British Beat Groups of the 1960s

Book Review: Abbey Road

March 2001

Abbey Road is the most famous recording studios in the world and possibly one of the most famous roads, certainly the most famous zebra crossing. The studios have only really been referred to as Abbey Road following the Beatles album and the proper name is EMI Recording Studios.

This book traces the history of the studios and how they have contributed to musical history. There have been many changes over time. Indeed the building was originally a private house in the wealthy St John's Wood area of London and it still retains the same facade. Abbey Road itself is responsible for the "Abbey" part of Abbey National Building Society.

Originally, the studios were built to record opera and classical music with the recordings made onto wax cylinders. Over the course of time, Abbey Road Studios have adopted newer technology although not always at the forefront. Also, the classical side began to give way increasingly to popular music from  the late 1950s onwards and the studios today are best known for their association with the Beatles and other popular artists such as the Shadows, Hollies, Cliff Richard and, more recently, Oasis.

Paul McCartney remains a strong supporter of Abbey Road and not only has he replicated the zebra crossing shot for a solo LP but has also built a replica of number two studio so that he has access to a sort of "Abbey Road" even when the studios are fully booked. It was even thought that the importance of the Beatles to EMI meant that they always had first call on studio time, even if the studio had been booked by someone else.

Much of the book is taken up with details of the Beatles recording at Abbey Road with interviews with George Martin and McCartney. Other artists that receive coverage are interviewed, Tony Hicks of the Hollies and Bruce Welch of the Shadows being two of these.

The book is an enjoyable read and gives insight into how the world's most famous recording studios evolved, the artists that recorded there and even the story behind that album sleeve.

mp, February 2001

Abbey Road




First published in 1982 by Omnibus Press

ISBN: 0-711906166-2


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