Like Rubber Soul, which came just before it, Revolver was hailed by many as the Beatles' best album to date, and perhaps the best album ever, by any artist. Also like Rubber Soul, Revolver does not bear the name of the group in the artwork on the cover. After finishing two albums back-to-back in 1965 and completing an exhausting schedule of concerts and appearances, the Beatles suspended their travels and took three months off in early 1966. When they returned to the studio, it was to rehearse and record their seventh album, Revolver. Each band member had taken time to relax and reexamine their creative instincts. As a result, the rested and refreshed Beatles laid down an album that seemed new, fresh, ingenious, and a herald of yet another new era in rock and roll: psychedelic rock. They were to make just one more performing tour after Revolver was recorded.
Milestones on Revolver include Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby and John Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows, perhaps the first track ever in psychedelic rock. The group included tape loops for the first time, employing the harmonium as well as loops directly played by various tape machines in the studio. Some of the vocals were highly compressed. For the first time, engineer Geoff Emerick ran Lennon's voice through a rotating Leslie speaker to achieve a "swinging" effect. Engineer Ken Townsend created "artificial double tracking" or ADT, which came from recording a vocal track on two tracks. As there would be the very slightest difference in timing between the two tracks, the effect was to create the impression that more than one person was singing. It was also possible to have "vari-speeding," slowing down or speeding up the vocals slightly, a practice used extensively by the Beatles from Revolver on.
Musical innovations also took place during the Revolver recording sessions. In Lennon's I'm Only Sleeping, George and John played lead guitar tracks that were then introduced backwards into the mix, creating an aura of suspended consciousness, something like an LSD trip. In Got to Get You Into My Life, McCartney added brass instrumentation to enhance the "Motown" feel of the song. He himself called it an "ode to pot." On another McCartney track, For No One, Paul plays the clavichord, and the song features a horn solo (by Alan Civil).
George Harrison wrote three of the songs on Revolver: Taxman (the opening track), I Want to Tell You, and Love You To (which showed his interest in Indian music). Ringo sings Yellow Submarine on the album. It was a McCartney composition that would become highly popular with the release of the film and soundtrack albums of the same name. For this track, Donovan, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful and Patti Boyd assisted with the background vocals.
Overall, Revolver is a most innovative album, departing in several ways from the conventional concepts of studio recordings by pop music groups. The songs show many different moods and the melodies come in a wide varieties of textures and harmonies. The use of electronic manipulation with a bizarre range of sound effects make the album stand apart from anything that came before it.
Klaus Voorman, a German bass player, artist and friend of the Beatles from the days in Hamburg, drew the album cover. Voorman's name and image is hidden within Harrison's hair in the illustration. The album title, like Rubber Soul before it, is really a play on words. Chosen when the band had gone to Japan in the summer of 1966, it reflects the revolving image of a record as it is played on a turntable, though it could be interpreted as a firearm.
Fans and critics alike have placed Revolver high on their lists of the greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone put it at number 3 in its 2003 listing. Many believe it to be the absolute summit of the band's skill, creativeness and spirit.
A separate, altered version of Revolver was issued for the US market. This would be the last time that Capitol Records would dice up Beatles albums for re-distribution in America. In this case, the execs at Capitol just deleted three songs that had appeared in an earlier US release, making the record only 11 tracks long and timing in at barely over 28 minutes. After Revolver Capitol left matters alone, finally relenting and releasing US versions that were faithful to the UK pressings. In 1987 the UK version was re-issued in the US on CD, LP and cassette.
Recording of Revolver took place from April 6 to June 22, 1966 at Abbey Road with George Martin as producer. The Parlophone release was made on August 5, 1966 and the US version came out just three days later. Right afterward, the Beatles made their last tour in the US. None of the songs from Revolver were performed live, mainly because of the heavy use of overdubs and special effects that could not be replicated in concert.
|Side A||Lead Vocals||Written by||Length|
|I'm Only Sleeping||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||3:02|
|Love You To||Harrison||George Harrison||3:01|
|Here, There and Everywhere||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:26|
|She Said She Said||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:37|
|Good Day Sunshine||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:10|
|And Your Bird Can Sing||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:02|
|For No One||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:01|
|I Want to Tell You||Harrison||George Harrison||2:30|
|Got to Get You into My Life||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:31|
|Tomorrow Never Knows||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:57|