It is no secret that the Beatles are one of the most prolific and influential musical acts of the twentieth century, if not of all time. What started off as a skiffle band worked it’s way into the growingly popular rock and roll genre and exploded into a worldwide phenomenon.
After taking the world by storm with a few very successful rock and roll albums, the Beatles turned heads with their softer and more ambitious folk-inspired Rubber Soul in 1965. Their follow-up, Revolver (1966) was more dependent on an electric sound, but was also more ambitious and expansive.
The album opens with candid studio sounds such as noodling on the guitar and coughing in the background right before it jumps into George Harrison’s “Taxman.” The song is quite catchy with its poppy bassline and satirical lyrics. The tone of the album takes a sudden shift as it goes into the second track “Eleanor Rigby,” an incredibly melancholy story of a woman and a preacher that are lonely in the world. The song is dependent on a string section that proves to be quite haunting, particularly when striking staccato notes during the lyrics “Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No one was saved.”
The third song, once again, has a completely different tone as it delves into a more psychedelic pop feel. The track “I’m Only Sleeping” has a very mellow and even lazy feel to it, which fits perfectly with the message of the song. The next song “Love You To,” another Harrison song, goes further into the psychedelic tone of the album. Heavily influenced by Eastern music and Hindu culture, it starts with a sitar followed by entrancing percussion and Harrison’s also haunting monotone voice. The best moments of the song are when the instruments come to a sudden halt and the vocals harmonize much in the classic Beatles fashion, only this time, more entrancing.
There are some pretty standard catchy pop songs such as “Here There Everywhere,” “She Said She Said,” and “For No One” and pretty standard rock songs like “Doctor Robert.” “Good Day Sunshine” and “Yellow Submarine” are very whimsical and quirky with ‘Sunshine’ being the more upbeat and sunshine pop song and ‘Submarine’ being more of a nonsensical children’s song.
The crowning achievement of the album however, is the final track “Tomorrow Never Knows.” It is a highly experimental, drug-inspired, multi-layered track that consists of loops, organs, Indian instruments, and strange sound effects that play throughout. The entire song is a massive swirl of bizarre sounds and entrancing vocals. It is considered one of the first psychedelic tracks and has been a massive influence on the counterculture of the late sixties.
Revolver is certainly one of the highest achievements for the already unanimously acclaimed Beatles. With its experimentation with sound and genre and eclectic style and tone, it makes a truly powerful statement in originality, passion, ambition, and innovation. Definitely one of the most important contributions to rock and roll of all time.
“Eleanor Rigby” is a very well known song, noted for its powerful string section and melancholy theme. Personally, I find George Harrison’s “Love You To” to be incredibly underrated (People always think I mean “Love You Do”). It is a mystifying track that is possibly overshadowed by the much trippier and more experimental “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is more recognized as the pinnacle of psychedelic rock on the record.
Admittedly, “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a superior track with its highly innovative and groundbreaking production and recording techniques that helped pave the way for psychedelic rock.
The Beatles went on to make Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, which Rolling Stone considers to be the greatest album of all time. They produced four more highly acclaimed LPs before disbanding in 1970.
Each member released albums as solo artists. Paul McCartney fronted the successful Paul McCartney and Wings for ten years. John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980 and George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001.
Reviewer: Sarah Truesdale
IRC: Kendall Russell
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