The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

July 10, 2008 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 7/10 | 1 Comment
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RATING: 7.5/10

I wasn’t going to do a review of a Beatles album for some time but as it is Beatles Day here in England then I can hardly miss this chance to pay a small tribute to the fab four.

I cannot say anything new about Abbey Road, it has had nearly four decades of reviews and praise. Just think about it, this work of art is nearly fourty years old. Compare it to the ‘best’ albums of last year. It still feels fresh and original and outranks anything that last year had to offer.

This was the last album recorded by the Beatles, after a stunning career of sublime hits and wondrous works of art they top it all off by one of their best efforts and one of the best albums ever. My favourite has always been Revolver but Abbey Road has always been second place only just. These days I think this album my just be my favourite Beatles Album.

This is such an iconic work of the twentieth century, from the famous and often imitated cover, to the fabulous melodies and lyrics. Which brings me to ask: Why are you reading this? If it is because you do not own this album, or even worse, have never heard it then quickly get it ordered and downloaded before someone sees you. Everyone should own this, in fact, in England you are sent it in the post once you become of age. It is that important to everyday life. That may be over the top but it certainly is essential to everyone’s music collection, even if you only have a few albums.

One of the joys is that each member of the band seems to be at their best on this album. Even Ringo proves his critics wrong by showing them up with a great drum solo during the album’s closing medley. Paul belts out some cracking vocals, very powerful stuff, John rocks like never before and George presents some of his finest songs ever. Individually they all shine in their own right and when they come together (pardon the pun) they shake the earth with their brilliance.

This album has the traits of genius running all the way through it from beginning to end. It is the trait that binds every song together to deliver the world a package of true beauty that continues to inspire and move people even after all these years.

There are a few weak tracks, mainly novelty songs, but these are merely small blips on an otherwise shining record. The highs are certainly well worth the lows.

Buy it now. Listen to it forever. You will never tire of it and neither will your neighbours if you turn it up.

Come Together- Paul’s bass line opens the album, then kick in the crazy lyrics. This is a good track but I wouldn’t place it in say their top 10 songs. It is just missing something to take it beyond the norm…..for a Beatles track anyway, which means it’s still pretty good.

Something- A simple beautiful song, George Harrison really knows how to write a moving song whilst keeping it simple, even the brilliant guitar solo is just a simple and wonderful piece of music. Absolutely nothing over the top about this track. One of the best Harrison songs.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer-The first novelty song. A tale of a serial killer who hits people over the head, told in a light and amusing way. This song is ok, it’s fine….the first few times. After a while it is certainly a track that you are going to want to skip. Even Lennon didn’t like it!

Oh! Darling-Sung by McCartney I think his voice sounds great on this, even if Lennon thought that he should have recorded this instead.

Octopus’s Garden-Whilst being quite catchy, I really do not like this song. It sounds too cheesy, childish lyrics, adequate vocals and nothing more.

I Want You (She’s So Heavy)-Overly long. That’s the first thought that comes into my head. It has some good moments but not enough to keep it interesting for 7:47. The guitar intro is great as are some little jam moments, the vocals are also very good throughout. But there is also too much that just doesn’t work.

Here Comes The Sun- An amazing song, once again written by George Harrison. From the very start it’s beauty grabs you. The guitar throughout is pure perfection, the lyrics shine and gradually the song blossoms into the work of genius that it is. It is both optimistic and uplifting. Listen to Here Comes The Sun

Because- It is not the best track, though a very solid one, on the album but it is a great showcase for the band. Stripped of all the trimmings that a lot of bands need to sound good, the fab four deliver amazing vocals and harmonies, only bettered by the Beach Boys. After all, the Beatles were primarily a vocal band and this song clearly reminds us of this. A fine performance. Listen to Because

You Never Give Me Your Money- A lovely song, sung in McCartney’s best voice. The piano in the first half is great, the harmony in the second half very pretty and the guitar is once again brilliant yet not overdone.

Sun King- Sit back and relax, here comes the mid-album chill out zone. The first minute sounds similar to Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross.

Mean Mr Mustard- Despite being a novelty song, it is much better than the previous two. Plus, it is only a minute long. Quite catchy, silly lyrics, nothing terrible here and nice little jaunt that quickly leads into…

Polythene Pam One of the few times I actually notice John’s accent. A daft song with a great intro that bursts open from the end of the previous track. Again, only a short song but very catchy.

She Came In Through the Bathroom Window- Written by Paul about a fan that did what the title says. This is a great follow on from Polythene Pam, the change is fantastic.

Golden Slumbers- Soaring strings, soft piano, gentle bass; a wonderful start to this song. Then we get Paul’s top-notch vocals come in during the chorus. Another gentle dip and then it goes straight into…

Carry That Weight- ‘You never give me your money’ makes a comeback halfway in, with different lyrics, then back to Carry That Weight and then, without looking backwards we plunge into….

The End- The band on flawless form; guitars, vocals, melody and Ringo all merge into one great showmanship of their abilities. The last great piece of music they laid down. For many this is the highlight of the entire album and it is kind of hard to disagree with them. Listen to The End

Her Majesty- 23 seconds long and a novelty song once again. I don’t see the point of this and certainly it’s position on the album. We’ve just heard a magnificent medley of several songs and then the last track would have been an awesome and perfect end to the album and then this gets put in right at the end.

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Sam Cooke – Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 (1985)

June 26, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 7/10 | 1 Comment
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RATING:  7/10

Here we have one of the greatest voices in music playing to a small live audience. The fact that he is singing live doesn’t have an affect the quality of his sound. This is such an enjoyable performance to listen to, full of soul, energy, enjoyment and banter. Recorded only about one year before his death, this is Mr. Cooke at his best.

One can only wonder what it would have been like to be there that night, to see him in person, to get involved in the show. The people there must have treasured that experience forever. Not all the tracks are the best from his career, but it is the pure quality of his voice, performance and the atmosphere of the audience that makes this album stand out.

1. Feel It: After getting the crowd warmed up he leaps into his first song which just carries flawlessly to the end. ‘Don’t fight it, don’t fight it, don’t fight the feeling’ he sings and it’s hard not to. Such an easy track to get into, nothing amazing, but the beat and the soul that pours forth sets up the mood for the rest of the album.

2. Chain Gang: One of his more well known tracks is next and the transition to live performance is great. Sam has the chance to really get into his zone, grunting and ‘Ah’-ing and the crowd responds to it as you would expect. Listen to Chain Gang

3. Cupid: One of my favourite Cooke songs, Sam here makes it a little funkier and it works. Probably his best vocals of the night.  Listen to Cupid

4. Medley: It’s All Right/ For Sentimental Reasons: This is a lesson from Sam to guys about how to talk to your woman. After a brief intro he cracks into this gentle and soulful tune, his vocals as perfect as ever. A seamless link into the second half, as he sings you can imagine him picking out certain women and singing directly to them. He then gets the whole crowd to sing along. Throughout the album he is constantly talking throughout the songs, at the right times, getting the crowd involved and showing us that he is enjoying himself.

5. Twistin’ The Night Away: My favourite Sam Cooke song of all time, this is perfect for a live performance and he delivers it with style and class. What a showcase for his vocals and his ability to sing live and retain that quality in his voice. If the dance floor was sparse before then this song would have guaranteed it to be packed be the end. One of the highlights of the album. Listening to Twisting The Night Away

6. Somebody Have Mercy: A cool sax, upbeat rhythm and a great voice carries this so-so track through and makes it fit.

7. Bring It On Home To Me: There is a slow intro that lasts just under 3 minutes, it’s not really something that fits but when the song begins we have the groove and soul back. It feels as though this may be one of Sam’s favourites to sing live, something in his voice and interaction with the crowd shows that there is something more there. Then the track ends with the crowd getting involved once again, they clearly love their evening.

8. Nothing Can Change This Love: Again, top-notch singing is the highlight of this enjoyable track. Not the strongest track on the album but the performance is one of the strongest.

9. Having A Party: This song aptly sums up this album. Everybody’s singing, dancing to the music and they certainly were having a party. Everyone gets involved, you can also picture them swinging away with their friends and partners. A fitting end to a great performance.

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