After the disappointing sessions for Let It Be, The Beatles regrouped for one final effort. Abbey Road is beautifully produced and arranged, and has probably the best musicianship on a Beatles record as the longer running times allow George Harrison has a chance to stretch out and play guitar solos. It’s often hailed as a masterpiece, but I’ve always found it disappointing, lacking the vitality and great writing of their peak era work.
The song-writing is often weak – particularly on the first side, where there’s boring blues like ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ and ‘Oh Darling!’, a throwaway Ringo song, and McCartney’s insubstantial ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. Harrison turns in two of the best songs with ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Something’, and probably should have been allowed to contribute more. The other saving grace for Abbey Road is McCartney’s work on side two – ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ is beautiful, ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ is energetic and fun, while the closing medley of ‘Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End’ is magical.
Abbey Road is clearly a step up from the disappointing Let It Be, which wasn’t released until 1970. But it only recaptures the brilliance of earlier The Beatles in spurts, and doesn’t measure up to their best albums.