Revolver - Beatles (The)

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Revolver - Beatles (The)

Psychedelic - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Capitol, Apple - Distributor: Discovery; Universal Music; Plastic Head, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics...

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Review of "Revolver - Beatles (The)"

published 27/10/2010 | CelticSoulSister
Member since : 25/10/2009
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Thanks heartily for all the r/r/c to everyone. If it appears that I've not rated you, it most likely will be due to having used up all your reviews and am waiting for your next publication. Also I've disabled receiving alerts via email for a good reason.
Excellent
Pro Beatles' songwriting (including George) at its best : Album contains a bit of everything
Cons None of any significance
exceptional
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"Revolver : A work of true genius"

1966 as far as I'm concerned, was THE year of the 1960s. We had a long, dry and very hot summer...I'd settled into secondary school nicely, and the nation seemed to be riding high on a cloud of euphoria. It's quite likely true that I was viewing certain things through rose-coloured specs, but then don't we all from time to time?

Still being Beatle crazy like most others of my age were at the time, I was watching the way they had developed and transformed themselves from four mop-heads into long-haired hippie types, and who were beginning to annoy the mums & dads generation.

In August of 1966, The Beatles' Revolver album reached No.1 in UK charts (much later in September 2009 it was re-released, making it to no.9). Back to 1966...the double A-sided Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby was the promotional single from the album, and reached no.1 in the UK singles charts in August.

Revolver is an album on which George Harrison was allowed to contribute much more of his work than had previously been the case, and this important decision was to rightly so, spark public interest in him being a worthwhile songwriter in his own right, rather than someone whose abilities were ground into oblivion by the Lennon/McCartney team. One or two of George's songs had appeared on previous albums, but were never latched onto all that closely....Revolver saw him drawing his light out of his bushel, and his newly-found fascination with Indian music lended great importance to the album as a whole.

Apart from perhaps Yellow Submarine, Revolver is jam-packed with high quality, extremely good songs, being a mixture of love, questioning, messages, meditation and a smattering of very mild rebelliousness - paving the way for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band that emerged the following year, which most Beatles' fans enshrine....some feeling that it (Sgt Pepper) is the greatest album ever released by anybody (as a brief departure, I ought to say here that Sgt Pepper isn't my favourite Beatles' album, although I do of course love it).

It is on the Revolver album that it clearly became apparent that the Lennon/McCartney songwriting duo rarely totally collaborated, as was once popularly believed. As John entered his political rebel combined with love & peace phase, Paul entered his romantic but serious songwriter phase which helped him shuffle off his pretty-boy image and George entered his mystical, meditative phase...The Beatles were well on the path, though still remaining together as a band for another four years, towards becoming individuals in their own right rather than a conjoined quartet of lovable cheeky lads. Ringo never was much of a songwriter, and though I feel that The Beatles wouldn't have been the same without him, he wasn't at all progressive in the rebellious sense...at least not musically - he did have some chart success with a few self-penned songs in the early 1970s, then went on to pursue a TV and acting career which I personally feel he was much more suited to.

Here follows a hopefully brief rundown on each track:-

1. TAXMAN

This is the first of George Harrison's compositions on Revolver which gently mocks the tax system as it was then in the UK. It has been said by people who knew George that he was somewhat obsessed with money, and this song does lend some authenticity to those opinions in that George (who no doubt at that time was a multi-multi-millionaire), penned this musical gripe about the heavy taxes that the rich were being subjected to. George has a little go at a couple of politicians...the then labour prime minister Harold Wilson, and leader of the Tory opposition, Ted Heath. One thing I find very charming about the song Taxman is how George's strong Liverpool accent shines through.... "declERR the pennies on your eyes" as opposed to "declare". That's just a nice little memory of George for me personally though. The song is quite jerky, largely upbeat and contains at least a moderate dose of tracked guitar which is then taped and recorded backwards, giving that slightly trippy sound. I'm not sure how far George (compared to John and perhaps Paul) was travelling down the druggy route, but it also has to be said that the production was the work of George Martin, not The Beatles themselves. They wrote and performed the songs....George Martin determined how the final results would sound.

2. ELEANOR RIGBY

Eleanor Rigby is a rather urgent-sounding song, telling the story of a lonely lady....of course called Eleanor Rigby, who helps Father McKenzie out at the church. George Martin arranged this track with a string quartet and the violin sound is harsh, grating and somewhat reminiscent of a rural church graveyard on a cold, windy, dark & cloudy day. Sadly Eleanor Rigby dies....Father McKenzie buries her, and nobody turns up for the funeral. It's my opinion that this song was quite a brave effort from the pen of Paul McCartney, tackling the subject of loneliness from a truly unique and somewhat musically bleak (yet very good) angle.

3. I'M ONLY SLEEPING

I'm Only Sleeping is a moderately slow-tempo song whereby John Lennon in a very gentle way, attempts to get society to look at something from a different angle. Back in those days, quite a lot of people, particularly the older generation, saw having long lie-ins as something to be ashamed of - the 'early bird catches the worm' psychology was still very much in force, and you were thought of as being a lazy good-for-nothing if you liked to lounge in bed past the crack of dawn. John is pointing out that it's not a sin to simply want and need to sleep....and that it's not a bad thing to relish in that semi-surreal world we can find ourselves in whilst we go through that pleasant sensation of drifting in and out of slumber when there's no screeching alarm clocks to force us awake before our body is ready for it. This song (like Taxman above) contains some twiddly, almost trippy-sounding little guitar licks which have been taped and recorded backwards.

4. LOVE YOU TO

Love You To is another George Harrison composition, with a medium tempo and is strongly influenced by his interest in Asian cultures, particularly that of India. Having been impressed by The Beatles' recent stay with Indian spiritual leader Maharishi Yogi (the other three Beatles weren't so enamoured), George went through a phase of using sitar on most of the songs he wrote, and Love You To is no exception (the first Beatles' song where George used sitar was Norwegian Wood, from their Rubber Soul album). I'm sure if George were alive today, he'd agree that his own sitar playing skills were very basic compared to legends such as Ravi Shankar, and I feel that it's the mood of the instrument he (George) was attempting to incorporate into his own musical works rather than trying to put himself forward as a sitar virtuoso. Love You Too is a slightly dreamy, meditative track, which if you listen to it when in a certain frame of mind, you can sink into the song and travel inside of your head to all sorts of earthly and unearthly places.

5. HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

It is my opinion that when The Beatles were together as a band, Paul was the one who knocked out the best love songs (although, again in my opinion, John outstripped him during their subsequent solo careers). Here, There And Everywhere is a strong love ballad with a very appealing tune, and meaningful words, without being overbearing. Paul takes lead vocals in what sounds like (to me) a slightly shaky voice, and the other three Beatles join together as voice backup. It has been said by some that the song was about Jane Asher, but unless I'm wrong, I believe she and Paul were no longer an item by the time the Revolver album was being constructed. I stand corrected if I'm wrong, of course.

6. YELLOW SUBMARINE

Yellow Submarine is a slightly surreal fun song, written especially for Ringo to sing....and was later the subject of the even more surreal cartoon movie of the same name. Although I don't think The Beatles necessarily intended this, Yellow Submarine quickly became a favourite for children, and has been so ever since. For me, this track does seem somewhat out of sync with the rest of the album, and sticks out like a sore thumb amidst some of the strongest songs The Beatles ever produced as a band. It's a pleasant little ditty though which brings back a lot of memories for me of the time.

7. SHE SAID, SHE SAID

I know this to be a fact, because I've seen and heard Lennon saying it himself whilst being interviewed, in that he was inspired to write She Said, She Said after having spent (along with some other people) a few hours with Peter Fonda. Peter back in the mid-1960s was well-known for his heavy LSD/acid use, and on this occasion, he and Lennon were tripping together. Lennon became spooked and irritated by Fonda, who kept on repeating that he knew what it felt like to be dead, and he Lennon turned the memory of the occasion into a song - changing 'he' to 'she', possibly with the intention of slipping the composition slightly inside the girl/boy musical genre. Via the words of the song, John tries to explain to 'her' (Peter) little things about his own childhood, presumably from when his parents were both alive and together....hence the line 'when I was a boy everything was right'. 'She' (Peter) continued to rattle on about knowing what it was like to be dead, to the point where Lennon states that he's beginning to feel like he's never been born....then decides to leave. The tune of She Said, She Said is very pleasant and doesn't immediately seem conducive to the words in which John speaks of his increasing sense of unease, but perhaps his displeasure is meant to be conveyed passively, rather than aggressively.

8. GOOD DAY SUNSHINE

Paul McCartney penned a lovely feel-good song here where he revels in a hot, sunny summer's day spent with a loved one. The tempo of the tune is medium, and though simple, the whole mood of the song accurately conveys what the words are saying. It's my opinion that Good Day Sunshine is not THE best, but one of the best love songs ever written, and is probably overall Paul's personal second best (read on to learn what for me is his outright best).

9. AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING

We have another Lennon offering here, which is (apart from perhaps Yellow Submarine) my least favourite track on this album. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it - just that it doesn't hit my spot. The tempo is medium-fast with the tune occasionally veering off into something slightly discordant - that's the interesting bit - and though all the words are perfectly audible, I have never quite been able to work out what or who Lennon is singing about. I'm not too keen on the tune, and I feel it's that which puts me off the track. In a possibly vain attempt to pull a story or meaning from And Your Bird Can Sing, I stab a guess that it's about a woman who's making advances to him, but despite him finding her attractive, he's not interested. It was around the time of Revolver's release that John and his first wife Cynthia split up - I honestly believe, judging by a couple of her books and some interviews I've seen and heard with her, that Cynthia has never quite got over John and still clings to the past....during their break-up, may she have tried to lure him back to her, possibly inspiring this song? That's mere speculation on my part, but with Lennon, I often feel there were underlying meanings to much of his work which he, possibly out of embarrassment, claimed weren't about anything in particular.

10. FOR NO-ONE

For No-One is in my opinion a quality song from Paul McCartney, the words telling of the observation of a female who appears to be cool, disconnected, dispassionate and just lives her life alone, seemingly without the need for friends and/or lovers. The tempo of the tune is medium, and from the angle that Paul approaches the writing of the words, I feel makes it quite an unusual song as regards its subject matter.

11. DOCTOR ROBERT

Lennon-penned Doctor Robert is dedicated to a doctor who is a real person and at the time, used to illegally provide rock/pop starts with drugs, off-prescription....obviously for a hefty price. I'm honestly not sure if Lennon is praising Doctor Robert, or whether his words are intended to be sarcastic.....I suppose we shall never know.

12. I WANT TO TELL YOU

I Want To Tell You is a George Harrison penned song, whereby he's having some communication problems in that there's something he wants to say to someone (could it be an individual, or to the world?) yet can't find the right words. It has a fairly unusual tune, a little jerky here and there, and possibly is one of his best works?

13. GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE

I've always, judging by the words, seen this as the 'love at first sight' song whereby McCartney is alone, takes a ride to see what he can find, then he meets someone who blows him away...someone he just has to get into his life. This is an extremely well-written, up-tempo and feel-good love song that I'm sure anyone would feel proud to have dedicated to them. As touched on in No.8 above where I said Good Day Sunshine for me is McCartney's second best love song....well, Got To Get You Into My Life in my opinion is his very best, out of all the love songs he's written from day one as a Beatle, right up to the here and now. Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers covered this song, releasing it as a single, taking it to no.6 in the UK charts in August of 1966 and though a perfectly acceptable rendition, is not a patch on The Beatles' original. Later on, soul band Earth Wind & Fire did a moderately passable cover, reaching only no.33 in the UK singles charts in October 1978. It is my opinion that Got To Get You Into My Life isn't a song which anyone should attempt to cover, as perfection can't be improved upon.

14. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

The final track on Revolver, Tomorrow Never Knows, is a Lennon offering which despite some claims at the time that it was about LSD/acid, is actually about meditation, inspired by him reading The Tibetan Book Of The Dead. This song certainly does sound extremely trippy, with lots of reverse guitar licks, looping, twiddles and other tricks of the recording studio trade which can enhance and even change the whole mood of a raw song. It's my opinion that this is one of the best tracks Lennon ever wrote, yet I wonder what it would have sounded like without George Martin's decidedly weird and wonderful production ideas and techniques? Tomorrow Never Knows is a perfect end to one of The Beatles' very best albums, sealing it off with where they as a band were largely coming from and what they were dabbling with at the time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall, I feel that Revolver is a truly wonderful album with consistently high quality music present throughout. Even Yellow Submarine has a quality to it, although it's intended to be a purely fun track - nothing more - plus something very important for me is the matter of the much underrated George Harrison really being given some recognition at long last. On a more personal level, the whole album is powerfully and highly atmospheric regarding what that part of the 1960s was for me, and is representative of a transformation that society was going through. It's such an enormous shame it eventually all went wrong, and those warm, positive, vibrant, colourful dreams of the future which people were having, didn't eventually materialise.

Revolver is an album I listen to each time I want to be reminded of 1966....a year I perceive as being an axis which life was happily spinning upon before the whole ballgame lost its footing, struggled to get back on top again, but sadly slithered down, down, down into the murk underneath, and was sadly unable to extricate itself.

On the lighter side, Revolver shows to me how far The Beatles had moved on in such a very short space of time....you can see their gradual transformation if you listen to all their albums in chronological order, and for me, Revolver is the pinnacle....not my no.1 favourite (as said in another review, my no.1 favourite album of theirs is Abbey Road), but a golden hallmark on the whole history of rock and pop music which should be listened to, admired and cherished.

If anyone wants to replace their long-lost or damaged copy of Revolver, or if there's anybody who's not heard the album and wants to, it is (at the time of writing) available for purchase (CD) on Amazon as follows:-

New: from £5.95 to £19.99
Used: from £6.99 to £19.99
Collectible: £6.50 (only one copy currently available)

A delivery charge of £1.24 must be added to the above costs.

Despite the existence of what for me is the rather misplaced Yellow Submarine, Revolver still deserves the full whack of stars for what is otherwise a collection of 99% perfect music, which is quality, and is intelligent, yet is simultaneously very easy to listen to. A handful of the songs on the album have gone down as all-time classics, and I can't think of any true Beatles' fan who doesn't know every word and every note of the whole of Revolver, inside out.

Thanks for reading!

~~ Also published on DooYoo under my GentleGenius user name ~~

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Comments on this review

  • danielclark691 published 01/02/2017
    great work,. E
  • Dentolux published 26/12/2010
    Great review even though I am not a Beatles fan.
  • bryspy published 24/11/2010
    I have the original LP as well. Brilliant review. ;-))
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Product Information : Revolver - Beatles (The)

Manufacturer's product description

Psychedelic - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Capitol, Apple - Distributor: Discovery; Universal Music; Plastic Head, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 01/11/1988, 11/1988 - 77774644129

Product Details

EAN: 77774644129

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