Records: The Beatles: Cheerful Coherence

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"We were more together than we had been for a long time," said John Lennon last week. "It's lucky when you get all four feeling funky at the same time." Lennon was talking about a recording session last summer that produced the latest Beatles record. Out this week, it is called Abbey Road, in honor of the group's favorite studios in London. The disk proves lucky indeed —for listeners who like being disarmed by the world's four most fortunate and famous music makers. Melodic, inventive, crammed with musical delights, Abbey Road is the best thing the Beatles have done since Sgt. Pepper (1967). Whereas that historic record stretched the ear and challenged the mind and imagination, Abbey Road is a return to the modest, pie-Pepper style of Rubber Soul and Revolver. It has a cheerful coherence—each song's mood fits comfortably with every other—and a sense of wholeness clearly contrived as a revel in musical pleasure.

Childlike Vista. The record's unity is best illustrated by the tightly knit and unpretentious way it combines a variety of styles. Among them: old-line rock 'n' roll (Oh! Darling), low blues (I Want You), high camp (Maxwell's Silver Hammer), folk (Here Comes the Sun). Though the listener here and there finds such things as a vocal chorus or a swash of electronic sound, most of the time the instrumental textures are uncluttered by overdubbing. Rarely has John played better guitar than on I Want You (She's So Heavy), a cunning combination of two songs with a chilling, mean blues throb. Rarely have Bassist Paul and Drummer Ringo achieved more cohesive yet flexible rhythm than on Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam.

An intriguing part of the album is the long, interlocked medley on Side 2 —a kind of odyssey from innocence to experience. After a dawn-flecked prelude

(Here Comes the Sun), it opens in Because with a childlike vista of the world, intoned by the group in their best breathy choirboy manner, and filled with an image of wind and blue sky that "makes me cry." Then come first ineffectual gropings of love followed by loneliness and frustration (You Never Give Me Your Money). In The End, a final note of acceptance of life's burdens is sealed with an affirmation: "The love you take is equal to the love you make." To avoid too much of an amen quality, the side concludes with a brief snoot-cocking ditty by Paul McCartney:

Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl But she doesn't have a lot to say, Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl. . . Someday I'm gonna make her mine, oh, yeah, Some day I'm gonna make her mine.

As usual, most of the songs are by McCartney and Lennon. Yet it is George Harrison's Something, on which he solos as singer and guitarist, that is already getting the biggest play on U.S. radio stations. Beatle-watchers believe that Something is something of a milestone for George. Lately he has spent a lot of time communing with Bob Dylan —at the Isle of Wight, where Dylan performed last month (TIME, Sept. 12), as well as at Dylan's home in Woodstock, N.Y. This has helped him achieve a new confidence in his own musical personality. His three colleagues frankly think that Something is the best song in the album.