Abbey Road is more or less The Beatles' final album1, and it contains some of the group's strongest work – especially George Harrison, who finally gets his day in the sun.
I'm not sure when I got my first copy of Abbey Road. Might have been high school, or it might have been the first release of The Beatles' catalog on CD. This was back in the dark, pre-Internet, ages when knowing exactly what the "official" Beatles releases were was non-trivial.
The vast majority of Abbey Road was in heavy rotation on the local classic rock stations all through my formative years, of course, but it's best appreciated in its entirety.
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Technically, it was the movie Help! that helped turn me into a music junkie, but we'll go with the album here.
Here's how it all started. When I was seven, I came home from Sunday school (yes, really) and turned on the TV. There was usually a movie playing on the local non-network affliate channel around Noon on Sundays, and on one day I cranked the TV just in time to catch Help!.
If you've seen the movie, you know it starts with an attempted human sacrifice that fails because the victim isn't wearing the sacrificial ring. Where's the ring? Cut to a shot of Ringo Starr's hand while he's playing the drums as The Beatles play "Help!"
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Famed Rock critic Robert Christgau called Rubber Soul "when The Beatles began to go arty." Reductive, perhaps, but also true.
Rubber Soul is not as adventurous as Sgt. Pepper or The Beatles, but it brings in elements that the band couldn't reproduce on stage. And it also deals with some more mature themes than previous Beatles albums, albeit obliquely.
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Cloud Nine may not be George Harrison's strongest work outside of The Beatles, but for many reasons it's my favorite Harrison solo album. My reasons for loving this album? Let me tell you them…
At 17, when Cloud Nine was released, I was still strongly convinced that no band would ever equal The Beatles musically. I'd started to branch out musically, but the Fab Four still dominated my musical mindset. Harrison had been in a long fallow period – Cloud Nine was five years after the previous studio album, and it was also the last studio album before his death in 2001. But it did come along with a new wave of appreciation for The Beatles and some interesting follow-up projects.
If I recall correctly, K-SHE 95 in St. Louis broadcast the album in its entirety the day (well, night) of its release. (Pretty sure it was K-SHE, but it might have been KSD.) Tape at the ready, I recorded the entire thing and wore that tape into the ground. It was new "Beatles" music, and for a change I was getting to hear it first (along with the rest of the world).
Continue reading "My favorite 100 albums of all time: #34 ("Cloud Nine")"