Capitol Records, 1966
REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/15/2006
Forget Abbey Road. Never mind Sgt. Peppers. Completely disregard The White Album. The work that defines the Beatles is Revolver, without question. The skills of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were at their pinnacle, and the result was an album that many (including VH1) now claim to be the greatest of all time.
While the band's music remained generally optimistic, an underlying thread of cynicism always lurked beneath the surface, and it's a little more evident here. The opening “Taxman,” is a prime example; as well as being one of Harrison’s better efforts, the track bristles with energy as George plays the part of the evil tax collector while railing against the system -- a sentiment most can agree with.
While I enjoyed Rubber Soul, I find Revolver to be a more mature effort. Artistically speaking, the band found the perfect blend between the avant-garde and the pop sound they had found so much success with. “Eleanor Rigby” is absolutely stunning, a pop symphony of isolation condensed into two minutes, while little touches such as the backwards guitar track on “I’m Only Sleeping” or the horns on “Got To Get You Into My Life” only enhance the songs. “Love You To” truly marks the first major use of Indian music in a Beatles song, even more blatantly than “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” off Rubber Soul. Flourishes such as these raised the standards of what pop/rock could be.
Revolver contains many classic moments. “For No One,” is easily one of McCartney’s best tunes, period. It is incredibly unique in melody, having no easily identifiable refrain, taking multiple listens to really appreciate all that is has to offer. “Tomorrow Never Knows” gives a glimpse into the future, wherein Ringo lays down a driving, steady beat while Lennon chants (while laying on his back, legend has it) parts of the Tibetan Book of the Dead alongside various noises. Also, “Got To Get You Into My Life,” helped lay down the groundwork for future bands such as Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears with its inclusion of a horn section, while the pure pop of “Good Day Sunshine” is something the band would do very little of after this point.
If there are “duds” to be found, they would lie with “Dr. Robert” and “ I Want To Tell You,” the only two here that don't add anything unique to the mix. Neither track is awful by any means, but when placed against the rest of the material on Revolver, they don’t quite measure up.Part of the fun of being a music critic is hearing amazing albums now and again, especially given the lousy ones that come my way. I don't give this high marks because the Beatles recorded it –- I give it high marks for being one of the best albums I've ever heard.