"It was in April 1966 that we started recording Revolver."-George Harrison
After releasing Rubber Soul in 1965 and releasing Yesterday and Today in the US The Beatles started recording their seventh LP, Revolver. It was 6 April, 1966 when the recording for the album started and lasted till 21 June, 1966. The full album, including fourteen original tracks lasted around 34 minutes and 40 seconds.
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick and Peter Vince
Released: 5 August 1966 (UK)
8 August 1966 (US)
John Lennon: Vocals, harmonium, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, tape loops, tambourine, handclaps, finger clicks
Paul McCartney: Vocals, bass, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, clavichord, tape loops, handclaps, finger clicks
George Harrison: Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, sitar, tape loops, tambourine, maracas, tambura, handclaps, finger clicks
Ringo Starr: Vocals, drums, tambourine, maracas, tape loops, cowbell, shaker, handclaps, finger clicks
George Martin: piano, organ, backing vocals
The album was the last album the group would release while still touring, after 29 August 1966 (when The Beatles played Candlestick Park- their last concert until the Rooftop). This album was an opening to new experimental songwriting and defiantly different from what the mop-topped, suited boys have previously done. As John Lennon said,
"One thing's for sure - the next LP is going to be very different."Revolver is often referred to as 'the acid album'. In the previous year (1965) John and George had accidentally taken acid that was slipped into their drinks while attending a party with their dentist. This trip is often known as "The Dental Experience". LSD was given to John and Cynthia Lennon, George Harrison, and Pattie Boyd, none of them had ever had experience with this wondrous drug and didn't take their dentist's advice when he told them to stay until the drug wore off. The four left in George's mini cooper and headed to a night club.
"We'd just sat down and ordered our drinks when suddenly I felt the most incredible feeling come over me. It was something like a very concentrated version of the best feeling I'd ever had in my whole life. It was Fantastic. I felt in love, not with anything or anybody in particular, but with everything."- George Harrison
"It was terrifying but it was fantastic."- John LennonRingo took it shortly after John and George, it took Paul two years to come around and try it. The drug become an influence to some of The Beatles songs during these sessions, for instance "She Said, She Said" was written off of a John Lennon acid experience with actor Peter Fonda.
Another break through happened during the recording of Revolver. EMI engineer Ken Townsend in April of 1966 invented ADT (Artificial Double Tracking), when you link two tape machines and creates a doubled vocal track. This technique was used profoundly with The Beatles and later became big in pop productions. The group were ecstatic when this was created, George even telling Ken that he should of received a medal for inventing it. George Martin tried explaining how the process works to John saying the following,
"I knew he'd never understand it, so I said 'Now listen, it's very simple. We take the original image and we split it through a double vibrocated sploshing flange with double negative feedback...' He said 'You're pulling my leg. Aren't you?' I replied 'Well, let's flange it again and see'. From that moment on, whenever he wanted ADT he would ask for his voice to be flanged, or call out for 'Ken's flanger.'"Rubber Soul was when The Beatles really started experimenting with new things, for example George Harrison with the sitar. Soon they were using ADT in Revolver and also playing songs backwards.
"Revolver very rapidly became the album where the Beatles would say 'OK, that sounds great, now let's play it backwards or speeded up or slowed down'. They tried everything backwards, just to see what things sounded like. "- Geoff EmerickThe group first started with backward songs on off- Revolver song, "Rain" which were recorded on 14 April 1966. This resulted in two songs from the LP to be feuatre backwards recordings; "I'm Only Sleeping" and "Tomorrow Never Knows"
- Taxman (Harrison)
- Eleanor Rigby (Lennon-McCartney)
- I'm Only Sleeping (Lennon-McCartney)
- Love You To (Harrison)
- Here, There and Everywhere (Lennon-McCartney)
- Yellow Submarine (Lennon-McCartney)
- She Said She Said (Lennon-McCartney)
- Good Day Sunshine (Lennon-McCartney)
- And Your Bird Can Sing (Lennon-McCartney)
- For No One (Lennon-McCartney)
- Doctor Robert (Lennon-McCartney)
- I Want To Tell You (Harrison)
- Got To Get You Into My Life (Lennon-McCartney)
- Tomorrow Never Knows (Lennon-McCartney)
The album starts off with the countdown one-two-three-four and leads into "Taxman", a song written by George Harrison about how much money they were loosing to the 'taxman' and were all fed up about it.
"I discovered I was paying a huge amount of money to the taxman. You are so happy that you've finally started earning money - and then you find out about tax."- George HarrisonPaul McCartney even says the song is "Very George". When the group had business meetings and the accountants would explain to them about tax George would be the one to speak up and question why their money was being taken. Ringo says that they were all pissed off at the taxation and that they even went in with a plan having a guy go to the Bahamas and hold their money so it would be tax-free but didn't work out in the end.
"'Taxman' was an anti-Establishment tax song, where we said, 'If you walk the streets, they'll tax your feet.' George wrote it and I helped him with it. At the time we weren't aware of the whole tax scene. I'm still not really aware of what goes on with taxes. We believe that if you earn it, you may as well keep it, unless there's a communal or Communist or real Christian society. But while we're living in this, I protest against paying the government what I have to pay them."- John LennonEleanor Rigby
" I wrote 'Eleanor Rigby' when i was living in London and had a piano in the basement. I used to disappear there and have a fiddle around, and while I was fiddling on a chord some words came out; 'Dazzie-de-da-zu picks up the rice after a wedding took it in the poignant direction, into a 'lonely people' direction.'"- Paul McCartneyThere's many different stories about how the name "Eleanor Rigby" came to be. Paul says he got Eleanor from Eleanor Bron, the actress in there second movie "Help!" and "Rigby" was from a store in Bristol. It turns out that at St. Peter's Church in Woolton- Paul and John met across the street from the church in the church hall read about it here. In St Peter's cemetery there is a grave stone a few rows back and about three or so heads in lies the Rigby family. Eleanor Rigby (married to Thomas Woods) is burried a few rows behind the Mackenzie family where the name 'Father Mackenzie' came.
"'Eleanor Rigby' was Paul's baby, and I helped with the education of the child."- John LennonI'm Only Sleeping
"He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England."-Maureen Cleave.One of the two songs on Revolver that features the backwards guitar which gives it a 'yawning' effect.
Love You To
One of the songs written and influenced by George's new interest in Indian music.
"I wrote 'Love You To' on sitar, because the sitar sounded so nice and my interest was getting deeper all the time. I wanted to write a tune that was specifically for the sitar. Also it had a tabla part, and that was the first time we used a tabla player."- George HarrisonThe Beatles were first introduced to the sitar in the film "Help!" and George's interest kept growing, that's when The Beatles met Ravi Shankar who as Paul said George was 'knocked out by him'.
"The Indian sounds are definitely mainly George."- Paul McCartney
Here, There And Everywhere
"'Here, There and Everywhere' was Paul's song completely, I believe - and one of my favourite songs of The Beatles."- John LennonYellow Submarine
A song written by both Lennon and McCartney (with help from Donovan), a children's song in which Ringo sings vocals.
"I remember lying in bed one night, in that moment before you're falling asleep - that little twilight moment when a silly idea comes into your head - and thinking of 'Yellow Submarine \' ; 'We all live in a yellow submarine...'" -Paul McCartney
"I don't actually know where they got the idea for it, I just felt it was a really interesting track for me to do. I'd been doing a lot of covers. At The time I did either covers or something they wrote specifically for me."- Ringo StarrRingo also says that during this time it was hard to come out with an original song and when he did come up with an original song they'd find out it was just a re-written, lyric changed Jerry Lee Lewis or an older standard which become a little joke amongst the group.
She Said She Said
"She Said She Said" was mine. It's an interesting track. The guitars are great on it. that was written after an acid trip in LA during a break in The Beatles' tour where we were having fun with The Byrds and lots of girls. "- John LennonThe song was written while talking with Peter Fonda where he said "I know what it's like to be dead." It stuck in John's mind but he thought it didn't sound right, so it become "She Said".
Good Day Sunshine
"'Good Day Sunshine' is Paul's. Maybe I threw a line in or something - I don't know."- John LennonIt was Paul's effort to write a "the same traditional, almost trad-jazz feel".
And Your Bird Can Sing
A song that John said could of been a 'throwaway'.
For No One
Another one of John's favorites written by Paul.
"On 'For No One', the track was laid down on my own clavichord. I brought it in from my home, because I thought it had a nice sound, it was a very strange instrument to record, and Paul played it. But we wanted a very special sound, and French horn was what we chose.The song was written while in Switzerland skiing, Paul remembers writing bass-line trick and the character it was written about, a girl putting on makeup.
Paul didn't realise how brilliantly Alan Civil was doing. we got the definitive performance, and Paul said, 'Well, OK, I think you can do it better than that, can't you, Alan?' Alan nearly exploded. Of course, he didn't do it better than that, and the way we'd already heard it was the way you hear it now."- George Martin
"'Doctor Robert' is like a joke. There's some fellow in New York, and in the States we'd hear people say, 'You can get everything you want off him - any pills you want.' it was a big racket, but a joke too about this fellow who cured everyone of everything with all these pills and tranquillizers, injections for this and that. He just kept New York high. That's what 'Doctor Robert' is all about, just a pill doctor who sees you all right. It was a joke between ourselves, but they go in in-jokes and come out out-jokes, because everyone listens and puts their own things on it, which is great. I mean when I was young I never knew what 'gilly gilly osten feffer catsa nell a bogen' was all about, but I still enjoyed signing it."- Paul McCartneyI Want To Tell You
"'I Want To Tell You' is about the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit."- George HarrisonGeorge once said that if he could rewrite the bridge he would of wrote "Although I seem to act unkind/It isn't me - it's just my mind. That is confusing things." instead of "But if I seem to act unkind It's only me, it's not my mind That is confusing things"
Got To Get You Into My Life
A song most people think is a love song about telling someone that you need them every single day of you life but the song is actually written about marijuana.
"'Got To Get You Into My Life' was Paul's again. I think that was one of his best song, too, because the lyrics are good - and I didn't write them. When I say that he could write lyrics if he took the effort, here's an example."- John LennonTomorrow Never Knows
The last track of the album shows how much The Beatles has changed throughout the years from "She Loves You" a pop song to a psychedelic song like "Tomorrow Never Knows". A song that can easily be identified as an acid song.
"The expression 'tomorrow never knows' was another of Ringo's. I gave it a throwaway title because I was a bit self-conscious about the lyrics. So I took one of Ringo's malapropisms, which was like 'a hard days night', to take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics."-John LennonNot only is the song psychedelic with the range of instruments and deep, unexplainable lyrics but by this time got hold of Timothy Leary's adaptation of The Tibetan Book of The Dead and was singing lines from the book in the song. Lines like "Lay down all thought, surrender to the void,' where taken from the book.
"You can hear (and I am sure most Beatles fans have) 'Tomorrow Never Knows' a lot and not know really what it is about. Basically it is saying waht meditation is all about. the goal of meditation is to go beyond ( that is, transcend) walking, sleeping, and dreaming. So the song starts out by saying, 'Turn off you mind, relax and float downstream, it is not dying'.George later goes on to say that the song is them, that we are the song and it's about us being, living, breathing, thinking, to be aware from the state of being. It about transcending.
Then it says,' Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void - it is shining. That you may see the meaning of within - it is being.' From birth to death all we ever do is think: we have one thought, we have another thought, another thought, another thought. Even when you are asleep you are having dreams, so there is never a time from birth to death when the mind isn't always active with thoughts. But you can turn off you mind, and go to the part which Maharishi described as: 'Where was your last thought before you thought it?'"- George Harrison
"Tomorrow Never Knows" is a definite John song who probably didn't even know half of what he was saying but knew he was writing something and going in the right direction. It's an under rated song and is usually portrayed as one of the 'weird' Beatles songs, but it's truly a song that has deeper meaning that just goes over a lot of people minds and some people aren't willing to understand the song.
The song was written in various places, John had the lyrics and each Beatle (including John) had tape recorders at home and when they were home were suppose to record their own loop.
"'Tomorrow Never Knows' was a great innovation John wanted a very spooky kind of track, a very ethereal sound. When we constructed the original version of the tape, we started off with just the tamboura drone and Ringo's very characteristic drumming."- George MartinThen another unique feature in this song was created by Paul McCartney messing around with his tape recorder at home. He took the erase-head off and putting on the loop it created a weird sound that saturated the tape which was later shown to the others and were used throughout the track.
|Klaus Voorman with Revolver|
"We liked the way there were little things coming out of people's ears, and how he'd collaged things on a small scale while the drawings were on a big scale. He also knew us well enough to capture us rather beautifully in the drawings. We were flattered."- Paul McCartney