First released in the UK on August 5, 1966, the Beatles' Revolver was born into tumultuous times for the band. The "Bigger Than Jesus" debacle was reaching its height in the United States, as some fans who took John Lennon's flippant remark about his band's popularity as heresy burned Beatles records at church rallies.
As for the lads themselves, they were quickly growing out of the British Invasion and running headlong into garage-rock and psychedelia, pushing their songwriting forward faster than studio technology at the time could catch up.
Revolver came a little more than half a year after December 1965's Rubber Soul, which featured cuts like "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," "Nowhere Man" and "In My Life." George Harrison considered Soul and Revolver to comprise a spiritual double album because of how they complemented one another, though many consider Revolver to be far superior and grown-up compared to its predecessor.
In a sense, Revolver is the first great Beatles album, more cohesive than the earlier releases that seemed more like loose collections of singles. In the past few years it has even been surpassing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in terms of what fans consider to be their "best" album, a strange development we can't argue with.
Listening to the Revolver studio outtakes, you get insight into the evolution that was happening between the members. The experimentation was running wild, with songs going through a dozen permutations before the versions you know on record were fully formed. "She Said She Said" was on its way to being way more morose than the final cut, and was called "He Said He Said" the first time around.
Be sure to seek out the mono versions of Revolver or the vinyl rips online; it's worth hearing the difference. We collected ten facts about the album that you may have not known, but for you Beatlemaniacs, this is all old news.
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Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, "And Your Bird Can Sing"
- The 35-minute, 14-track Revolver took the Beatles 300 hours of studio time to complete. They only spent 150 hours on Rubber Soul.
- It was recorded from April 6 to June 21,1966, and came out just two and half months later. It was released in the States on August 8. Quick turnaround, eh?
- Brian Jones, Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull and Donovan all sing uncredited backups on Ringo's "Yellow Submarine."
- Of the songs recorded for Revolver, John Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows" was the first written and the most elaborately recorded. This would also be the first real use of the automatic double-tracking technique to achieve Lennon's eerie, howling mountaintop vocals. Before, artists had to sing the same vocal take twice to get that sound.
- Rock critic Jim DeRogatis says Revolver is widely viewed as one of the first, if not the very first, truly psychedelic rock album along with the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
- Of course, "Got To Get You Into My Life" was an ode to pot and LSD.
- "Eleanor Rigby" features lyrical contributions from all four Beatles, which was very rare.
- Revolver's alternate titles include Abracadabra, After Geography, Four Sides of the Eternal Triangle, Pendulum, Magical Circles, and Beatles On Safari.
- "Here, There and Everywhere" was meant to be a reply to the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." Both bands were in a friendly creative rivalry in the mid-'60s, with Pet Sounds influencing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band the next year.
- "Doctor Robert" was based on Dr. Robert Freymann, who was a notorious rock doctor to the stars, getting only the best for his patients in the industry.
Ray Charles, "Eleanor Rigby"
Emmylou Harris, "Here, There and Everywhere"