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Beatles - Revolver

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 26 / 11 / 2022

Beatles - Revolver
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


Nick Dent-Robinson examines The Beatles' influential 1966 album 'Revolver', which has recently been re-released in a newly mixed version.

‘Revolver’ is the latest Beatles album to get the deluxe reissue and remix treatment. And, just as with the special editions of ‘Sgt. Pepper’, ‘The White Album’, ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’, curator Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer George, has done a superb job. Back in the Summer of 1966, The Beatles were at a turning point. They had decided to stop touring after one last sell-out concert at London's Empire Pool and had shelved plans to shoot another film. From now on, they decided the recording studio would be the principal creative outlet for the band. They took a four-month break and then, refreshed and full of enthusiasm, they rapidly produced a new album, ‘Revolver’, that many contemporary critics felt changed the face of pop. Building on 1965's ‘Rubber Soul’ - which had been quite innovative, introducing new instruments like the sitar and harmonium – ‘Revolver’ took things several leaps further. It combined tightly-knit songs with bold experimental sounds and kaleidoscopic arrangements. It had an interesting and avant-garde cover, too – designed by Klaus Voormann, a friend of the Beatles since their early-60s Hamburg days. It was a revolutionary album at the time and it is certainly worthy of Giles Martin's meticulous 2022 revamp. The sound is now richer, warmer and somehow more immediate. Yet, crucially, the songs remain the same with none of George Martin's brilliant original arrangements tampered with. The album was originally recorded on four-track tape (state of the art in 1966) – and it is only with the very latest 21st Century recording studio technology that any kind of remix has been possible. But by using similar methodology to that employed by filmmaker Peter Jackson on last year's ‘Get Back’ documentary, Giles Martin and his engineers have been able to painstakingly break down each of ‘Revolver's’ tracks and rebuild the songs with even greater clarity and definition. This brings the music closer to the listener than ever before. And what fine material this is. Side One of the original vinyl LP featured ‘Taxman’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Here, There And Everywhere’ amongst its seven tracks - surely one of the best halves of an album ever released in pop music? Also on Side One were some hugely inventive contributions from George Harrison, who was by now recognised for the creative genius he actually was, notably his sitar playing on ‘Love You To’ and backwards guitar work on ‘I'm Only Sleeping’. Side Two is almost as impressive, the four Beatles in perfect harmony on ‘Good Day Sunshine’ (led by McCartney) and John Lennon's ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, with its tape loops and Ringo's thunderous drums. By now The Beatles had really redefined what was possible in a three-minute pop song! Like the previously reissued Beatles albums, the expanded editions of Revolver’ come with extras, including two discs of unheard demos, rehearsal fragments and alternate takes. Not everyone will wish to have four versions of some tracks but the bonus material does shine a revealing light on the creative process. Surprisingly, early versions of ‘Yellow Submarine’ reveal this popular number actually began as a sad, acoustic lament sung by John Lennon: “In the town where I was born, no-one cared, no-one cared”, before McCartney transformed the idea into a cheery upbeat children's singalong with novelty sound effects - the version we all know today. At this stage in The Beatles' development, there was little sign of the personal differences that would later spell the end of the group, and all the musical debate seems good-hearted. The banter is fascinating: Lennon jokes around on an early version of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, while McCartney and George Martin discuss earnestly whether to put vibrato on the strings in ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Martin's suggestion not to do this was eventually accepted. Ultimately, though, the true test of ‘Revolver’ was always the sheer quality of so many of the songs. Listening again to the album, there is no surprise it had such a major and lasting impact in the music industry. The fact it has now been brought back to life and revitalised in such a vibrant way will bring joy to many over the coming months.

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Beatles - Revolver

Beatles - Revolver

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