Forty years later, there’s little one can say about Abbey Road that hasn’t already been said about the Beatles’ ’69 swan song (or the countless imitators and limitless influence it has had in that time).
Reviewing this album in 2009 is like trying to prove to someone that water is wet or that fire is hot. Every qualitative bit of this album is fundamental and self-evident by now, because the very lens through which we judge pop albums anymore was made by the same opticians who recorded Abbey Road in the first place. That is, there is no stick with which to measure Abbey Road because Abbey Road is the measuring stick.
But despite all the pontification and preaching, prattling and proselytizing, Abbey Road still somehow sounds fresh.
Yes, the version released this week is a slightly different mix, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a cosmetic change when even noticeable. Everything you hear on this iteration of Abbey Road, you’ve heard a million times, even if you haven’t spun the record a groove-dulling myriad of times. From the melodic balladry of “Something” to the distorted heartache of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to the blind ambition of that sprawling suite of classics that close the record, elements of Abbey Road can be heard in just about everything that has come since.
This is the record’s lasting achievement: after four decades, after band after band has copped from this record (and gotten stale before the first chorus), Abbey Road still sounds brand new.