Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Rock > Pop > Experimental > Alternative > Multi-Channel Music > The Beatles - Abbey Road: Super Deluxe Blu-ray/3 CD Set (1969 Anniversary Edition with Hardcover Built-In Book/Apple Records/Universal Music)

The Beatles - Abbey Road: Super Deluxe Blu-ray/3 CD Set (1969 Anniversary Edition with Hardcover Built-In Book/Apple Records/Universal Music)

Sound: Dolby Atmos/A- DTS-MA 5.1/B+ Stereo: B Extras: A- Album: A-

By 1969, The Beatles had proven that they were not going away, would never run out of ideas and were not to be underestimated. Save a few goofs with political agendas, the band helped make the 1960s great, music great and helped propel a counterculture that could eventually end an unjust war and bring down the most powerful of corrupt politicians. However, the songs were not political propaganda, but palpable music that was always groundbreaking, innovative, surprising and even stunning. Each album release was a major cultural event and Abbey Road was no exception.

This time out, the band was back in the studio recording with a new solid state multi-channel recording system that eliminated tubes (for better and worse) in at the time was one of the most advanced recording systems in the world. George Martin was back as producer and the new project was a single album that was not a concept album or soundtrack, something they had not done in a good few years. This would include more odd songs that caused controversy and examination, plus several more classics, though the surprise here was some of them would be by long-oppressed-in-the-band George Harrison. The cover would also be groundbreaking, this time being the first not to identify the music act on it and deliver another iconic image of the band.

The album tracks this time, both on the Blu-ray edition and 16Bit/44.1 kHz CD Disc One are:

  1. Come Together

  1. Something

  1. Maxwell's Silver Hammer

  1. Oh! Darling

  1. Octopus's Garden

  1. I Want You (She's So Heavy)

  1. Here Comes The Sun

  1. Because

  1. You Never Give Me Your Money

  1. Sun King

  1. Mean Mr Mustard

  1. Polythene Pam

  1. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

  1. Golden Slumbers

  1. Carry That Weight

  1. The End

  1. Her Majesty

In addition, we get two CDs worth of remarkable alternate takes, outtakes and songs that did not make the album, including a hit that went to another new band on the Apple label...

Disc: 2

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)

Disc: 3

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)

The opening album track with the second song on the flip side, was remarkably the only U.S. single from the album and of course, it hit #1, but again, the entire album was being played all over the place worldwide on radio and in clubs. Harrison had arrived as McCartney and Lennon's equal, but Starr was not doing so bad despite having one song here (he apparently had an aversion to singing lead much at the time, but his solo career proved he could more than hold his own) and McCartney in particular is in rare form delivering some of his strongest vocals in any release even to this day of his career.

Harrison's Here Comes The Sun becomes interlocked with a few other songs here, as well as some of the Lennon/McCartney compositions. As with the last few albums, the band achieves new sonic breakthroughs and yet more new sounds with more new musical character you have to hear to understand and in these remarkable and even stunning new remasters, just how far they had gone with Martin and the new equipment. Though some parts of the recording show their age, there is more than enough here to shock anyone that the album is as old as it is, but like the restoration of a feature film that has not been saved or worked on in too long a time, the new Abbey Road in some ways is being heard clearly for the very first time and that includes how the band in vocals, harmonies and musicianship had even gelled more strongly than ever before. No wonder it become one of their biggest selling albums ever and remains a huge fan favorite.

It is then sad that conflict with a new contract all but McCartney wanted to sign (more on that some other time, so stop blaming Yoko!) led to the end of the band despite plans to record more albums together after this one. All four would continue to record great music and have unforgettable moments, but their dissolution was shocking and heartbreaking. Still, leave it to The Beatles to end on as strong and great a note as possible.

The hardcover book in a hard slidecase shell here is top of the line, extremely high quality and the book within that runs 100 pages is made of extremely high quality paper with excellent photo reproductions, plus rare images of reel-to-reel audio tape boxes and even advertising to launch the album. The excellent text is also highly informative and shows a love of the band we can all appreciate.

So how does the album now sound in the new remastering by Giles Martin and Sam Okell?

Abbey Road has always been a sonic favorite of all serious audiophiles and music fans, from the 1969 release to Mobile Fidelity vinyl to recent CD masters and is as desired in this respect as The Who's original Tommy, the 1967 Casino Royale soundtrack, early albums by Yes, early albums by Pink Floyd, many jazz classics of the time and of course, other Beatles albums. Even fabs of the last remaster who loved it so much will find the new stereo version on the CD and in 96kHz/24Bits on the CD just fine. They sound really good, consistent with the way the songs always sounded and are as clear and clean as ever without losing their character. Some fans might prefer any of the earlier versions, but they did not ruin them or fiddle with them in a detrimental way here. Too bad some of the other stereo versions were not included in 96/24 as well like some recent versions of classic Yes albums on audio-only Blu-ray.

So that brings us to the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Blu-ray that mirror the excellent work on the similar, recent box sets with Blu-rays of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album (both reviewed elsewhere on this site) remaining some of the best such single-album box sets ever released. Though I can hear a few sonic limit giveaways at times, the power, dynamic range and clarity of this mix was shocking, more so than even the outstanding DTS-MA 5.1 mixes on those other sets.

When I say it is not like having ever heard the songs before, I mean it, but it is even more so here where really, really hear the amazing musicianship, engineering, mixing, producing and singing. When McCartney sings the title to Golden Slumbers, it is so strong you would never guess he laid that track down a half-century ago, but it is the same vocal I have heard thousands of times and is jaw dropping because he never gets enough credit for being a great singer because he does everything so excellently with such smooth finesse, its second nature to him and he is in more than full control of all of his talents. That is the vocal demo moment of so many on this set and any serious home theater audiophile system owner will understand why when they hear it. You will have a new respect for the album hearing it this way.

But then, as this is Abbey Road, they are not finished yet. On another Beatles first and first for a major studio album that I am aware of (save some classical/instrumental work we've covered recently), though a few concert Blu-rays (recent releases on Blu-ray from Kraftwerk and Roger Waters) have had 12-track soundmixes, this is the first time a major album has been given the same treatment. Though not part of the previous Beatles Blu-ray box sets noted, we have 96/24 Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) lossless sound and it could have merely been a further expansion without much effort or imagination, but you also have to be careful not to take liberties that are gimmicky and phony. Since this is The Beatles, we should know better and know we will get the best and again, we do.

In the best example of a panorama of their classic music since the 5.1 mix on The Beatles Love CD/DVD set (including the now pretty defunct, high definition sound DVD-Audio layer (in the MLP format (Meridian Lossless Packing PCM that is the forerunner of the Dolby lossless used here) many machines can still play, the music of Abbey Road fills the air as an unheard of experience that even goes further than the already-stunning DTS 5.1 here by using the tracks to allow the listener to hear even more vocals and instruments than the 5.1 is capable of. Mixed with a highly advanced understanding of this album, music and sound in general, it like hearing the master tape in a private visit to the recording studio (Abbey Road, perhaps?) demonstrating how incredible this recording actually is technically and further musically in ways even diehard fans will be shocked by.

Using the tracks better than most feature films have since such sound was introduced (including competing, comparable and compatible Auro, IMAX and DTS: X), it is now one of the most truly mesmerizing, unforgettable and music experiences you can have in the home or from a home theater anywhere! As intimate as any outtake or alternate take, it is wall to wall genius at work, that after over half a century after their split, the band is still breaking new ground and is still ahead of all comers, old, new and to be. To say everyone was working at the top of their talents here is an understatement.

You could call the Atmos version cinematic, but I would say it offers a new musicality we have not heard from any other music act, despite the fact that so many current acts could have access to this format or one of the others to show off their studio recordings. They have not yet. The amazing work here is approved by the remaining band members and their heirs, all making the right call.

And let's face it, few music acts then or now could deliver such a richly musical album as Abbey Road. As with all their albums, The Beatles did and it takes this new, recent technology to show al the more why this album is a classic and how an album like this becomes a classic. There are several excellent options (including vinyl) of the album being released to celebrate the half-century mark for this gem, but the Atmos on the Blu-ray is the way to go and anyone serious about The Beatles and serious about music should hear this version ASAP.

Easily one of the most important music releases or rereleases of the year (with sales and recharting to match), Abbey Road continues its critical and commercial stretch of massive success and for yet another few years to decades, remains and will remain way ahead of its time. 'The end' was never so good!

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com