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Why Revolver is the Best Beatles Album

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver. In the video posted below he describes why ultimately Revolver is the best Beatles album.

Revolver

The making of Revolver – hunkered down in Abbey Road with George Martin – is in itself a great Beatles story, but would be nothing if the results weren’t so impactful. More than even Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, Revolver fed directly into the rock ‘n’ roll zeitgeist, and its influence could be heard everywhere: from the psychedelic San Francisco sound (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead); to the first wave of post-blues hard rock (Sabbath, Zeppelin); through movie soundtracks and pretty much everything that followed it – including every generation of guitar-based pop music and even heavy metal. More than any record before or after, Revolver was the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.

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Revolver Excerpt

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll. The following is an excerpt from the book.

With so many peers in rock reaching the height of their creativity in 1966, it was impossible for all of them to not listen closely to what everyone else was doing. (Ray Davies grandly suggested that the Beatles were waiting for the next Kinks album to arrive; perhaps to provide an early clue to the new direction.) No one was listening more closely to the Beatles’ latest than Brian Wilson. He felt that with Revolver, Pet Sounds had been effectively one-upped, taxing his creativity to the limit. (It had not been a robust seller in the U.S., peaking at number ten and then only briefly, prompting Capitol to issue a Best of the Beach Boys compilation two months later, as if to erase the taint of such an unrepresentative work.)

Pet Sounds did much better across the Atlantic, peaking at number two and garnering rapturous reviews from people not steeped in surfing and hot-rod culture. Indeed, for the only time during their recording career, the Beatles were bumped from the top position in the year’s end NME poll, second to the Beach Boys as Top Pop Group for 1966. Also for the first time, NME announced a tie for Album of the Year between — naturally — Pet Sounds and Revolver. Luckily, Wilson had a potent arrow in his quiver, one originally intended for inclusion on Pet Sounds. “Good Vibrations” was judged not to fit the album’s overall arc and was held back. The product of seventeen sessions, four studios, and a reported $50,000, it was released as a single two months after Revolver.

The ambitious 3:35 recording, featuring stacked vocals, cellos, and, most distinctively, the Electro-Theremin — an eerie-sounding electronic instrument heretofore heard mostly in science-fiction TV shows such as My Favorite Martian — quickly shot up the charts, reaching number one in the U.S. in December for one week only (briefly displacing the idiotic “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band for the top slot during its two-week run) as well as the U.K., where it reigned for two weeks.

Keep reading on Something Else Reviews!

Robert Rodriguez talks Revolver (part 1 of 4)

Revolver by Robert Rodriguez

The making of Revolver – hunkered down in Abbey Road with George Martin – is in itself a great Beatles story, but would be nothing if the results weren’t so impactful. More than even Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, Revolver fed directly into the rock ‘n’ roll zeitgeist, and its influence could be heard everywhere: from the psychedelic San Francisco sound (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead); to the first wave of post-blues hard rock (Sabbath, Zeppelin); through movie soundtracks and pretty much everything that followed it – including every generation of guitar-based pop music and even heavy metal. More than any record before or after, Revolver was the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.