The Beatles released their seventh album, Revolver, on August 5, 1966. The album peaked at number one on the American charts, and it stayed in that spot for six weeks. Revolver was also placed at number three on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Revolver opens with “Taxman,” which was written by George Harrison. It’s been said that the song was attacking the high levels of progressive tax taken by the British government at the time the song was written. In the United States, the song is generally played a bit on the days leading up to April 15, the day that taxes are due. This is followed by “Eleanor Rigby,” which is probably one of the best known songs from Revolver. Sonically, the song includes a double string quartet arrangement, which is one of the standout features of the song. Lyrically, the song was a strong sense of loneliness.
Next is “I’m Only Sleeping,” which was written by John Lennon. The song features a reversed guitar duet, a technique that was unique at the time the song was recorded. While it has been claimed that the song was about drug euphoria, it’s also been theorized that the song is about the joys of staying in bed. This is followed by “Love You To,” which was written by George Harrison. Musically, this song features some Indian classical instrumentation, which is provided by a tabla, a pair of hand-drums, a sitar, and a tambura.
“Here, There and Everywhere” is a song primarily written by Paul McCartney. The song has a bittersweet melody, and features vocals that have a Beach Boys style to them. Next is “Yellow Submarine,” written by Paul McCartney and has lead vocals by Ringo Starr. McCartney said he was trying to write a children’s song when writing “Yellow Submarine.”
“She Said She Said” was written by John Lennon, and he claimed the lyrics were inspired by comments made by actor Peter Fonda during an LSD trip in 1965. In the lyrics, there is also a sense of reminiscing on childhood. This is followed by “Good Day Sunshine,” which was primarily written by Paul McCartney. Musically, there is almost a “vaudevillian feel,” as well as a sense that there was an influence from The Lovin’ Spoonful. This, along with “Yellow Submarine,” are some of the more “pop” sounding songs on Revolver.
The next song on Revolver is “And Your Bird Can Sing,” which was written by John Lennon; however, Lennon would later dismiss this song as one of his “throwaways.” This song has a harder-edged rock sound for The Beatles. “For No One” was written by Paul McCartney, and is a baroque song about a relationship coming to an end. It also features a French horn solo.
“Doctor Robert” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and Lennon claimed that the character of “Doctor Robert” was himself. Musically, it sounds closer to the earlier songs by The Beatles compared to many of the other songs on Revolver. “I Want to Tell You” was written by George Harrison, and it’s a melodic pop song. It also utilizes understated Indian influences. Harrison has said the lyrics are about how thoughts are hard to write down or say.
“Got to Get You Into My Life” was written and sung by Paul McCartney, and prominently features a brass section. Supposedly, Paul McCartney has said that the lyrics are about marijuana, and was written when he was first introduced to pot. Revolver closes with “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which was primarily written by John Lennon. This is the most experimental song on the album, and has the psychedelic sound that would become associated with the late 1960s.
Overall, Revolver is a rather strong album, although to me, it’s not quite as strong as either Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Rubber Soul; there’s some parts of Revolver where the songs don’t flow together quite as smoothly as the two aforementioned albums. It still is an important album in The Beatles catalog, and I can hear why the album is so highly regarded.