Abbey Road (50th anniversary edition)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Millennials can put Boomers down all they want, but I’m damned okay with the fact that I got to experience the undisputed best band ever changing the world in real time. And all these years later, they’re still blowing our minds. I almost cried when the first remixed notes of “Come Together” poured from my pre-MP3 stereo, simultaneously remembering the joy that original Abbey Road produced from the moment I got it in my seventh-grade hands and feeling the losses that still ache — of the Beatles, of John and George, of youth’s dreams.
But this edition, judiciously remixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, instantly reignited that joy. Throughout, the vocals and instruments just pop more vividly (and Billy Preston is fully heard at last), without disturbing the perfection of the Beatles’ last — and finest — masterpiece. And the add-ons are next-level. Too often, bonus content is underwhelming, but not here. The demos and alternate takes are incredible versions in their own right, often just as extraordinary as the chosen ones. And while several have appeared on the Anthology collection or elsewhere, they’re in full context here, enhanced by the 100-page coffee-table book detailing each.
Hearing George Harrison’s indelible “Something” demo and his lovely “Here Comes the Sun” outtake, plus other rejected takes most bands would have released in a heartbeat, sprinkled with some playful banter (and impromptu renditions of “Come and Get It,” given to Badfinger, and “Goodbye,” given to Mary Hopkin) … it all confirms these four talents couldn’t help but be brilliant even when they weren’t trying. At these sessions, they skipped acrimony to get back to being four mortals creating something immortal together. They knew they would carry the weight of their fame and fracturing for a long time.
But they weren’t about to take on that burden without making their sweet dream come true once more. Martin reinforces that achievement by closing with an isolated-strings take of “Something” and the strings-and-horns arrangement for “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry that Weight,” absolutely confirming that this music was made for the ages. All of them.