Anyone who has read my blog posts over the years, knows that our family is very much into music particularly alternative music. As much of our life is about the new new and what is coming around the corner, we continue that theme in our love of music. No surprises, the kids love music too and as a group we really enjoy most of the same bands and feed off each others findings.
When they were kids, we’d put on old Beatles and Stones music as part of the entertainment for the kids when they had to clean the basement before going to bed. I remember one particular “aha” moment when I realized that our kids were listening to different music than their friends. I picked up Jessica at school, we were living in the suburbs, she must have been about six. Emily was four and Josh was one. Jessica gets in the car with her friend, a playdate. I have Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville, playing in the car. She says, put on number 10 and turns to her friend and says, I love this song, it is the best one on the disc, don’t you think? It was obvious the kid had never heard Liz Phair and just nodded. I got a kick out of the whole thing and wondered what role music would play in their life, fast forwarding 10 years. Well, now I know. All 3 of them manage to weave and bob their way to the front of every concert. Jessica hangs out with some of her favorite bands…and Emily is taking a class this summer on the Invasion of British Music at Oxford. She just sent me her paper reviewing Revolver and I thought I’d share.
As one of the best rock albums ever to exist, Revolver is a turning point in Beatles history, showcasing a mix of classic upbeat tunes, experimentation with psychedelia, and significant lyrical contributions from each member of the band. As the seventh Beatles album, coming out in August of 1966, it was made right in the middle of The Beatles career and came out only weeks before their last concert. No song on Revolver was ever played live, for they consisted of new music styles that were too complex to perform on stage. The album starts with a “one, two, three, four, one, two,” a bizarre introduction that draws the listener in from the beginning. Harrison emerges for the first time as a songwriter, kicking it off with his own political “Taxman”.
The length of each song all end within a minute of each other, the longest one lasting only seconds over three minutes, displaying Revolver’s strong consistency and smooth flow. McCartney performs incredibly throughout the album. His impressive display of loneliness with “Eleanor Rigby” uses powerful imagery that leaves the listener almost depressed. However, as the album goes on he shows multiple sides of his personality with the beautiful love song “Here, There and Everywhere”, optimistic “Good Day Sunshine”, and sorrowful “For No One”. McCartney shines in “Got To Get You Into My Life,” arguably one of the best Beatles songs ever. His use of “the Motown sound” to depict his desire for LSD is brilliant, and the desperation that he exposes in the chorus when he yells, “got to get you into my life!” makes this song very entertaining. McCartney proves himself to be an extremely talented pop musician.
Along with “Taxman”, Harrison comes through successfully with two other tracks off of Revolver. As one of his first songs that illustrated his growing interest in Indian music, “Love You To” is one of the stranger songs on the album. George is known to have been the shyest Beatle, and he expresses this quality through “I Want To Tell You”. Here, he addresses his inability to communicate his thoughts, which he shows when he says, “but if I seem to act unkind, it’s only me, it’s not my mind, that is confusing things.” Ringo’s only song on Revolver is the playful and well-known “Yellow Submarine”. Although he did not write the song, Ringo’s voice in the song is prominent because it sounds deeper than the rest of the vocals sung by other Beatles members throughout the album. Ironically, it is one of the most light-hearted tracks on the album.
As for Lennon, his songs on Revolver are all very trippy. Lennon began to get really experimental with his songs starting on this album. He sounds like he’s under the influence of LSD while singing each of his songs. On his first song on the album, “I’m Only Sleeping”, he sings about his dreams, which are most likely a metaphor for acid trips. An instantly popular song on the album was Lennon’s “Doctor Robert”, which is known to be an ode to his dealer. The most impressive Lennon song on Revolver is the finale of the album, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, known to many as the first song to ever be categorized as psychedelic music. The song uses all kinds of instruments and distorted sounds, which make it different from any song yet recorded by The Beatles. The lyrics straightforwardly call attention to an LSD trip, for the song starts with the words “turn off your mind, relax and float down stream, it is not dying, it is not dying”. The song, and therefore the album, ends with an increased level of these distorted sounds, giving way to The Beatles continuation with psychedelic music in future albums.
Revolver is a genius work of art. There is not one song that is not better than decent. It is terrifically well balanced and consistent, giving the listener a taste of all the Beatles have to offer. Revolver is by far the Beatles strongest and most impressive album.