Finally up to #1 in my countdown of The Beatles best albums- #1 on my list is Revolver. When I first became a Beatles -and rock music fanatic in 1976- it was a given the greatest Beatles album was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the runner up was Abbey Road. Over 40 years later Sgt. Pepper is still generally called the greatest album ever made but slowly over the years Revolver is being mentioned more and more as the greatest album- and the greatest Beatles album. I sense that the change in thinking on this was when the UK versions of the Beatles albums were issued in America in the late 1980’s. Up until that time going by the American bastardized versions I wouldn’t have thought of Revolver as their best. It was a great album-the American version and I knew the albums were released differently here than in the UK and that on paper the UK version looked better but when they were issued here and the UK version became the one I listened to- it grew to be my favorite- and also the favorite of a lot of critics.
Revolver vs Sgt. Pepper’s- the thing to me that makes Revolver superior over Sgt. Pepper is the the album sounds as modern as when it was released. Sgt. Pepper has more cultural significance- I can’t begin to argue that. Sgt. Pepper was the soundtrack of The Summer of Love- and 50 years of celebrating it as the greatest album of all time is hard to beat down. It was a great album but it sounds dated- like the first two albums sound a bit dated. Revolver also has the better songs and the more revolutionary sound.
This was the final release before their retirement from touring to the studio. In a way this album was a preview of things to come- they may have not have made the decision to quit touring when they recorded this album but a number of these songs were produced in the studio with no thought of ever being played in concert- due to the tape loops and backwards recordings? The album was recorded from early April to late June 1966 before their final round of touring. With Revolver they had taken more time in the studio than any previous Beatles album. This was the beginning of their psychedelic period- but the songs that fall into the psychedelic category here- She Said She Said and Tomorrow Never Knows, I’m Only Sleeping – and throw in the Rain b-side that was from this era but not on the album- they sound great and not dated where so many of the other psychedelic songs from the era sound like they are from the era. Bands are still ripping off Tomorrow Never Knows.
If Rubber Soul was a great leap forward-and it was- Revolver is mind blowing. This is the same band that a year earlier released Help? The same band that less than three years earlier had released With The Beatles? [Not knocking those album of course I love them}
The gems on Revolver- George Harrison opens with his best song to date- Taxman- it would also be the only time a George Harrison song would open a Beatles album. I’d rank Taxman on my Mount Rushmore of George Harrison Beatles Songs- Here Comes The Sun, Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Taxman. Paul’s Eleanor Rigby- how did a 23 year old man write a song which still stands up as one of the greatest songs about loneliness and the elderly? Brilliant. Paul at his best. Not that Paul wasn’t a great writer before Revolver-but Revolver seems to be a point where he really bloomed- Eleanor Rigby, Here There and Everywhere, For No One, Got To Get You Into My Life, Good Day Sunshine- the 5ive McCartney songs on Revolver are all classics. My favorite John Lennon songs on here are Tomorrow Never Knows, I’m Only Sleeping and She Said She Said- all psychedelic rock at its best.His other songs here are good ones too- Doctor Robert and And Your Bird Can Sing. In addition to Taxman- George gets two other songs on here- I Want To Tell You and the indian music influenced Love You To. Ringo’s song is the children’s classic- and the first Beatles song I remember hearing-Yellow Submarine written by John and Paul.
The final countdown on The Beatles studio albums- #13 Yellow Submarine, #12 The Beatles For Sale, #11- Let It Be, #10 With The Beatles, #9 Please Please Me, #8 Help #7 Magical Mystery Tour, #6 A Hard Day’s Night #5-The Beatles aka The White Album #4- Abbey Road #3- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, #2- Rubber Soul and #1- Revolver.