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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Oct 2019 > ABBEY ROAD AT 5O


With George Martin back in the studio and George Harrison emerging as a major songwriting force, the last album The Beatles recorded was a fitting final testament to the band’s stellar talent. Huw Baines revisits 1969
The Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl boxset offers up 40 tracks on three 180-gram vinyl LPs. The album’s new stereo mix LP is packaged in a faithfully replicated sleeve, with the two Sessions LPs paired in their own jacket, presented with a four-page insert in a lift-top box

The date is 8 August, 1969 and in the bright morning sunlight four men, wearing three pairs of shoes, walk across a zebra crossing. As a friendly bobby holds the London traffic at bay, a photographer takes six pictures from atop a ladder, searching for the perfect inverted V in his subjects’ strides. It’s the fifth of six that does the trick. The shot, startlingly simple but cloaking a complex truth, will become emblematic not only of the end of a band, maybe the band, but also the end of a decade, a movement and a dream.

The cover photo of The Beatles’ Abbey Road is a remarkable thing. In its essential form it is nothing more than a piece of pop ephemera, but such is the group’s enduring influence that it is also one of the defining images of the 20th century. John Kurlander, who was 18 when he served as assistant engineer on the album, is amazed by its longevity. “It never occurred to me that in 50 years’ time people are going to be phoning me up and still talking about this,” he tells Long Live Vinyl.

The sleeve holds such power because John, Paul, George and Ringo are walking in the same direction. In that sense, it speaks of doomed hope as much as anything. The 60s ended, literally and symbolically, in tragedy at Altamont, the counterculture eating itself as The Rolling Stones played, but the splintering of the Fab Four sounded its death knell.

No band had embodied the decade’s ideals so completely, moving from rock ’n’ roll upstarts through psychedelic experimentation with an attitude that, outwardly at least, was never less than right on. Give peace a chance, John and Yoko said from beneath their sheets, but peace was in short supply in the lead-up to Abbey Road. The album itself is a remarkable last stand by men who could barely tolerate being in the same room as one another; a monument to creativity surrounded by the mouldering ruins of a partnership that changed the world.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 31 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! It was The Beatles' last stand and remains one of the greatest albums ever made. Issue 31 of Long Live Vinyl brings you the inside story of Abbey Road, including interviews with some of the key figures who were in the studio with the Fab Four back in 1969. You'll also find an in-depth look at the making of the amazing new 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition and an expert collector's guide. Elsewhere, our packed interviews section features chats with Ezra Furman, Metronomy, Hiss Golden Messenger and Fionn Regan about their new albums. We round up 40 Essential Southern Soul records you need to own, tell the story of the legendary Decca label on its 90th birthday and dig deep into the making of R.E.M.’s ninth album, Monster. If that's not enough, Long Live Vinyl has the most comprehensive range of album and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand, as we run the rule over new releases from Pixies, Bon Iver, Wilco, Blur and Liam Gallagher, as well as the awesome new AVID Ingenium P&P turntable. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today…