As the powerhouse acts responded to each other’s work, the Beatles released their next step forward in August of 1966. Recorded as they completed their transition from a touring act to a full-time studio band, it was not recorded as a response to “Pet Sounds” or any of their contemporaries, although that would come. “Revolver” is the second of what I call their transition albums, and it is very highly regarded. Rated as the #11 album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time, I enjoy this album a lot, although I would take “Rubber Soul” (rated #35 on the same list) with me instead if I could only keep one of them.
One of the most notable transitions on this album is the continuing emergence of George Harrison. “Taxman” opens the album, and he has three songs in total. “I Want To Tell You” is a straight-up pop tune with the Beatles signature harmonies, while “Love You To” is a by-product of the growing influence of Indian music on the Beatles, particularly with George.
The allotted Ringo song on this album is “Yellow Submarine”, which would ultimately inspire a very quirky and entertaining animated film. Some love-inspired research tells us that “Yellow Submarine” fills the genre of both children’s music and psychedelia, which sounds about right. It is an incredibly catchy tune, and the perfect outlet for Ringo’s dry humor.
As usual, the rest of the album is divided between Lennon and McCartney, and we begin to really see the divergent paths they are following with their style. Each has their exceptions, but in general, John is probing further into the world of experimentation, both musically and in life, while Paul continues to hone his craft as a master pop song creator with a softer and more traditional feel. While John probably had the edge on “Rubber Soul”, Paul delivered most of the established hits on this album. “Eleanor Rigby”, the classic sad story from Paul, backed by a classic arrangement of strings, leads the hit parade. Two other massive songs from Paul on this album are “Good Day Sunshine” and “Got to Get You into My Life”, but I think my favorite of all of them is the beautiful love song, “Here, There and Everywhere”.
None of John’s songs on this album delivered this type of commercial impact. “I’m Only Sleeping” is probably my favorite, along with “And Your Bird Can Sing”. Both are great Beatles songs you may not automatically recognize, but both are excellent songs that reflect John as one of the leading influences in song direction and production.
Overall, I enjoy this album a lot, and it is exciting, just as it would have been then in real time, to contemplate how much further they can stretch their sound while remaining the most productive, and now full-time, songwriting and recording artists of the 1960s.