With the possible exception of The White Album, not one disc in The Beatles’ entire catalog is as uneven in terms of song quality as their comparatively ignored last album Abbey Road (although Let It Be was technically the last one to be released).
For the first couple of songs, however, the album seems to be the band’s greatest yet. “Come Together” builds it up with subtly teasing riffs and crooning vocals that would be right at home in an Aerosmith song (who actually covered that very song masterfully for the otherwise terrible film adaptation of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), and George Harrison’s wonderfully spacey “Something” sends it sky-high. Unfortunately, it is only the next track, the “funny murder song” (as the band dubbed it) “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, that sends it all crashing down again with hokey singing, instrumentations that are extremely annoying (to say the least), and a chorus that will literally make you want to tear your ears out of your head (“Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer came down/on her head.
Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure/she was dead”), all of which add up to what is arguably the worst Beatles song. Despite that, however, the band temporarily recover themselves with the halfway-decent love song “Oh! Darling” before inexplicably lapsing back into cheesiness with the ridiculously corny “Octopus’s Garden”, which sounds more like a bad rewrite of “Yellow Submarine” than anything else. Luckily, the band promptly manage to pick the pace back up with the psychedelic “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, (which is only beaten by “Revolution 9” for the Beatles’ longest song) before the acoustic guitar of George Harrison’s fantastic “Here Comes The Sun” promptly sets into our delighted ears. After that, however, we get the triple threat “Because”, “You Never Give Me Your Money”, and “Sun King”, all of which admittedly aren’t as good as some of these other great songs that I’ve mentioned here, but are pretty decent, all things considered. Unfortunately, the rest of the album quickly goes by in a flash with 1-2 minute songs mostly being the benchmark from then on, starting off with the slightly hokey outbursts “Mean Mr. Mustard”, “Polythene Pam”, and “She Came Through The Bathroom Window” (the first of which bears an odd resemblance to their smash hit “Nowhere Man”) right before reaching an undeniable high with the pretty “Golden Slumbers” and the thundering “Carry That Weight”, before finally coming to a close with the knowingly prophetic “The End”. Although it is the tongue-in-cheek joke song “Her Majesty” (which is unquestionably the Beatles’ shortest song at 23 seconds) that technically is the album’s last song, it is “The End” that really does put the final curtain on The Beatles’ unforgettable career.
So, to sum it all up, while this album is admittedly almost spoiled by a few cringe-worthy lows, it is luckily saved by the wonderful highs, some of which even which undoubtedly even rank among the band’s best songs, and it is those that ultimately make this album a vital entry in the Fab Four’s vast discography.