Starostin reviews “Abbey Road”

George Starostin

George Starostin, who by my calculations must sleep four hours or less per night to work an academic job and find time to review as many albums as he does.

Indefatigable reviewer George Starostin, of the Only Solitaire blog, has just posted a review of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. This one is part of his “Important Album Series,” in which he is offering critical considerations of the “Top Albums of All Time” on the Rate Your Music site. Abbey Road currently sits at #7 on that site.

I prefer the more comprehensive review of the album that Starostin posted in 2012 on his regular blog, but his Rate Your Music pieces are a valuable addition to his ongoing ambition to review, apparently, practically everything rock or pop that has ever been released. (This is in addition to his day job as a linguistics researcher at the Russian State University for the Humanities.)  He’s currently up to the C’s on his blog, but his old website includes an archive of hundreds of reviews.

Starostin focuses on the music and context in his reviews, including his “Important Album” pieces, so he doesn’t spend time taking a position on questions that might be raised by the Rate Your Music ranking: Is Abbey Road the best Beatles album? Do the six albums that rate higher deserve their ranking? I find his attention to the music itself refreshing.

This is my favorite quote from the review:

“Maybe the biggest general strength of Abbey Road is that the record, although clearly not without influences of its own, imitates no one – neither intentionally, as much of the White Album did, nor subconsciously. Recorded in the context of one of the best years in popular music, it simply reflects The Beatles as they were in that summer of ’69, which is, of course, precisely why it still sounds so timeless after all these years. Could this be repeated one year later? Two years later? Three? I seriously doubt it.”

1330The second side of Abbey Road was my original portal into Pepperland. I don’t know if it’s the “best” Beatles album — I’m increasingly unsure it makes sense to try to pick one for that designation — but Abbey Road has a unique place in my musical biography, and it seems I’m not alone in that.

If you don’t know Starostin’s work, go exploring through his blog or archive. He does better work for free than most paid music reviewers, in my opinion, and he has the valuable virtue of wanting to appreciate whatever he listens to.


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  1. John Lennon had basically checked out by Abbey Road. Yoko had gotten him into activism and heroin, like an important person, and he was, apparently, not very active in the studio. The story goes that he brought in Come Together as a vanilla Chuck Berry rocker; McCartney slowed it way down, swamped it up, added the sine qua non bass riff, even (as usual) told Ringo how to play the drums. You can’t argue with the results. Lennon made light of “sticking little bits together” for the second part, but I think it shows just how much you can do with so little, if you’re a genius. I saved for weeks freshman year to buy it, and I was goggle eyed when I listened to it — still am. Most startling was all the three part harmony all over it — it proved, again, that there are just so many ways the Beatles could beat you, and why I can never start a band.

    P.S. Michael, can you put html markup in these things?

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Sir HF, can you say more about what kind of markup you want, and any trouble you’re having with the current links? (Since I wrote this post, I don’t want to push changes onto Michael.)
      WordPress makes embedding links easy, but I know nothing of html markup. “I may be a blogger, but I ain’t no coder.”

    • You mean like this?

      Just include the tags, and the type will be styled accordingly. The issue isn’t the HTML, it’s the font, which lemme see if I can change.

  2. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    For some reason, the reply button doesn’t work for me. My replies used to appear directly under the comment I was replying to, but no more.
    Thanks Obama.

  3. I like the new font–my 50-year-old eyes thank you. But I’m just one dude, maybe others liked it the old way.

    By the way, have you considered Disqus for your commenting system? It’s the least bad one I’ve encountered, in terms of ease of use.

  4. Not to mention you can do actual paragraphs, which is a helpful thing.

  5. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Not a big disqus fan. The existing commenting system is fine with me.

    • I think Disqus actually owns the content, too; one of them does — and can basically shut down your comments at will.

      I looked into a better comment system a couple of years ago. I’ll look again. The more traffic we get, the more time I seem to find to improve the blog. 🙂

  6. Jesus, guys, I didn’t ask to throw anything away — I just wanted to know how to insert a blank like….

  7. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:


    I think Disqus actually owns the content, too; one of them does — and can basically shut down your comments at will. I looked into a better comment system a couple of years ago. I’ll look again.

    I think what you have here is fine. Works good for me. I don’t care about threaded replies. I don’t know why I even mentioned it.
    I like the new font. And as far as content, I’ve learned more from this blog than I did after 30 years of reading crappy Beatle books.

  8. Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

    For those interested, Starostin has just posted a review of “Revolver” (#8 on the RYM list):

    I find what he has to say about McCartney and “For No One” especially interesting:

    “Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how in the world a guy who, by all accounts, has generally had a comfortable life and was never known much as a loner or sociopath could have such a brilliant knack for picturing desperate loneliness . . . .”

    • “Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how in the world…”

      Empathy, and imagination. Lennon had the latter, but not the former; and it was Paul’s ability to put himself in another person’s shoes that allowed him to collaborate successfully with Lennon in the first place. And it’s telling that their collaboration broke down when John began reifying his own experience.

  9. Avatar CWood wrote:

    Wasn’t Sun King an imitation of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross?

  10. Avatar Craig wrote:

    Hey Nancy, what’s up with that totally cool birds-eye view of the fabs traversing the zebra? It’s a mashup for sure but where’d ya find it? God I could just read this blog for the awesome images y’all procure.

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