Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Beatles-Revolver

Originally Written and Posted at on 1/18/10.

The December 1965 release of Rubber Soul marked a new period of creativity for the Beatles. Finding escape in the studio away from screaming fans and constant concert appearances had given the band new ideas of what they can do with pop music. Around the same time, the band were creating new ideas for their non-LP singles as Daytripper/We Can Work It Out was released around the same time Rubber Soul came out. With 1965 and 1966 ending, one of the key personnel in the Beatles recording history in engineer Norman Smith left to pursue his own career as a producer in which he would produce Pink Floyd's 1967 debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Replacing Smith was his young assistant Geoff Emerick as he became a new key personnel to band's recording work.

Following some session work in the spring and early summer of 1966, the Beatles were about to embark on a tour of Asia in the early summer of 1966. Immediately, controversy erupted upon their arrival in Japan where they were about to play the famed Nippon Budokhan hall much to the chagrin of right-wing Japanese who felt they were desecrating a famed martial arts arena. Later in July where the band stopped at the Phillippines, the band took a day off where they politely turned down to accept an invitation to eat breakfast with Imelda Marcos. What happened was chaotic as Marcos believed it was a snub where the Beatles fled the country with great disgust as an angry group of people nearly killed the band's road manager Mal Evans.

Things got worse for the Beatles following the release of a U.S. album called Yesterday and Today that had the band in butcher's clothing draped with red meat and mutilated plastic dolls. The cover caused controversy forcing Capitol to re-release the album with a new cover. Yet, an earlier comment by John Lennon about Christianity to the British press in March of 1966 was released out of context to an American teen magazine in August in which John Lennon said the band was more popular than Jesus (well, it was true). The comment sent an uproar with the U.S. prompting radio stations to stage the burning of Beatles albums and memorabilia as it was more troubling in the American South. Lennon later apologized for the comment as he was eventually forgiven by the Vatican in 2008.

The controversy only troubled the band as they toured in the U.S. to hordes of screaming fans as the days of touring seem to frustrate the band who were unable to hear themselves. The frustration of touring and the controversy over Lennon's comments was the beginning of the end for Beatlemania and the Beatles innocence. It would be around the same time the band would release what many consider to be an album that would change the face of pop music forever entitled Revolver.

Produced by George Martin with engineering and mixing work by Geoff Emerick. Revolver is an album in which the Beatles take rock and pop music to new heights. With more abstract lyrical themes and musical ideas. The album would take some of the elements of its predecessor Rubber Soul into more ideas that would herald the upcoming psychedelic era. With many of the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney plus three written by George Harrison. The album includes contributions from associates Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall plus George Harrison's then-new wife Pattie Boyd along with the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, and Donovan. The result would be an album that would up the ante of what can be done in pop and rock music as it heads into a new stratosphere.

Opening the album is George Harrison's Taxman that is carried by Paul McCartney's bumpy bass line with Ringo Starr's bouncy, upbeat drums. Harrison's biting lyrics about taxes with his swanky guitar riffs, it is a song that kicks the album into high gear as it features a wailing guitar solo from McCartney as he and John Lennon join Harrison in singing the song's chorus. The orchestral-laden Eleanor Rigby with George Martin's haunting string arrangements along with McCartney's stark, haunting lyrics about a poor woman. With Lennon and Harrison joining McCartney on the chorus, the song is a pure masterpiece that showed the band's high evolvement from traditional pop music. I'm Only Sleeping is a mid-tempo track featuring Lennon's eerie acoustic guitar strum with Starr's bopping drum track as Lennon sings dreamy yet mesmerizing lyrics. With McCartney's melodic bass and Harrison's wandering guitar that is recorded backwards, it's a song that features a broad production from George Martin that adds a strange atmosphere to the song.

Love You To is an Indian-style track by Harrison with flourishing sitar strums with haunting melodies that Harrison is playing throughout. The song intensifies with Anil Bhagwat's vibrant tabla performance as it includes Starr playing a tambourine in the background. Featuring electric guitars in the background, the song's lyrics revel in the theme of love as it is truly a song that is hypnotic in its presentation and Martin's worldly production. The love ballad Here, There, And Everywhere is a somber track with a slow, soft rhythm from Starr's steady drum fill and McCartney's smooth bass that is followed by Harrison's washy guitar strum. With Lennon and Harrison singing in the background, McCartney leads the track with his calm, dreamy vocals as it is a gorgeous ballad. The childlike-song Yellow Submarine is a joyous song sung by Ringo Starr with his drawling vocals as it features a catchy chorus. With Beatles road manager Mal Evans on a pounding bass drum and wave-like sound effects. The song is a joyful romp as the chorus is sung by the band plus George Martin, Mal Evans Marianne Faithfull, Donovan, Neil Aspinall, and Pattie Boyd while Brian Jones creates sound effects for this amazing song.

She Said She Said is a wailing rocker with Harrison's swirling guitar solo and Starr's pummeling drum fill as Lennon sings the song inspired by a strange LSD trip with Peter Fonda. With Harrison playing bass and lead guitar, Lennon fills the sound with a ringing Hammond organ track as it is a weird but amazing song. Good Day Sunshine is an upbeat, mid-tempo track with uplifting lyrics written by McCartney as he plays a bouncy bass and piano track to Starr's bopping drum track. With Lennon and Harrison singing the chorus with McCartney, it is a song that describes a nice day with McCartney playing a melodic-laden piano solo. The rocking And Your Bird Can Sing which is led by Harrison's swirling guitar solo, recorded backwards, and Starr's hammering drum fill with McCartney's driving bass line. With Lennon leading the song as he sings the song with its dark, cryptic lyrics, it is definitely one of the band's standout cuts due to an enthusiastic performance by the band.

The somber piano ballad For No One is led by McCartney's calm vocals and a haunting yet flourishing piano ballad as it features a thumping bass and clavichord performance from McCartney. With Starr's soft, tapping percussion, the song is filled with melancholic lyrics about the end of a relationship with stark description as it features an amazing French horn solo from session player Alan Civil. Doctor Robert is a bouncy rock track with swanky guitar riffs and a bopping rhythm as Lennon sings the song about a strange doctor who is helpful to people in weird ways. With McCartney and Harrison joining on backing vocals for the chorus, the song includes a soothing break led by Lennon on the harmonium as it includes Harrison playing a distorted yet swirling guitar track.

Harrison's I Want To Tell You is a mid-tempo track led by a snarling guitar melody that flourishes throughout as it is a song filled with lyrics of conflict and confusion from Harrison's soothing vocals. With Starr's hard-hitting, pummeling drum fill and McCartney's thumping bass and striking piano accompaniment, it is a song that is filled with superb production by George Martin along with great vocal harmonies from Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison in harmony breaks for the song. The soulful, horn-laden Got To Get You Into My Life is led by a blazing horn section with bopping rhythms provided by McCartney's loopy bass lines and wailing vocals as Starr plays a thumping drum fill. The song's lyrics, which features veiled references to marijuana, can be described as something else by anyone's interpretation. With Harrison's swirling guitar and a soothing organ track from George Martin, it's a fantastic song that shows the Beatles paying tribute to soul music.

The album closer is Tomorrow Never Knows, a song that is probably one of the most groundbreaking tracks ever recorded in the 1960s and it is still a remarkable song within the context of pop music. Led by Harrison's swirls of sitar strums and Starr's pummeling drum fill with noisy tape loops provided by the entire band. The song has Lennon singing through a distorted vocal mix provided by engineer Geoff Emerick through a Leslie Speaker. The song's lyrics reflects on lyrics that delve into the world of psychedelia and themes of death. The song features Harrison on a droning guitar solo along with wailing keyboard solos as it closes with producer George Martin playing a rollicking piano solo in what is a closing track that defies a lot of closing tracks.

Released on August 5, 1966, the album that featured a strange album cover created by the band's old German friend Klaus Voorman. The album shocked audiences and critics over what the Beatles had done as it upped the ante of what was possible in the realm of pop music. On August 29 of that same year, the Beatles played a concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco where it would be the live concert the band would ever play as a touring entity. After that, the Beatles went on hiatus while Revolver would continue to make waves in pop music along with another album that was released a few months earlier in the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds that was a big hit in the U.K. but not in the U.S.

Since its release in 1966, the album has been hailed by many music publications and critics as the best album of all-time. Throughout the years, the list would have Revolver on top often beating other classic rock albums while in the U.K., Revolver would often compete with more recent albums such as the Stone Roses' self-titled debut back in 1989 and two albums by Radiohead with 1995's The Bends and 1997's OK Computer. For many Beatles fans, the album is often placed at the top of the list though it would cause a lot of debate for fans over what is the band's best album.

The 2009 remastered edition definitely gives the album an upgrade that the 1987 original CD reissue failed to do. Not only are Starr's drums on some track more powerful along with the guitar. There's more of an atmosphere and layer to George Martin's production as it is an album where if it came out in today's music scene. Every pop artist and enthusiast would have to stop and listen. The remastering of this album among the rest of the albums is truly the best as if there is one album in its new, remastered form to own. It's this one.

Revolver is without a doubt, one of the greatest albums ever made and from a band that was as legendary and as ambitious as the Beatles. Anyone wanting to figure out what is the best place to listen to the Beatles as an album band should use this record as the best place to start. Everything that is heard in rock and pop music along with indie can be heard here. If it wasn't for this album, there wouldn't be Earth, Wind, & Fire, Nirvana, the Chemical Brothers, Animal Collective, David Bowie, or every pop/rock band that's out there. Revolver is a must-have album for anyone that likes their music that is both weird, fun, accessible, and captures all sorts of emotions. It is a reason why the Beatles are simply, geniuses.

The Beatles Reviews: Please Please Me - With the Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - Beatles for Sale - Help! - Rubber Soul - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Magical Mystery Tour - The White Album - Yellow Submarine OST - Abbey Road - Let It Be - (1962-1966) - (1967-1970) - Past Masters - (Live at the BBC) - (Anthology 1) - (Anthology 2) - (Anthology 3) - (Let It Be... Naked) - (Love)

(C) thevoid99 2011

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