The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ Getting 50th Anniv. Releases

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The Beatles, Twickenham, April 9, 1969 (Photo by Bruce McBroom © Apple Corps Ltd.; used with permission)

As they’ve done before with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (The White Album), The Beatles will release deluxe 50th anniversary expanded editions of their 1969 studio masterpiece Abbey Road. The long-anticipated announcement arrived this morning from Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe. The release is set for Sept. 27, 2019.

This is the first time Abbey Road has been remixed and presented with additional session recordings and demos. To create the album’s new stereo, 5.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos mixes, producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios. All the new Abbey Road releases feature the new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original eight-track session tapes. To produce the mix, Giles was guided by the album’s original stereo mix supervised by his father, the late George Martin.

“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.”

From the Aug. 8 announcement: Abbey Road’s Super Deluxe boxed set presents 40 tracks–including “The Long One” Trial Edit & Mix for the album’s epic Side 2 medley–on three CDs (stereo) and one Blu-ray disc (Dolby Atmos, 96kHz/24 bit high resolution stereo, and 96 kHz/24 bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1). The four discs are housed in a slip-sleeved 12” x 12” 100-page hardbound book with McCartney’s foreword; Martin’s introduction; insightful, in-depth chapters written by Beatles historian, author and radio producer Kevin Howlett covering the months preceding the Beatles’ Abbey Road sessions, track-by-track details and session notes, the cover art and photo shoot, and the album’s reception upon its release; plus an essay by music journalist and author David Hepworth looking at the album’s influence through 50 years.

Order the Super Deluxe edition here; and the 3-LP deluxe edition here.

The book is illustrated with rare and previously unpublished photographs, including many taken by Linda McCartney; never before published images of handwritten lyrics, sketches and a George Martin score; Beatles correspondence, recording sheets and tape boxes; and reproduced original print ads. The Super Deluxe digital audio collection presents all 40 tracks for download purchase and streaming in standard and MFiT formats, as well as in high resolution audio (96kHz/24 bit) for download.

Abbey Road’s limited edition Deluxe vinyl box set features all 40 tracks from the Super Deluxe collection on three 180-gram vinyl LPs. The album’s new stereo mix LP is packaged in a faithfully replicated sleeve, with the two Sessions LPs paired in their own jacket, presented with a four-page insert in a lift-top box. The Deluxe 2-CD set pairs the new stereo mix with versions taken from the session takes and demo recordings of its 17 songs, sequenced to match the album’s running order. 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 1-CD and 180-gram 1-LP 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.

Listen to the instrumental with strings only of “Something”

A studio demo of the same song

And the 2019 mix

Abbey Road’s Super Deluxe and Deluxe vinyl box sets’ 23 session and demo recordings are presented in chronological order of their first recording dates.

Abbey Road, released on Oct. 1, 1969, in the U.S. (Sept. 26, 1969, in the U.K.), was the band’s 11th studio album, and the last one in which all four members participated. (It was released before Let It Be, which was recorded months earlier.) Abbey Road included the two-sided #1 hit “Something”/“Come Together,” as well as such favorites as George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and the Lennon-McCartney medley that occupies much of the original vinyl’s second side.

The original Abbey Road front cover

The original cover art—one of the most beloved, studied and imitated album covers in history—depicted the four Beatles walking on the “zebra crossing” in front of the Abbey Road Studios in London. The photo shoot for that cover took place on Aug. 8, 1969, exactly 50 years prior to today’s announcement of the deluxe upgrade.

The Beatles’ social media platforms made their first acknowledgment of the release on its anniversary at around 6 a.m. ET on August 8, with an out-of-focus image of the Abbey Road crosswalk that gradually comes into view, with a portion of “Come Together” playing.

Abbey Road entered the British album chart at #1 in Oct. 1969 and stayed there for a total of 17 of its 81 weeks in the chart. In the U.S., it entered the Record World chart at #59 on Oct. 18, jumped to #2 on Oct. 25  and on Nov. 1 hit #1, where it spent 11 weeks during its initial chart stay of 83 weeks.

[If you assume Abbey Road won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, you would be wrong.]

The album was recorded as the group was in its final throes—they would split the following year. They saw Abbey Road as their final statement and made an effort to pool their ideas one last time, trying to keep the rancor at bay. On the Beatles’ website, George Martin is quoted as having said, “I was quite surprised when Paul rang me up and said, ‘We’re going to make another record, would you like to produce it?’ And my immediate answer was, ‘Only if you let me produce it the way we used to.’ And he said, ‘We do want to do that’ and I said, ‘John included?’ and he said, ‘Yes, honestly.’”

Paul McCartney is also quoted: “I think it was in a way the feeling that it might be our last, so let’s just show ’em what we can do, let’s show each other what we can do, and let’s try and have a good time doing it.”

The Abbey Road 50th anniversary picture disc

The now-official news of the anniversary release was a long time coming. At a Sept. 26, 2018, presentation in New York City to introduce the deluxe edition of the White Album to the press, Giles Martin was asked about plans for a similar expanded treatment of Abbey Road. Martin politely deflected, indicating that the focus at that time was on the enormous task that had been completed on the expanded White Album. “I haven’t given it any thought,” he said about the now-announced followup.

In July, Martin hinted that he was involved with the project by tweeting, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make,” the final line of “The End,” the penultimate track on Abbey Road. (The final track is the 23-second ditty, “Her Majesty.”) The tweet was accompanied by a photograph of a recording console.

Finally, in late July, Ringo Starr confirmed that the Abbey Road project was on its way, adding, in an interview with Billboard, “I’ve loved all the re-releases because of the remastering. You can hear the drums, which got dialed down in the old days. I get a bit fed up, personally, with all those, like, Take 9 or Take 3, the odd takes that we didn’t put out, but that’s part of the box set and you have to do stuff like that. But I’ve always just listened to the record itself, what we put out in the ’60s or 1970, and it’s brighter.”

Some of the Abbey Road outtakes have been released before. The 50th anniversary edition of the White Album included demo versions of “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.” The finished tracks, of course, comprise part of side two of Abbey Road. but were works-in-progress before that album took its final shape.

Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe [3-CD+1-Blu-ray set; digital audio collection]

CD ONE: 2019 Stereo Mix
1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
4. Oh! Darling
5. Octopus’s Garden
6. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
7. Here Comes The Sun
8. Because
9. You Never Give Me Your Money
10. Sun King
11. Mean Mr Mustard
12. Polythene Pam
13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
14. Golden Slumbers
15. Carry That Weight
16. The End
17. Her Majesty

CD TWO: Sessions
1. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Trident Recording Session & Reduction Mix)
2. Goodbye (Home Demo)
3. Something (Studio Demo)
4. The Ballad Of John And Yoko (Take 7)
5. Old Brown Shoe (Take 2)
6. Oh! Darling (Take 4)
7. Octopus’s Garden (Take 9)
8. You Never Give Me Your Money (Take 36)
9. Her Majesty (Takes 1–3)
10. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Takes 1–3 / Medley)
11. Here Comes The Sun (Take 9)
12. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 12)

CD THREE: Sessions
1. Come Together (Take 5)
2. The End (Take 3)
3. Come And Get It (Studio Demo)
4. Sun King (Take 20)
5. Mean Mr Mustard (Take 20)
6. Polythene Pam (Take 27)
7. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Take 27)
8. Because (Take 1 – Instrumental)
9. The Long One (Trial Edit & Mix – 30 July 1969)
(Medley: 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)
10. Something (Take 39 – Instrumental – Strings Only)
11. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Take 17 – Instrumental – Strings & Brass Only)

BLU-RAY: Abbey Road
Audio Features:
– Dolby Atmos
– 96kHz/24 bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
– 96kHz/24 bit High Res Stereo (2019 Stereo Mix)

Deluxe 3-LP Box Set (limited edition)

LP ONE: Side 1 (2019 Stereo Mix)
1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
4. Oh! Darling
5. Octopus’s Garden
6. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

LP ONE: Side 2 (2019 Stereo Mix)
1. Here Comes The Sun
2. Because
3. You Never Give Me Your Money
4. Sun King
5. Mean Mr Mustard
6. Polythene Pam
7. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
8. Golden Slumbers
9. Carry That Weight
10. The End
11. Her Majesty

LP TWO: Side 1 (Sessions)
1. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Trident Recording Session and Reduction Mix)
2. Goodbye (Home Demo)
3. Something (Studio Demo)
4. The Ballad Of John And Yoko (Take 7)
5. Old Brown Shoe (Take 2)

LP TWO: Side 2 (Sessions)
1. Oh! Darling (Take 4)
2. Octopus’s Garden (Take 9)
3. You Never Give Me Your Money (Take 36)
4. Her Majesty (Takes 1–3)
5. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Takes 1–3) / Medley)
6. Here Comes The Sun (Take 9)
7. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 12)

LP THREE: Side 1 (Sessions)
1. Come Together (Take 5)
2. The End (Take 3)
3. Come and Get It (Studio Demo)
4. Sun King (Take 20)
5. Mean Mr Mustard (Take 20)
6. Polythene Pam (Take 27)
7. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Take 27)
8. Because (Take 1 Instrumental)

LP THREE: Side 2 (Sessions)
1. The Long One (Trial Edit & Mix – 30 July 1969)
2. Something (Take 39 – Instrumental – Strings Only)
3. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Take 17 – Instrumental – Strings & Brass Only)

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  1. John Rose
    #1 John Rose 9 August, 2019, 10:00

    I remember reading in Mark Lewisohn’s “Beatles Recording Sessions” book that “Something” was a originally recorded with a long coda. A few years later I bought a bootleg that included this long version. It’s not very good, and they were right to trim it. It just kind of lumbers along for about 4 minutes and doesn’t go anywhere. Perhaps there were supposed to be some more overdubs for it. I see that it’s not included in the track list of outtakes. Honestly, you’re not missing much.

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