Greetings from London and happy Abbey Road Golden Anniversary to you one and all! It’s just past midnight here, but I wanted to share with you some of the anniversary fun from this side of the pond.
We started the day off bright and early - 2am early - doing a live phone-in from outside Abbey Road studios to the weekly Fab Fourum program so as not to be missed by my colleagues at Sirius XM. Lisa and I were actually on the Abbey Road live webcam which our show’s audience was directed to, so they could watch as we reported in.
Later in the morning we took in Richard Porter’s superb walking tour of London Beatles sites, including Abbey Road of course but also Savile Row, the Palladium, etc. In the afternoon, Sirius XM broadcast live from Abbey Road back to the states with music from the new deluxe box set, guest interviews nd the always enjoyable historian, Kevin Howlett.
But the best part was the evening celebration in Abbey Road Studio 1, highlighted by the presence of Sirs Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Also in attendance were Olivia Harrison, producer Giles Martin, Peter Asher, Glyn Johns, Graham Gouldman, Nile Rogers, Howard Goodall, Kevin Howlett, Beck and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.
Not sure I’ve ever experienced anything as other-worldly as taking in The Beatles’ rhythm section - standing side by side after all these years - and joining them in celebration. Lisa and I did get to chat briefly - twice - with each Paul and Ringo. Best I could muster was to tell them it is an HONOR to be part of their channel, which they each acknowledged - as did Olivia - with thanks (she even was kind enough to compliment me on my Apple lapel pin and inquire where I’d gotten it!).
The Beatles and their families were given a private listen to the album - in studio 2 - of the new Dolby Atmos mix of the album, of which Paul and Ringo commented quite enthusiastically. At the ensuing session, following a brief welcome from Giles, we got to hear THAT album. In that room on that system.
There are no adjectives or superlatives to describe it. The technical aspects were unparalleled ... but the vibe, knowing it was created right there inside those studio walls ... was overwhelming. Among the standout moments - Paul’s vocals on “Oh! Darling”; the beauty of the strings on “Something”; the lead and harmony vocals on “Come Together”; and the majesty of the “Golden Slumbers” Medley, but and I say this not for effect, but my hand to my heart - I actually WEPT at the brilliance of “Here Comes The Sun”.
Certainly there are layers of sound throughout the album which none of us ever heard heretofore; but the thing that completely knocked me out was the clarity in the drumming, which can only be called tour-de-force.
After the playback, we got to see pianos and instruments The Beatles used which were out on display in the studio (there were also some replicas for full effect). I couldn’t resist recruiting a friend and teaching him “E major” so our 4 hands could recreate the crashing final chord of “A Day In The Life” - played on the piano used for The Beatles original recording.
Then it was back to studio 1 for more music and dessert, including a four layer cake which, when sliced, revealed black and white layers creating an image reminiscent of the street crossing on the album cover. A nice final touch, that.
And so as the sets arrive in your mailboxes, immerse yourselves in joining the celebration.
Peace and love from Merrie Old England -
Tom Frangione is a writer for Beatlefan Magazine and also a co-host on Sirius XM´s Beatles Channel´s weekly program, "The Fab Fourum".