HOT OFF THE WIRE

The Beatles' Abbey Road returns to number one 50 years on

The Beatles' Abbey Road returns to number one 50 years on

  • 4 October 2019
Image copyright Apple Corps
Image caption Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister and Sir Alf Ramsey was the England football manager last time Abbey Road was number one.

The Beatles' Abbey Road has returned to number one in the UK, 50 years after it first topped the album charts.

The Fab Four reclaimed the top spot with an expanded anniversary edition.

The feat also sees the album set a record - the gap of 49 years and 252 days since its initial chart-topping run ended in early 1970 is the longest gap before returning to number one.

"It's hard to believe that Abbey Road still holds up after all these years," tweeted Sir Paul McCartney on Friday.

"But then again it's a bloody cool album," he added.

  • Listen to The Abbey Road Story on BBC Sounds
  • Abbey Road: Beatles fans gather to recreate cover shot
  • The Scot who took The Beatles' Abbey Road photo

The new version features original tracks such as Here Comes The Sun and Come Together as well as previously unheard material from the recording sessions.

The previous record for longest gap between number one appearances by the same album was held by (yup, you guessed it) The Beatles again, for their seminal 1967 record, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The sprawling psych-rock masterpiece returned to number one in 2017 courtesy of another anniversary re-release - a mere 49 years and 125 days after its previous spell at the top.

Abbey Road was also this week's best-selling album on vinyl, shifting just under 9,000 copies.

It knocked the new album by self-confessed Beatles superfan Liam Gallagher off the number one slot. The former Oasis rock 'n' roll star's second solo effort, Why Me? Why Not, debuted at the top of the chart last week.

Monumental medley

Despite being their penultimate release, Abbey Road was in fact the last album The Beatles ever recorded together. Let It Be, which came out the following year, had been recorded first, but was initially shelved over disagreements about its production.

The first side of Abbey Road contains well known songs like Something and Octopus's Garden. But it's the eight track medley on side two, from the McCartney piano ballad, You Never Give Me Your Money, to The End - which contains one of Ringo Starr's rare recorded drum solos - which for many marks the LP out as their crowning glory.

The Liverpool band revealed they created the sequence to "use up" a host of incomplete songs and while it was McCartney's idea, producer George Martin - aka the fifth Beatle - takes the credit for the kaleidoscopic structure.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBeatles fans flooded Abbey Road to mark the anniversary

Last week, thousands of fans made the pilgrimage to west London recording studio from which the album takes it name, to mark its half-century.

Many of them recreated the classic cover artwork, which depicted The Beatles bass player walking barefoot over a zebra crossing, alongside bandmates Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon.

Jaime Garri, 61, flew more than 14 hours from Santiago, Chile, to mark the occasion.

"You have to say thank you to them for giving us such lovely music," he said.

The Arctic Monkeys paid their own tribute to the record back in 2012 when they performed its Chuck Berry-inspired opening track, with the eyes of the world upon them, at director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony to the London Olympics.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email