1969 was a year of significance, to say the least. It was the year that humans first set foot on the moon; the year hundreds of thousands of young people gathered in New York’s Catskill Mountains for a music festival that became a cultural milestone; the year that Sesame Street premiered on Public TV, and the year that the First Concorde test flight was conducted in France.
It was also the year The Beatles released Abbey Road, which unbeknown to them would become viewed as among their best work, and as one of the greatest albums of all time.
Released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records, the band’s eleventh studio album was an immediate commercial success, reaching #1 in the UK and US. Abbey Road ended up spending 81 weeks on the UK albums chart, 12 weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart, and was certified 12-times Platinum by the RIAA in 2001, selling in excess of 31 million copies.
With this year marking the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road, it only seems right that the record would be celebrated and the world would reflect on what a masterful piece of work it was and continues to be.
One of the most exciting celebrations will be happening this August when four of Australia’s most respected musicians come together to bring The Beatles’ swansong and their crowning achievement as a recording group to life, performing the iconic 1969 LP in full.
Collectively known as Antipodean Rock Collective (ARC), and arguably the most successful supergroup in Aussie rock history with 33 ARIA Awards and 16 Top Ten ARIA albums combined, Powderfinger’s Darren Middleton, Jet’s Mark Wilson, You Am I’s Davey Lane and Spiderbait’s Kram will bring The Beatles’ carefully crafted recordings with ambitious musical arrangements to life on stage all around the country.
“I got given the tape [Abbey Road] when I was in high school many years ago and on one side was the Sex Pistols and the other side was the Beatles and that changed my whole headspace and perspective on music from that moment,” self-confessed Beatlemaniac Kram recalls of his first memory of the iconic record which spawned hits such as ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Come Together’, ‘Something’, and ‘Oh! Darling’.
“I loved the Sex Pistols and had never heard anything like it, but The Beatles – just the variation and all these different styles of music. It was a real spin out. I think it’s the recording quality of that record; it’s quite a different sound to say Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  or Revolver  has. It was very much early 70s sounding. There’s a lot of love about that record.”
Recognised for its iconic cover featuring the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios, which has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of popular music, it was the breadth of the musical vision and the sheer scale of the band’s collective musical imagination on the record that led the band to be regarded as the foremost and most influential in history.
“I really loved the variety of musical styles and the different singers,” the Spiderbait drummer and vocalist explains. “This had a very big influence on me and thus on Spiderbait’s work. You don’t just have to have one singer and you don’t just have to do one type of music, and in a way, I think that if it wasn’t for that influence I don’t think we’d still be a band because that variation went a long way through such a successful career. You don’t burn out when things are always fresh, and the one way to keep things fresh is by changing it up all the time and The Beatles were pretty much the first band to do that.”
It’s not just the music of The Beatles that resonates with musicians today, however, but also The Beatles themselves, who were the first group to prove that success didn’t have to be a solo endeavour.
“The ARC is very much about the collective spirit in the band; where we’re really about celebrating these songs and this incredible band that inspired us all to want to become musicians, as well as inspire us to actually want to play in bands,” Kram explains.
“I have been playing Spiderbait for so many years and my bandmates are some of my closest friends and The Beatles were one of the first bands, in a way, that got the idea out there that you didn’t have to be Elvis Presley, or Frank Sinatra, or a movie star to achieve success. They proved you could actually get together with a group of mates and create something bigger and more powerful and more amazing than what the individual can do.”
While Abbey Road was not the group’s final album to be released to the public (‘Let It Be’ was released in 1970), it was their final album to be recorded together. With the band having ceased performing live in 1966, and the release of the album coming three years later, it’s affecting that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were never able to bring this album to life on stage.
“Abbey Road was in a way their final hurrah; where they said goodbye and knew they were going to break up. It’s inspiring that they were able to be focused despite the difficulties and pressures they were under to create the greatest work at the end of their career,” Kram reflects.
“It’s crazy that The Beatles never actually got to play this record live and we are about to,” he continues. “Side B is very complicated and we want to do the record justice, but when you really love playing something, you’re getting the music audibly in a sensory way, as well as playing your instrument yourself. I think that’s going to be very much the case of certain sections during the course of this record – we’ll all be looking around at each other with a grin on our face going ‘I actually can’t believe we’re really doing this’!”
Featuring two huge sets; these shows will see Kram and his three fellow Beatles’ tragics perform Abbey Road in its entirety, before the band returns to play through a selection of highlights from throughout The Beatles’ career.
“We’re performing their final work at the start, so the idea with the second set is that that we would go retrospectively from the end to the start. So basically we’re going to do a selection of songs starting from just before Abbey Road, and work all the way back to their very first songs,” Kram says. “It will create an interesting space so you can see, in retrospect, how they came to that point of Abbey Road at the end.”
Of course, even with all their ARIA Awards and ARIA albums between them, the ARC can’t do this alone, with a number of guests joining them live on stage.
Featuring the likes of Ash Naylor (Paul Kelly, Even and RocKwiz), Linda Bull (The Black Sorrows, Vika and Linda Bull), Brett Wolfenden (The Pictures, Jim Keays), and James Fleming (Eagle and the Worm, Bob Evans), these shows are set to be a must-see for any lover of The Beatles or Aussie music.
When & Where: Palais Theatre, Melbourne – Thursday, August 15.
For complete tour, ticketing, and VIP Experiences information visit: livenation.com.au.