A landmark album that stands up to repeated scrutiny and overexposure.
Daryl Easlea 2007-04-23
Recorded at Abbey Road studios between April and June 1966, Revolver is a truly rare breed of album, one that stands up to repeated scrutiny and overexposure. Its exalted reputation and high-ranking position in every Greatest Albums of All Time list under the sun are well deserved.
The Beatles’ transition from a gigging unit to studio band was sealed with this record: a mature, complex, frequently witty work, there is simply no filler to be found on Revolver. Paul McCartney’s creativity is aflame, this collection housing his most durable material. Many writers would struggle to manage just one song of the calibre of Eleanor Rigby, For No One, Here, There and Everywhere, Got to Get You into My Life or Good Day Sunshine. Here, McCartney effortlessly delivers all five.
Although John Lennon’s material is more slender – Dr. Robert, I'm Only Sleeping – it’s still memorable, and he steals the show with his final song, the Tibetan Book of the Dead-referencing Tomorrow Never Knows, which points the way to not just the group's future but also the next few years in rock. Asking producer George Martin to make him sound like the “Dalai Lama chanting from a hilltop”, Lennon’s looped and flanged drone still sounds unlike anything else in rock. As the track, built around an aggressive Ringo Starr drum loop, collapses after three minutes into honky-tonk piano, it concludes a remarkable work, perhaps The Beatles’ most consistent album.
And all this is without mentioning George Harrison's Indian experimentation on Love You To, his searing attack on the tax system – that’ll be Taxman – and the best kid's pop song of all time, Yellow Submarine.
Within a month of the album's release in August of 66, The Beatles gave up touring. There was no way they could replicate this new sophisticated and experimental sound on stage beneath a barrage of screams.