Revolver

My FAVORITE Beatles record and the one I think best represents their contribution to popular music. It’s also a very interesting guitar record and it definitely ushered in an era of technological, mental and spiritual expansion that still affects what people do today. Revolver expanded the boundaries of pop music. There are many moods and layers to this record and the extremes are pretty wide indeed. Paul McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby is recorded with a double string quartet; none of The Beatles play an instrument. Over the years it the song has been covered by almost a million people (not really, but quite a few). At the other end of the spectrum there is John Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows, inspired by the harmonic structure of Indian music and recorded using tape loops, Automatic Double Tracking (ADT) and effects like the flanger and Leslie speaker. I’ve always loved this track and it is easily one of the most interesting pieces of music The Beatles ever recorded. Ringo’s insistent drumming, tape loops supplied by everyone in the band, Lennon’s very distant vocals and Paul McCartney’s brief backward guitar solo. All of this production was definitely helped by George Martin and the crew at Abbey Road studios. The technology involved on just this song would play a huge role on thousands of recordings from this point forward.

I’m Only Sleeping, another very spacey Lennon track also has a backward guitar solo, this time courtesy of George Harrison. She Said, She Said a Lennon composition that features he and George playing all of the guitars and George playing the bass. Possibly it is the only song McCartney did not play on. Talk about spacey…this tune has key center shifts and a time shift from 4/4 to 3/4 and the sound of the guitars has always amazed me. McCartney has said in interviews that The Beatles recorded a lot guitar tracks directly into the board and I wonder if that is how they got the sound on this track?? Perhaps.

Taxman, a George Harrison composition has a pretty nifty little guitar solo supplied by Paul McCartney. Paul and George do the fast doubled guitar melodies on Lennon’s And Your Bird Can Sing. Then there is I Want To Tell You, another Harrison composition that had a riff so mighty that Ted Nugent recorded a version of it 10+ years later. Here, There and Everywhere the McCartney composition that Lennon called “the best tune on the album” features Harrison’s delicate picking, something he did throughout the band’s career to add that special accompaniment to the ballads. All of the vocal melodies and harmonies are completely cool and quite a few like Harrison’s Love You To and Lennon’s Dr. Robert have an Indian drone quality to them. Yellow Submarine is also a very well-known song from this record and various novelty-esque sound effects appear through one break, taking a solo, but the whole song is driven by Lennon’s always tight acoustic rhythm guitar. While most of the world celebrates the record (Sgt. Pepper) that came the following year, I’m one of those that believes this to be the Beatles’ artistic peak. It was all downhill from here!

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