01. The Beatles – Abbey Road
The hardest part about compiling a list of the 100 greatest albums ever made isn’t necessarily deciding what classic makes the list, or whether X is better than Y, Y is better than Z, etc. The hardest part about compiling this list is figuring out whether X is better than every other album ever pressed (or uploaded). Lists are sent in to our editors and analyzed. Surveys are produced to gauge our writers’ reactions and a general consensus if formed.
Consequence of Sound features over 50 staff members of varying positions. Some of us have been writing from the get-go, while others are just getting their feet wet. Most of us have never met one another. A lot of us have never communicated with each other in any medium. So how is it that no matter our age, location, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religion, height, weight, ad nauseum, we find The Beatles’ Abbey Road as the greatest album of all time?
Opinions. This writer sent out a simple question to a number of people asking: “What makes Abbey Road great?” The quotes aren’t from Chuck Klosterman or Rob Sheffield. Our Chicago writers didn’t track down Greg Kot or Jim DeRogatis for a quick blurb. The quotes peppered throughout this article are from people of varying ages and backgrounds who have never written a word for our site, but who share that common passion in their love for The Beatles’ last hurrah. People who may share that passion with you, the reader.
This was really the last time we’d see songwriting like this from John. He became an incredibly straightforward lyricist in his solo career, ditching psychedelia for more declarative and emotional pieces like “Mother” and “Imagine”.” – Walter, Orlando, Fla.
Abbey Road’s opener, John Lennon’s “Come Together”, has been covered by everyone from Michael Jackson to Aerosmith, despite its impenetrable lyrics and dirty demeanor. It’s Paul McCartney’s bouncing bass line and Ringo Starr’s rumbling drumming that call out to music acts across the world, “Now you try!” Unfortunately for those brave souls who attempt such a task, they can’t hope to match the aforementioned musicians, especially Lennon’s pointed vocals. His other contributions to Abbey Road are just as valuable to making the album what it is. The smoky haze of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” features not only one of the greatest outros ever, but thanks to CD and MP3s, it now has one of the greatest transitions of all time (into “Here Comes the Sun”). “Because” continues to haunt listeners over 40 years later, with its ethereal harmonies from Lennon, McCartney, and that other guitarist…
It was their last album and George’s best songs were on it. “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” were a preview of the quality of his songwriting to come.” – Charles, Cornelius, N.C.
It’s also George’s coming out party. His songwriting reached full maturation in Abbey Road with both “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”, which Lennon considered the two best songs on the album.” – Walter
“Here Comes the Sun” is a perfect song that is the essence of who George Harrison was.” – Tom, Tampa Bay, FL
In addition to Abbey Road finding a place at the top of our list, George Harrison can be considered as the greatest number three of all time. Never showy, Harrison still managed to steal Abbey Road from his frequently dominating bandmates (when asked, Frank Sinatra answered “Something” as his favorite Lennon/McCartney composition). “Something” is one of those songs perfect from the start, a love song to end all love songs. “Here Comes the Sun” is the song to pick you up no matter your circumstance, no matter your lot in life. Both songs are such classics, it’s hard to fathom what else Harrison had tucked away in his pockets (see: All Things Must Pass).
Medley, done.” – Chris, Chicago, IL.
It’s ability to destroy everything negative in your bones with that medley. “Something” will always give me butterflies every time I hear it.” – McKenzie, Chicago, IL.
[Abbey Road] is also a final literal and stylistic testament to what the band was and represented. Of course, I could have simply answered, “Side B.”” – Paul, Chicago, IL.
“Golden Slumbers”…”The End” that closes the album is their greatest musical achievement. Period.” – Brady, Fort Wayne, IN.
Paul McCartney and producer (and good choice for “Fifth Beatle” in my book) George Martin created what is referred to as “The Medley”; eight tracks that segue directly into each other of different styles and temperaments, occupying most of Side B. Instead of discarding unfinished songs, the old cut-and-paste method was used to save the Pacific-Coast-sounds-by-way-of-Spanish-vocals of Lennon’s “Sun King”, as well as the mid-tempo “Mean Mr. Mustard” and furious “Polythene Pam”. They all lead to McCartney’s country-tinged “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”, which lead to the finest trilogy, well, ever.
A medley within a medley? Madness. But does it ever work. “Golden Slumbers” is a gorgeous piano/orchestration with lyrics of longing and comfort. McCartney’s words and vocals alternate between cool and practically howling without ever losing hold of the listener. They take us to “Carry That Weight”, the sing-a-long anthem with the “You Never Give Me Your Money” reprise. Everything culminates with “The End”, a three-guitar attack never heard before or since. There is joy found in Starr’s pulsating drum solo and figuring out who is playing what guitar on what part on what section. The only words of the song remind us “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Words to actually live by, another rare feat accomplished by The Fab Four from Liverpool.
The darker undertones are playfully overshadowed by the warm comfort of possibility. In short it’s catchy and inspiring.” – Tracylee, Holly Springs, N.C.
The best thing about Abbey Road is that we are still talking about it.” – Charles
I can’t sum up the importance or the greatness of this album without the assistance of our editor-in-chief, Michael Roffman, who wrote in his review of the remastered Abbey Road last year that “there isn’t a collective work by The Beatles, and probably any act out there, that is this perfect, this cohesive, and this iconic and lasting. How many times have we heard “Sun King” today in any indie act’s debut? Where would shoegaze be without “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”? How many secret tracks do we find on a weekly basis? Like it or not, scoff or smile, Abbey Road is hands down thee greatest piece of musical work on this godforsaken planet, and you know what, it actually makes us look like decent human beings.”
Disagree? Hey. Don’t look at me. They said it. – Justin Gerber
Essential Tracks: The whole damn thing.