According to the Beatles' archival producer, the group did everything in their power to make their final album a positive experience. Giles Martin — son of the late-George Martin, the “Fab Four's” groundbreaking producer — is now the guardian of the vaults, leading the charge in the remixing and archival digs that'll result in the Abbey Road 50th anniversary box set coming on September 27th.
Martin, who's sifted through all the session tapes to the band's swan song, remains astounded that the group ended on as high a note as they did, telling The Los Angeles Times, “Think about it, the Beatles recorded some of their most successful, most popular songs on their last album. I can’t think of another band that can say that.” As it stands now, the number one most streamed track to date is George Harrison's Abbey Road Side Two opener, “Here Comes The Sun” — a song the Beatles never released as a single.
Giles Martin shed light on the vibe of the band while recording Abbey Road throughout the spring and summer of 1969: “I think that everyone’s on their best behavior to a certain extent. They know this is going to be their last album. You can tell they’re going to make sure it’s a good one, and that everyone’s songs are going to get equal attention.”
He talked about how he and his team created the new 2019 mix of Abbey Road for the box set, revealing, “It’s all done by feel. You want to go with what they intended, then you listen to everything, you think about it and you just try to get it right. . . The camaraderie was definitely there. You can’t sing 'Because' with those three-part harmonies around the same microphone without having some camaraderie.”
Ringo Starr, as always, seems to be the updated mix's biggest fan: “For me, as the drummer, (the remix) is great because the drums — now you can hear them. In those days, if you wanted to take any of the bass off, you start with the bass drum stuff. If you listen to something like 'Love Me Do,' there’s no bass drum, no bass, because we’ve taken that off.”
Giles Martin told us that the quality of how well the Beatles played on the session tapes, coupled with how well his father and the EMI engineers recorded them, is jaw-dropping: “I was very surprised when I heard the tapes, how clean and how modern they sound. If you recorded 'A Day In The Life,' or 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps,' or a song like that again, next door in (Abbey Road) Studio Two, you wouldn't necessarily do a better recording of it.”
Paul McCartney remembers that during the sessions for Abbey Road the band was definitely out to prove something to the world — but also to themselves: “I think it was, in a way, the feeling that it might be our last, so let's show 'em what we can do, let's show each other what we can do, let's have a good time doing it. We had lots and lots of bits and things. John had a bit of a song called 'Polythene Pam' and we hit upon the idea of medley-ing them all, which gave the second side of Abbey Road a kind of sort of operatic kind of structure — which was kind of nice 'cause it got rid of these songs in good way.”