many of you will have heard it but soon after it was released Booker T & the MG's released a cover version titled McLemore Ave which was the home of Stax records. Listening to the original again prompted me to dig out their version and I personally I think its wonderful with lots of Steve Croppers restrained guitar work ("Why play 10 notes when I can get away with 3?") Thanks Greg for this wonderful innovation. I appreciate this and just about every new mix of yours that I hear.

    Howard Hill - Eclectika Sessions.

  24. Dave Green October 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Had to listen to this last night as i have been away from home most of the last 10 days so didn't get the chance to listen to this one with the rest of you all. Also i had to track down a vinyl copy as i didn't have one and wanted to stick to my vinyl only rule for this idea (its all about the turning over ! ).
    As i grew up in a house split down the middle by my fathers love of The Beatles & my mothers devotion to The Rolling Stones i had to listen to lots of both as a child. This may well be why i've never really got into either band as like all good rebellious kids i gravitated towards something else entirely. The 60's band that they listened to only occasionally but that i fell head first into as a kid was The Doors, a seriously committed affair that remains fully intact to this day. Consequently i had not until last night ever listened to Abbey Road in its full album glory and to be honest was quite surprised by it. I cannot go into its merits as to where it stands in The Beatles collective works as i have also never listened to Revolver, Rubber Soul or The White Album complete either (something i'll address after this session). What struck me immediately though after this first listen was how this LP clearly inspired two other bands i know and liked more, in ways i didn't realise. Both The Who & Pink Floyd clearly ripped wholesale into this album for material for some of their later works. One of Ringo's drum solo's was clearly nicked and elaborated on for The Who's "Wont Get Fooled Again"(1971), Moon nicking from Ringo, who'd have thought it ? Floyd also plundered some mighty riffs for both their "Wish You Were Here" & The Wall lp's (1974 & 79). As both these bands are also known for their original inspiring output so i was quite surprised to hear such clear elements lifted from Abbey Road and assimilated into their work. In quick summary though, i really enjoyed this album apart from "Maxwells Silver Hammer" which i have never liked much at all. The album clearly deserves its classic status, with such a wonderful array of styles melded into such a stylish & coherent whole. Unlike many I adore "Octopuses Garden" as its such a wonderfully smiley tune, the drop into "Here Comes The Sun" is simply jaw dropping and the medley to take us out of Side 2 is worthy of the price alone. As i said i'm not the biggest Beatles fan due to my first musical obsession being The Sex Pistols as an 11 yr old. My Beatle loving father went absolutely berserk when he saw them on Top Of The Pops doing "Pretty Vacant" which instantly meant they were the most important thing in the world to me. I haven't seen or spoken to my father in over 15 years to be honest and listen to The Pistols fairly regularly. I believe i made a great choice !
    Great pick for the next session with "Hounds Of Love", as i mentioned previously on this blog its a huge fave of mine.
    Regarding your request for choices of possible future Albums for this wonderful "Living for Music" idea:
    The Doors - The Doors
    The Blue Nile - A Walk Across Rooftops
    Yazoo - Upstairs At Erics
    Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks
    Propaganda - A Secret Wish
    Miles Davis - A Kind Of Blue (or Bitches Brew)
    Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

  25. Gavin Kendrick December 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Growing up in Liverpool I was surrounded by the legacy of The Beatles. Coming second only to football, they are still a guaranteed opening point of conversation whenever anybody outside of the city hears my accent.

    Their ubiquity provoked a lasting disinterest (I have also never followed football) until quite recently when Greg posted a link to the short animation, ‘I Met The Walrus’. Lennon’s ideas about peace struck a chord with me as I had spent the early part of this year researching the punk movement, and in particular the anarcho-pacifist punk band, Crass. When I was discussing the effectiveness of a pacifist approach with a friend, she pointed me in the direction of this Academy Award-nominated 2002 documentary ‘The Weather Underground’ that follows the rise and fall of the American radical organisation ‘The Weathermen‘.

    In the film, Naomi Jaffe, a member of the Weather Underground Association, memorably explained:

    'We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That’s really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don’t do anything about it, that’s violence.'

    This idea contradicted my existing worldview but resonated with me on some level. It provoked much thought and debate over the next few months. But it was Lennon’s proposed solution to this problem of conflict that offered a course of action that appealed to me most. And he explained it simply, in a frank, honest and inspiring conversation with a fourteen-year-old fan:

    'The thing is to protest, but protest non-violently because violence begets violence. And if you run around wild you get smacked and that’s it. That’s the laws of the universe… It’s no good standing on the street corner shouting ‘we want peace’ and then beating up your mates. You’ve got to try and work your own head out and get non-violent. It’s pretty hard because we’re all violent inside. We’re all Hitler inside and we’re all Christ inside. And it’s just to try work on the good bit of you.'

    So it was with a new anticipation that I sat down to listen to Abbey Road last night. I discovered how familiar I was with most of the tracks on the album, and I enjoyed hearing the record in full. My personal highlight was the closing lyric, the last ever Beatles lyric in fact, that is the perfect summation of their philosophy and of the thoughts I’ve explored here:

    ‘And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’.

Leave a Reply