This is my favourite Beatles album and it’s saying a lot as I love all their albums. But, made to choose one, I choose REVOLVER for several reasons.
One, it is the continuation, or part two, as George Harrison said, of RUBBER SOUL. That album, released in 1965, and thought of as the “pot” album by John Lennon, was the first album where The Beatles started to convert their songwriting craft into art.
REVOLVER, the “acid” album, again according to Lennon, delves more and more into the artistic phase of The Beatles.
The album starts off with “Taxman”, a little rocker by George Harrison. What’s interesting here is that the guitar lead was played by Paul. George was definitely developing a style, growing as a songwriter and although, as he himself said, that he had to learn to write songs “in public”, while Paul and John had years of experience writing before The Beatles even became “The Beatles!”
But in REVOLVER we also see Paul also showing songwriting maturity. Take a listen to “Eleanor Rigby”. The song deals with aspects of society, alienation, loss, even religion. John also hit a milestone with “Tomorrow Never Know. This song marked the first time The Beatles used a Leslie speaker to obtain special effects like voice vibrato. They also used an ADT system to duplicate the sound of the human voice. Lennon’s lyrics here were mostly “found” or “borrowed” from the book “The Psychedelic Experience” by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, y Ralph Metzner. This book is in turn based upon the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”. This book deals with practices like whispering to the person about to die to assure them a happy passage into the other side. Leary used the same idea and would have pre-described whispers ready to be used on people going through LSD trips.
And I would say that REVOLVER goes further. In this album you’ll hear a variety of new musical genres thrown in there in The Beatles usual fashion plus more and more classical styles. One prominent new ingredient was raga, or raga-rock. There is more orchestration and wider arrangements using strings, horns and other classical instruments like the French Horn in “For No One”.
It’s important to note that The Beatles recorded REVOLVER after a three month holiday in London which came right before they decided to retire from touring. Perhaps that is why there are so many studio effects in many of the songs. The Beatles were preparing their new journey through a more artistic style of music. They were creating with the studio as an added instrument. They had successfully passed from being pop craftsmen to artists. This was the first of their tremendously influential albums that, in my opinion, shaped the course of popular music and also set a standard for the aesthetics of rock. That’s not really the reason I love this album. I love this album because of the songs, naturally…