Abbey Road - the eleventh and last studio album by the Beatles
Abbey Road is the eleventh and last studio album by English rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records.
The recording sessions were the last in which all four Beatles participated. Let It Be was the final album that the Beatles completed and released before the band's dissolution in April 1970, but most of the album had been recorded before the Abbey Road sessions began. The two-sided hit single from the album, "Something" backed with "Come Together", was released in October and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
Abbey Road incorporates genres such as blues, pop and progressive rock, and makes prominent use of the Moog synthesizer and the Leslie speaker. Side two contains a medley of song fragments edited together to form a single piece. The album was recorded amid a more enjoyable atmosphere than the Get Back/Let It Be sessions earlier in the year, but there were still frequent disagreements within the band. John Lennon had privately left the group by the time that the album was released, and Paul McCartney publicly quit the following year.
Abbey Road was an immediate commercial success and reached number one in the UK and US, although it initially received mixed reviews, with some critics describing its music as inauthentic and bemoaning the production's artificial effects. Over time, the album became viewed as among the Beatles' best and many critics have ranked it as one of the greatest albums of all time. In particular, George Harrison's contributions in "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" are considered to be among the best songs that he wrote for the group. The album's cover features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios and has become one of the most famous and imitated images in popular music.
After the tense and unpleasant recording sessions for the proposed Get Back album, Paul McCartney suggested to music producer George Martin that the group get together and make an album "the way we used to do it", free of the conflict that had begun during sessions for The Beatles (also known as the "White Album"). Martin agreed, but on the strict condition that all the group – particularly John Lennon – allow him to produce the record in the same manner as earlier albums and that discipline would be adhered to.
The first sessions for Abbey Road began on 22 February 1969, only three weeks after the Get Back sessions, in Trident Studios. There, the group recorded a backing track for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" with Billy Preston accompanying them on Hammond organ. No further group recording occurred until April because of Ringo Starr's commitments on the film The Magic Christian. After a small amount of work that month and a session for "You Never Give Me Your Money" on 6 May, the group took an eight-week break before recommencing on 2 July. Recording continued through July and August, with the last backing track, for "Because", being taped on 1 August. Overdubs continued through the month, with the final sequencing of the album coming together on 20 August – the last time all four Beatles were present in a studio together.
McCartney, Starr and Martin have reported positive recollections of the sessions, while George Harrison said, "we did actually perform like musicians again". Lennon and McCartney had enjoyed working together on the non-album single "The Ballad of John and Yoko" in April, contributing friendly banter between takes, and some of this camaraderie carried over to the Abbey Road sessions. Nevertheless, there was a significant amount of tension in the group. According to author Ian MacDonald, McCartney had an acrimonious argument with Lennon during the sessions. Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, had become a permanent presence at Beatles' recordings and clashed with other members. Halfway through recording in June, Lennon and Ono were involved in a car accident. A doctor told Ono to rest in bed, so Lennon had one installed in the studio so she could observe the recording process from there.
The album's two halves represented a compromise; Lennon wanted a traditional release with distinct and unrelated songs while McCartney and Martin wanted to continue their thematic approach from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by incorporating a medley. Lennon ultimately said that he disliked Abbey Road as a whole and felt that it lacked authenticity, calling McCartney's contributions "[music] for the grannies to dig" and not "real songs" and describing the medley as "junk ... just bits of songs thrown together". During the sessions, Lennon expressed a desire to have all of his songs on one side of the album, with McCartney's on the other.
Nobody was entirely sure that the work was going to be the group's last, though Harrison said "it felt as if we were reaching the end of the line". After Abbey Road was released, the Get Back project (by now retitled Let It Be) was re-examined, and work on it continued into 1970. Therefore, Let It Be became the last album to be finished and released by the Beatles, even though its recording had begun before Abbey Road.
By September 1969, after the recording of Abbey Road, Lennon had formed a new group, the Plastic Ono Band, in part because the Beatles had rejected his song "Cold Turkey". While Harrison worked with such artists as Leon Russell, Doris Troy, Preston and Delaney & Bonnie through to the end of the year, McCartney took a hiatus from the group after his daughter Mary was born on 28 August.
On 20 September, Lennon formally announced his departure to the other Beatles, six days before Abbey Road was released. The single "Something"/"Come Together" followed in October, while Lennon released the Plastic Ono Band's version of "Cold Turkey" the same month. The Beatles did little promotion of Abbey Road directly, and no public announcement was made of the band's split until McCartney announced he was leaving the group in April 1970.
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