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Sneak Preview: Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ 50th Anniversary Edition Features Dazzling Sound, Unreleased Outtakes

The Beatles’ body of work has been so worshipped, scrutinized and dissected that 50 years later, one could wonder what’s left to discover. After all, how much more can one say about “Abbey Road”? It’s arguably the greatest album by the greatest group of all time, and is one of the premiere artistic statements of its era. And as the final album the Beatles made together — it was recorded after “Let It Be” but released before  — it was created in a spirit of pre-breakup détente: The Beatles knew they were splitting up, so they made one last big effort for the team, and consequently, “Abbey Road” has none of the tension and contentiousness of “The White Album” and “Let It Be.” It’s all harmony, in every sense of the word.

Although the Beatles’ catalog has already been revisited several times — first on CD in the ‘80s, then the “Anthology” rarities series in the ‘90s, then in meticulously remastered stereo editions in the ‘00s, then in mono, and now in 50th anniversary editions — each one has revealed tantalizing surprises for longtime fans.

And as evidenced by a Monday sneak preview of the “Abbey Road” anniversary edition — which has been remixed by longtime Beatles producer George Martin’s son Giles in stereo, high res stereo, 5.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos, and comes out on Sept. 27 — there were plenty of delightful surprises lurking in the previous mixes, and lots of outtakes that haven’t made the rounds. The remixes unveil many previously hidden elements in the songs — mostly subtle ones, but exciting to fans all the same — and just two of the outtakes were previously released, and in slightly different versions.

The full tracklist appears below and granular details of the set can be found here, but all anyone who’s read this far will care about is what it sounds like — and, speaking as someone who has heard every second of this album hundreds of times since the age of 6, it sounds amazing.

Most of the new remix of the album was played, along with parts of the special “Atmos” mix — and hearing it over the mind-blowing sound system at the Dolby 24 Screening Room in New York is a privileged setting that won’t be recreated in most mortals’ homes. With that caveat, it sounds stunning: The remix places the listener in the center of the music, with the so-familiar elements of the Beatles’ sound — the breathtaking vocal harmonies, the snarling electric guitars, Ringo’s cascading drum rolls and Paul McCartney’s astonishing bass playing — moving from one speaker to the next fluidly.

“Abbey Road” is arguably the most cleanly produced and arranged Beatles album, and the new remix places it in dramatic relief: The vocals on “Because” and the sweeping strings on “Something” (the latter of which were played in isolation during this session) have never sounded so full and pristine.

The unreleased material is equally fascinating. Aired during this session was a stunning, extended early version of John Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” that finds the group edging into noise-rock, as guest keyboardist Billy Preston wails away on the organ. Also played was an earlier take of “Octopus’ Garden,” close to the final but featuring some priceless studio banter between the soon-to-be-former bandmates. When the take breaks down, Lennon jokes to Ringo, “I thought you were about to sing ‘In an octopus’ garden with John,” to laughter. The segment ends with Ringo joking about the reason the take broke down: “Maybe I came in too early … or maybe you did!”

The set focuses not just on the album but also on the singles recorded during its sessions, and early versions of “The Ballad of John and Yoko” and “Old Brown Shoe” are included in the set, as are Paul McCartney’s demos of “Goodbye” (recorded at home on acoustic guitar) and “Come and Get It” (given to Apple recording artists Mary Hopkin and Badfinger, respectively). Since the “Abbey Road” sessions overlapped with those of “Let It Be” — which was recorded before, but released after, “Abbey Road” — some other contemporaneous recordings will be included in that anniversary reissue, which has not been officially announced, but everyone knows is getting the 50th anniversary treatment next year.

But in the meantime, the “Abbey Road” anniversary edition provides some wonderful surprises, even for those who have heard the album hundreds of times.

Abbey Road Anniversary Edition

Tracklists

SUPER DELUXE [3CD+1Blu-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)

  1. Something (Take 39 – Instrumental – Strings Only)
  2. 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 3LP VINYL 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)

DELUXE 2CD

CD ONE: 2019 Stereo Mix

CD TWO: Sessions 

  1. Come Together (Take 5)
  2. Something (Studio Demo)
  3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 12)
  4. Oh! Darling (Take 4)
  5. Octopus’s Garden (Take 9)
  6. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Trident Recording Session & Reduction Mix)
  7. Here Comes The Sun (Take 9)
  8. Because (Take 1 Instrumental)
  9. You Never Give Me Your Money (Take 36)
  10. Sun King (Take 20)
  11. Mean Mr Mustard (Take 20)
  12. Polythene Pam (Take 27)
  13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Take 27)
  14. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Takes 1–3 / Medley)
  15. The End (Take 3)
  16. Her Majesty (Takes 1–3)

STANDARD [1CD; digital; 1LP vinyl; limited edition 1LP picture disc vinyl]

2019 Stereo Mix

 

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