Abbey Road – An Impromptu Review

Still a lovin’ the vinyl.  I’ve just stuck on Abbey Road.  Thought I’d type while I listen.  I do love Come Together.  For me an example of why Ringo Starr is one of the greatest drummers of all time.  A very much underrated musician and the butt of almost all Beatles-related gags.  But anyone who’s anyone appreciates Ringo’s contribution.  Understated and sublime.  I’ve always been a fan of the drums… I think my own music is dominated by the drum kit and the ‘sound’ of the drum kit.  I don’t think songwriters pay enough attention to drum patterns.  They are often happy enough to just put some chords over a drum loop.  That may work just fine for dance music… but if you’re trying to capture the attention of a headmusickid you have to give them something that excites!  I remember first hearing the Buzzcocks… specifically the Peel Sessions album.  Fantastic drumming. Likewise when Caught by the Fuzz by Supergrass first slapped me square in the jaw.  The drums can not only ‘make’ a song but they can define a band.

On a side-note… what the hell was McCartney thinking when he followed the monumental Something with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer?!?  Honestly… sometimes I despair.  I will often be heard sticking up for Macca… but I can think of nothing positive to say about this bloody song.  Abbey Road is such a HUGE album… there is no place for Maxwell’s Silver Bloody Hammer.  Even if the sodding hammer was made out of solid gold I still wouldn’t allow it to occupy the same air-space as the rest of Abbey Road.  Ha ha!  Conversely by the way, I don’t feel the same way about Octopus’s Garden.  Caught you by surprise there?  Anyway… Macca kind of makes up for it immediately with his magnificent vocals on Oh! Darling straight afterwards.

So… the drums are important.   As I was saying.. they can define the band.  I think Ringo’s drumming was the perfect accompaniment to the twin colossus of Lennon & McCartney.  It wouldn’t have worked with John Bonham bashing away behind them.

I Want You.  What a song.  This song is so heavy (very much reflected in the lyrics which proclaim how heavy she indeed is!).  So… we know she’s heavy!  Ha ha!  I love how far the Beatles took music in their short time as an entity.  They redefined music in the space of seven years.  They wrote the rule book on rock and roll and then created the concept album.  They were a band poles apart with itself.  Then on Abbey Road, their final album, they looked back at everything they had ever been and took it to a new level.  With a song like I Want You the Beatles are almost heavy metal.  They had achieved a similar (if not heavier) sound before with Helter Skelter… but I Want You repeats like a heavy rock mantra.  Such a simple song.  Repeated ad infinitum.  Amazing vocals.  Creative bass.  Smashing drums.  A band at the top of its game and yet at the end of its game.  A band that wrote Revolver and Sgt Pepper and yet ended with the relative straight line of Abbey Road.  Awwww…. just listen to that distorted ending… something I have actually (unknowingly, but now I recognise the theft!) incorporated into the latest Eleventh Hour Initiative song.  Oh well…. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and other such clichéd jargon!  Ha ha!

The needle spins in the centre groove.  I have to turn the record over!  Oh come on… even that is nostalgic and sugar-coated sweetness! 🙂

George’s second song on the album.  Here Comes the Sun is another sure-fire hit.  I’ll tell you something – people will decry George’s involvement with the Beatles’ songwriting.  George himself liked to joke about it.  When Paul suggested they write together in later years George stated “He ignored me for years and now he wants to write with me?”.  Well, honestly, don’t believe a word of it.  Count the number of Harrison’s songs on albums like Revolver and Abbey Road.  I think he fared pretty well.  In terms of talent he was certainly up there with Lennon and McCartney.  He made the Beatles the band they were. I have the utmost respect for George’s contributions.  It’s funny that Sinatra introduced his version of Something with the line “This is one of the best Lennon and McCartney songs”.  Ha ha!  I bet George had to eat a couple of extra portions of Ready Brek that morning!!!

Hmmmm… typed right through Because.  And to think I could have waxed lyrical about the vocals on that track!

So… we’re now into the medley on side 2 of Abbey Road.  The opportunity for all the songs that had never been completed to be tossed into the salad bowl and hand mixed with some expensive olive oil.  I think the medley works a treat.  In fact there are moments that blow my mind.  The beautiful vocal harmonies.  The intricate Albatross-esque guitar work.  The in-turns eloquent and silly lyrics.  And the overriding feeling that everyone involved knows that this is the end.  The last notes they will ever record as the Beatles.  The fab four’s intentions have already been spelt out.  They are gone.  They have left the building (without Elvis’ blessing contrary to the reports!).  And yet Paul, John, George and Ringo were friends for one last time to create this album.  That is how it sounds.  The work of friends.  That is why I think Abbey Road occupies a certain position in fans’ hearts.  This is the album as we want to remember the fab 4.  For so soon after the final note is played there is acrimony at play.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.  Another silly McCartney song… but this one feels ‘right’.  This is class… and we sense we are on the wind down.  Into Golden Slumbers.  I love Paul McCartney.  Just listen to that melody.  Just listen to that voice.  Honestly, some of his best singing.  Some of the best ever singing.  Lennon gets the plaudits, but McCartney was up there.  Lennon may get voted “Best Singer of All Time”… but I won’t forget Paul.

And now I’m just waiting for The End.  The most fitting final song of any band ever?  In my opinion this song is the perfect full stop.  The most fitting termination.

A drum solo!!!  I can forgive Ringo’s “Peace and Love” bullshit for this one perfectly played solo.  His only solo.  Okay, perhaps it’ll take a little more to completely forgive his recent antics… the bloated old rock whore that he is!  😉 And… then… a guitar solo battle!!!  This is the Beatles soloing like things possessed.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

I love the Beatles.  I think I’ve just written a pretty little love letter to my favourite band.  And it took the exact length of Abbey Road to write because Her Majesty finishes… … now.  Even the sound of the needle spinning endlessly in the groove sounds musical to me.  I could have written more if I had more time… but I think I got my point across.  Perhaps I should do this more often.  Write whilst listening to a record?  It would mean all my articles would have to be written in the space of approximately 30 minutes.  Ha ha!

*Apologies for any factual inaccuracies.  I have written this whole article in the time it took Abbey Road to spin… and I didn’t refer to the likes of Wikipedia once!  This is all my inherent knowledge on display.  I am showing you just how much of a Beatles fan I am… (and how quickly I can type!).  And relax.

The Liver Birds

Okay… I warn you in advance.  This is gonna be one looonggg post!  I have a lot to say – or rather a lot to show.  Look… think of this as a book.  A post that you can dip in and out of.  Like that bird thing that drank the water that Homer used to keep the Nuclear Power Plant running.  Just a tappin’ that key.  Ha ha!

I went to Liverpool.  I saw a lot of things, and I took a lot of pictures.  Some of these pictures will end up as band artwork so I may hold them back.  But I will try to reveal as much of interest as I can.

First things first.  I took the ferry across the Mersey.  Sing the song in your head whilst viewing the photos.  This ferry crossing gave me the first chance to see the Liver Building.  The Liver Building will be talked about in detail a little later.  It also enabled me to see the Port of Liverpool building from the water.  The Liverpool river front is certainly a captivating sight!

(note the huge cathedral in the 5th image… we’ll see more of that later!)

I visited Liverpool on the Centenary of the construction of its most famous building – the Liver Building.  This is one fantastic piece of architecture.  And to celebrate 100 years of its existence it was lit with a dazzling display of head spinning lights.  And I had the best view possible.  ‘Cause I was on the roof of the building opposite (a great Pan-Asian restaurant).  That restaurant was THE place to be in Liverpool that night.  The bouncers on the doors were working their asses off!

The Liver Building is the most amazing sight even without the light show.  Like the top of a sky scraper cut off.  Like you’ve cut the top off a boiled egg with a spoon.  And the building has two birds sitting on top of it.  The Liver birds.  There are many stories regarding how the birds came to be there and what they signify to the city – but safe to say, Liverpool would be in crisis if the birds were to fly away.

I just love this shot.  Reminds me of Ghostbusters!

This celebration also marked the opening of a new Museum dedicated to celebrating all things Liverpool.  I gotta say… I was not impressed with the museum.  I think they are gonna have to find a few things to actually put inside it.  At the moment it is just one HUGE empty staircase!!!

I filmed a short video to give an example of the light show.  It’s not exactly representative of actually being there.  But it gives you a flavour.  I particular liked the syncing of the sound to the light during the sequence played out on the museum building.  I know this kind of technology has been used before on famous buildings around the world.  But this was the first time I’ve seen such a thing… and it blew me away:

Anyway, like I said… superb light show.  And marking 100 years of an important British landmark.  And I was there!  Yippeee!!!!

I also entered the Port of Liverpool building.  Some great examples of extravagant architecture in this building.  Flourishes from a time when Britain ruled the world!

First thing the next morning I made my way to one of the most important buildings I have ever stepped into.  John Lennon’s childhood home:

This is the house John Lennon lived in with his Auntie Mimi throughout his childhood.  It is the house he lived in when he met Paul McCartney.  It is the house he lived in when the Beatles were formed.  It is the house that the young Lennon would sit in at night and listen to the radio – probably the Goons.  If you are a Beatles fan then it’s a pretty important place to be. I say “place to be”, because there really is a feeling of ‘occupying the same space’ if you catch my drift.

The house is ‘by appointment only’ so the general tourists can only stand outside the gate.  At one point this was strange ’cause you have to understand that the house is just an ordinary looking house in an ordinary looking street.  So at one point I’m standing in the porch.  Now this is interesting to me as this was the porch that John and Paul used to hang out in with their guitars (Aunt Mimi wouldn’t let Paul in any further!).  So I’m standing there… basking in the ambience… when I look out the window to see 100 Japanese tourists taking pictures, of the house, of the porch, with my face looking out.  Hmmm… way to be famous!  Ha ha!

Seriously though… fantastic ambience.  You get a free reign of the house (after having your camera locked away!).  I stood in the small room where John would listen to the radio.  I stood in his bedroom.  I kind of felt the presence of a young John being rebellious in the house to the lodgers that Aunt Mimi would invariably accommodate.  For a fan like me… fantastic!

Although the house is ‘just’ a house… it has a certain aura.  It even featured on the cover of a single by Oasis – Live Forever (although they had the sense not to wear a Pac-Man T-shirt!)

So….hmmm… where to go after John Lennon’s childhood home?  Hmmmm… How about Paul McCartney’s?

20 Forthlin Road is similar to Lennon’s house in that you have to book to get in.  It’s a terraced house in a typical street.  A little poorer that Lennon’s area.  Again, I have no photos from inside the house as they lock away all cameras.  The purpose of this is that there are unpublished photos and artefacts inside.  Although the ambience was slightly different to Lennon’s house, in many ways this is actually the more important of the two houses.  This is the house that a lot of the early Beatles songs were written.  I have photos of John and Paul writing songs in this house.  I have grown up with those photos – and finally I was able to stand in that living room and place one foot where I know Paul sat, and one where I knew John sat.  For a moment there I was literally standing in history.  For a Beatles fan like myself this is/was a huge deal.  Standing in Paul McCartney’s bedroom.  Seeing the drain pipe he climbed up to get into his room when the house was locked at night.  Most importantly though… to stand on the original tiles of the kitchen floor.  These tiles had been stood upon by all four Beatles.  Sent a shiver up my spine!!!

McCartney’s mother died a year after he moved into this house so it obviously holds mixed emotions for Paul.  He has never been back since he left.  But nevertheless… it makes an interesting pilgrimage for a Beatles fan!

Okay… here’s something I wasn’t going to do… but anyway.  Here’s a song I wrote inspired by the visits to those houses.  It is called “Last Night But Three“.  It will be the centrepiece of my next Confession of the Whole School album and this is a sneaky surprise just for my devoted fans (It won’t be available to anyone else until the release of the next album).  Why not press play and then read the rest of the article?

So… Childhood homes… Childhood homes.  Where to go next?  Hmmmm… How about Penny Lane?

Penny Lane is a street that forms a junction not far from Lennon’s house.  At the time of the boys’ youth this would have been a very busy junction as it was next to a bus station.  The area is quite upmarket now and a barber shop is still there.  Other than that, this place probably holds more interest for me than anyone else. For your average person it’s probably just another street.

I hold McCartney and his Beatles-era songs (such as Penny Lane) in high regard.  He is a much maligned Beatle with most people forgetting that it was actually McCartney who was the experimenter.  It was McCartney who wove the tape loops and inspired the most psychedelic songs such as Tomorrow Never Knows.  It is McCartney who did not get murdered and therefore did not become a deity.  And it is McCartney who is our greatest living songwriter.


To take a break from the Beatles for a second I would like to show you a few photos I took at that huge Cathedral that we could see from the Mersey Ferry.

A breathtakingly big cathedral… I think my photos do it justice!

And the views from the top of this monumental building were incredible!!!

And a bomber just happened to fly past!

And … relax… Ha ha!  So… off to the Cavern!  Yay!

So… The Cavern Club… Possibly the most famous club in the world?  Everyone knows the story of how this iconic building was demolished right?  It was an underground club and was filled in as part of some kind of railway work.  A National Disaster if you ask me!!!  Anyway… the Cavern was rebuilt with many of the original bricks and to roughly the original layout in approximately the same place.  So you can now go to the Cavern as a Beatles fan and pretend to let its atmosphere wash over you.  I was genuinely surprised at how much of a “gigging venue” this place actually is.  I want to play there.  Ha ha!  You get that feeling of cramped conditions and sweat dripping off the ceiling.  You can almost imaging the Beatles playing there.  When I walked in I was amazed at how deep down into the ground you feel you’re going.  Some guy was on stage playing Beatles songs to anyone who shouted a song title out.  I was actually pretty impressed with him. Good luck… whoever you are. Here’s a (very) short video:

The original entrance to the Cavern still exists:

As I said at the beginning… I shall hold a bit back for future artwork… but I hope you got a taste of Liverpool.  From my experience, a city that is still very proud of the Beatles.  In fact, if they’re going to have a museum dedicated to the city then they’d better find something other than the Beatles to put in it.  The city seems to exist in the shadow of the Beatles… and what a fantastic shadow that is!  🙂  Thanks to Ioanna and Pete for their amazing knowledge of the city!