1/26/2013

The Beatles - 'Revolver'

Title: Revolver
Artist: The Beatles
Date: 1966
Genre: Psychedelic Rock

Total length: 35 minutes, 14 tracks

Main personnel:
John Lennon: Vocals, guitar
Paul McCartney: Vocals, guitar, bass
George Harrison: Vocals, guitar, bass
Ringo Starr: Drums, vocals





Rating: 10/10 - Masterpiece
For quite some time I have been a big fan of the Beatles. At first, I liked their catchy tunes as I was just getting into music a couple years back. As I started listening more, I discovered something new with each listen. Something clever about the lyrics, or perhaps how a certain bass line creates a perfect harmony. And to be honest, I haven't quite stopped discovering yet; It's like a journey without end. 
Today I felt like dedicating some of my time on what is perhaps their greatest piece -- Revolver. I haven't written a decent review for quite some time now, so please bear with me as I try to express why I think everyone should listen to this album.


   The album starts off with the energy packed, but smooth, 'Taxman' featuring satirical politic lyrics ridiculing the British tax system. Starr's clever use of a cowbell and tambourine give it a slightly comic feeling, enhancing the ironic meaning of the song. 
   From the satirical 'Taxman' we move right on to the sadness filled, 'Eleanor Rigby'. It starts of with a loud harmony repeating "I look at all the lonely people". Its depressive lyrics about the negligence of the elderly form a surreal mixture with the fast string arrangement and phasing vocals. It makes the song sound very serious and tragic.
   The next song, 'I'm Only Sleeping', is an excellent example of the Beatles' masterful composition skills. Juxtraposing the previous two songs, it features lyrics about the peaceful act of sleeping in late. It is mixed with a rather clever use of vocal harmony and guitar played backwards create a psychedelic sound that makes me think of nothing but the great pleasure that is sleeping. 
   Another good example of their smart compositions is the song 'Love to You'. While easily gone unnoticed, it features a great number instruments in layered almost perfect harmony.  While boring on the outside, this makes the listener hear something different on every listen when paying attention.
   Perhaps the most famous song on this album is 'Yellow Submarine'. This rather cheerful children's song is about the supposedly great life living on a submarine. Its iconic use of maritime sound effects and childlike calm lyrics makes a very interesting mix with the simple bass and drum line. This track really shows a different side of the Beatles in comparison to the psychedelic tracks on this album.

   The song 'She Said She Said' has a very experimental feeling, and features an assortment of distorted instruments forming a very thick and busy harmony. In contrast to thick sound are Starr's simple but loud drums and Lennon's nonsensical lyrics and vocals. While it may take some time for most listeners to appreciate, simple and odd songs like this one are perhaps among the most addicting for a Beatles fan like me. 
   Probably my favorite song on this album is 'And Your Bird Can Sing'. It's one of those song I can't help but sing along to when it comes up. It is cheerful, has a catchy melody, good lyrics, and a folksy feeling. Like many of the Beatles' earlier works, what makes this song so great is that it's an instant alleviation of any stress or depression. Yet it still has that large extent of instrumental depth I like so much as well. 
   If it's one thing the Beatles are famous about, then it may be their lyrics about drug use featured in many songs (especially 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' or 'Strawberry Fields'). A less famous song fitting this theme is the song 'Docter Robert'. While cheerful on the outside, its complex layered sound, and phasing vocals give excellent support to the drug theme. Another great thing about its layered sound is that the listener can discover something new on every listen. There's too much going on to concentrate on in one listening sessions. Despite this, it does not feel too busy or noisy at all. This is essentially true for most of the Beatles psychedelic tracks. 
   Similar to 'Docter Robert', while it sounds cheerful and romantic on the outside, the song 'Got to Get You Into My Life' is essentially McCartney's declaration of love for marijuana. With the fun use of horns and energetic vocals I just can't help but put a big smile on my face. 
   Last but most definitely not least on the album is the euphoric 'Tommorow Never Knows'. Yet again about drugs, this psychedelic song can only be described as weird. It features heavy use of odd tape loops not unlike the infamous 'Revolution 9', but unlike 'Revolution 9', this song is very busy and noisy. The background features a constant noise of tambourine, crashing cymbals and a drum beating the same pattern over and over again. The use of the McCartney's iconic reverse guitar solo and droning background create one of the most interesting psychedelic pieces I have ever hear.

  While each song may be short, there is much to discover in each song that can catch the listener in pure amazement on every listen. The Beatles' excellent creative use of composition and clever recording techniques together with the catchy and often cheerful melodies gives any listener something to enjoy. A true masterpiece.

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