The Beatles
The Alternate Abbey Road
(Walrus 012)

One of the more interesting recent developments in the long and winding road of Beatles bootlegs has been the "alternate album" compilations put out by "Pear" and "Walrus" … who's ripping whom off, I have no idea. Both labels offer similar titles with slightly different track selections. Either way, what you get is a bizarro-world version of each Beatles studio record, usually including early takes, rough mixes, or completely different performances, depending on what source material is available.

Though none of the "alternate" albums are particularly arguable as essential, for anyone who's listened to the Fabs' studio records ad infinitum, they're a welcome experience, at best renewing your interest in albums you already know inside and out. The Alternate Abbey Road draws mostly on early takes, rough mixes, and fake mono mixes (some tracks pulled blatantly from Anthology 3, with enough noticeable differences throughout (especially vocal tracks) to keep you on your toes. Surprisingly, these are almost entirely studio outtakes, as opposed to the seemingly ubiquitous rehearsal takes from any given Get Back-era session.

Highlights of this one include rawer versions of "Come Together" and "I Want You," plus goofy earlier takes of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Octopus's Garden" (both of which suffered from overproduction on the actual record. "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "Carry That Weight" both feature extended outros and different vocals that make them much more immediate. Bonus tracks from the sessions are added ("Come and Get It," "All Things Must Pass" … most are from Anthology 3) to round out the snapshot of the Beatles in their final phase.

Though most of this stuff is available on other releases (legal and otherwise), it's nice to have it presented coherently in one place, reprising the Abbey Road tracklist with a new angle. Probably a rip-off if you have to pay for it, but as a casual download, this is a really nice "Beatleg" … okay, now allow me to go shoot myself for using the term "Beatleg."

Review by La Fée