A documentary traces the history of the legendary Abbey Road recording studios

A documentary traces the history of the legendary Abbey Road recording studios

The rich history of London’s Abbey Road recording studios is told in the documentary ‘If These Walls Could Sing’, directed by Mary McCartney, Paul’s daughter. Currently viewing on Disney+.

Abbey Road Studios were made world famous by the Beatles’ 1969 album ‘Abbey Road’, whose cover photo has gone down in history. It shows the four musicians crossing the pedestrian crossing just opposite, in the street of the same name.

“There are so many people who come to Abbey Road to see the pedestrian crossing, but who do not enter the studios, because it is always a place where we work a lot… With this documentary, I wanted them to take them inside,” Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul, 53-year-old director and photographer, told AFP.

The Beatles present

Logically, the Beatles occupy an important place in this one and a half hour documentary, entitled in French “Behind the walls of the Abbey Road studios” and composed of interviews with artists and archive images. It follows by a little over a year another documentary series that Disney+ devoted to the Beatles at the end of 2021: “Get Back” by Peter Jackson.

Abbey Road became “the bunker” of the group when they stopped concerts from 1966 because the pressure from their fans was too strong, recalls in the documentary Giles Martin, son of their brilliant producer George Martin.

>> To see: the trailer for the documentary “If These Walls Could Sing” (“Behind the walls of Abbey Road studios”)

A place attached to pop and rock

But even if the Fab Four and their sound experiments have particularly marked the history of the place (they recorded 190 of their 210 songs there), Mary McCartney also wanted to show “everything else”.

The documentary thus recalls that the studios are in their nineties: created in 1931 by the record company EMI and at the cutting edge of technology at the time, they were first dedicated to classical music.

The composer and conductor Edward Elgar (1857-1934) premiered them. Later, other great names in classical music such as the cellist Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987) played there. However, their name remains intimately linked to pop and rock.

In addition to Paul McCartney and the other Beatle still alive, Ringo Starr, many stars testify in the documentary: Elton John, the brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis, the composer of film scores John Williams, the guitarist Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Roger Waters and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) or the young singer Celeste.

“Each one tells a different story, different aspects of what makes Abbey Road whole,” says Mary McCartney, emphasizing “the magic” of the place. The English title of the documentary is more evocative than its French equivalent: “If These Walls Could Sing” (“If these walls could sing”).


“If These Walls Could Sing” (“Behind the Walls of Abbey Road Studios”), Mary McCartney, Disney+

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