The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ still topping charts

The year is 1969, and the world’s most influential rock group is on the brink of extinction. The Fab Four had been slowly disintegrating following the death of manager Brian Epstein, and a conflict ridden session recording the unreleased album “Get Back,” later released as “Let It Be,” was indicative of a band who was seemingly past their prime.

Hoping to once again capture the spirit responsible for selling millions of albums in previous years, Paul McCartney called long-time Beatles producer George Martin and asked if he would help the band record “the way we used to do it,” all together in the studio versus their recently adopted tactic of separation. The result of the final death rattle that was the “Abbey Road” sessions was 47 minutes of music that comprise arguably the Beatles’ most important album.

According to research conducted by Nielsen Soundscan, “Abbey Road” has been the top selling vinyl album for the past three years, selling over 30,000 copies each year since 2009. So how is it that an album that is over forty years old still finds itself flying off of record store shelves?

The two sides of the album are polar opposites, and the flip of the record from the wildly diverse and borderline disorganized side one to the flowing, intertwined suite of side two carries the listener to another realm. This effect is lost on a CD or in digital format, a factor leading to the high vinyl sales.

Side one opens with John Lennon’s Chuck Berry-inspired “Come Together”, and ends with another of Lennon’s songs, the titillating, blues-tinged “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The first half of “Abbey Road” features an array of songs from each band member, even allowing Ringo Starr to follow up his song “Yellow Submarine” with “Octopus’s Garden.” There is no flow to the compilation of tracks that adorn side one, a trend reminiscent of the heavily divided “White Album.”

The first two tracks on side two set the stage for the remainder of the album, the acclaimed climax that is the “Abbey Road” medley. The following eight songs could be the key ingredient in the album’s perfect recipe for success.

The suite culminates in the triumphant “The End,” which features a brief solo from each band member, serving as a brilliant send-off from the band that forever altered the world of music. The final track, the sixteen-second long, lighthearted “Her Majesty,” finishes the album off in true Beatles fashion, in a manner only they could rightfully pull-off.

In an industry that changes pace so rapidly, it’s not surprising that music aficionados and casual listeners alike find themselves clinging to the very roots of so many of the modern-day tunes that fill radio waves and top iTunes charts. “Abbey Road” offers something unique upon every revolution of the plate, and if it follows the trend of the past three years, you can expect to see it spinning on more turntables in 2012.