Monday, June 6, 2011

The Many Faces Of Abbey

I found Abbey Road at the flea market. I actually found two and I should have picked them both up since I have now learned that there is an underground school of Abbey aficionados who speak in tongue, defining the technicalities and the many engineering cycles of this record. I will try and break it down to you in Amy's terms which may prove to sound like the Riddler on crack so bear with me. It was a dark, dark night in England. The year, 1969. The month, October. The subject, Apple.
I have come to learn that there are three variations of the Abbey Road cover and record. A thorough explanation can be found on the web at places like and the technical site, an audiophile music restoration specialty site, which features an amazing discussion just on this subject.
My brief breakdown of the three variations:
The first group of pressings- released October 1, 1969. I won't give you the technical background of the way the cover was put together, but in short, Abbey Road was the first album in America to have a new form of "print-on-board" covering. You can view that information at The album cover's photo had the small portion of the sewer cap on the white road cross walk beneath Ringo and John's feet. It also did not list "Her Majesty" on the song listings on the back of the album or on some, the record.
The second- this group of pressings did have "Her Majesty" listed on the back and also pictured the sewer cap on the cross walk.
The third- this batch changed its original "print-on-board" format for the cover and boasted "cover slicks" which were taken from the original print. Again, the third batch did not show "Her Majesty" on the song listings. The sewer is missing due to the picture of The Beatles being larger.
There were some pressings that had a misaligned Apple logo in the back, under the track listing "I want You (She's so heavy). Those are pretty rare. The original, which is what I believe I have based upon the criteria, had a larger font and different position of the title - "Abbey Road - The Beatles," on the record. There are even variations of the apple color and some do not list "Her Majesty" on the record itself. There were also color differences in the inner sleeves- some being black and others white. Mine has the white sleeve but I did read that the first pressings also had the black. The second and third did not have black.
So, take a look at your Abbey Road album. Check for these numbers on the back- Apple So- 383 and type it into the computer. You just opened a can of worms.
I am listening to the record now, over and over , while I write this, and am wondering if my neighbors are getting a whiff of Polythene Pam. I can listen to it over and over due to the fact that it brings back such strong youthful memories. It reminds me of my first crush, putting me in such a retrospective daze. It was the beginning of the end of B-96 thump it and dump it crap and the start of a raging musical hormonal enlightenment. It was and is the first tape (Ahh, did I say tape?) I ever bought with my hard earned babysitting money and was preceded by a long line of godly musical influences forever in my debt.
I don't have a technical ear or background but the sound on the 1969 original, in stereo, is pretty darn good. I am even appreciating the few scratches that it has.