"Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream..."
"This almost flawless album can be seen as the peak of the Beatles' creative career. They were later to undertake more ambitious projects which would be crowned with equal critical acclaim, but Revolver is the kind of achievement which any artist would be more than satisfied to regard as some kind of culmination to his career. Nothing less than that." Revolver
—Roy Carr & Tony Tyler, The Beatles: An Illustrated Record
is the seventh studio album by The Beatles
, released in 1966. To quote Wikipedia
: "Placed at number 1 in the All-Time Top 1000 Albums and number 3 in the Rolling Stone
magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, the album is often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in music history and one of the Beatles' greatest studio achievements." Time Magazine
included the album in their 2006 list of 100 timeless and essential albums.Revolver
was conceived during an unusually long break in the Fab Four's schedule in early 1966.note
Their music had already started becoming more sophisticated on their previous album, Rubber Soul
, and they took advantage of the free time to develop their sound even further. Also, they spent the better part of three months in the studio (which was unheard of in The Sixties
), giving them plenty of time to experiment. The result was a groundbreaking album that was a major influence on the nascent Psychedelic Rock
scene, but it has transcended its era and is still highly regarded today. The "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single was also recorded during these sessions.
The album is the subject of two books: Abacadabra!: The Complete Story of the Beatles' ''Revolver''
(2006), an e-book by Ray Newman, and Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll
(2012) by Robert Rodriguez (the music writer, not the filmmaker
Tracklist (* = Not included in the original US version): Side One
- "Taxman" (2:39)
- "Eleanor Rigby" (2:08)
- "I'm Only Sleeping" * (3:02)
- "Love You To" (3:01)
- "Here, There And Everywhere" (2:26)
- "Yellow Submarine" (2:40)
- "She Said She Said" (2:37)
- "Good Day Sunshine" (2:10)
- "And Your Bird Can Sing" * (2:02)
- "For No One" (2:01)
- "Doctor Robert" * (2:15)
- "I Want To Tell You" (2:30)
- "Got To Get You Into My Life" (2:31)
- "Tomorrow Never Knows" (2:57)
- George Harrison - guitar, backing and lead vocals, bass, sitar, tambura, maracas, tambourine, sound effects
- John Lennon - lead vocals, guitar, piano, organ, harmonium, cowbell, tambourine, maracas, sound effects
- Paul McCartney - lead vocals, bass, guitar, piano, clavichord, sound effects
- Ringo Starr - drums, backing and lead vocals, tambourine, maracas
Tomorrow never tropes:
- Absentee Musician: Several tracks have at least one Beatle missing.
- John Lennon doesn't appear on "Love You To".
- "For No One" has only Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and French horn player Alan Civil.
- "She Said She Said", the last track recorded, may qualify as well. Paul once told a biographer that he left the session in a huff after arguing with the other Beatles, leaving George Harrison to cover for him on bass. Robert Rodriguez says the story is probably correct.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the post Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher era, it can be hard to believe that "One for you nineteen for me" is not an exaggeration; the British government in 1966 really did have a 95% top marginal tax rate.
- And Then I Said: "She Said, She Said"
Who put all those things in your head? Things that make me feel that I'm mad.
'Cause you're making me feel like I've never been born.
- Breakup Song: "For No One" is about the end of "A love that should have lasted years".
- Brilliant but Lazy/Heavy Sleeper/Lazy Bum: How John portrays himself in "I'm Only Sleeping".
Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy
- Broken Bird: Mentioned in "And Your Bird Can Sing".
When your bird is broken
Will it bring you down?
- Broken Record: "Tomorrow Never Knows".
- Of the beginning, of the beginning, of the beginning, of the beginning, of the beginning, of the beginning.....
- Call-and-Response Song: Slightly subverted. The backing vocals in the bridge provide the call and George provides the response in "Taxman".
- Cannot Spit It Out: The subject of "I Want to Tell You".
- Character Title: "Taxman", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Doctor Robert".
- Cool Shades: All four Beatles wear Lennon Shades (for the first time) on the back cover photo.
- Creator Cameo: The Grammy Award-winning album cover was designed by Klaus Voormann, a German artist and musician whom the Beatles had befriended in their Hamburg days. If you look closely, you can see Voormann's face and signature in George's hair, just beneath John's lips.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, designed by Klaus Voormann, who would later also design the cover of The Beatles Anthology.
- Downer Ending:
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
- Dr. Feelgood: "Doctor Robert", apparently based on a real-life medical drug peddler.
When you're down he'll pick you up: Dr. Robert.
- Echoing Acoustics: "Tomorrow Never Knows", as Lennon wanted to sound "like a hundred chanting Tibetan monks".
- Face on the Cover: A cartoon portrait of the band, illustrated with smaller images of themselves interspersed throughout the picture.
- The End of the Beginning: The final line of "Tomorrow Never Knows".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Got You Get Into My Life". Not a song about yearning for a love in your life. But about drugs.
- Intimidating Revenue Service/Villain Song: "Taxman", inspired by how the British government wanted to take too much out of George's income; at the time, the Beatles were being taxed at a marginal income tax rate of 95% (a fairly common marginal rate for the top tax bracket in European countries at the time, and not the highest—some Nordics applied 99% income tax brackets). This is noted in the lyrics ("One for you/Nineteen for me").
- Malaproper: The title "Tomorrow Never Knows" came from one of Ringo's weird sentences, just like A Hard Days Night.
- Melismatic Vocals: In "Love You To" and pulled off by Paul at the very end of "I Want to Tell You".
- Mundane Made Awesome: "Taxman" (about the irritation of paying taxes) and "I'm Only Sleeping" (about sleeping).
- New Sound Album:
- Several songs have little or no precedent in The Beatles' previous music. They'd used a sitar on Rubber Soul's "Norwegian Wood", but "Love You To" was overtly influenced by Indian music and philosophy. "Got to Get You Into My Life", a tribute to Motown and Soul Music in general, marked the group's first use of a horn section. (Earth, Wind & Fire would later cover the song, bringing things full circle.) Meanwhile, "Tomorrow Never Knows" was the band's first excursion into the avant garde; it anticipates The White Album's "Revolution #9", as well as John's early collaborations with Yoko Ono.
- It was also the first use of ADT "automatic double tracking" developed by Abbey Road studio engineer Ken Townsend at the behest of John Lennon. Townsend devised a system of creating a double tracking effect without the necessity of recording another vocal by playing back the original vocal slightly out of sync through a tape delay and recording it together with the original.
- Non-Appearing Title: The album title does not appear in any of the lyrics. "Love You To"note and "Tomorrow Never Knows" also don't get a mention in the songs themselves.
- Ode to Intoxication: Did you think "Got to Get You Into My Life" was a love song? It is. A love song about how much Paul McCartney loved to smoke marijuana.
- Only Sane Man: "I'm Only Sleeping" (See lyric under Brilliant but Lazy above).
- One Man Song: "Taxman".
- One-Word Title: The album itself and "Taxman".
- OOC Is Serious Business: In common with all the previous Beatles' albums there's a photo of the band on the cover, but for the first time, they aren't looking at the camera, but at each other. (Specifically, the other three are all looking at Ringo, who's looking past the camera and wearing sunglasses.)
- Protagonist Title: "Eleanor Rigby" about a poor woman who died alone and forgotten.
- Protest Song: "Taxman" and "Dr. Robert".
- Punny Name: This one might take a second to figure out.
- Before settling on Revolver, the group went through several other Working Titles for the album. One (probably facetious) suggestion from Ringo was After Geography, a play on The Rolling Stones' Aftermath from earlier that year.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Several songs.
- "She Said She Said" is based on a famous incident from 1965. The Beatles note were hanging out with Peter Fonda, and all except Paul were tripping on LSD. When a nervous George said "I feel like I'm dying", Fonda tried to reassure him by saying "I know what it's like to be dead"; he went on to tell the band that he'd almost died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound as a child, and death was nothing to worry about. John replied, "Who put all that shit in your head? You're making me feel like I've never been born". He based the song on a Gender Flipped, Bowdlerized version of this conversation.
- "Got to Get You into My Life" and "For No One" by Paul are based on his experience of pot and his failing relationship with his then-girlfriend, Jane Asher, respectively.
- "Taxman" by George attacks the progressive tax laws introduced by Harold Wilson, which somehow failed to stop George from becoming a multi-millionaire. It bears mentioning that 95% was the marginal tax rate; that is, all of George's income before he reached the 95% threshold was taxed at a lower value. (The song also mentions Wilson's rival Edward Heath for good measure.)
- "I'm Only Sleeping", based on John's laziness.
- There actually is a gravestone on St. Peter's Church in Liverpool with the name Eleanor Rigby (1898-1939) on it! Paul has commented that he might have seen the gravestone during his youth and subconsciously remembered it, for he didn't deliberately name the character in the song after her.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Both of the Beatles' animated incarnations used a song from this album as theme music. "And Your Bird Can Sing" was the opening for the third season of their Saturday morning Band Toon. And then there's Yellow Submarine...
- Record Producer: George Martin, as usual.
- Rhyming with Itself: In "Got to Get You Into My Life". 'There' is rhymed with 'there', 'you' with 'you' and 'life' with 'life'. From another perspective, it rhymes "find there" with "mind there" and "hold you" with "told you."
- Sampling: Tape loops used in "Tomorrow Never Knows" include:
- A "laughing" voice, often assumed to be Paul McCartney and played at double-speed (the "seagull" sound)
- An orchestral chord of B flat major (from a Sibelius symphony)
- A fast electric guitar phrase in C major, reversed and played at double-speed
- Another guitar phrase with heavy tape echo, with a B flat chord provided either by guitar, organ or possibly a Mellotron Mk II
- A sitar-like descending scalar phrase played on an electric guitar, reversed and played at double-speed
- Second-Person Narration: "For No One" uses it.
- Shout-Out: "Taxman" provides a shout-out to British politicians Edward Heath and Harold Wilson.
- Stop and Go: "I'm only sleeping...[Pause]...keeping an eye on the world going by my window..."
- Studio Chatter: At the beginning of "Taxman", George slowly counts "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four" on the right channel against a backdrop of studio background noises, before Paul's much faster "one, two, three, four!" on the left leads into the song itself.
- One can hear someone saying, "Yawn, Paul" before someone, supposedly Paul, yawns in "I'm Only Sleeping".
- John, very quietly, repeats "She feels good" after Paul sings that phrase in "Good Day Sunshine".
- Take That: "Taxman" and, possibly, "And Your Bird Can Sing" (see Word Salad Lyrics below).
- Taxman Takes The Winnings: The message of "Taxman".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Right at the end of "Good Day Sunshine".
- Word Salad Lyrics: The enigmatic lyrics of "And Your Bird Can Sing" are very open to interpretation. Jonathan Gould (author of Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America) theorizes that John intended them as a Take That to Frank Sinatra for Ol' Blue Eyes' criticism of The Beatles and rock music in general.note Musicologist Alan Pollack instead suggested they reflect a kind of mid-life crisis John was undergoing at the time, also hinted at in his infamous Maureen Cleave interview. Another theory is that the song is a Take That to Mick Jagger and the "bird"note in the song referred to his then girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull.
- World Music: George Harrison plays sitar during "Love You To", an instrument he learned to master thanks to Ravi Shankar. He played it earlier during "Norwegian Wood" on Rubber Soul (1965) and would play it again on "Within, Without You" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).