The Abbey Road 2019 remix by Giles Martin is excellent, but if there’s a Beatles album that didn’t really need remixing, this is it. The album was recorded on new equipment with eight tracks instead of four. The result was higher quality audio than previous Beatles albums.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road (1969), and Apple has given it the special treatment they gave Sgt. Pepper and The White Album. (Let It Be, was released on October 15th, 2021, and Revolver was released October 28th, 2022.). There are reviews of all the album remixes on this site.)
I bought the 2-CD Abbey Road Anniversary Edition as shown above, and have done a lot of A-B comparisons with this and the 2009 Remaster. The new remix has better depth and clarity. If you have a good stereo system, it’s the one to go with. More casual listeners will not notice a major difference between the mixes.
So what about the extras? There’s a nice 40-page booklet with added information and many photos like those above, mostly by Linda McCartney. The second CD contains an alternate version of each song. Even though they’re interesting, there’s not a must-have track.
Also available is a Super Deluxe version with more alternate takes which I listened to online. The only tracks I decided to purchase we’re George Martin’s instrumental accompaniments for “Something” and for “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”. He was brilliant at adding instrumentation that enhanced a song without overpowering it.
Other reviews of the remix have also been positive, but mostly they just talk about Abbey Road as one of The Beatles’ best albums.
So let’s go back and take a closer look at the album we’ve known for all these years.
The top four songs being downloaded from the remix on iTunes are “Come Together”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “Something”, and “Oh! Darling”. Good choices. John Lennon’s “Come Together” has a great groove, and is a reminder of how well The Beatles played together as a band. “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun” are two of George Harrison’s best Beatles’ songs. Paul McCartney sang a soulful “Oh! Darling” that has held up well. Add in “Because”, and you have a list of the best individual songs on the album.
But, it’s the medley of songs on side-two of the album that sets it apart. Cynically, one could look at the medley as a way for The Beatles to simply use up some song fragments. The reality is, the arrangement is rather brilliant. It’s similar to classical music with recurring melodies and themes. They got excellent help from George Martin, who perfectly orchestrated “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End”. The remix of the medley sounds great.
(Good use was made of this early Moog synthesizer.)
If there’s a weakness to the medley, it’s that some of the songs have lyrics that are light, or even non-sensical (like the random Spanish & Italian words of “Sun King”). Had the songs included more relatable and serious lyrics, the medley would have elevated Abbey Road even higher.
(George & Paul harmonizing on a song for Abbey Road.)
The medley has a strong finish with “The End”. It’s the last song the four Beatles ever recorded together. It has short but rocking guitar leads by John, Paul, & George, and a solid drum solo by Ringo. The last line is… “And In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” That’s the way to go out.
Interestingly, they debated having side-two be side-one. And in the end, they made the right decision.
It was recently revealed that The Beatles were heard on tape discussing the possibility of doing another single and another album after Abbey Road. Even though that’s true, it’s very likely The Beatles still worked on Abbey Road as if it could be their last album.
Bonus: Cover Story
Iconic covers for The Beatles’ albums didn’t just happen. The Beatles always trusted artists to help them. The art director for Apple in 1969 was John Kosh, seen below with some other covers he helped develop through the years.
The photographer for Abbey Road was Iain Macmillan, who said the idea for the photo came from Paul McCartney. Once Macmillan had taken the photos and helped select the best one, it was turned over to John Kosh to finalize the actual cover. In an article in U.S.A. Today, Kosh says he touched-up the sky to be bluer than it was, and then decided the album cover should not include the title or the name of the group.
As the album was about to be printed, Kosh says he received a call at three o’clock in the morning. It was from the Chairman of EMI, Apple’s parent company. Kosh, who was just 23 at the time, says the call included yelling about how the album wouldn’t sell if The Beatles’ name wasn’t on it. Kosh said he was shaking after the call, and was worried as he went into Apple the next day. He told George Harrison about the problem. According to Kosh, George said…“Screw it. We’re The Beatles.”
5 Replies to “Abbey Road Remix (Review & Perspective)”
Great LP, but one I seldom feel I want to put on. The lyrics of John’s songs on this record are almost subpar across the board, especially in the medley. I often wonder when people talk up his lyrical talents: have they not heard his contributions to this and “Let It Be”? I love John Lennon but feel he’s as overrated as a lyricist as Paul McCartney is underrated.
The words Lennon created on ‘I’m So Tired’ incredibly summed up a mood. And the raw lyric of ‘Don’t Let Me Down.” did the same. It was meant to be raw and from the gut. The lyric in “In My Life’ is sublime. In some it was simply imagery. ie ‘I Am The Walrus’ Glass Onion’ and ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun.’ The matching of melody to lyric on ‘Because’ is unsurpassed.
And it was definitely the lyric that made ‘Imagine’ the song of the century, as lovely as the melody was.
I just picked this up on vinyl today. Thanks for the great review and wonderful article! Can’t wait to dig in and give it a proper listen tomorrow.
This is a superb album and the remix and related mastering is clearly evident on a quality HiFi system.
Music is in the eye of the beholder and perhaps others find the lyrics a bit sub par. I don’t.
To me, side two of this album is a once in a lifetime medley that flows from song to song and builds as it goes. For me this is the best Beatles album and the best release by far.
I bought the original album when released, the remastered CD and LP sets. When I compare across all releases, this is by far the best creating a real soundstage, and the ability to hear “through the mix” with extreme clarity and no harshness.
Just bought 2019 Remix, on a straight digital platform. I have been following the different remasters, 2019 Remix being the latest. What an absolute treat! I would have to agree with TomH and his assessment of the 8 song medley at the end of side 2 being a once in a lifetime medley. John was supposedly against this 8 song medley! I would really like to hear from Paul on how this group of songs were put together, I.E., who pushed these songs into this grouping. George Martin? Paul? Thinking about buying the Abbey Road 2019 remix, don’t hesitate!