When I opened up my iTunes this morning, I saw that the entire Beatles catalog was on sale and thought it would be a good time to revisit the Fab Four’s music. While I could sing praises for all of their records, I chose a turning point recording, Revolver, on which the mop tops totally changed direction.
By 1966, the Beatles had stopped touring and Lennon and McCartney had stopped recording other artists’ songs and focused on their own songwriting abilities. John was enamored with Dylan and Harry Nilsson and began writing in a more introspective style. While Harrison compared Revolver to Rubber Soul, the album served as a precursor to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and introduced psychedelic rock to the masses.
The album opens with a George Harrison ditty entitled “Taxman.” The beefy tune features a nasty guitar solo by Paul and sets the mood for what’s to come as you are lead down a trippy musical adventure. Paul offers up “Eleanor Rigby” on which he’s accompanied by classical instrumentation instead of the band.
McCartney shines brightly throughout the album with tracks such as the mournful “For No One,” which tells the story of a relationship ending. Two poppy numbers, “Good Day Sunshine” and “Got to Get You Into My Life,” along with a tender ballad “Here, There and Everywhere” round out McCartney’s contributions.
Harrison, who was usually only allotted a couple of tracks per album, was awarded three songs on Revolver. Besides the opening track, he flexes his creative muscle on the sitar accompanied “Love You To” and the pop-friendly “I Want to Tell You.”
Ringo, who was never known for his singing ability, takes center stage on “Yellow Submarine,” which would serve as a catalyst for the animated 1967 film. Lennon serves up an array of well-crafted and introspective tunes on the album. Ironically, three of the tunes are only offered on the UK versions of Revolver. “Dr. Robert” is clearly about a doctor who prescribes drugs for recreational use, “I’m Only Sleeping” tells the toll of Beatlemania, and John plays with words on “And Your Bird Can Sing.”
Lennon serves up a trippy manifesto on “She Said, She Said,” but the song that has been reexamined for years is “Tomorrow Never Knows.” This brilliantly-arranged tune was crafted using tape loops, distorted vocals, and backward guitar riffs. Lyrically, John borrowed from Timothy Leary’s Tibetan Book of the Dead. Using a single guitar chord throughout the song, it captivates the listener as it transports them to a higher consciousness. It is no wonder Revolver remains at the top three on Rolling Stone’s list of Top 500 Greatest Albums.