The Beatles' last push of creativity, before disintegrating in a puff of lawyers, is easily my favourite of their albums. While the White Album was an uninhibited splurge, Abbey Road is an immaculately constructed set of pieces. The band are at their peak of their songwriting, playing and producing ability, all crisply buffed in the studio by George Martin, hardly a note out of place. Paul turns in some of his best vocal performances here on songs such as "Golden Slumbers" and "Oh Darling". We're almost in Led Zeppelin territory for the thundering blues of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" miles from the throwaway "Yer Blues" on the White Album. Some of George Harrison's best songs are here, "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun", middle-of-the-road but mellow and relaxed. John's mark is all over the jerky "Come Together", a tribute to his guru and one of their most imaginative songs. The suite of continuous music at the end is unarguably prog rock, peaking with "Carry That Weight" and the reprise of the "You Never Give Me Your Money" theme. After all that it would be nice if "Octopus's Garden" had been one of Ringo's finest moments, but I'd always prefer "Yellow Submarine" for sheer dumb dementedness!
June 26, 2004