The Beatles’ revolutionary use of technology in ‘Abbey Road

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“Abbey Road” is the first album that the band released in stereo only.

The Beatles had recorded all their previous albums in mono, with stereo versions made without the Beatles’ participation. In “Abbey Road,” however, stereo is central to the album’s creative vision.(excerpt from theconversation.com)

Take the opening minute of “Here Comes the Sun,” the first track on the record’s second side.

If you listen to the record on a stereo, George Harrison’s acoustic guitar emerges from the left speaker. It’s soon joined by several delicate synthesizer sounds. At the end of the song’s introduction, a lone synthesizer sound gradually sweeps from the left speaker to the listener’s center.

Harrison’s voice then enters in the center, in front of the listener, and is joined by strings located toward the right speaker’s location. This sort of sonic movement can only happen in stereo – and The Beatles masterfully deployed this effect.

Then there are Ringo Starr’s drums in “The End,” which fill the entire sonic space, from left to right. But each drum is individually fixed in a separate position, creating the illusion of many drums in multiple locations – a dramatic cacophony of rhythms that’s especially noticeable in the track’s drum solo.

Originally recorded in 1969 as a part of the Let It Be sessions, the song was written by Lennon and, as is the way with a large majority of Beatles songs, it is attributed to the Lennon-McCartney writing partnership. When discussing the song, Paul McCartney interpreted the track as a “genuine plea” to Ono.

In the mid-1960s, an engineer named Robert Moog invented the modular synthesizer, a new type of instrument that generated unique sounds from oscillators and electronic controls that could be used to play melodies or enhance tracks with sound effects.

Harrison received a demonstration of the device in October 1968. A month later, he ordered one of his own.

You can hear Giles Martin’s mix of ‘Oh! Darling’ below, as well as the never-before-released ‘Take 4’ from the ‘Abbey Road’ sessions which features an overdubbed Hammond organ from Billy Preston.
 – It was 50 years ago today, on August 8, 1969, that the world’s most famous band stepped out from London’s EMI Recording Studios to stride, single-file, across the black and white stripes of Abbey Road’s nearby zebra crossing. (SOURCE THEBEATLES:COM)

The Beatles are among the very first popular musicians to use this revolutionary instrument. Harrison first played it during the “Abbey Road” sessions in August 1969, when he used it for the track “Because.”

The synthesizer ended up being used in three other tracks on the album: “Here Comes the Sun,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

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“The magic comes from the hands playing the instruments, the blend of The Beatles’ voices, the beauty of the arrangements,” Giles Martin explains in his written introduction for the new edition. “Our quest is simply to ensure everything sounds as fresh and hits you as hard as it would have on the day it was recorded.”

 

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The two discs are presented in a digipak with a 40-page booklet abridged from the Super Deluxe book. The album’s new stereo mix is also available in 1CD and 180-gram 1LP vinyl packages, for digital download in standard and MFiT audio, and on a limited edition picture disc vinyl LP illustrated by the album’s front and back cover art images.

 

For an overnight session on February 22, 1969, The Beatles were joined at London’s Trident Studios by producer George Martin and engineer Glyn Johns to record “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Abbey Road’s new edition combines a take from that session with the concluding part of the Trident master’s eight-track reduction mix made later at the EMI studios, revealing for the first time Billy Preston’s thrilling overdubbed organ solo.

With their amps turned up high, The Beatles received a noise complaint from one of the studio’s neighbors in the Soho area of the city. The take starts with Lennon exclaiming, “My boys are ready to go!,” before the band is told about the complaint. Lennon replies, “What are they doing here at this time of night?,” then lays it down: “Well, we’ll try it once more very loud. And then if we don’t get it, we’ll try it quiet, like it might do it the other way. OK. The loud one, last go. Last chance to be loud!”

 

 

After Harrison had transported his rare and cumbersome Moog synthesizer to the studios, four songs received Beatle-played synthesizer parts: “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (Lennon), “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (McCartney), and “Here Comes The Sun” and “Because” (Harrison). This was a very early use of the newly-invented instrument on a pop record. George Martin wrote arrangements for several tracks that were recorded in Studio One toward the end of the sessions in August 1969. The original overdubbed recordings of Martin’s scores for “Something” and “Golden Slumbers”/“Carry That Weight” are included in Abbey Road’s anniversary edition.

 

August 20, 1969 was the last time The Beatles were together as a band at the EMI studios, for an evening session to compile Abbey Road’s master tapes. The album’s sides were sequenced, with “Come Together” opening Side 1, and with the medley of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Sun King,” “Mean Mr Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End” placed on Side 2. “The Long One,” a different trial edit and mix of the medley, including “Her Majesty” (ultimately placed 14 seconds after “The End” as an unlisted, hidden track) is included in Abbey Road’s new edition.

A few weeks before Abbey Road’s release on September 26, 1969, Apple’s press officer Derek Taylor revealed that the album was “recorded at nice, workmanlike sessions which usually began at 2pm and continued until the end of the evening.”

 

Preorder Abbey Roadhttp://thebeatles.lnk.to/AbbeyRoad2019

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