The Beatles: Revolver-1966-60’s.

Revolver is the seventh studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 5 August 1966, accompanied by the double A-side single “Eleanor Rigby” / “Yellow Submarine“. The album was the Beatles’ final recording project before their retirement as live performers and marked the group’s most overt use of studio technology to date, building on the advances of their late 1965 release Rubber Soul. It has since become regarded as one of the greatest and most innovative albums in the history of popular music, with recognition centred on its range of musical styles, diverse sounds, and lyrical content.

The Beatles recorded Revolver after taking a three-month break at the start of 1966, and during a period when London was feted as the era’s cultural capital. Regarded by some commentators as the start of the group’s psychedelic period, the songs reflect their interest in the drug LSD, Eastern philosophy and the avant-garde while addressing themes such as death and transcendence from material concerns. With no plans to reproduce their new material in concert, the band made liberal use of automatic double trackingvarispeedreversed tapes, close audio miking, and instruments outside of their standard live set-up. Among its tracks are “Tomorrow Never Knows“, incorporating heavy Indian drone and a collage of tape loops; “Eleanor Rigby”, a song about loneliness featuring a string octet as its only musical backing; and “Love You To“, a foray into Hindustani classical music. The sessions also produced a non-album single, “Paperback Writer” backed with “Rain“.

In the United Kingdom, the album’s 14 tracks were gradually distributed to radio stations in the weeks before its release. In North America, Revolver was reduced to 11 songs by Capitol Records, with the omitted three appearing on the June 1966 LP Yesterday and Today. The release there coincided with the Beatles’ final concert tour and the controversy surrounding John Lennon‘s remark that the band had become “more popular than Jesus“. The album topped the Record Retailer chart in the UK for seven weeks and the US Billboard Top LPs list for six weeks. Critical reaction was highly favourable in the UK but less so in the US amid the press’s unease at the band’s outspokenness on contemporary issues.

Revolver expanded the boundaries of pop music, revolutionised standard practices in studio recording, advanced principles espoused by the 1960s counterculture, and inspired the development of psychedelic rockelectronicaprogressive rock and world music. The album cover, designed by Klaus Voormann, combined Aubrey Beardsley-inspired line drawing with photo collage and won the 1967 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts. Aided by the 1987 international CD release, which standardised its content to the original Parlophone version, Revolver has surpassed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in many critics’ estimation as the Beatles’ best album. It was ranked first in the 1998 and 2000 editions of Colin Larkin‘s book All Time Top 1000 Albums and third in the 2003 and 2012 editions of Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. It has been certified double platinum by the BPI and 5× platinum by the RIAA.

No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1.Taxman” (*)Harrison2:36
2.Eleanor RigbyMcCartney2:11
3.I’m Only SleepingLennon2:58
4.Love You To” (*)Harrison3:00
5.Here, There and EverywhereMcCartney2:29
6.Yellow SubmarineStarr2:40
7.She Said She SaidLennon2:39
Total length:18:33
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1.Good Day SunshineMcCartney2:08
2.And Your Bird Can SingLennon2:02
3.For No OneMcCartney2:03
4.Doctor RobertLennon2:14
5.I Want to Tell You” (*)Harrison2:30
6.Got to Get You into My LifeMcCartney2:31
7.Tomorrow Never KnowsLennon3:00
Total length:16:28

One thought on “The Beatles: Revolver-1966-60’s.

  1. Edward Greenfield
    Mon 15 Aug 2016

    “Turn off your mind; relax and float downstream; it is not dying. Lay down all thought; surrender to the voice: it is shining. That you may see the meaning of within: it is being.”
    A curious sort of poetry, and the Beatles devotee might detect the hand of John Lennon. These are the words of the most remarkable item on a compulsive new record, the Beatles’ latest LP (Parlophone stereo PCS 7009; mono PMC 7009), called in typical punning way “Revolver.” The song quote, “Tomorrow never knows,” is musically most original, starting with jungle noises and Eastern-inspired music which merge by montage effect into the sort of electronic noises we associate with beat music. Then Lennon moaning out the words above, which in their sinister way define the real point of the song: pop-music as a substitute both for jungle emotions and for the consolations of religion. After all, teenagers are not the only ones who through the ages have “turned off their minds” and “surrendered to the voice,” whether to the tribal leader, the priest, or now the pop-singer. Thank goodness Lennon is being satirical: at least one hopes so.

    In studying Beatles philosophy one does of course have to distinguish between the natural acquisitiveness of George Harrison in “Taxman” and Lennon and McCartney and their rather lefter-wing views. But all three creative Beatles habitually (as serious artists always must) in specific feelings and specific experiences. “Dr Robert,” for example, is a brilliant send-up of an expensive doctor-psychiatrist (which Beatle went to him one wonders?). “Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine,” the doctor is made to say, and the link with what the Beatles think of as prepackaged religion is underlined by the Victorian hymn-tune accompaniment below.

    Even the already ubiquitous “Yellow submarine” is specific in its simplicity, and a number like “I’m only sleeping” brings a vivid picture of the pop-world: the late-sleeping Beatle being jolted into consciousness – nicely illustrated in the repeated jolting back to life of the music. “Eleanor Rigby” (with “square” string octet accompaniment) is a ballad about a lonely spinster who “wears the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” and about Father McKenzie “writing the words of sermon that no one will hear,” the verses punctuated by wailing cries of “Look at all the lonely people: where do they all come from?”

    There you have a quality rare in pop music, compassion, born of an artist’s ability to project himself into other situations. Specific understanding of emotion comes out even in the love songs – at least the two new ones with the best tunes, both incidentally sung by Paul McCartney, the Beatle with the strongest musical staying power. “For no one” uses Purcellian tricks to hold the attention, gently-moving, seamless melody with characteristic descending bass motif, over which half way through there emerges a haunting descant, beautiful by any standards, Alan Civil, no less, playing the French horn.

    It is not just a question of the Beatles and Paul McCartney in particular paying lip service to classical values. “Here, there and everywhere” brings yet another Beatles tune that like “Yesterday” or the best of Ellington, Cole Porter or Sandy Wilson (taking highly contrasted examples) can be demonstrated by the most hide-bound analysis to be a good melody. After the unexpected success of “Yesterday,” I shall be interested to see whether this new “sweet” number with its rising fifths and sevenths (forbidden interval in “pop”) again vindicate the perception of popular taste. The Beatles’ whole success, based demonstrably on musical talent, is fair vindication in itself.

    Like

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