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Influence of four lads from Liverpool continues to be felt five decades after they made their last record together
50th Anniversary deluxe boxed set.
I could stop right there.
For some people, that would be all the encouragement they needed to go in search of this truly remarkable re-issue.
For some others, that’s all the discouragement they would need to stop reading any further, muttering “good God not another one” as they flip the page.
The seemingly endless string of Beatles’ re-issues has proven too much for some.
But I’m not one of them.
As someone for whom the music of The Beatles has never lost its appeal, I look forward to each Beatles re-issue with the anticipation of a child at Christmas wondering what’s in the big box under the tree.
And, apparently, I’m not alone.
The 50th anniversary “Abbey Road” re-issue has already reached number one in the U.K. charts setting a record for the longest ever span between No. 1 slots for the same album. It’s also hit the Top 3 spot in Billboard’s American charts.
On the super deluxe edition of the “Abbey Road” reissue there’s a track called simply but appropriately “The Long One”. It’s a 16-minute medley featuring “You Never Give Me Your Money”, “Sun King”, “Mean Mr Mustard”, “Her Majesty”, “Polythene Pam”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”, “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry That Weight”, “The End”.
It’s yet another milestone for four lads from Liverpool whose influence continues to be felt five decades after they made their last record together.
So, what makes this re-issue stand out?
The same thing that made the original recording stand out in 1969 basically – the sheer brilliance of the material, the level of artistry of the people involved and gorgeous production values, courtesy in this case of producer Giles Martin, son of original producer George Martin.
Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell have done a fabulous job with the 17 original tracks on “Abbey Road”, as well with the 23 session recordings and demos that are part of the deluxe boxed set, most of which are previously unreleased.
Tracks like “Come Together”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “You Never Give Me Your Money”, “Golden Slumbers”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” and “Because” literally jump off the record and take over the room.
The bonus recordings are particularly interesting to those who take an interest in the evolution of a song and in the actual process from concept to finished product. There are home demos, studio demos and alternate takes.
An audiophile’s delight, the re-issue was recorded in stereo, high res stereo, 5.1 surround sound.
To create the new mixes, Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios. The new mix was sourced directly from the original eight-track session tapes.
In a written forward for the re-issue Paul McCartney had this to say.
“The Beatles recording journey had gone through many twists and turns, learning curves and thrilling rides. Here we were – still wondering at the magic of it all.”
Martin summed up his role this way.
“The magic comes from the hands playing the instruments, the blend of The Beatles’ voices, the beauty of the arrangements…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.”
And he has most certainly done that.
There are several editions of this 50th anniversary reissue available, ranging in price from about $40 for the two-CD edition to $140 for a super deluxe edition that features three CDs and a Blu-ray Audio disc. For $55 you can get an “Abbey Road” vinyl picture disc.
The various editions also contain booklets featuring detailed liner notes and exclusive photographs, some of which have never been seen before.
There’s an edition for virtually every budget.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at email@example.com.