The Musical Revolution Is Here!
Let’s go back to August, 1966 – when The Beatles released a masterpiece that pushed pop/rock music into a whole new dimension…
50 years ago this month, a new Beatles album arrived, and with it, the musical revolution they started took another amazingly creative turn – time to celebrate the revolutionary “Revolver!”
“Revolver” was the seventh studio album by The Beatles. It was released in August 1966 and was, as usual, an immediately #1 worldwide smash hit.
I wanted to share some great trivia about the album, showcase the unique recording innovations that were introduced, and share some videos of the greatest songs from the album – although virtually EVERY Beatles song was great!
Here are the tracks on “Revolver”:
George leads off with the acidic “Taxman” – the band discovering just how much of their money was going to the government…
“Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet”
Macca’s Greatest Hits!
Next up is one of Paul McCartney’s early masterpieces, the story of a lonely young woman in England:
“Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”
Here is Paul performing the song for the movie “Give My Regards To Broad Street”:
John Lennon follows with one of his more cynical songs, “I’m Only Sleeping” , followed by Harrison’s “Love You To”…
“Here, There and Everywhere”
Here is Paul performing it in the studio in 1984:
Up next is one of the album’s most enduring classics, as the band always gave Ringo a song to sing, and this was a classic that almost killed John lennon!
Yes, “Yellow Submarine” almost killed John Lennon!
Here is the story from Rolling Stone magazine:
On Wednesday, June 1st, 1966, the Beatles, with a coterie of fellow madcaps including Marianne Faithful, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and George Harrison’s wife, Pattie, gathered in Abbey Road’s Studio Two to outfit “Yellow Submarine” with sound effects.
Zaniness had always been a special interest of John Lennon’s, going back to his passion for The Goon Show. Getting into nautical mode, Lennon pressed Revolver engineer Geoff Emerick to record him singing underwater, after having first attempted to sing while gargling.
“While George Martin worked at dissuading him,” Emerick later wrote, “I began thinking of an alternative. Might we have John sing into a mic that was immersed in water?”
A mic was duly wrapped in a condom for protection, prompting the Lennon wisecrack, “We don’t want the microphone getting in the family way,” and dropped in a milk carton.
The signal was distant and the gambit was abandoned, but no one at the time was aware how lucky Lennon had been. “It wasn’t until many years later,” Emerick concluded, “that I realized with horror that the microphone we were using was phantom-powered – meaning that it actually was a live electrical object. In conjunction with the 240-volt system used in England, any of us, including Lennon, could easily have been electrocuted, and I would have gone down in history as the first recording engineer to kill a client in the studio.”
A great anecdote, one of fifteen about the making of “Revolver” that you can find here, thanks to Rolling Stone:
Side one finishes with Lennon’s catchy “She Said She Said”, then side two kicks in with another McCartney classic:”Good Day Sunshine” followed by Lennon’s terrific “And Your Bird Can Sing” – here is an audio only version:
McCartney’s ballad “For No One” is next, followed by Lennon’s expose of his
“Doctor Robert”, then George offers up his catchy “I Want to Tell You” before Paul gives us another masterpiece:
“Got to Get You into My Life”
McCartney’s writing is at its peak on “Revolver”, with another instantly iconic song:
“I was alone, I took a ride
I didn’t know what I would find there”
Here is Paul performing this classic in 2011:
“Tomorrow Never Knows” is the album’s finale, and as wikipedia notes:
“marks a progression from the group’s 1965 release “Rubber Soul” in terms of style and experimentation, and heralded the band’s arrival as studio innovators. The album’s sounds include the incorporation of tape loops and backwards recordings on the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the use of a classical string octet on “Eleanor Rigby”, and the Indian-music backing of “Love You To”. Aside from methods such as varispeeding, reversed tapes, and close audio miking, the sessions for the album resulted in the invention of automatic double tracking (ADT), a technique that was invented by engineers at Abbey Road studios, and was soon adopted throughout the recording industry.”
So there you have it, an album that was incredibly experimental at the time, and has stood the test of time as well.
There were some promotional movies created for the songs, which you can find here:
See all of the incredible music videos from The Beatles here:
“Paperback Writer” was another song recorded during the “Revolver” sessions, but released just as a single…but that’s nothing, some of the band’s best music was written for others!
See some of the great songs they gave away to other artists here:
If you want to read more about “Revolver”, here is a great article from “The Daily Beast”:
And I had the chance to see a special 50th celebration of The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl:
You can see my review, with performance clips, here:
Finally, McCartney just gave an interview to Q magazine about his last recording with the surviving members of the band:
You can see what he said about the spirit of John being with them as they recorded “Free As A Bird” in my story here:
“Revolver” at 50 is still going strong!
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