Is ABBEY ROAD Paul McCartney's first solo album? In some circles such talk might be thought of as crass, even blasphemous. But consider this: without Paul McCartney, there would be no Abbey Road album. After the disappointing results of the "Let it Be" sessions, it was McCartney who insisted the Beatles' regroup for another album, and get George Martin to return as their producer. And they agreed. However, the other three Beatles were not nearly as involved with the recording project as Paul McCartney, who worked closely with Martin, particularly in stitching together a group of song fragments, various incomplete songs rehearsed but not recorded during the "Let it Be" sessions.
Joined together, these song fragments comprise a 16-minute song medley heard on Side Two of Abbey Road. Known as "the long one", during the recording sessions, the medley includes seven songs by McCartney: "You Never Give Me Your Money", "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window", "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", "The End" and "Your Majesty". Lennon contributed three songs: "Sun King", "Mean Mr. Mustard", and "Polythene Pam".
Note: the curious song fragment that is "Your Majesty" was originally intended to appear between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam". However, when McCartney heard the playback, he nixed the idea, and ordered Martin to destroy the tape. Martin ignored McCartney's request, and ordered one of his engineers to file the tape safely away. Later, as an afterthought, Martin placed the song at end of Side Two. During the playback session, the other Beatles–including McCartney–were enchanted with the surprise ending, and decided to release the album with her "Her Majesty" as the album's final track.
While critics and fans praised the medley, John Lennon, for one, hated it. He felt that McCartney had somehow betrayed him, by taking his (Lennon's) song fragments and creating something from them that he had never intended. The result, he felt was too slick, and too commercial for his bohemian tastes. His original plan was for he and McCartney–as they had done so many times in the past–to flesh out the song fragments, and record them as complete and separate tracks. That said, Lennon was well aware of what McCartney was doing, and participated by performing the vocals on his songs, and, in the medley's concluding number, "The End", playing his share of guitar solos.
Note: "The End," includes guitar by solos three of the Beatles, in this order, two by McCartney, two by Harrison, and two by Lennon. "The End" also includes Ringo's one and only drum solo with the Beatles.
Putting these various song fragments together, as a medley, was Paul's idea. It was made possible by George Martin's mastery of the modern recording studio, with the other Beatles participating, and, like it or not, they were following Paul's direction.
Side One, however, is a completely different story, and more in line with previous Beatles' albums. It features three songs by John Lennon: his campaign song for Timothy O'Leary's failed California gubernatorial campaign, "Come Together"; his declaration of love for Yoko Ono, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", and his three-part harmony gem, "Because". Side One also features two of George Harrison's best songs ever: "Something", and "Hear Comes the Sun". It also includes Ringo's colorful ode to underwater Cephalopoda, "Octopus's Garden". However, McCartney's best cuts are all on Side Two, while his two songs on Side One–in my opinion–are not up to his usual high standards: the cloying "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", and his homage to fifties Rock 'N' Roll, "Oh, Darling". Clearly, his best stuff is on Side Two.
Was ABBEY ROAD McCartney's first solo album?. It certainly sounds like it to me. The commercial intent is too obvious, and the song transitions are too smooth–a pattern McCartney would follow throughout his solo years.