5 Reasons Why “Abbey Road” Is My Favorite Beatles Album

Abbyey Road

Remember in the movie WarGames when a computer asked Matthew Broderick, “Shall we play a game?” Broderick’s character chose to play “Global Thermonuclear War.” You might recall that the game has no winner. With that in mind, let’s play a similar game: “Name Your Favorite Beatles Album.” Deciding on a favorite Beatles album is like a parent picking a favorite child, picking the most beautiful woman in the Miss Universe Pageant, or deciding on Philadelphia’s best cheesesteak (it’s neither Pat’s or Geno’s). These tough questions do have answers, and the answer for the best Beatles album happens to be… Abbey Road.

Rolling Stone ranks four Beatles albums in the Top 15 of the Best Albums of All Time, placing Abbey Road at 14. That means the magazine ranked three Beatles albums ahead of Abbey Road. Well, Rolling Stone often gets things wrong. Remember, they originally hated both Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” and Led Zeppelin’s debut album. So, what do they know?

Abbey Road is special in so many ways. The record was the eleventh album released by the Beatles but was actually the last album in which all four Beatles participated in the recording. McCartney wanted producer George Martin to “get back to basics” and produce the album the way that he did early on. Martin agreed…thank goodness. Although Let It Be was the last studio album released by the band, most of that record was already completed before the Abbey Road sessions had even started. Essentially, this was the last album the Beatles were to record and, deep down, they had to know this. They went out with a bang. Here’s are five reasons why:

1. George Harrison’s Contribution

The “quiet Beatle” delivered his best work on Abbey Road. Both “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” showed the world that he had been paying attention to Lennon and McCartney as they wrote their many masterpieces. Try not to sing along to “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s impossible. The Beatles wrote some of the greatest love songs of all time, and “Something” may be the best of the lot. The album is George Harrison’s finest hour.

2. You Want “Prog Rock”? Here You Go

Progressive Rock crept out of the consciousness of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Beatles, not really a prog rock group per se, recorded two of the genre’s finest songs: “I Am the Walrus” and “Come Together” — the latter, of course, is the first track on side one of Abbey Road so when the needle drops on the album, and you’re hit in the face with this Lennon-McCartney tune, you better buckle up. The track may not be indicative of what the whole album has to offer, but it does add to the eclectic nature of what lies ahead and shows that the Beatles could write any kind of music that they set their minds to.

3. Side Two

Without question, Abbey Road contains the most unique half-album of any record in The Beatles’ catalog. Side Two contains a 16-minute medley of eight short songs fused together by producer George Martin. The set, although panned by some critics as a mish-mash of song parts, shows that Lennon’s and McCartney’s song pieces are better than most of their peers’ finished compositions. Harrison and Lennon do some of their best guitar work here. Additionally, you’ll hear George play a Fender Telecaster through a Leslie speaker on “You Never Give Me Your Money” and Ringo play his only drum solo in the Beatles’ catalog on “The End.”

4. That Line…

Today, more than ever: “And in the end/the love you take is equal to the love you make”

5. The Cover Controversy

The Abbey Road album cover features one of the most iconic, recreated photos in history. Who wouldn’t want to go back in time and watch John, Paul, George, and Ringo walk across that famous crosswalk? In the background of the photo, there are a few people in the distance. Man, how I would have loved to be one of them! At the time, conspiracy theorists looked at “hidden clues” from the photo to justify conspiracy theories that Paul McCartney was, in fact, dead, and while Life magazine featured a cover story stating that, thankfully, “Paul is still with us,” those rumors live on. Sure, the cover art has nothing to do with the music, but it’s part of a remarkable story.

When Beatles fans talk about their favorite album, there’s never a debate when someone disagrees. I can tell you why I love Abbey Road, but I would never tell someone whose favorite Beatles album is Rubber Soul that they are wrong. You know why? Because I love Rubber Soul, too.

See Related Content: “From Zero to Masterpiece in 30 Days”

In the end, the reason why I like Abbey Road best is simple: listening to that record always makes me happy. “Everybody’s laughing / Everybody’s happy.”

Bill Flanigin

Photo by Robert Landau/Corbis via Getty Images

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23 comments on “5 Reasons Why “Abbey Road” Is My Favorite Beatles Album

  1. Michael Murray

    It is my favorite as well. Side B is the single best side of an album in all of rock music, and I include Dark Side of the Moon in that….

  2. Bruce Nash

    My favorite too. A college buddy had a cassette tape of Abbey Road when it was released. Here Comes the Sun immediately became my favorite Beatles’ song, although I love almost all of the others almost equally. I try to play HCTS on my 12string, daily, since the album’s release in 1969. I can’t help it. Fortunately, my family – my wife, our children, our grandchildren love it too!

  3. Why would “Come Together” be considered as prog rock? It seems more retro to me.

    • Jeff O’Dair

      I agree. I don’t see how it fits the progressive rock label, though I’m not knocking the song.

      • This was 40-some years ago. Context.

      • John loosely based “Come Together” on an upbeat Chuck Berry number from 1958, “You Can’t Catch Me,” which features the line, ‘here come a flat-top, he was moving up with me.’ John opened his version with the now-famous words, ‘here come old flat-top, he come groovin’ up slowly.’ Throughout the song John does his best to match the rocking-rap lyrical style and rhythm that Chuck was famous for.

        McCartney suggested John slow down the tempo of the song and add a heavy bass line to give it a more bluesy feel. Though most Beatle fans undoubtedly missed the musical and lyrical similarities to Chuck’s original, music publisher Morris Levy did not. Levy owned the rights to Berry’s material and sued Lennon. To settle the case, John agreed to record three other songs owned by Levy’s publishing company. Two of these – “Ya Ya” and “You Can’t Catch Me” were included on John’s 1975 “Rock-n-Roll” LP. A third – “Angel Baby” – was released after his death.

        By the way, “Come Together” began as a campaign song that John was writing for LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was planning to run against Ronald Reagan in the 1969 California gubernatorial race. The song title was based on Leary’s campaign slogan, ‘Come Together, Join the Party.’

  4. Gary onkst

    Absolutely positively the best album ever made….even though every other beatle album is a close second…

    • Robert Bykowski

      Although the Beatles are my all-time favorite band, I would argue that there has never been a more brilliant, flawless rock album that the Who’s ‘Who’s Next’. It is absolutely perfect in every way. And after listening again to side one of the UK ‘Help!’ album, it can pretty much stand right alongside side two of ‘Abbey Road’.

  5. Cam Hawley

    The US version of Rubber Soul is still my favorite. Capital actually (& probably unknowingly) hit a home run with their altered song list… but it was so much more consistent than the UK version… to me it was the first ‘concept’ LP. Nevertheless, Abbey Road is by far more polished than RS and one wonders if the Beatles knew it was their swan song and needed it to be great after years of bickering. It was the best and only way to go out.

    • Robert Bykowski

      The US version of ‘Rubber Soul’ lacks three terrific songs that are on the UK version, and they are essential to the overall character of the album – “Drive My Car”, “Nowhere Man” and George’s wonderful quasi-Byrds tribute “If I Needed Someone”. Yes, the US version does have “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “It’s Only Love”, but those two tracks sound equally great hearing them on the UK ‘Help!’ album. The only real plus to the US version of ‘Rubber Soul’ is that it omits “What Goes On”. Otherwise, the UK version is superior in every way.

      • Joe mateka

        I definately agree with you Robert about the UK version.Let’s not forget the spelling in the title and why..Rubber SOUL..✌

  6. If it weren’t for Maxwell’s… Abbey Road would be perfect.
    Still, I’d rank it as their best , but Rubber Soul, the Capital version, is my favorite.
    You can’t tell someone they’re wrong which one they like the best!

    • Jimmy Lewis

      Are you kidding me? Maxwell is an IMPORTANT part of the total charm and character of this album …

      • Robert Bykowski

        Jimmy, how is “Maxwell’s..” important to the character of the album ? It’s a cheery song about a serial killer ! People got on John Lennon’s case for writing “Run for Your Life” on ‘Rubber Soul’ and accused it of being a misogynistic and cruel song. Why does Paul get a pass on “Maxwell’s…” ? Because he sings it a childlike voice instead of Lennon’s approach, which sounded realistic ? I’ll stand by my opinion that “Maxwell’s…” is an awful song and that it sounds out of place on the album. And I will stand by my opinion that side one goes straight downhill after “Something”. Just my two cents.

  7. Robert Bykowski

    The Beatles are my absolute favorite band, but I’m going to go against the grain and give my opinion that ‘Abbey Road’ is by far their most overrated album. Why ? Sure, the medley on side two is great. And sure, “Come Together” is wonderfully funky and “Something” has a gorgeous melody. BUT (and this is a huge detraction) you also get four lousy songs right in a row on side one that definitely detracts from the overall quality of the album. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” may be the single worst song the band ever recorded. “Oh! Darling” sounds forced and labored, especially when you compare it to first-rate McCartney belters like “I’m Down” and the band’s marvelous cover of “Long Tall Sally”, both of which are in the same musical vein. “Octopuss’ Garden” is a third-rate rewrite of “Yellow Submarine”. And “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is positively annoying, with that proto-metal riff that goes on and on forever, and it’s lyrically embarrassing as well. The rest of the album – outside of these four songs – is great, although it tends to be overproduced to cover up the fact that the band was splintering and it gives a false illusion that the group was an ongoing creative force that would stick around for a while. Another flaw is that it hardly has any input from John Lennon, and of the few contributions he makes to the album, only “Come Together” stands out as being first-rate. While the Beatles never made any album that was less than an A minus in overall quality, there’s no way I could ever personally consider ‘Abbey Road’ to be one of their best. It’s erratic. Brilliant in sections and mediocre in others.

  8. The points made here are all valid, if a little overstated in regard to Maxwell. They did worse songs than this. But all their albums have their flaws. Pepper gets my vote for most overrated. Good Morning; she’s leaving home; George’s Indian nonsense; Mr Kite … White Album has Revolution 9, Honey Pie, Wild Honey Pie, Rocky Raccoon.

  9. Robert Bykowski

    “She’s Leaving Home” has a wonderful arrangement and great counterpoint vocals from both Paul and John. It’s also a touching song. “Good Morning Good Morning” has the gutsiest use of horns on a Beatles track except for “Savoy Truffle” and the sax solo on “Lady Madonna”. “Rocky Raccoon” is a terrific acoustic track from Paul, and it has a great narrative in the lyrics.

    I agree about George’s Indian songs. Always felt they sort of dragged on. I used to absolutely hate “Revolution #9”, but now I sort-of appreciate it as an advanced avant-garde track that influenced a lot of modern bands such as Sonic Youth.

    I just thought of one POSSIBLE track that the band did that’s worse than “Maxwell’s…” – “What’s the New, Mary Jane ?”. That was pretty bad.

  10. Will Komnath

    I challenge anyone to read That Line without hearing it sung. Chills every time.

  11. Richard Short

    This may surprise some folks but there are those of us who prefer the early Beatles to the later years. That’s me! The freshness, exuberance and just plain joy positively shine on A Hard Day’s Night (UK version). It never got better than this to me.

  12. skretvedt1958

    I love every Beatles album and pretty much every track (maybe not “Blue Jay Way” so much), but “Abbey Road” is my favorite of their Long-Players and I agree with the reasons stated by Mr. Flanigin. Yes, the Beatles’ fragments are more enjoyable than most people’s finished songs. And why all the hatred for “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”? (I love 1920s music, so maybe I’m biased toward happy, upbeat songs — and yes, I know it’s about a serial murderer.) John isn’t just as playful with “Mean Mr. Mustard”?? Or “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” or “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”? Even George weighs in with funny songs with “Piggies” and “Savoy Truffle,” which admonishes Eric Clapton that he’ll have to have all his teeth pulled out if he keeps eating all that candy….

  13. It’s true side one of AR is forgettable after Come Together and Something. But, no rock group before or after ever put together a better side of incredibly creative and beautifully produced rock music than the second side of AR. That’s why I agree Mr. Flanigin. It was fun watching the Get Back sessions and hearing them play around with these songs as they worked out Let It Be. After 53 years this group is still fresh. Pretty amazing.

    • Robert Bykowski

      But how can one great side of an album make it their best album overall ? I’ve always thought that an artist’s best album has to be their finest and most consistent piece of work from start-to-finish.

  14. Just the fact of all of you commenting on the album justifies ALL of the songs’ greatness.

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