Abbey Road miscalculation

My new copy of ‘Abbey Road’ is on its way to me. I need to make a strategic decision whether to play the whole LP or whether to lift and move on the ARO when the ghastly ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ comes on.

What were The Beatles thinking when they put this dreadful ‘song’ in the LP’s running order? McCartney should hang his head in shame.

I’d actually pay extra to have EMI press a copy of the LP with this shitty little ditty removed.

Am I alone?

Incidentally, I thought that tradition dictated that Ringo got to sing the song that nobody liked on an album.

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Yes indeed considering that Paul/ John could have let George have All Things Must Pass on instead.


McCartney was reading Alfred Jarry hence pataphysical. He seems to have been excessively fond of what now seems a lapse of taste. I suspect that he was remembering or researching music hall songs.

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Never been a fan of most of Abbey Road. Always found it turgid. Why was illustrated by the Get Back episodes. Half arsed songs done in a rush to hit a self-imposed rather pointless deadline with a focus more on having a live, non-overdubbed sound than quality songs. The rejection of Harrisongs which were clearly superior but would have required overdubbing and production spoke volumes.

All that to say Maxwell is a pop song. The thing which made them famous in the first place. You may not like it but it’s hardly out of keeping with 62 to 67 and in the context of its rather po faced surroundings offers a breath of fresh air. Having seen the Mal Evans not only source but then play the anvil it’s now hard to listen to it without seeing him sat there waiting for his moment with a serious but wry look on his face. A moment of joy.

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Yellow Sub was great fun imho. I read that PM wanted " Come and Get it" on the album, which would have been much better than MSH. Having just watched the 8/9 hours of the new Get Back doc, it was clear that they had a number of future hits already kicking about in undeveloped forms. ie All things Must Pass, Jealous Guy, Another Day, Gimme Some Truth. Back Seat of my Car,

Funnily enough I’ve always quite liked MSH, can’t imagine why😉

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Artists not required to please all the time. News at 11.


Customers not required to buy crap music.

That’s true as well, but doesn’t change that artists can record whatever the hell they want to, and probably had a reason, whether it pleases or not. The purpose of music is not exclusively to be liked or enjoyed.

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````indeed. `nor to be bought.

Sure, free jazz is rarely leading the charts as well, and most of the greatest indie rock albums barely sold 50K, often much less. It’s just that at the point of the Beatles’ career when they recorded Abbey Road they had so many things going on with their art and their lives that making pleasing music was not their #1 priority. We all know that. You can be glad that there aren’t any fluxus pieces on it :slight_smile:

Oh well, reminds we why I usually stay out of Music Room. Carry on.

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I love Abbey Road, it’s my favourite Beatles album. Maxwell makes me smile, I think it works in the context of the album.


Completely agree, love MSH, love Abbey Road from beginning to end.


Each to his own. I like “Maxwell’s ….”

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You have to take the rough with the smooth, that is the joy of the LP format. Not that I like this album much at all.

Abbey Road is my favourite Beatles album, primarily for what on vinyl was Side 2, which I really love.

Whilst *Maxwell’s silver hammer is not one of my favourites, there is nothing wrong with it any more than most of “Side 1”, or Get Back, ‘White’ or Sgt Pepper albums.

It’s a pity that Abbey Road and Let it be weren’t released as a double album, with the studio version of Get Back instead of the rooftop recording, and to have squeezed on Don’t let me down, maybe missing off Dig it from Let it be and shortening I want you from Abbey Road.


I love all the Ringo sung songs. Boys would definitely be in my top ten Beatles tracks. What other band in the 60’s wouldn’t of given a damn when singing
‘Well, I talk about boys (yeah yeah boys)

On top of that Yellow Submarine and Octopus Garden were my kids favourite songs whilst growing up.

There is a charm and innocence to all Ringo songs from the Beatles era.

Maxwell Silver Hammer is definitely the weakest track on the album but it has a certain quirkiness to it.

I actually never skip tracks so you begin to appreciate the weaker songs.


If they merged the albums they probably wouldn’t of bothered with the medley section. Which is the essence of Abbey Road.

I wonder what the Beatles themselves thought of that side of the album. I’ve watched the entirety of the Get Back trilogy films, from which I didn’t glean anything other than that they enjoyed themselves with many of the short songs…

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ZOOMING UP THE MOTORWAY FROM LONDON TO LIVERPOOL IN my car I fiddled around on my radio for something and happened on a BBC Radio 3 production of Ubu Cocu.

It was first broadcast on 21 December 1965, with a repeat on 10 January 1966.
It’s one of three plays, including the better-known Ubu Roi, by the French
dramatist Alfred Jarry and is subtitled a pataphysical extravaganza’. ‘Pata-
physical’ is a nonsense word Jarry made up to poke fun at toffee-nosed aca-
demics. I was then thrilled when I was able to rhyme quizzical’ with
pataphysical’ in this song. How often do you get that chance? I liked that
people wouldn’t necessarily know what ‘pataphysical’ was, so I was being a
little bit obscure on purpose.

Maxwell is possibly a descendant of James Clerk Maxwell, who was a
pioneer of electromagnetism. Edison is obviously related to Thomas Edi-
son. They’re two inventor types. Part of the fun here is that Edison is con-
nected to the lightbulb and the phonograph, and here we were making a
gramophone record. Speaking of lightbulbs, they’re going off all the time,
particularly when those little chimes happen. ‘Edison’ and ‘medicine’
"Valerie’ and gallery’

The thing about Maxwell is that he’s a serial killer, and his hammer isn’t an
ordinary household hammer but, as I envision it, one that doctors use to hit
your knee. Not made of rubber, though. Silver.
Also invoked is the world of the children’s nursery rhyme, where people
are always getting their heads chopped off- and of course, there’s also the
Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who’s always say-
ing, ‘Off with their heads!’ lan Brady and Myra Hindley, the Moors murder-
ers, had been jailed for life in 1966 for committing serial murders. That case
was quite likely in my mind, as it was front page news in the UK.
I was very keen on this song, but it took a bit long to record, and the rest
of the guys were getting pissed with me. This recording period coincided
with the visit to Abbey Road of Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog syn-
thesizer, and I was fascinated with what could be done with these new
sounds. That’s one reason why it took a little longer than our normal songs.

Not crazy compared to today’s standards - it was something like three days

  • but a long time by the standards of the day. This song is also an analogy for
    when something goes wrong out of the blue, as I was beginning to find hap-
    pening around this time in our business dealings. Recording sessions were
    always good because no matter what our personal troubles were, no matter
    what was happening on the business front, the minute we sat down to make
    a song we were in good shape. Right until the end there was always a great
    joy in working together in the studio.

So there we were, recording a song like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ and
knowing we would never have the opportunity to perform it. That possibil-
ity was over. It had been knocked on the head like one of Maxwell’s victims.

Bang bang.