1. Abbey Road
Despite being the band’s final recording (Let It Be was recorded first, but released later), and made at a time where the band were barely speaking, Abbey Road is perhaps the band’s greatest effort. Certainly this is an album that sees McCartney’s bass playing at its peak. The slow 12/8 groove of ‘Oh Darling’ and the greasy sliding riff of ‘Come Together’ are just two highlights of an album that prove Macca had a deep and profound command of his instrument in the context of pop and rock.
Cited by some as the greatest album of all time, the fact that Sgt. Pepper still sounds so fresh 45 years after its release is testament to the songwriting prowess of the Fab Four. It’s amazing how McCartney can inject so much feel and a sense of fun into the simple root-fifthing of ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. His supple, melodic lines dance all over the album, creating melodies of their own under the guitars and vocals.
This album marked something of a sonic departure for the Beatles, following on from the decidedly softer and more rootsy Rubber Soul. Album opener ‘Taxman’ features a grunty riff from McCartney, with its bounce and melody being pure James Jamerson, but afforded an aggressive pick-driven edge. The album as a whole represents a bass player’s Bible – a true lesson in joining rhythm and melody into something truly great. Little wonder Sir Paul has been hailed for decades since as one of the greatest bass innovators of all time.