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Revolver Wins ARSC Award

ARSC Awards for Excellence

We’re thrilled to announce that Robert Rodriguez’s Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll (Backbeat Books) has won the 2013 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Award for Excellence in the category of Best Historical Research on Rock. Congratulations, Robert!

For more information about the award, visit ARSC’s website.

Visit the book’s website.
Listen to a podcast episode with Robert Rodriguez and Patrick Phillips.
Read the introduction on Closer Look.

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Book Info

Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll by Robert Rodriguez

Acquired wisdom has always put Sgt. Pepper at the head of the class, but it was Revolver that truly signaled The Beatles’ sea change from a functional band to a studio-based ensemble. These changes began before Rubber Soul but came to fruition on Revolver, which took an astonishing 300 hours to produce, far more than any rock record before it.
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 evenSgt. Pepper and Pet SoundsRevolver 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, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.

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Q & A with Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll. He is also the series editor of the FAQ series, as well as the author of the two Fab Four FAQ books. The following is an excerpt of an interview with Music Tomes. Please visit their website for the full interview.

You’ve written extensively on the Beatles. What about the group first captivated you?

I had older brothers who were record buyers back when the Beatles were still recording; I was a little young for all of that. But I remember vividly the Capitol swirl and Apple labels – they stood out among the 45s, in my mind at least.

What grabbed me about the Beatles was their sound, and that didn’t click with me until I first heard the Red and the Blue albums – the 1962-1966and 1967-1970 compilations. That was mind blowing – having the scope of their career laid out on four discs; everything from “She Loves You” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and beyond. To me, it was like every sound imaginable had been done – and by the same four guys! So those packages were the real gateway for me. Thereafter, catching A Hard Day’s Night and Help! on TV sealed the deal – these guys weren’t just great musicians, but compelling, funny personalities, too.

You’ve also written two books in the FAQ series on the Beatles. With so much written about the band, what is the ultimate goal of these books?

I imagined that, like myself, there were a lot of fans that were hungry for a single volume work that was neither a deeply scholarly analysis, nor an colorful series of superficial anecdotes. Or worse yet, trivia. Something that, furthermore, contextualized the Beatles’ achievements by placing them into the times in which they created.

At the same time, I thought it be great if somebody could deconstruct their story, so that you could zero in on exactly what aspect or another that you wanted to learn about. So the first FAQ was created as a way to present a ton of information broken down by facet, that invited readers to pick up the book at any point and begin reading where there interests lie, and let the history take them where they wanted to go.

No one else did it, so I stepped up!

The Beatles are a well-covered subject, but creating a narrative that got to the good stuff with immediacy was the goal. It didn’t feel like anyone had really covered their solo years as an integrated entity, hence 2.0. In a way, covering such a massive amount of ground with the two FAQs was easier to accomplish, with all the quantifiable milestones along the way, than Revolver, which was a narrowly focused topic.

But I wanted to challenge myself as a writer and researcher, and hopefully, bring something new to the table. So while the FAQs were straightforward reporting with some opinion thrown in, Revolverwas intended as a conversation starter, something to get people to re-examine their long-held opinions and see the Beatles’ work with fresh eyes.

Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the upcoming titles in the series?

We have a pretty well-developed “wish list” of titles that we are tracking down just the right writers for. But ones that are signed and sealed include The Twilight ZoneStar Wars, Film Noir and Doctor Who, on the TV/film side of things. With music, we have upcoming titles on The Who, Miles Davis, Jimmy Buffett and Hendrix.

Keep reading this interview on Music Tomes.

Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll

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 evenSgt. Pepper and Pet SoundsRevolver 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, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.

Robert Rodriguez, an interview

 Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, Robert Rodriguez, author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll, chats with Patrick Phillips on The Patrick Phillips Show about how the Beatles’ album Revolver is the artistic high water mark for the band, often over shadowed by Sgt. Pepper. This episode has been re-posted on Onstage and Backstage podcast with permission of Patrick Phillips.

>>>LISTEN HERE<<<

Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll by Robert Rodriguez (Backbeat Books)

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 evenSgt. Pepper and Pet SoundsRevolver 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, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.

Mapping Out the Pop Universe – a Revolver excerpt

The following is an excerpt from Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll by Robert Rodriguez, as posted by Chicago Tonight. You can also watch a TV interview with the author at that link.

Once the hoopla died down and the Summer of Love passed into history, the substance of Sgt. Pepper became clearer to objective observers. What they found was a collection of songs that, at their best, summed up the spirit of ’67 better than any equally accessible work this side of Donovan: the generation gap (“She’s Leaving Home”); self-improvement (“Getting Better”); life in suburbia (“Good Morning Good Morning”); aging (“When I’m Sixty Four”); psychedelia (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”); fighting ennui (“Fixing a Hole”); the sexual revolution (“Lovely Rita”); spectacle (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”); and spirituality (“Within You Without You”). Implicit without being too overt was the unifying undercurrent of the drug culture, some- thing that would’ve resonated with many listeners in 1967. (That legions of fans enhanced their Pepper experience through illicit means is the very definition of “a safe bet.”)

The flip side of such a concerted effort to capture the moment was an inextricable linkage to its time. The very sounds that the Beatles pursued with such vigor in order to stay ahead of their contemporaries have, perversely, boomeranged against them, aging the album in a way that Rubber Soul and Revolver have withstood. The latter album was created with a spirit of exploration that betrayed no hint of self-consciousness. Not so Sgt. Pepper: it was, as critic Greil Marcus noted, “. . . that point at which the Beatles began to be formed more by the times than the other way around.”

Closing the album, “A Day in the Life” was the one track that, by common agreement, lived up to the hype. While Sgt. Pepper’s other cuts made dazzling first impressions, the album’s finale was a stunner, striking the ideal balance between songcraft and studio craft. (John frequently took the lead role for the final track on the group’s albums. Sgt. Peppermarked the last time he did so, but at least he abdicated the position on a high note.) Less beholden to then-state-of-the-art studio effects or any contextual reference points other than material on the same album, it still packs a wallop today.

Keep reading this excerpt on Chicago Tonight

 

Revolver by Robert Rodriguez (Backbeat Books)

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 evenSgt. Pepper and Pet SoundsRevolver 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, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.

Ringo Starr’s Birthday

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver. Since it is Ringo’s birthday we would like to celebrate with this recent interview that was conducted by Rock Cellar Magazine.

ROCK CELLAR MAGAZINE: There are lots of books about the Beatles, and even a couple of recent ones about this album, Revolver.  What makes yours different?

Robert Rodriguez:  With this book, I tried to bring people into the world in which this music was produced.  I made the effort to place readers into 1965-66-67, showing what was going on in the Beatles’ world, as well as in pop/rock generally. I think it’s pretty crucial to understanding this album’s greatness to know who was listening to whom. What sort of developments were affecting what.

RCM:  So you’re talking about artists of the time that had an influence on the Beatles, and vice-versa.  Like Dylan, or…?

RR:  For one.  The Beatles were fans of Dylan’s going back at least as far as Freewheelin.’ In 1964, the Beatles and Dylan occupied entirely separate worlds, yet they each saw in each other elements that they could sort of…repurpose to their own ends.  Dylan saw past the bubble-gum elements of the Beatles’ music – and the screaming fans – and recognized that something sophisticated was going on.  To his credit.

Meanwhile the Beatles saw that something deeper and more satisfying could be heard in Dylan’s lyrics than they were accustomed to putting into their own.  So, say, by the end of 1964 you can see his influence beginning to manifest itself in their music.  I think John and George began to see Beatle music as more of a means of self-expression…less as a purely commercial vehicle.

ROCK CELLAR MAGAZINE: There are lots of books about the Beatles, and even a couple of recent ones about this album, Revolver.  What makes yours different ?

Robert Rodriguez:  With this book, I tried to bring people into the world in which this music was produced.  I made the effort to place readers into 1965-66-67, showing what was going on in the Beatles’ world, as well as in pop/rock generally. I think it’s pretty crucial to understanding this album’s greatness to know who was listening to whom. What sort of developments were affecting what.

RCM:  So you’re talking about artists of the time that had an influence on the Beatles, and vice-versaLike Dylan, or…?

RR:  For one.  The Beatles were fans of Dylan’s going back at least as far as Freewheelin.’ In 1964, the Beatles and Dylan occupied entirely separate worlds, yet they each saw in each other elements that they could sort of…repurpose to their own ends.  Dylan saw past the bubble-gum elements of the Beatles’ music – and the screaming fans – and recognized that something sophisticated was going on.  To his credit.

Meanwhile the Beatles saw that something deeper and more satisfying could be heard in Dylan’s lyrics than they were accustomed to putting into their own.  So, say, by the end of 1964 you can see his influence beginning to manifest itself in their music.  I think John and George began to see Beatle music as more of a means of self-expression…less as a purely commercial vehicle.

RCM:  Who else at the time do you think was important.  Or influential?

RR:  Well of course, Brian Wilson.  He’d had his breakdown, retired from the road in 1964, and in his quest to chase Phil Spector…he began crafting these ornate backings to Beach Boys music – this was due his being allowed to take his time, and not compromise his vision.

And the Beatles were paying close attention to this – what could be achieved by using the studio fully, augmenting their sound – beyond what you were expected to pull off live.  Both sides were following each other’s artistic development.

For more please visit Rock Cellar Magazine.

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.

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.

The Making of Rubber Soul and Revolver

Happy 70th, Paul McCartney!

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver. In the video posted below he is discussing the making of two very important Beatles albums, Rubber Soul and Revolver.

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.

Why Sgt. Pepper Is (Unfairly) More Popular than Revolver

Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll. In the video below, he continues his discussion on how Sgt. Pepper gained its popularity over Revolver.

The following is an excerpt of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll by Robert Rodriguez as posted by Bookgasm.

Ahead of the curve in recognizing Revolver as something special was critic Richard Gold- stein, writing for New York’s Village Voice. Just out of college, Goldstein was on his way to a long and distinguished career when he sang the praises of this new Beatles release. “Hear it once and you know it’s important. Hear it twice, it makes sense. Third time around, it’s fun. Fourth time, it’s subtle. On the fifth hearing, Revolver becomes sublime.” Though his review overall gave the Beatles much credit for doing something distinctly new as they explored the possibilities of what a rock album could be, Goldstein would distinguish himself the following year as one of the few professional critics that did not fall all over himself to exalt Sgt. Pepper.

In Britain, the response to Revolver was equally positive, if less expository. A reviewer in New Musical Express wrote that Revolver “. . . certainly has new sounds and new ideas, and should cause plenty of argument among fans as to whether it is as good as or better than previous efforts.” Melody Maker, who’d previewed the album, merely stated what would become a near-universal reaction, reporting to readers that “their new LP [will] change the direction of pop music.” Disc and Music Echo tapped the Kinks’ Ray Davies to act as celebrity reviewer, and ran his song-by- song take in the July 30 issue. He was predictably frank with his appraisal, calling BS where he saw it (“Yellow Submarine”—“a load of rubbish, really” and “Doctor Robert”—“not my sort of thing”) while dispensing praise where he felt it was earned: “The best thing on the album,” he declared “I’m Only Sleeping” (an unsurprising judgment, given how closely Davies’s work resembles it). Their experimentation on “Tomorrow Never Knows” didn’t particularly impress him (“I can imagine they had George Martin tied to a totem pole when they did this”).

Keep reading this excerpt on bookgasm.

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.

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.