Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Nico Hulkenberg to Sauber

 Nico Hulkenberg is to join the Sauber team for 2013, the long-expected announcement having duly been made.

The German's career is without doubt on an upward curve, and the move to Sauber would appear consistent with this momentum, but the switch also gives rise to a few questions.

Is this what could be described as a sideways move?  And if so, would he have been better off remaining at Force India?  Does the move to Sauber indicate a growing closeness to Ferrari, with the long-term hope of securing a race seat at Maranello?

Although Sauber have undoubtedly displayed more dynamism and flair than Force India during the 2012 season, a glance at the Constructors' standings lends weight to the notion that this is a sideways move.  Force India have been consistent if admittedly largely unspectacular.  On the other hand, Hulkenberg may fear losing career impetus if Force India do not progress from their current place in the order of things.  If the move to the Swiss team can be viewed as a gamble, then he possibly feels that it is one worth taking. In addition, Sauber have a sound reputation for stability and permanence.

It would seem that Hulkenberg has gradually begun to attract the notice of the leading teams, and his name was tentatively linked with the second seat at McLaren before Sergio Perez got the nod there.  When the future of Felipe Massa at Ferrari was in jeopardy, the young German was mentioned as a possible candidate to replace him. Time will tell whether the decision to join Sauber is part of a strategy to strengthen these links with Ferrari.

In amongst the bright young things of Formula 1, it has taken some time for Hulkenberg's potential to be more widely recognised, but it seems that many in the sport, and its followers, are beginning to wake up to it. It is up to him to capitalise on this opportunity, and to the Sauber team to equip him with a competitive car, to ensure that the aforementioned upward curve maintains its current direction.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

2012 Indian Grand Prix

Well, Red Bull have sustained their relentless progress, and only the intervention of KERS gremlins for Mark Webber prevented a second consecutive 1-2 finish for the team.

As is usual, Fernando Alonso did all in his power to forestall the progress of the Milton Keynes based equipe.  The Spaniard was putting on a brave face after the race in New Delhi, but the pronouncements from  both himself and the Ferrari team are sounding rather hollow now, even if the optimism is laudable. The mechanical malady which afflicted Webber was a chink of light for Alonso, and reward for his dogged pursuit of the Red Bulls, but the resulting limiting of the points deficit may prove to be largely irrelevant.

The fact remains that Sebastian Vettel was not threatened all afternoon, and Red Bull are not committing the errors or mis-steps which their opponents might be relying on.  They are displaying an irresistible unity and impetus, appearing to enjoy a small, but significant, advantage in several areas which, when added together, account for their current supremacy.  This factor is the one which may be most frustrating for the rest, particularly Ferrari and McLaren, and which makes it tricky for them to decide which areas to address in the limited time now available between the closing races of the year.  There must be the temptation to take risks, but this carries the danger of heading up blind alleys.

It would seem that Ferrari enjoy an advantage in terms of straightline speed, but that they have a deficiency in grip in comparison to Red Bull. Surveying the remaining Grands Prix, it is difficult to conclude whether this confers any sort of advantage on the Italian cars, and in any event they may sacrifice some of this by striving for extra grip and balance.  All in all, it must be said that Red Bull hold all the aces.

The auguries for the race pace of McLaren seemed promising, and before the race I had hoped that Lewis Hamilton, with the title beyond him and his future decided, might feel less bound by strategic strait-jackets, and try something different.  In the event, their pace was so lacklustre as to make all this, and good grid positions, academic, and there is a danger of their season petering out quite lamely, which would be very deflating.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

To The Ends Of The Earth - David Yallop

I recently finished reading David Yallop's best-selling work, In God's Name, and blogged about it.

I then moved on swiftly to another one of Yallop's books, one which might not have garnered quite as much recognition and acclaim internationally, but nevertheless is another mammoth achievement of investigation and analysis.  I am speaking of To The Ends Of The Earth, subtitled "The Hunt for The Jackal".

The author seemingly set out with the intention of exploring the issue of terrorism, and in particular that which stemmed from the Middle East conflict. The focal point for these enquiries was "Carlos The Jackal", real name Ilich Ramirez Sanchez.  As Yallop's journey progressed, this turned into a sprawling epic.  The content grows and expands to encompass geopolitics of the late twentieth century, and the shadowy world of espionage.

In keeping with the approach adopted for In God's Name, Yallop pursues an exhaustive search for truth, not afraid to deviate from, and expose, widely accepted viewpoints. Out of the pages one can strongly detect a diligence and a determination to highlight deceit and disinformation, and to arrive at the unalloyed, ungarnished facts.

Throughout, the author is regularly contemptuous of key figures and organisations on all sides of the debate, where he considers that lies and/or injustice have been perpetrated , being very even-handed in this respect. At times there is almost a weariness and despair in his words, but at the same time a conscientiousness and passion which is difficult to ignore.

Those who Yallop deems culpable of deceit or inhumanity are taken to task, no matter what their status or reputation. If they have a case to answer, no deference is displayed, and rightly so.

In some quarters there was, and still is, a tendency to "romanticize" the terrorists and urban guerrillas of that era.  Yallop is quick to puncture such notions and illusions, pointing out unerringly the brutality, unscrupulousness and moral bankruptcy of those involved.  Hypocrisy of those on all sides is decried, as is rank ineptitude.

Some authors, even those in the "investigative" sphere, are often guilty of skirting around subjects, not getting to the heart of the matter, or treating some matters as taboo or off-limits. This is emphatically not the case with David Yallop.

At first, the excursions away from the "Carlos" story itself, and into the labyrinthine world of Middle East politics, threaten to make things feel disparate and disjointed.  However, later the author manages to marry these strands, and slowly but surely things begin to make sense in an overall context.

This book was first published before Carlos was detained by France, so it will be "out of date" in that respect. However, many of the areas touched on very much resonate in 2012, from official deception and manipulation to intractable world problems. So, it is still very much worth trying to get hold of a copy.

There are numerous other books out there about Carlos, and related subjects, but To The Ends of The Earth differs in its sheer sweep and scope, and the quantity of original and thorough research clearly undertaken. Reading the book from cover to cover has prompted me to ponder with renewed clarity a range of topics, and this in itself must be a litmus test of sorts.

A compelling and ambitious work, and the revelations and findings contained within are hard to overlook. Comprehensive, persistent and determined, but also persuasive.

As a postscript, an accompanying BBC television documentary was made around the time of the book's original publication, circa 1993/94.  I did not record the programme when it was originally broadcast, and would be very interested in obtaining a copy.  Any pointers would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Stewart on Vettel

Last week, Sir Jackie Stewart suggested that Sebastian Vettel could not yet be regarded as one of the greats of Formula 1.  The Scotsman, a three-times world champion and often seen as a pivotal figure in the history of the sport, referred to Vettel's possession of a dominant, or at least highly competitive, car during much of his tenure in Grand Prix racing as supporting this contention.  I appreciate that I am a bit late to this story, but here are my thoughts....

My own view is that Vettel is well on his way to becoming a great, purely because of the weight of statistics. Multiple world titles, allied to a plethora of victories and pole positions, do not lie, whatever our perception of technological or financial advantages.  If the German notches up, say, 50 or more Grand Prix wins, even in a superior car, it would be churlish in the extreme for anyone to see this as anything else but "greatness".

I would however draw a distinction between greatness and "legendary" status.  The latter is invariably achieved via a more circuitous route.  To get there a driver, as well as making a firm imprint on the record books, must also accomplish something exceptional or extraordinary, thereby transcending his own sport, and reaching into the consciousness of the wider public, in the manner of a Fangio, a Senna or even a Lauda.     Legendary status can be reached in a number of ways, such as overcoming technical deficiencies, or overcoming adversity.

Vettel is not a legend yet, but he has time on his side.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

In God's Name - David Yallop

My bookshelves have been groaning under the weight of tomes which have received from me only the most cursory of  attention, and I am in the process of revisiting many of these works.  Once such has been In God's Name,  by David Yallop.

This book is ostensibly an investigation into the death of Pope John Paul I, but by necessity its tentacles spread into many aspects of Italian, and indeed world, history and politics.  My renewed interest in this work was in part prompted by my continuing fascination with aspects of the Italian political scene from the late Sixties through to the early Eighties.

Yallop's writing style is unlikely to be to everyone's taste, being quite earnest and emotive in places, but few can doubt that he outlines his findings with genuine passion,conviction and fearlessness.  The research which he undertook in this case was clearly thorough, persistent and wide-ranging.

Whether or not the author succeeds in fully persuading the reader of the merits of his arguments and conclusions will be a matter for personal judgement, but this book constitutes a powerful and thought-provoking probe.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Felipe Massa Stays With Ferrari

News emerged this afternoon that Felipe Massa has signed a contract with Ferrari for 2013.  This announcement had been expected, due to a combination of other developments in the driver market, and a general improvement in Massa's performances of late.

I am pleased at this decision for several reasons, not least because Massa always comes across as a decent fellow, and he has toiled admirably and without complaint to improve his displays as this season has progressed. Despite intense speculation linking several other drivers with a place alongside Fernando Alonso next season, the interest in those potential replacements from Ferrari themselves seemed lukewarm at best, if it indeed truly existed in the first place.

The list of credible candidates to occupy the number two seat at Maranello was hardly overwhelming, in all honesty, after interest in Sergio Perez cooled and he opted for McLaren.  Of those linked, who could be guaranteed to perform the allotted task with the same expertise as Massa? Better to retain that stability and continuity, rather than take a risk.

Of course, the fact that Massa's contract is for 2013 only will strengthen the talk of Sebastian Vettel joining the team for the following season, although that particular story may still have some distance to travel, who knows?

The Day Of The Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

Some time ago now, I wrote an article on the superb 1973 film The Day Of The Jackal, based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth:

The Day Of The Jackal (film)

Well, I have just finished re-reading the novel itself, and thought that I would share some additional thoughts on it.

For the uninitiated, most of the plot deals with a fictional account of an attempt by a hired assassin to kill President Charles de Gaulle.

If you have already seen the movie, you will note some differences in the locations, characters and sequences of events.  The film's makers clearly decided to condense and streamline the "script" in order to cram the story into a manageable running time. However, these amendments are not to the extent of being confusing, or undermining the feeling of harmony between novel and motion picture.

Naturally, there is much more scope in the novel to flesh out and examine the political and diplomatic background to the events, and I found this aspect of the book fascinating, the author striving to strike a balance between appearing comprehensive and the need not to weigh things down with superfluous detail. Some of the characters, both those involved in the plot, and those in French government and law enforcement, are not portrayed in very sympathetic terms.  Many come across as much more reactionary and blinkered than is visible in the film, where we only see them fleetingly.

Some may sneer and view The Day Of The Jackal as in some way shallow and lightweight.  Granted, it is difficult to describe it as high-brow literature in the conventional sense, but that is to miss the point.  Judge it on its own merits, and on what it is seeking to achieve, and it is compulsive and engrossing, as well as representing a prime slab of "escapism".  Especially gripping is the way in which the subterfuge and suspense are built up, and how the Jackal's preparations and the frantic police inquiries unfold in parallel, even if the Jackal is usually that one step ahead of his pursuers.

One of the most immersive things about this novel is its cosmopolitan nature, the drama played out in numerous European locations, and we are given a flavour of what must have been the prevailing atmosphere and lifestyle circa the early 1960s, almost "dolce vita" in character, it seems., when the world still felt "analogue". In amongst this we also see ruthless, cold-blooded behaviour and plotting; a curious but powerful cocktail.

Another thing which occurred to me whilst re-reading The Day Of The Jackal was the level of internal squabbling in the corridors of power.  The general tenor of the novel supports the notion that the author's research was thorough and accurate, and that the tensions depicted therefore have a ring of authenticity.  One would earnestly hope that this kind of thing is not as pervasive in today's world, and that the pressure of events, and simple expediency have helped to dissolve some of the obstacles and bureaucracy, and instill a more streamlined and nimble ethos.  One is also reminded that even in the early 1960s, people were being required to forsake some freedoms and liberties on the pretext of combating crime and terrorism.

To me, the story seems plausible, and not inflated or sensationalised. The latter are not needed, as the central premise is gripping enough.  These, together with the way in which the tension, suspense and desperation of the protagonists are outlined and related, are the essential ingredients of the book's appeal and success.  The minutiae of the detective work undertaken will also enthrall those, like me, who relish that kind of thing!

On reflection, it might be preferable to read the book before watching the movie, as the latter will then make more sense, as one will be equipped with a fuller and deeper understanding of the underlying political issues which triggered the crisis.

Either way, The Day Of The Jackal is one exciting and pulsating read....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

2012 Korean Grand Prix Review

In the aftermath of this morning's race at Yeongam, it felt to me like a pall of cold reality was hanging over many Formula 1 followers.  Not only did we see a relatively mundane contest, but the realisation has started to dawn that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have assumed a momentum which, although not irreversible, will definitely take some arresting.

As some had anticipated, Vettel asserted control right from the start of the race, and that was that.  Although Fernando Alonso sporadically threatened to place himself between the two Red Bulls, in the end Vettel and Webber were reasonably comfortable.  The Red Bulls were visually very stable and efficient, and the writing is very much on the wall  for their competitors.  There was an air of serenity about Vettel, and other Red Bull people, afterwards.  The glum expressions on the faces of some rival teams displayed the flip-side of this.

It has to be admitted that McLaren endured a miserable Grand Prix, but it should be pointed out that after practice and qualifying the team appeared cautiously bullish, if not exactly ecstatic, about their prospective race pace.  In the event, this pace was not permitted to reveal itself, as Jenson Button was eliminated at the start, and Lewis Hamilton was afflicted by mechanical maladies. This all had a detrimental effect on Hamilton's and McLaren's position in the points standings.  The titles may be out of reach, but there are still potential race wins to be fought for in the closing four events, assuming reliability of course!.

Ferrari was another team which emitted vaguely positive vibes about its performance in race trim, and they at least partly delivered on this, even if they ultimately could not quite live with the redoubtable Red Bulls.  Fernando Alonso, as is usual, extracted the maximum possible from the machinery at his disposal, but must now realise that he is playing catch-up, having been protecting his points lead in previous races.  Felipe Massa once again showed his mettle, and today's display probably secured his 2013 berth with the team, that is assuming that the decision to retain his services had not already been made.

Kimi Raikkonen is third in the championship standings, but the upgrades to the car unsurprisingly did not represent any kind of quantum leap. The changes seem merely to have allowed Lotus to hold station, and prevent the "big three" from disappearing further over the horizon. One positive aspect for the team was the relatively inconspicuous outing enjoyed by Romain Grosjean. He largely kept away from trouble, and after the race seemed happier than of late.  He will be even more buoyant if, as seems increasingly probable, he is kept on for next season.

Nico Hulkenberg attained another solid result in his quiet, unobtrusive but proficient style.  Possibilities of seats at the very top teams seem to be blocked for the time being, and maybe Hulkenberg is just too "unglamorous" and unassuming for his own good in this respect.  However, the indications are that he will find himself in a Sauber for next season, and this should constitute a useful stepping stone.

So, with three consecutive victories, Vettel must now be considered favourite to clinch another title.  This season's fluctuations have taught us not to take anything for granted, but the recent surge by Red Bull has the stamp of permanence and authority about it.  One can also discern a creeping, if not irrevocable, demolarization amongst the other participants.

We know that Fernando Alonso is capable of great things, and of at least partially compensating for a technical performance shortfall, but even he and his team may prove incapable of turning the tide on this occasion.  We shall soon discover whether Ferrari have anything else up their sleeves, or any more aces to play.  Otherwise, they will be relying on mistakes or misfortune befalling Red Bull.

The Indian Grand Prix should provide us with some of the answers....

Sunday, 7 October 2012

2012 Japanese Grand Prix Review

Not in itself the most pulsating exciting or entertaining race at Suzuka today, if we are being honest, but one which generated numerous talking points, and which tightened the drivers' championship points race considerably.

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel were presented with an "open goal" by the lap 1 exit of Fernando Alonso and the comparatively lowly grid position of the two McLarens.  Further aided by a buffer comprising some non-title-contenders, Vettel did not squander his opportunity.

What will have felt ominous for the rest of the field was the degree of comfort enjoyed by Vettel in achieving his victory, on such a technical and challenging circuit, which tests many qualities in a car.  The first back-to-back wins for any driver in 2012.  There were even whispers that the Red Bull's straightline speed, hitherto a shortcoming, had been improved.

The body language and facial expressions of Red Bull personnel, including the winner, after the race were very significant. They can sense that matters may be shifting gradually but inexorably in their direction, and there was less of the equivocation exhibited at previous races.  There must now be an increasing sense of foreboding amongst Red Bull's rivals concerning the remaining meetings.

The Ferrari frustration must have been compounded by the sight of Felipe Massa securing a fine second place. At the same time, the performance of the Brazilian and his car can be seen to bode well for the Italian team for the balance of the season.

Alonso was quite stoical and positive afterwards, looking forward to Korea rather than dwelling on his disappointment at Suzuka.  The shrewd Spaniard must have known all along that one or more of the chasing pack would eventually encroach.  Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali indicated that he was conscious of the need for the team to improve the car.  They cannot just rely on a combination of Alonso's adroit driving and consistency, and good fortune.  If any complacency was there at Ferrari, it should have rapidly evaporated and turned into a state of mild alarm.

As for Massa, it seems that Suzuka, added to several other creditworthy recent performances, may have helped to secure his place with Ferrari for 2013.

McLaren were hampered this weekend by various factors, and will be concerned, but not surprised at Red Bull's restoration to pre-eminence. After the race Martin Whitmarsh was being realistic about the team's position vis-a-vis Red Bull. Whilst not exactly exuding optimism, he did say that they will keep fighting, trying and working. There is a sense that McLaren did all that they could in the circumstances.

There may be insinuations that McLaren have become "lost" again, but I don't subscribe to these notions.  It is more a case of Red Bull leaping ahead again.  McLaren cannot have regressed in the space of a few weeks. This situation is symptomatic of the fickleness and volatility of fortunes in modern Formula 1, where things are decidedly fluid.  Even some of the protagonists sometimes come across as bemused by the constant shifts in initiative and impetus.

It was an afternoon of mixed fortunes for the Sauber drivers.  Kamui Kobayashi appeared inspired in front of his home crowd, on a familiar circuit, and motivated and galvanised by rumours about the composition of the Sauber line-up in 2013, including whether he would be playing any part in it.  It was lovely and refreshing to see the emotional scenes on the podium and in the grandstands.

The departure of Sergio Perez from proceedings caused some consternation, but for me it was no big deal, just one of those things.  We did see during the race a few glimpses of the fluent and audacious talent which has persuaded McLaren to sign the Mexican for next season.

Of course, the other major topic of discussion was the continuing ordeal of Romain Grosjean, who collided with Mark Webber on the first lap.  This particular move was not as egregious as some of the other incidents in which he has been involved, but at the same time it will hardly have endeared him to his peers or the wider F1 community.

Grosjean's demeanour post-race spoke volumes.  He looked haunted, helpless and worried.  Despite his indiscretions, it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for a young man who is increasingly beleaguered. It is hard to say what can be done.  In previous eras, there was sometimes an unofficial group of "elder statesmen" drivers who might have had a cautionary word of advice in his ear, but that situation does not seem to exist any more.  Perhaps it is ultimately up to the team itself to address the problem?

Turning to the race itself, I would concur with the sentiments of those who, while desiring a more exciting race, revelled in the spectacle and challenge provided by the Suzuka circuit.  There is nothing else quite like it  in F1, Spa-Francorchamps apart.

It is ever more looking like a straight contest for the drivers' championship between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen's momentum has stalled, and he looks less capable of winning Grands Prix than a few races ago.  The shift induced by events at Suzuka make it possible that the title will be decided at the final race.  On the other hand, Vettel may just dominate the remainder of the season....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Michael Schumacher Retires....Again

The announcement this morning from Michael Schumacher that he was retiring from Formula 1 was not entirely surprising, given recent developments in the driver's market for 2013, and the disappointments which he has endured this season. However, there were some intriguing and revealing morsels of information contained in the announcement itself.

Schumacher appears to have begun to doubt his motivation in recent times, and it was somewhat surprising to hear such a frank and honest assessment of his innermost thoughts and the reasons leading up to the move to quit.  It is admirable, and also characteristic, of Schumacher to decide that if he cannot give a project 100% then he will not continue with it.

It was also significant that the German used the word "relief" to describe the emotions which he feels in making this momentous decision.  Hinting perhaps that the last three seasons, or at least the latter portions of that period, have been a chore, an ordeal and a time of frustration, even if rewarding from some perspectives on a human level?

Another revealing detail is Schumacher's assertion that the signing by Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton for 2013 aided his decision to "re-retire".  We can therefore assume that there was no genuine appetite for pursuing possible opportunities or options with other teams. Is this all consistent with the notion that the 2010 comeback was entirely "a Mercedes thing"?

So was it a mistake for Schumacher to return to F1?  We can all pontificate and speculate, but none of the parties directly involved is likely to admit as such outright in the immediate future.

Concern has been expressed as to whether the less than sparkling results achieved during Michael's second F1 career will in some way tarnish his legacy.  My own feeling is that the travails and setbacks experienced during his time with Mercedes will be placed in their right and proper perspective, and that he will be mainly remembered for his years of near hegemony with Ferrari, and his earlier feats with Benetton.

We now await news of what Schumacher intends to do with his time in the future.  Some role within the Mercedes structure or, after a period of reflection, some racing activity in other, less exalted categories?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Abbey Road - The Beatles - album review

By the time that recording sessions commenced for the Abbey Road album in 1969, the writing was on the wall as far as any future for the Beatles as a continuing entity was concerned.  It is therefore common for the work released later that year to be lauded as a fitting and poignant parting shot (Let It Be was released later, but most of it was recorded in the early months of 1969).  So, from the perspective of over four decades later, were the plaudits truly warranted, or just a case of respectful wishful thinking?

A "bittersweet" but defiant quality runs through Abbey Road, although whether this has been accrued with the passing of time is open to debate.  I am in no real position to adjudicate, as the album was released shortly before I was born!

Certain aspects make this LP stand out from other albums released by the Fab Four.  The production and sound quality are markedly more lavish and "polished" than their other works.  They were now gaining access to more advanced recording technology.  Whether this makes the album sound "better" is a matter of taste, and the sheen possessed by these recordings could give rise to an accusation that the sound is a touch clinical. In fairness to the Beatles, they did not hide behind their newly acquired gizmos and equipment, and instead relied primarily on their trademark melodic inventiveness and imagination and songwriting prowess.

The album also witnessed the true flowering of George Harrison as a songwriter, and his two songs, "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun", have been the most enduring of the tracks on the listing. The clarity and sincerity of Harrison's writing here contrasts with the contributions of both Lennon and McCartney which, whilst substantial and important to the album's overall appeal, are beginning to diverge and possibly presage their respective solo careers to come.

Notwithstanding the reverence expressed for Abbey Road, there is some undoubted filler, although this being the Beatles it is interesting and entertaining filler!  It is a moot point whether the group members were holding some stronger material back for impending solo projects.  We know from the Anthology 3 album that some impressive songs were floating around circa 1969.

Even much of the fabled "medley" on side 2 of the vinyl album could justly described as "filler", but the group, and in particular McCartney and George Martin, expertly pull together this mixture of minor gems, vignettes and fragments, and fuse it into something vibrant, moving and enthralling.  A case of the whole being greater than the sum of the individual parts...

Partly because of the efficacy of the "medley", and also because of the diversity and quality of the other material, Abbey Road works better as an "album" in the truest sense than most of the Beatles' other work. Not quite as enigmatic and disparate as "The White Album", but much warmer and compact.  The musical ingenuity conquers all, together with the group's uncanny knack of knowing what to do, when and how, rarely if ever sounding self-indulgent or pretentious.

Abbey Road represents a brave, unapologetic and proud farewell, if it can be accurately described as a "farewell".  Bittersweet in tone, but captivating and, and one of those albums which demands to be listened to      from start to finish, in order for the full effect to be absorbed.  For this listener at least, there is never the temptation to skip tracks...

Throughout the record, there are hints and indications of what direction the Beatles would have travelled in musically, had they remained together during the 1970s.  Multi-tracked vocals and guitars, increasing use of synthesizers, more elaborate and ambitious arrangements, and of course the blossoming input of George Harrison.

On a sonic level, Ringo Starr's drumming is a revelation, sounding confident, idiosyncratic and "three dimensional".  Another hallmark of the album is the "trebly" and chiming guitar sound.  Both of these elements were doubtless accentuated by the better recording technology at the band's disposal, but as common threads they help to hold the record together.

I try not to categorise or rank Beatles albums in particular, because of the leap in musical sophistication and philosophical outlook which they made in such a short time during the 1960s, but Abbey Road is without doubt one of their most enjoyable and cohesive creations.