Revolver by The Beatles

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Revolver by The Beatles
Revolver by The Beatles

Album Released: 1966

Revolver ::: Artwork

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2.Eleanor Rigby2:09
3.I'm Only Sleeping3:03
4.Love You To3:03
5.Here, There And Everywhere2:27
6.Yellow Submarine2:42
7.She Said She Said2:39
8.Good Day Sunshine2:11
9.And Your Bird Can Sing2:03
10.For No One2:03
11.Doctor Robert2:17
12.I Want To Tell You2:31
13.Got To Get You Into My Life2:32
14.Tomorrow Never Knows2:57


Yet another astonishing leap forward for The Beatles, meaning yet another astonishing leap forward for popular music as a whole.

The electronic soundscapes and experimentation here broke new ground in incalculably influential ways, and this may be The Beatles' most genuinely original music, which is saying a lot.

You see, the thing about The Beatles is that they borrowed a great deal of their sound from other musicians; very few people are completely original talents - everyone borrows from everyone else. What matters is what you do with the material you've learned from others.

Here, The Beatles take excursions into Indian music first dipped into by The Kinks, the ringing electronic buzz of guitars first profferred by The Byrds, the creative use of feedback and distortion poked around with by The Who and The Yardbirds, and last but certainly not least, the careful attention to sound texture and production (the recording studio as an instrument) perfected concurrently by Brian Wilson with The Beach Boys ... then make all of the above-mentioned seem tentative and unimaginative in comparison.

The Beatles knew instinctively how to fully exploit all the new sounds exploding out of the mid-60's, and synthesized those strains into their own heady mixture on this album. Oh, and smoking pot certainly had a lot to do with it too - "Tomorrow Never Knows" could only have been performed and conceived on psychedelics. I'm not sure if they started dropping acid at this time - haven't quite got my 60's timeline figured out yet. I'm also pretty sure my list of influences is incomplete; who knows who else the Fabs were listening to at the time.

Now for the actual songs - there aren't quite as many good ones as on Rubber Soul. "Good Day Sunshine" rolls to no purpose; "Doctor Robert" is more a vamp than a fully-developed tune despite Harrison's sharply acidic riff (typical of this album's sound - Harrison probably plays his best guitar throughout, or at least gets the grooviest guitar tone he ever laid down); "Love You Too" is boring like all of Harrison's Indian songs; and McCartney's "Got To Get You Into My Life" is horn-driven pop that sounds completely out-of-place in this context. But those are the only real duds; the rest is typically brilliant.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

Anyone who thought The Beatles wouldn't be able to top the breakthrough album Rubber Soul, were probably so stunned at Revolver that their hairpieces flipped.

Rubber Soul is an amazing album, but Revolver is an amazing, amazing, amazing album! It's weird, but they apparently had room for improvement in their already-amazing songwriting skills, and they further expanded their penchant for experimentation.

As always, the album is chock-full of their classic charm and wit. Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is, despite the experimentation, Revolver is as accessible as A Hard Day's Night. Is this the best rock album ever made? It's impossible to answer that question, but Revolver is definitely close. It has 14 songs, and they all rule mercilessly. They're 100 percent tuneful, the instrumentation is virtually flawless, and it's diverse as hell.

This also marked another stage in the rift between band members. McCartney is continuing to write the most tuneful songs, whereas Lennon concentrated on the more psychological and experimental stuff. I'm going to say that McCartney's songs on Revolver are the best overall (“Eleanor Rigby”, “Got to Get You Into My Life”, “For No One”, “Here, There and Everywhere”), even though it's more fun to discuss Lennon's!

Lennon does something interesting with “I'm Only Sleeping” - it's a fairly normal rock song, but the guitar is played backwards. It was catchy and interesting to begin with, but that new sound gives it an added psychological effect. Expanding on that idea, Lennon wrote the phenomenal album closer “Tomorrow Never Knows”, something of a sound effects collage. There are all sorts of bizarre sound effects, sped up tapes, backwards tapes ... all set to a thunderous Ringo drum beat, and a surprisingly catchy melody. It's the weirdest thing The Beatles have done yet, and it's startlingly accessible!

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Revolver is both the first overtly psychedelic album, and also the first perfect album The Beatles made.

You can poke a finger at the sleeve and pick a winner every time. The genius is everywhere, from Harrison's fine and influential "Taxman" (The Jam anyone?), right through to "Tomorrow Never Knows", which sounds like a future dawn of tomorrow even today!

There's "Eleanor Rigby", with its appropriately dramatic string section enhancing the beauty of McCartney's original composition. "I'm Only Sleeping" follows on from the likes of "Girl" and "The Word" on Rubber Soul, but the production is a leap forwards - misty is the word, the music really matches the feel of the lyrics.

Following the sitar in "Norwegian Wood", Harrison builds an entire song around the instrument with "Love You To", one of his finest moments. The sound of the drums combined with the sitar, and the way the vocals are stretched at the end of each section - just wonderful! The whole thing is daring, brave and experimental, yet comes across as perfectly natural and grin inducing.

The move into the next song "Here There And Everywhere" is a great transition and it's such a lovely song. The cooing of the harmonies, the beauty of the melodies and vocals, the way the bass gently beats - rising and rising Pet Sounds style, a wonderful song. "Yellow Submarine" is a children’s song but with more production tricks and effects than almost any other song here, and weirdly perhaps pointing the way forward to Sgt Pepper. Well, we get a big fat joyously happy bassline, voices, and samples and so forth.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

[As there are already ample online reviews of Beatles albums, Steve decided to take a fresh approach with his reviews, and evaluate the albums with an emphasis on Ringo's drumming - Editor]

Whilst there's new engineer Geoff Emerick here, his big breakthrough with the drum sound will come on the next album. For on some of the tracks here, the drums actually sound worse than on Rubber Soul, with lots of distortion on the cymbals, and drums often buried in the mix.

What's more troubling though is that Ringo seems to be suffering a bit of 'drummer's block', with little of the imaginative drumming heard on the previous album, and much more of the strict back beat. However, that may simply be a reaction to the songwriting ...

Instead of aiming for the pop glory that typified their previous work, the band are stretching out. In fact, there are two numbers here on which Ringo doesn't play, because they're not even remotely related to dance music for English teenagers ... "Eleanor Rigby" is chamber music, and "Love You To" is an unidentifiable hybrid of raga and Phil Ochs.

Even on the numbers that are more pop/rock in style, there's a tendency to avoid the dramatic kicks and hooks, and instead work on drones or minimalist-style repetition, and any idiosyncratic drumming would only work against it. So "Taxman", "Dr. Robert", "And Your Bird Can Sing", and "Got to Get You Into My Life" all get the basic eight-to-the bar treatment from Please Please Me, although sometimes with a tightly-compressed snare fill here and there.

"For No One" has a similar harmonic plan, although Ringo plays a '4/4 waltz' beat (like a waltz but with three heavy beats after the light downbeat) with open hi-hat. "Tomorrow Never Knows" is another drone song, but Ringo punches it up with a well-recorded (for once) though unvarying tom-tom pattern.

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)

Revolver is one of the greatest albums of the sixties (alright, I haven't heard a huge amount, but come on...) and my favourite Beatles release.

At the time of course, it was seen as an amazing leap forward in popular music, due to its wide variety of musical innovations and lyrical complexity, and even today it remains an unforgettable listen.

Naturally, the background and meaning of the songs' words have been debated and tossed around endlessly, and I'm not going to get too much into how many refer to drugs or altered states of consciousness (not two of my preferred things in life), but instead focus on the music.

That hits the listener in the face straight away with the opening "Taxman", thanks to its jerky rhythm, political flavour and the fact that it's a Harrison song, not McCartney or Lennon. And when the stunning, string-flavoured "Eleanor Rigby" follows, there's no doubting this is something new and different.

Harrison has three songs here, and, while I've mentioned one already, the two that I love are the Indian-flavoured "Love You To" and also "I Want to Tell You". I'm not a particular fan of Indian music normally, but it just works on that song, and the unusual minor-key touch on the piano in the latter track, accompanied by Ringo's steady thumping, just grabs me every time. Come to think of it, almost every George Harrison song up to this stage would be on my list of favourite Beatles songs. Very curious.

The children's song "Yellow Submarine" certainly gives Ringo his token chance to warble, but I really think it's a decent song in its own right, both in structure and recording. Other pieces like Lennon's dark "I'm Only Sleeping" and "She Said She Said", McCartney's charming "Good Day Sunshine" and "For No One" are also fine, and whether "Doctor Robert" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a drug dealer, or something more serious, there's something about it that wins me over every time.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor

At the time, it must have been difficult to see how The Beatles could possibly top Rubber Soul. How much further can you turn pop into a mature genre? There was never any reason to doubt them though, because mature pop is one thing, but this album is pop/rock that smells of A-R-T.

Songs like Rubber Soul's "Wait" and "Run for Your Life" - good as they are - still related to their teeny pop origins too well. But by 1966, The Beatles had practically complete shed themselves of any adolescently-inclined ambitions ... they'd got a brand new style of dress that symbolized maturity far better than mop-tops and suits, and opted for longer hair and sweaters under their jackets; they picked up a neo-philosophical way of thinking (as reflected by the 'bigger than Jesus' backlash); and their public appearances were kept to a minimum, all merely a formality to keep them in the public eye.

That latter 'mistake' - in the sense that there was no conception of bringing their new music to life on the stage - would be corrected for the next album, nevertheless Revolver is a landmark album if there ever was one.

Ironically, although Revolver has latterly taken Sgt. Pepper's place as THE Beatles album, it's a transitional effort. The album sees the passing of the torch of group leadership from Lennon to McCartney, with both contributing five songs majorly their own rather than 50/50 collaborations, whereas previously McCartney would contribute 3 or 4 at most. For some listeners, that's preferable to a McCartney majority, with a balance between the experimental and the accessible, the pessimistic and the optimistic and so on, although neither Lennon nor McCartney seemed to mind exploring the other's territory as long as they were in The Beatles.

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by Reviewer: Mr X Music Reviews (blogging at When the Music's Over)

There's not one bad tune on Revolver - the melodies are beautifully constructed, the singing and musicianship is all present and correct, and the arrangements are just as good if not better than on any other Beatles release.

Looking at the album's songwriting credits, Lennon and McCartney share the duties almost equally, with Harrison contributing three solid tunes of his own (and for anyone wanting to make the case for Lennon being the cool Beatle and McCartney the sissy, then Revolver is is the album to look to).

The only problem is that there are no real stand-out tracks here - ask a bunch of Beatles fans to name their favourite song on Revolver and you'll get a bunch of different answers. Some like "Taxman", others go for "Eleanor Rigby", still others will say "I'm Only Sleeping".

It's likely though, that most people would say "Tomorrow Never Knows" is Revolver's best song, because of its weirdness and psychedelic flavour. But it lacks a strong melody and isn't in the same league as later Beatles psychedelia like "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds", "I Am the Walrus", and "Strawberry Fields Forever".

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by Reviewer: Marco Marco

This album's artwork is just about perfect as a representation of what's inside ... kinda confused and morphing, but still recognizably The Beatles.

Take what I consider to be the quintessential Revolver song, "Eleanor Rigby", which contains nary a single normal rock instrument - it's all done on strings! And its all about sad and lonely old people, and the weird rituals they go through to keep from feeling useless. Happy!

The band do something interesting on a few tracks (like they ever don't), and take their Rubber Soul R&B/folk mix and fuse it, like for example on "I'm Only Sleeping" - that strumming is pure folk/rock (except slowed way down) yet the singing is pure Motown.

"Here, There and Everywhere" does a lot of the same thing, but this time the singing is from mid-50's doo-woppers rather than mid-60's dancehall champions. And whereas "Good Day Sunshine" is cute Lovin' Spoonful-esque optimistic folk/rock, "For No One" is pure bummer folk/rock. Then "Got To Get You Into My Life" is just 100% honkin' soul, so not everything undergoes a change, and really, all those songs are equally triumphant in my book.

I'd nominate "Tomorrow Never Knows" as The Beatles' most psychedelic song, and one of their top songs too, period ... take those backwards bird caws, the insistent heaving funk beat, and Lennon's turn on your mind, relax, and float downstream and love is all and love is everyone, and it makes all the band's subsequent psychedelia look like attemps to recapture this peak ... they never made psychedelia this cool again, not even on "Strawberry Fields" or "A Day in the Life". There is "She Said She Said" - about Peter Fonda's acid trip - and whilst that's okay, it's sorta just another song. And "Dr. Robert" is even more MOR than that - boring - for The Beatles that is, a highlight for any other band though.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])

Where Rubber Soul saw The Beatles in transition, Revolver reveals the results. Suddenly they aren't a pop act anymore - they've become fully realised musical artists.

Virtually every track here has something going on beyond the catchy hooks and vocal harmonies - there's always a bit of experimentation, a small innovation, something different. And what's more, the band are completely aware of that, there's no more 'innovating by accident', they're serious about experimenting on Revolver, so serious in fact that I don't enjoy the album as much as Rubber Soul.

Whereas Rubber Soul took me on a continuous ride, Revolver shoots me in the face with experimentation and LSD. The band are feeling 'superior' - Lennon for example wanted his voice to sound like a choir of a thousand Tibetan monks in "Tomorrow Never Knows". And King Crimson were pretentious? Yeah, right!

Still, the songs are mostly fantastic, though unlike Rubber Soul not every song is good. Actually, there's one song here that's the most dreadful, soul-corrupting pile of shit the band ever put to tape: "Good Day Sunshine" apparently tries to pass itself off as a happy song, but it's anything but ... McCartney sounds so serious about his happiness that he seems to be laughing in my face about how he's the happiest man in the world.

So if I'm feeling particularly happy, that song is enough to throw me back into a deep depression. No kidding, I could name a hundred songs happier than that one, like the entirety of The Final Cut, or anything by The Cure. Even without the 'atmosphere', how could I dig such an uncatchy melody, with lyrics dumber than anything on With The Beatles? What's more, I get the impression McCartney only wrote the song so that Lennon and Harrison wouldn't be involved.

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by Reviewer: Fernando Canto (blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct])