Abbey Road – What’s new?

Alternate “Get Back” photo recreates the “Please Please me” cover. Tue May 13, 1969. Photo by Angus McBean.

This is a look at the extra material added to the 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, besides the obviously new stereo mix of the original album (which you can find Bruce Spizer discussing here).

In this article, regardless of differences in sound quality, we learn what’s new and unheard, even on bootlegs.

By Mike Carrera

Disc 2: Sessions

Abbey Road Super DeLuxe Edition – out September 27

1. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) [Trident Recording Session & Reduction Mix] – 7:01


00:00 – 00:37: This track opens with the final part of an early unknown breakdown take, George Martin is heard, saying “Take 4 was very good” after the breakdown and John replies “Which was Take 4?”.. the chat between them continues.

00:38 – 3:17: Glyn Johns is heard, saying: “Is it possible without affecting yourselves too much to turn down a little?”  A neighbour is complaining about the noise, and after so much talk between John, Paul and Glyn about the complaint, John says “Last chance to be loud!.. who says?”. One minute and 30 seconds after the track starts, Take 32 begins, one of the three takes used to create the final master (The used takes being nos 9, 20 and 32 although none of them are mentioned in Kevin Howlett’s notes).

3:18 – 7:01: combines take 32 with a reduction mix where we can hear Billy Preston’s organ overdub and John’s moog (on right channel) upfront and with many differences plus we have the full ending.

Howlett reports that a newly discovered “faster version” was also recorded on February 23 at Trident Studios.

2. Goodbye (Home Demo) – 2:21

Clearly taken from the acetate but has been cleaned up as good as possible, yet still volume fluctuations several places, just like the circulating acetate source which we have had for ages.

3. Something (Studio Demo) – 3:34


Two versions have been previously available: with and without piano overdub. The first can be heard on Anthology 3, the second on many bootleg releases taken from an acetate. This version is the one with the piano overdub, and besides the much better audio quality compared with this acetate found on bootlegs, the only really new stuff here is the engineer’s intro “Something, this is take one” and some guitar warm-up before the demo take starts and George’s question “are we going?”, plus the final five seconds after the final piano chord.

4. The Ballad of John and Yoko (Take 7) – 3:35

NEW One of the highlights of the Deluxe Box Set.

00:00 – 00:04 : It opens with dialogue, perhaps after Take 1 or 2 of John trying to speak some Spanish/English/French words to assistant Mal to tell him a string has broken: “Un string avec caput Mal”.

00:05 – 00:14: Some dialogue before Take 4 can be heard: “It got a bit faster Ringo!” (according to Howlett but it sounds more like: “It’s gotta be faster, Ringo!” (John to Paul who quietly laughs). “Ok George!” he replies.

00:15 – end: After this we are treated to the full Take 7, with John on vocals and acoustic guitar and Paul on drums. At the end, an enthusiastic John screams “yeahhh we’ll have it, we’ll have it!” while Paul jams on the drums. John also says it’s not “the one” because he “came out before, that’s all right”.

5. Old Brown Shoe (Take 2) – 3:13

NEW Very similar to the released take (without the organ and lead guitar overdubs)

6. Oh! Darling (Take 4) – 3:28

NEW and can be heard here, Billy Preston is included in the recording credits and can be heard playing the organ on this early take, contradicting previous information that he only overdubbed his organ part onto Take 26 but which was not used in the final mix.

7. Octopus’s Garden (Take 9) – 1:43


An unheard breakdown take, the track starts with Ringo saying “That was superb… right George?”. “That was superb” can be heard at the end of Take 2 on Anthology 3 as an edit with Take 8, thus the new bit will only be “right George?” Ten seconds of talk between Ringo and John after the take breaks down that can be heard here have been available as part of the Rockband bits (or bootlegs), but there it lasts an extra 35 seconds longer than on this new release.

8. You Never Give Me Your Money (Take 36) – 5:15


The Track starts with a small jam with Paul saying this phrase twice “Ok you win, I’m in love with you!” from Mayme Watts and Sidney Wyche’s 50’s classic “Alright, Okay, You Win” (recorded by Ella Johnson, Peggy Lee and Joe Williams among others). The chat continues and at some point Paul changes the title to “You never Give me Your Coffee”. After a false start where both George and Paul almost at same time reminds Glynn Johns to turn off the Leslie speaker, take 36 starts at 0:58. Sadly this take fades out (at 5:15) so we are not allowed to hear the long jam at the end (if any), which is available on bootlegs sourced from an early mix and a few writers reported could be an edit of takes 30 and 36. Neither Kevin Howlett nor Mark Lewisohn mention any jam or edit between takes 30 and 36, both only comment that Take 30 was the one used for overdubs, so maybe there was never an edit of two takes. But the crucial fact here is that there is an early fade out so maybe we’ll never know if Takes 30 and Takes 36 both had a long jam at the end.

9. Her Majesty (Takes 1-3) – 1:33


A very quick session and all three are full takes, dialogue after take 1 “Oh, thank you, ladies and gentlemen” has already been available from the Rockband bits and take 3 with the final guitar chord has also been available on bootlegs for ages.

10. Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight (Takes 1-3 / Medley) – 3:20


“Take 1” which can be heard (with voice over) on the mixing desk at Abbey Road with Paul, George Ringo and George Martin as part of DVD 5 of The Beatles‘ Anthology (and on many bootlegs since) is actually take 2 and it’s the very same take 2 here, same bits, same breakdown. The actual take 1 is Paul starting “Golden Slumbers” with “The Fool on the Hill” and can be heard now, along with another breakdown, take 3. Not really a “medley” but the actual takes 1-3 (all incomplete).

11. Here Comes the Sun (Take 9) – 3:40


Interesting without the drum fills and with George’s guide vocal. This take has a thirty seconds longer middle eight than the released version.

12. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Take 12) – 4:41


A small fraction of chat heard over the intro and end can be heard as well on the Rockband bits (Paul and Ringo practicing the drum-intro and Ringo’s comment “George Harrison is resting his arm” among them). This alternate take is similar to the one on Anthology 3.

Disc 3: Sessions

1. Come Together (Take 5) – 3:27


A segment from this take 5 (from 2:50 – 2:59) was booted as “take 4” coming from the Rockband bits where it was linked with the “take 5” slate after the breakdown, but everything is actually Take 5.

The actual take 4 – a breakdown take – is heard here from 00:00 – 00:05

The dialogue before Take 5 starts at 00:07 – 00:12 and was also available from Rockband but goes on longer here; also available before is the dialogue at the end from 3:08 – 3:12

Different breakdowns from other takes are on the Rockband bits (a mashup of chats and incomplete takes in no particular order, it seems, which is why all bootlegs have incorrect track names or take numbers).

2. The End (Take 3) – 2:08


Another highlight from this new release. An initial warm up jam from another take is heard from 00:00 – 00:27

From 00:28 – 2:11, we can hear Take 3. At this point the instrumental lasted 1:19 with the extended (and very different) drum solo for 17 seconds (that was edited down to 15 seconds on the final master Take 7 by Geoff Emerick. Howlett doesn’t even mention this, so maybe it wasn’t true?) at some point during this drum solo (1:00) we can hear with headphones Paul talking “ coming?” and at 1:01 someone is shouting something like “heeeyyyy, Ringo!”. The piano part at the end has yet to be recorded. At the end of this Take 3 George Martin tells Ringo “hard work, isn’t it?”

3. Come and Get It (Studio Demo) – 2:39


“Red Light!” says Paul, “Demo, take one” calls the engineer and there’s also five seconds of chat after the song is over. That’s the only new stuff here, but this is also a very different mix (the original mix was made right after the demo was recorded) from the one released on Anthology 3, plus many bootlegs with the unreleased Sessions LP mixes.

4. Sun King (Take 20) – 3:14


00:00 – 00:31: Session chat after take 10

00:32 – 3:14 is Take 20, with a (barely audible) guide vocal from John.

5. Mean Mr. Mustard (Take 20) – 1:34


This time with a loud guide vocal from John, playing with the lyrics, replying his own words with things like “Yes, she does”, “Yes, she is”, “Yes, he does”, “Yes, he is”, also adding “God Save The Queen” twice during some verses. Sister “Shirley” is still present here, before the name was changed to “Pam”.

6. Polythene Pam (Take 27) – 1:39


The take starts with John comparing Ringo’s drumming to The Dave Clark Five and also adds “It’s like being Tommy in here!” (The Who’s “Tommy”). A guide vocal track is also present as well as an embryonic guitar solo.

7. She Came In Through the Bathroom Window (Take 27) – 2:06


With Paul’s guide vocal track. When the lyrics go “And so I quit the police…”, George or John briefly joins in.

8. Because (Take 1 / Instrumental) – 3:04


A very beautiful instrumental take with Ringo’s clapping carrying the rhythm and it even goes longer after the take has ended.

Ringo’s count-in was already available from the Rockband mix as well the dialogue at the end of the take, mixed completely different here but is longer at Rockband:  John: “How was it?”. George Martin suggests the harpsichord level should be lower and Ringo states “Less harpsichord, Geoff (Emerick)” and John adds “is my hair alright, Geoff?”.

9. The Long One

(‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, ’Sun King’/’Mean Mr Mustard’, ‘Her Majesty’, ‘Polythene Pam’/’She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’, ’Golden Slumbers’/ ’Carry That Weight’, ’The End’) – 16:06


In beautiful stereo to highlight all the differences between this early mix (created July 30, 1969) and the final versions, like the extra harmonies in “You Never Give Me Your Money” erased on the official version during the “Out of college” verse to give an example; missing extra overdubs on several songs recorded days later, the alternate vocal during “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”, missing orchestrations, missing vocals (“The End”, for example) etc. But the main difference is that we now have the REAL “Long One” medley, with “Her Majesty” in the middle. This is Stereo Remix 2 (RS2) in full for the first time.

Note: Stereo Remix 1 for each song separately was done also on this day, before assembling the medley.

The version on bootlegs (in mono and poor sound quality) is a legit edit of this very same alternate rough mix but without “Her Majesty”, made by second engineer John Kurlander, also on July 30, 1969 after Paul decided he didn’t like “Her Majesty”, so it was cut out from the medley. Some bootleg makers inserted “Her Majesty” back in to recreate “The Long One” but the sound levels on the bootlegs containing this fake medley betrays that the inserted song doesn’t belong there, as “Her Majesty” sounds much better, and the medley then returns to the poorer sound once “Polythene Pam” enters.

Both this new 2019 official release and the version on bootlegs, starts with the engineer calling “RS2”.

10. Something (Take 39 / Instrumental / Strings Only) – 2:38


Although the orchestral track can be heard on some 5.1 mixes or multi tracks, the strings are combined with the organ at some points, here they are isolated for the very first time.

11. Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight (Take 17 / Instrumental / Strings & Brass Only) – 3:17


Even though the orchestral track is already available, coming from the Rockband files, this comes directly from the multitrack tape, George Martin can be heard in the distance at the very beginning, saying “Do it again” and the end is not truncated like it is on the bootlegs (because the original file is linked there with “The End”, so the orchestral levels end earlier)

10 Responses

  1. Ruedabeat says:

    Great article. A quick reading not in detail 'till I got my package in home.

  2. Ruedabeat says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Westfield says:

    I love that photo. I had always wondered why that second photo session on the stairwell of emi never had any alternative shots. The 63 sessions had lots of them.

  4. wogew says:

    @Westfield, there are a few, actually – including different clothes, as the photos were taken on two different sessions. See our blog post The Two Get Back Photo sessions.

  5. MichaelG says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. MichaelG says:

    I'm speculating but I'm not sure that the photograph of the Beatles at the top of this article IS by Angus McBean. I think it's a photograph of the Beatles being photographed by McBean (who they are all looking at). Most likely the photographer was Mal Evans.

  7. Unknown says:

    Hate breakdowns but overall excited

  8. piper909 says:

    The Salon has a new review up today:

  9. Justin says:

    The Anthology and 2019 versions of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer both have a little segment of impromptu whistling

    • Justin says:

      Oops I meant impromptu ad-libbing, the bing-bang-shomp-a-dew bit. One or both of the takes therefore had a pit flown in.

      Might a kind moderator combine these two messages?

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