Snap Galleries ‘Abbey Road: The Complete Sessions’

Seeing pictures of a zebra crossing has never been so exciting


 

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August 1969, a late summer’s morning, a North London suburban street, four people leave their workplace and walk across a pedestrian crossing. This moment, captured on film was to become the Abbey Road album cover.  This now iconic image has long been thought of as a visual document of a metaphorical “walking away” from The Beatles legacy and the studio in which had created the majority of their work. However, looking at the entire series of photographs taken by Iain McMillan – currently on display at the Snap Gallery in London – several of the shots show them walking back and forth, to and from the studio. It would seem there is more to the myths and legends built over the years when taking in the full picture of that day.

Apparently the choice of image for the album cover was based solely on it being the only one where they appear to walk in unison (although the overall design was previously pitched by Paul McCartney to McMillan in advance). Even the shoeless McCartney that fuelled the “Paul is dead” rumours of the time doesn’t appear to be as deliberate as history records  – he wears sandals in a couple of the unused images. Seeing all the photographs together gives a more fascinating insight with plenty more to ponder: there is a mysterious young woman in a purple top on three of the photos – who was she? Alan Parsons, an engineer on Abbey Road who was there at the shoot, has said that the presence of the police van (not seen on the majority of photographs) was due to concern by the local constabulary about the shoot stopping the flow of traffic in the area. This also impacted upon the time McMillan had available to get the photo. Also present is the rear cover photograph, showing the Abbey Road sign that, sadly, no longer exists.

It’s fascinating to see this vital documentation of a celebrated moment in time.  The photographs form part of the overall gallery exhibits which currently include equally rare shots of Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake and Bruce Springsteen with more to come including a Small Faces retrospective in March 2016.

https://www.snapgalleries.com/exhibitions/abbey-road-the-complete-sessions/

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Embryo – An Interview With Alan Parsons About His Early Days At Abbey Road Studios 

ALAN PARSONS is most famously known for his Engineering work on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and The Beatles’ Abbey Road.  He also worked throughout the ’70s with such various bands as The Hollies and Ambrosia, as well as his own work as part of The Alan Parsons Project.

In advance of Parsons’ return to the studios that featured so importantly in his early career, Shindig! was able to speak to Alan and ask about his time at Abbey Road to get an insight into those initial experiences there. MARC LE BRETON listens closely – in stereophonic sound.


 

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Shindig!: How did you start at Abbey Road Studios in the first place?

Alan Parsons: I had already been working for EMI in an associated department called Tape Records, making reel-to-reel copies of EMI’s product featuring all the big names of the time, whilst also making copies of masters for overseas as every record factory in the world needed its own copy. It was all fairly primitive. I got an interview with the boss at the time, Allen Stagg, and a couple of weeks later I started working in the tape library of all places.

SD!: So did you progress to the Tape Operator role at that stage?

AP: I progressed very quickly as it was usually traditional to spend several months to a year at the tape library before they were let loose on sessions but, in my case, it was within another couple of weeks that I came down to watch sessions as this formed part of the training. The very first session I sat in on was with The Gods, with Ken Hensley playing keyboards rather than guitar as he did with Uriah Heep later on.

Read more Embryo – An Interview With Alan Parsons About His Early Days At Abbey Road Studios 

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