Revolver - Beatles (The)
Psychedelic - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Capitol, Apple - Distributor: Discovery; Universal Music; Plastic Head, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics...
23 reviews from the community
Review of "Revolver - Beatles (The)"
Dead excited about the new Diana Vickers album
The thing with The Beatles is that their music has become so legendary that all their songs have taken on the same sort of power that nursery rhymes have. Everybody knows the words for 'Polly Put The Kettle On', and everyone knows the words for "Yellow Submarine". It reaches a point where you can hardly see them as songs anymore, because they have been in the national consciousness for so long. For my part, The Beatles were on pretty constantly at home while I grew up, with the occasional burst of Motown, Bruce Springsteen, or Creedance Clearwater Revival to mix things up a little (dad has more control over what goes on the stereo than ma does). With the songs in my head from a very early age, albeit from the red and blue albums, I had a great understanding of their songs, but not their albums. I didn't hear Sgt Pepper properly until about three years ago. Revolver and Rubber Soul came to my attention last year, and I have yet to listen to Abbey Road, The White Album, or any of the early stuff. It's a jumble, essentially, is what I'm saying here. I know the songs, but not the context.Which means I can criticise away as much as I want. Revolver has a concise format, with most of the songs knocked down to around 2-3 minutes each, with nothing particularly long. That's not to say that the songs don't experiment - despite the slightly dated feel of some of the tracks the songs hold up because of the variation that the band have tried to inject into proceedings. You'll hear songs that fade in and out, sitar solos, and 'Tomorrow Never Knows', the song which is due to inform the music that the band make in the future. At this point in time, the band were usually smashed up on acid, and this was twisting their conventional songwriting style and inspiring them to branch out into other areas, where they could try out some really weird stuff (again, see 'Tomorrow Never Knows') and see where it took them. As a result, the album has a slightly skewed approach, and producer George Martin oversees it all with a stylistic flair common to his work. There are Eastern influences in some of the songs - particularly the three songs put in by George Harrison.
George never gets criticised heavily enough for his rubbish, rubbish music. He's responsible in later years for the one dump track on Sgt Pepper, but here he introduced us to the mysticism that took over his work with sitars, tablas, and other trippy, instruments of eastern origin, which on tracks like 'Love Me To' are astonishing in their dullness. He has a voice which is behind the main two singers, Lennon and McCartney, but that's no excuse for giving three dull, plodding tracks in succession, as he does here. There is little to distinguish his work from the rest of the songs - even the childishness of Ringo's output at least adds to the warm feel of the album, but Harrison's effort offers little reward for listeners. He sings flat on the songs he is given, which is disappointing because he can sing well when he needs to. So those three songs he has, which include 'Taxman', are only really saved by the influence of the other band members. In particular, a few of the stronger one-liners on 'Taxman' came from John, while Paul puts in a great guitar riff to bolster up the sagging vocals.This is, after all, the John and Paul show. They are the two important Beatles, if you leave context to one side. Their songs, which reach the high points of 'Tomorrow Never Knows' and 'Eleanor Rigby' respectively, are what make Revolver worth listening to even now. If you try and ignore the nostalgia that is invariably attached to anything they did as a partnership, then you'll find some superb arrangements at play here, which are bolstered by strong, free-wheeling lyricism. The heartbreak that comes into most of McCartney's songs is in full display on the album, as is the slightly jaded cynicism that comes with a lot of Lennon's work. It's hard to tell the two apart sometimes when listening to their vocals, so at times this can be the only way to distinguish who is doing what. This, in honesty, just adds more to the record, making it seem more interlinked than some of the other early albums by the band, which were really just a collection of songs, as opposed to an album.
Lennon never helped with these matters, because his songs have always been so distanced. McCartney is the man who puts the most into the record, with Lennon's tracks being a selection of drug songs or songs about how tiresome the whole music business was getting. Lennon was happy to sit around and spend ages working on stuff, it feels, whereas McCartney tirelessly knocks out one song after another. Having said that, Lennon has always seemed to be a better writer when he had something annoying him, and when he expressly writes songs like 'I'm Only Sleeping' in order to tell Paul off for hurrying him, he manages to sum up the entire feel of the album in just over three minutes. The laid-back style of twanging guitars which feel isolated from everything else has always worked in favour of the band, and although sometimes it grows a little wearying, like on 'Doctor Robert' or 'She Said She Said', you can see the musical tone the band are aiming for, and it's pleasant enough.It's easy to drift off while listening to the album, mind. There are some strong guitar lines, but there's nothing here to rattle the windows, because (I'm guessing) of the technology available at the time. This isn't panoramic music, this is music which is very focused and tightly packed together. The looseness only starts to seep in after a few listens, because that's when McCartney's compositions come to fruition. He's got a knack for writing pretty ballads, and on Revolver he contributes two great ones on top of two peppy numbers. The peppy stuff is possible more enjoyable, in fact, despite the 'standard classic' label that's been attached to the piano-based laments 'For No One' and 'Here, There And Everywhere'. Actually, it's probably because of that fact. Nobody expects two strong songs to come from McCartney, but for my money he damn near steals the album from Ringo's classy 'Yellow Submarine' - a song which only cruel, bizarre people would ever denounce. McCartney's ballads, though, are both nice listens, although it's 'For No One' that is the superior of the two by a long shot, feeling more practised and put-together than the dreamy, woozy 'Here, There And Everywhere', which annoys me a little after a while.
'Got To Get You Into My Life' and 'Good Day Sunshine' would be the peppy songs I alkuded to, by the way. I love both of them, because they aren't so famous and so when you hear them on the album they come as a great surprise (in the same way, my favourite Beatles' song - 'Baby You're A Rich Man' - comes out of nowhere on the "Magical Mystery Tour" album). Everyone tells you that Revolver is a great album, but I'm not going to. You'll already know most of the songs anyway. If you notice, I've not really gone into proper detail about the album. That's intentional, for once. The case for this album can only really be determined on a personal basis. Everyone will pick out different parts or elements of style that they can appreciate, and parts that they think are dated or wide of the mark, or just a little dull (hi George!) I've got my own stance on the album, whereby I don't think of it as an album. Although it's more together than previous work, it still feels like a collection of songs rather than an album. The songs are too famous for their own good, in that sense - because I know the songs, I don't think of the Beatles so much as a band anymore. They're just 'there'.Revolver is a great listen, even now, although I hesitate to give it five stars. I won't listen to it very often, not when there are other records that grip me more. Yet there is a charm and style here that you won't find very often in music. What do you care, anyway, if I give it four or five stars? You almost certainly own the album already. Disagree or agree with my individual points, it's universally understood that the Beatles were fantastically talented and made music what it is today. There's not much else that you can say.
Product Information : Revolver - Beatles (The)
Manufacturer's product descriptionPsychedelic - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Capitol, Apple - Distributor: Discovery; Universal Music; Plastic Head, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 01/11/1988, 11/1988 - 77774644129
Listed on Ciao since: 18/07/2011