The Beatles – Abbey Road Anthology (Minotaur MT 069/70)
Disk 1 – Come Together (Take 6 – Bass Guitar Tk 1) / Come Together (Take 6 – Electric Guitar Tk 2) / Come Together (Take 6 – Drums Tk 3) / Come Together (Take 6 – Partial Vocals Tk 4) / Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Lead Vocal Tk 4) / Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Backing Vocals Tk 8) / Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Tk 5 + Guitar Overdub Tk 7) / Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Lead Guitar and maracas Tk 6) / Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Lead Tk 4 and BV’s Tk 8) / Come Together (BRX – Stereo Vocal Mix) / Something (Take 36 + SI on to Take 36 – Overdubs) / Something (Take 36 – Bass Tk 5) / Something (Take 36 – Rhythm Guitar Tk 6 + Piano Tk 1 partial) / Something (SI on to Tk 36 – All ‘Love’ dry vocals) / Something (SI on to Tk 36 – All ‘Rockband’ dry vocals) / Something (SI on to Tk 36 – Lead Guitar Tk 1 Partial) / Something (SI on to Tk 36 on to Tk 39 (Tk 3+4 + Organ Tk 8) / Maxwells Silver Hammer (Take 21 – Bass [TK1]) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 21 – Drums [Tk2]) (71:53)
Disk 2 – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 21 – Piano [Tk3]) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 21 – Guitar) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 21 – Guitar 2) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 21 – Vocals) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 27 – Moog) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to take 21 + 27) / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 27) / Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Bass Guitar [Tk1]) / Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Drums [Tk2]) / Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Electric Guitar [Tk 5]) / Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Piano [Tk 4]) / Oh! Darling (SI on to Take 26 – Vocals Tk 6 + 7 + 8) / Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – Bass guitar [Tk 1]) / Octopus’s Garden (Tk 32 – Drums [Tk 2]) / Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – SI on to Take 32 – Vocals [Tk 3 + 5]) / Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – Rhythm Guitar [Tk 4]) / Octopus’s Garden (SI on to Take 32 – Piano [Tk 6]) / Octopus’s Garden (SI on to Take 32 – BK vocals [Tk 7]) / Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 + SI on to Take 32 + piano) / Octopus’s Garden (SI on to Take 32 – Backing Vocals) / Octopus’s Garden (SI on to Take 32 – Vocals [Tk 3 + 5]) / Octopus’s Garden (Tk 3 + 5 + 7) (70:06)
From the same sources that brought you ‘Moggology’ and others, the Minatour label have furnished us with three double CD sets, dissecting the various assembled parts to the Beatles final album, ‘Abbey Road’. as with the other releases we get bit parts of the tracks as they were recorded in the studio, no necessary trickery of mixing songs in differing ways, simply the tracks are they were recorded. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring to hear in their unripened states, it falls to reason that ‘Abbey Road’ is one of the fabs most satisfying albums and interesting in the fact that though the band were falling apart by that time, they were still capable of fleshing out their songs together without it all falling apart in to disorganised disruption.
I still don’t know where my attentions lie with these sets however. On the one hand it’s fascinating hearing the parts that make the whole track split so the parts that were mixed and buried, only to be heard by dogs ears, can now be listened to in technicolor brightness, which, for instance, if you listening to a bass track or a drum track that starts where the song begins, it’s a full run. If you have the track with the backing vocals or even the main vocals, they usually start around 25 to 30 seconds in, leaving the CD to run for it’s time for that amount of time – helpful if you’re mixing this on a home computer – a real ball ache if you’re not. I’m not of a technological mind and so wouldn’t know where to start with these, my listening enjoyment is paramount in this case.
So, for anyone in the same boat as I am, what’s going to be useful here? I’ve listed the more pertinent parts that struck my ears as most interesting for a more casual listener;
Disk 1, track one – Come Together (Take 6 – Bass Guitar Tk 1) – Mostly interesting for Macca’s punishing bass lines throughout the track. Paul was always noted for his plunkingly melodic baselines and this one is no exception. It drives the song along as much, if not more than, Ringo’s drumming. Usually bass lines on their own are far from entertaining but Paul’s is eminently fascinating. Accompanied by a very muffled drum pattern and a very distant vocal, the plod shines through.
Disk 1, track three – Come Together (Take 6 – Drums Tk 3) – With as much relish as I heaped upon Macca’s baseline, I was still in awe of Ringo’s anvil heavy thumping and his solidly brusque patterns. Underthis you can hear a slightly broader lead vocal, a different vocal than you’ll hear further on in to the disk.
Disk 1, track five – Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Lead Vocal Tk 4) – Now, we all know John’s endeavour in to recording a live vocal for each take and the plaudits that he received for being one of rock’s more favoured voices, so it’s of no displeasure to hear a live vocal brought straight to the fore without unencumbered by the other tracks. This must be very close to that was heard in the control room that day when john was recording his vox.
Disk 1, track six – Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Backing Vocals Tk 8) – Slightly less exciting than the previous track, Paul’s backing vocals are pushed up this time and it’s a half way house as to whether this is as listenable – Interesting to here Paul’s cod-reggae vocals in full but those moments are few and far between. You can always skip this track but it certainly has it’s moments however sporadic.
Disk 1, track nine – Come Together (SI onto Take 9 – Lead Tk 4 and BV’s Tk 8) – Not so much as an amalgamation of tracks 5 and 6 it features extra vocal mannerisms and an echoed clap track. Really very cool to listen to especially for John’s ad-libbing and even laughter as he falls in to the absurdity of his own lyrics.
Disk 1, track twelve – Something (Take 36 – Bass Tk 5) – I was about to admit to myself that ’Something’ without the complete sum of it’s parts doesn’t seem to work but it’s McCartney’s bass parts that come to the fore again on this track. Fully formulated, it seems to stop appealing in the final few seconds but by then you’ve heard what you need to.
Disk 1, Track Thirteen – Something (Take 36 – Rhythm Guitar Tk 6 + Piano Tk 1 partial) – Sounds like a ‘Get Back’ sessions rehearsal played aboard the Starship Enterprise. Weightless, reverbish, almost like a muso’s party. The strings sound like they have been wrapped in aluminium foil, they shimmer that much. It makes for an astounding journey and it might be, in the strangest way, THE highlight of the set.
Disk 1, Track Fourteen – Something (SI on to Tk 36 – All ‘Love’ dry vocals) – Once again, fantastic to hear, George was obviously still very passionate about Patti at the time and his vocals belie this. A roaring section towards the middle unsullied by the harmonies that surrounded it is wonderfully moving, next to the comical sound of George vocalising his guitar solo.
Disk 1, Track Seventeen – Something (SI on to Tk 36 on to Tk 39 (Tk 3+4 + Organ Tk 8) – Is ’Something’ else. Like Disney employed Brian Wilson to reinterpret the track, it floods with a quasi-gospel texture before moving in to a grandiose sweep of strings. It’s certainly what you would miss under George’s vocals and guitar playing and sounds magnificent.Disk 1, Track eighteen – Maxwells Silver Hammer (Take 21 – Bass [TK1]) – Another one of Paul’s masterful bass tracks – It should be good enough, he had plenty of time to practice it – it may be basic by Paul’s standards but over shadowing John’s piano and Ringo’s drumming, it starts to bring on a life of it’s own.
Disk 2, Track one – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 21 – Piano [Tk3]) – Sounding like a very high quality home demo, it is as it suggests, simply Paul’s piano line. I could be that you’re listening to Macca playing it for the other fabs in studio 2, theres a little extraneous sound that sounds a little like conversation or Ringo picking up a comb and adding scant percussion.
Disk 2, Track four -Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 21 – Vocals) – Very close to listening to the finished version but without harmonies and with a louder Macca vocal. The real surprise comes at the end when all four fabs harmonise the final line, “Silver Hammer Man”. Almost obscured by the ending usually, it’s rather neat to hear.
Disk 2, Track five – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (SI on to Take 27 – Moog) – Odd. Very odd but extremely fascinating to hear experiments with the moog. The band had obviously been taken by the new machine (George especially and it could have been his suggestion that got the instrument used here) but as it almost takes a back ground on the CV, it’s nice to hear it as bold as brass here.
Disk 2, Track eight – Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Bass Guitar [Tk1]) – Yep, more of Paul’s bass. I must admit I’m falling in to these more and more, it’s almost kind of hypnotic to hear especially the ascending bass notes towards the chorus.q
Disk 2, Track eleven – Oh! Darling (Take 26 – Piano [Tk 4]) – Again, same method as track one on this CD. Piano to the maximum, drums a shade shade quieter, guitar and vocals almost buried. Wonderful. There’s so much here it’s almost breathless work.
Disk 2, Track twelve – Oh! Darling (SI on to Take 26 – Vocals Tk 6 + 7 + 8) – Back to the vocal booth, and in the opposite way of the previous track, vocals to the fore, instruments tick along underneath. Paul shreds his voice to put in a passionate performance and who was listening for harmonies before? Sure, we knew they were there but they are more heavenly than you might have thought.
Disk 2, Track thirteen – Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – Bass guitar [Tk 1]) – Slightly less impressive than the other bass lines but still as entertaining. They’re not trying to be too tricky but still unmistakably McCartney.
Disk 2 , Track fifteen – Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – SI on to Take 32 – Vocals [Tk 3 + 5]) – A fuzzier recording of Ringo’s vocals but nice to hear the underwater effects here too.
Disk 2, Track sixteen – Octopus’s Garden (Take 32 – Rhythm Guitar [Tk 4]) – John’s rather lovely guitar lines are brought to the fore here. Again nice to hear separated from the rest of the recording.
Disk 2, Track twenty – Octopus’s Garden (SI on to Take 32 – Backing Vocals) – Difficult to fully commit to as the best part of the track is silence, however, these trembly little backing vocals are cute to hear, they’re obviously taking second stage to Ringo’s and they know that but to hear John, Paul and Ringo pitch it down a little is really quite humbling.
So really, one to get behind. There are the few moments where the casual listener might get frustrated and skip like I did a few times but the highlights far outweigh the silences and duff moments. A very good compilation and you’ll NEVER hear ‘Abbey Road’ the same way again.