History of the Greatest Bands of the 20th Century - The Beatles Part 2

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Known worldwide as Abbey Road, the north London EMI studio was where the Beatles cut their best-selling recordings, including the 1969 album that bears its name.
Number 3 Abbey Road opened for business in 1931 with three studios in which Sire Edward Elgar and the London Symphony Orchestra were the first customers.
In 1963, EMI had produced 15 of the 19 Number 1 singles, and all were recorded at the studios.
With the Beatles searching for new sounds, Abbey Road progressed rapidly from the two-track equipment of 1962 when they started, to four-track (for "Sgt Pepper"), eight-track (1968) and beyond to meet their needs.
Although the single "Love Me Do" only reached Number 17 in the UK charts in December 1962, it became their fourth US Number 1 18 months later.
Recorded with session drummer Andy White for the US, the British version featured Ringo Starr who had just taken over from Pete Best as drummer.
"Love Me Do", then, marked the first occasion the Fab Four came together on record, as well as combining the three ingredients of their success: songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney and producer George Martin.
It was rumoured that manager Brian Epstein, who also owned a Liverpool record shop, bought thousands of copies to help the single to chart.
Whatever the truth, this mid-paced pop song, with unusually haunting harmonica from John Lennon, was the start of a huge success story.
The Beatles' second single, "Please Please Me", heralded Beatlemania proper-though just failing to depose crooner Frank Ifield at the top, it laid the foundations for a string of chart-toppers to follow.
The first Beatles single to feature Ringo Starr drums, (session man Andy White having played on "Love Me Do") it was released simultaneously with their first album, also called "Please Please Me", in March 1964.
Incredibly the Beatles were, at the time, playing support to Chris Montez and Tommy Roe on a UK tour.
One month later the album was Number 1 and stayed there until November! In the US it reached Number 3 when released, which made it one of five Beatles singles occupying the top five positions - a unique phenomenon.
1966 saw Beatles turn their backs on live performances, and embrace studio experimentation like no other pop group before.
"Revolver" employed distorted instruments, a deadened drum sound, enhanced vocals, and lopped tapes to achieve its effects.
George Harrison provided the glorious opening cut, "Taxman", as well as making his first foray into Indian music.
The album is breathtaking in its variety, ranging from three superb McCartney ballads, to Harrison's own gritty soul on "Got To Get You Into My Life!, John's dreamy "I'm only Sleeping" and the jolly "Yellow Submarine".
Many groups tried to emulate "Revolver" or better its experimental nature.
It can be argued that what the celebrated follow-up, "Sgt Pepper", achieved in terms of homogeneity of sound, studio trickery and was at the expense of some of the freshness and variety of "Revolver".
Probably the most widely discussed rock album of all time, "Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967) marked the moment when rock music was elevated to "art" status.
If "Sgt Pepper" has been called the greatest achievement of the mass media age, some detractors have described it as overrated and overblown.
The "Strawberry Fields Forever" single and lengthy, well-publicized recording sessions ensured that when "Sgt Pepper" appears in June 1967 it was the most eagerly awaited record in pop's brief history.
Its arrival, complete with a colourful "art" sleeve, perfectly mirrored the kaleidoscopic, "flower power" summer of 1967.
Songs like "A Day In The Life", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "She's Leaving Home" became anthems for a generation, and ushered in a spate of imitation concept albums, none of which benefited from George Martin's imaginative production skills.
The Beatles also broadcast live the world from EMI favoured Studio Two, singing "All You Need Is Love" in front of all-star audience.
After "Hello Goodbye" and "Lady Madonna", the Beatles released "Hey Jude" in September 1968 - an extraordinarily long single, which quickly became an anthem on UK football terraces.
A McCartney-penned song inspired by Lennon's son Julian, "Hey Jude" started out as a rather mournful ballad, before the group expanded it into a seven-minute singalong, complete with a "na, na, na, na, na" coda that gained notoriety as the longest fade-out in pop history.
"Hey Jude" was the group's first release on their new Apple label, and it became the Beatles' most successful single of all time, spending a record nine weeks in the US charts.
The flip side contains the excellent electric-charged "Revolution".
As the Beatles faded out (though Harrison and McCartney continued recording solo in EMI), Abbey Road magic touch was also used for receptions and exhibitions of Beatles memorabilia.
Where sightseers used to be content to pose on the famous zebra crossing, they were now welcome inside the studio.
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