Abbey Road's greatest hits

As The Beatles' former studio faces closure, leading figures in music tell Mark Jewsbury what they think is the best album ever recorded there

News last week that debt-ridden EMI might sell its much-loved Abbey Road studios spurred swift action from the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and the National Trust. Immortalised by the Beatles album to which it lends its name, Abbey Road is a landmark in 20th century music: Elgar conducted an opening performance in 1931, and at 16, the violinist Yehudi Menuhin recorded with the composer there.

This weekend, discussions were already afoot for a rescue package. On Friday, on his BBC Radio 2 show, DJ Chris Evans played only songs recorded at Abbey Road, to raise awareness of the importance of "a musical landmark". Sir Paul McCartney has called for it to be saved. Ronan Keating and Craig David have both said they would move to keep the studios working. Keating said: "I back any campaign to save it and keep it going as a working studio." Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, added yesterday: "Increasingly recording studios are redundant, but if one has to be saved it is Abbey Road."

The studios in north-west London could be granted Grade II status as early as Monday, when Baroness Andrews, the chair of English Heritage, is to meet the Culture minister, Margaret Hodge. While the National Trust is also interested, EMI's reported asking price, in excess of £30m, will be an obstacle. Whatever the outcome, as our panel shows, closure would cue the final chords of the soundtrack to British musical life.

Barry Fratelli

Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

This has got to be my favourite Abbey Road album. It's my American Express: I never leave home without it. I only ever listen to it all the way through. There's something special about that complete piece of music that wouldn't make sense in any other order.

Stephen Duffy, The Lilac Time

Barrett, Syd Barrett

It's easy to forget that Syd Barrett recorded there with David Gilmour, that from somewhere so far away came works of uncomfortable genius. I never liked Abbey Road but we need to keep some cool rooms open because you can't replicate it on a laptop.

Anna Picard, music critic

Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem; Norrington/London Mozart Players

Ground-breaking in its day. A brilliant experiment. Tons of people have recorded classical works at Abbey Road. They had terrific producers and a reputation for hiring the very best editors.

Simon Price, Music Critic

Never for Ever, Kate Bush; Notorious, Duran Duran

If you are not a fan of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, the quality drops off quickly. I don't get the hysteria. I hope it is turned into student accommodation. It is a museum. I have been to studios that feel like studios and not a Madame Tussauds.

Tjinder Singh, Cornershop

Help!, The Beatles

Help! is hard to beat; The Beatles at their most immediate and melodic. A real masterpiece. Abbey Road Studios are a noteworthy national pleasure. We risk losing something unique and special that generations have come to find fascinating and an inspiration.

Green Gartside, Scritti Politti

The Madcap Laughs, Syd Barrett

It's revolutionary, inspirationally liberated and beautifully unravelled. Given the software plug-ins available today, the end of Abbey Road would be just another footnote in the irreversible reshaping of popular music.

Paul Carrack, Mike + The Mechanics

The Shadows, The Shadows

The Shadows was the first album my elder brother John brought home. It was the inspiration for many a young lad to attempt to make up their own tunes on the electric guitar. I played along to it over and over on a drum "kit" cobbled together from bits I found in the attic. It still sounds fantastic.

Terry Edwards, Choir Director

Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd

I worked on this album as a session singer, along with a choir and the brass section of the London Philharmonic. But the stand-out sessions I've done there were working with John Williams. Incredibly, he somehow managed to control 100 players and 60 singers with no effort and in the most musical way.

Chesney Hawkes

The Beatles (White Album), The Beatles

I nicked my dad's Beatles albums and put my name on them. I spent six months of my life at Abbey Road when I was 18 years old. There were rumours among the guys there that there is a bullet hole in Studio Two fired by John Lennon. I didn't see it, but I did look for it.

Annie Lennox

Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles

That's probably my favourite Beatles album. I was about 13 when it was released, and it had a massive impact on me. One of my most special memories of Abbey Road is when I got to sing using the "special" microphone that Paul McCartney and John Lennon used. It's brought out only on rare occasions.

Rod Argent, The Zombies

With The Beatles, The Beatles

For me, Please Please Me was recorded in a bit of a rush, so With The Beatles was the first proper Beatles record and meant the most to me. I have great memories of Abbey Road: we recorded Odessey and Oracle four days after Sgt Pepper, in the same studio and using the same tape machine.

Imelda May, Singer

Move It, Cliff Richard

I was fortunate I got to record live at Abbey Road just a short while ago, actually 50 years to the day that Cliff recorded Move It. When you walk in you feel the history. It has one of the best sounds in all of England. That is the reason why so many recorded there. It made people sound so good.

Craig David

Late Orchestration, Kanye West

Because his recording was orchestral, Kanye respected the studio. I feel the heritage of the place. It has been maintained by all those who go through, left untainted, and you feel that when you perform there. I feel strongly that it will be maintained.

Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens

Please Please Me, The Beatles

With tracks like "Twist and Shout", "Love Me Do" and my personal connection to John's leaning towards the other world with "There's a Place", it was a world-changing moment. The Beatles' records capture the magic of Abbey Road. So glad I got to be there.

Chaz Jenkins, Lso concert organiser

Star Wars: soundtracks to Episodes I, II, III

As of January 2010 the London Symphony Orchestra has made 726 recordings at Abbey Road. Its real strength is in soundtrack recording. If it were to close, a lot of recordings would be lost from the UK. It is the only studio that offers the scale needed for soundtracks.

Phil Sommerich, Classical Music Magazine

Elgar Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré and the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli

It has such raw emotion and brilliant technique shown to the world with all the recklessness of youth. But these days, on the classical side at least, more albums are done on location. You are recording, not creating, so you no longer a need a studio.

Mike Batt, Songwriter

The Last Emperor, soundtrack

One of the most evocative soundtracks. Perfectly suited to Bertolucci's movie. You can hear Studio One's atmosphere in the more symphonic cues. The lower strings' resonance comes from the shape and texture of the Abbey Road acoustics.

James Morrison, Arts Journalist

Abbey Road, The Beatles

Fittingly, the Beatles' swansong – with its last-minute cover in place of what had been intended as a glamorous overseas shoot – is, for me, their best album. The B-side is one of the most fantastically fluid continuous roller coaster rides ever committed to vinyl.

Ben Ayres, Rough Trade Records

Rubber Soul, The Beatles

I love everything about it, right down to the artwork. You can hear the inspiration happening. I'm surprised at the rumoured sale of Abbey Road Studios. I would have thought that the sheer monumental role of Abbey Road in popular music and its role culturally would mean it would remain for future generations.

Eddi Reader, folk singer

The Bends, Radiohead

It is the album I play to remind me to be creative. The sound of it is gigantic, vulnerable and mega-musical. I got a chance to record at Abbey Road and looked for the cupboard that Paul, John, George and Ringo used to sneak into for joints. The music created in that studio earned this country billions and we'd be stupid to tear it down.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum