Only Some Northern Songs in
Revolver



When The Beatles released Revolver in October 1966, they had been on top of the world for 3 and a half years. They were tired of facing screaming audiences of teenagers who would only go to their shows to release adrenaline shouting and didn't even notice if the fabs were singing sharp. Their music had evolved from the extreme simplicity of Love Me Do to the extent of requiring complicated recording developments. Revolver was to witness for the first time the use of ADT (Artificial Double Tracking)

As it has been commented on other albums, one of the recording techniques the guys preferred was to double track the vocals in certain songs. This was accomplished by singing twice the same song on separate tracks and that's the reason why you may find two "Johns" on certain songs. ADT was quite simple in its concept. The signal could be delayed, while conserving the original one. The two of them heard together caused the impression of the same person singing twice.

Revolver was also the album in which The Beatles changed quite sharply in their musical direction. Probably aware that they were not to tour much from that point onwards (in fact, just three weeks after the release of Revolver, The Beatles played their last concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park) This meant, that songs could get as complicated as they wanted. They no longer needed to reproduce them on stage (quite difficult for songs as Yesterday, as some concert tapes reveal) The LP was to witness the increasing complication in Beatles recordings and was just a preview of what Pepper would bring to the world. And to help out with The Beatles increasing studio demands, came Geoff Emerick. Who was to prove the best sound engineer that worked for the fab four, got promoted at 20 to work with the guys. He has been responsible for the sound in the anthologies along with George Martin.

The cover, designed like the Antologies ones by Klaus Voorman, was as innovative as the album and featured a collage of B&W pictures with long hair drawings of The Beatles. The album was the last one to be separately issued in the USA and in England. The album's title was to be Abracadabra, but someone else had already used it. Other alternatives were Magic Circles and Beatles on Safari

  • Revolver
  • Recording Dates April 6th - June 21st, 1966
  • Release Date: August 5th, 1966

Taxman

Harrison
John:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Paul:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums

Once The Beatles realized that apart from endless touring, recording, filming and signing autographs there was also a life out there, they got the chance to take a look at their finances. The result was discovering that they didn't have that much money (in fact only a small part of what the people thought they had, which still was quite a lot) This was a result of a tight contract by EMI and in part because of the high taxes The Beatles had to pay.

The Beatles, almost 3 and a half years and 7 Lps later, counted in again to four at the begining of an LP. The song is particularly acid in its humour, that touch given by John Lennon after hearing George's first version. The chorus is quite similar to the Batman series theme, and in fact I am quite surprised that there wasn't any copyright trouble with that, guess that the show's "Batman" (for Taxman in the song) did not reach the 2 bars required to represent plagiarism. The Mr Wilson and Mr Heath to which George refers in the song (John's idea, though) were Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, Prime Minister and leader of the opossition in England at the time.

Eleanor Rigby

McCartney
Paul:Lead Vocal and harmonies
Tony Gilbert, Sidney Sax, John Sharpe, Jurgen Hess:Violins
Stephen Shingles, John Underwood:Violas
Derek Simpson, Norman Jones:Cellos

Once again the musical talents of James Paul McCartney and George Martin got together for a masterpiece. In fact Paul's contribution to Revolver is nothing but outstanding. With Eleanor Rigby he achieved a great melody and later thought he could give George Martin the job of handling a string score for the song. No drums, no rythm track, just strings and voices. And Martin created a magnificent score for a double string quartet (4 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos) The score can now be heard without voices in the Anthology 2 and its full beauty can be appreciated. The microphones were placed specially close to the instruments to achieve a different, fuller sound. After that, it was only left for Paul to add the wonderful harmonies.

The other side to the story of Eleanor Rigby is precisely Eleanor herself. When Paul first thought of the song, the name chosen for the main character was Miss Daisy Hawkins. Later on, and according to Bob Dylan, in a demo of the song Paul was singing Ola Na Tungee. He finally came up with Eleanor Rigby, and everyone thought, including Paul, that he had made it up, maybe recalling actress Eleanor Bron who played one of the main roles in Help! Last decade a grave of an Eleanor Rigby in the cementery of St Peter's parish Church in Woolton was discovered, a place where Paul had been several times in his youth. Maybe he subcounciouslly recalled a name he had read on a gravestone. Paul also thought of "Father McCartney" at first, but thinking that people would think of his own dad, changed it to Father McKenzie.

I'm Only Sleeping

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

I'm only sleeping is on of the songs that allow us to meet the real John Lennon. Many of his biographers agree that he loved to stay in bed for hours. And precisely that was what John was talking about in the song. Of course like many other times in Beatles career, the song was given a hidden meaning-drug taking sense. The fact is that Lennon did in his life quite a lot of bed warming and he wasn't ashamed of telling us all in this excellent song. Of particular interest are the TWO backward guitars recorded by George Harrison, which added quite a lot of hassle to the recording.

Love You To

Working Title: Granny Smith
Harrison
Paul: Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal George:Acoustic and Fuzz Guitars, Sitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Tambourine
Anil Bhagwat:Tabla

The first Indian composition by George Harrison, is the rather enigmatic Love You To As usual with George's songs, the title wasn't clear to start with and the song was called Granny Smith after the famous apple variety. The song title doesn't actually appear in the song. The additions of tabla and sitar were done after a basic version with George's acoustic guitar was recorded. The first American version of the album mispelled it as "Love You Too"

Here There And Everywhere

McCartney
John:Backing Vocal
Paul:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

When Paul McCartney first heard "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys he was impressed, specially with "God Only Knows" (what a terrific song). The complex musical work behind some of the songs and the wonderful vocals made Paul realize the kind of things he could achieve. Here There and Everywhere is an all time favourite or everyone (Paul, John, us...) The song has beautiful backing harmonies by John and George, and that's one of the strong points of the song. Lewishon adequately points out however, that many times (and here in particular) the harmonies in Beatles songs were greatly helped by George Martin. Paul re-recorded the song for the Give My Regards to Broad Street album changing the intro line (To lead a better life, I need a love of my own.

Yellow Submarine

McCartney
John:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Paul:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums and Lead Vocal
Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Harrison, George Martin, Neill Aspinall, Geoff Emerick and The Beatles: Chorus
Session Musicians:Brass Band

Only The Beatles could make a song like Yellow Submarine and get away with it, not only as a catchy number, but a single and even a film! The truth is that Ringo didn't have his song yet, and the idea about a submarine song came to Paul's head late one night. He later recalled that a stuff like icing sugar he had seen in Greece, which used to be dropped in water, was called a submarine.

Donovan helped Paul with the line "Skies of Blue and Seas of Green..." and Lennon helped too. The song ended up in a crazy recording session where the effects were taped and everyone joined in the singalong chorus (even George Martin!)

Originally the song was introed by a speech by Ringo, as Lewishon points out and we hadn't been able to hear until the Real Love single came out.

Curious at the least is that the Spanish version of Yellow Submarine (Submarino Amarillo) by Los Mustang is the anthem of my hometown football (soccer) team Villarreal CF, because they play in yellow shirts. The Team is currently in second division of the Spanish League, yet another proof of the repercussion of The Beatles in modern society

She Said She Said

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar, Organ and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

The first time John and George deliberately took LSD, was at a party they threw in Los Angeles during the summer of '65. The first time they had taken the drug, the experience ended up in a car rally through the London night and didn't turn up to be a very fulfilling experience. This time, they were with actor Peter Fonda (Jane's brother) and being more experienced than the two Beatles in tripping out, he tried to be the guide. When George told Peter he was "dying", the actor answered that when he was 10 he had accidentally shot himself and his heart had stopped beating three times. "I know what is like to be dead" John answered "You're making me feel like I've never been borned. Who put all that shit in your head?" Although the first version of the song was quite aggresive, John finally softened it by saying "She" and changing some lines.

Good Day Sunshine

Working Title:A Good Day's Sunshine
McCartney
John:Piano and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums
George Martin:Honky Tonk Piano

Paul composed Good Day's Sunshine at John's house and admitted he had been influenced by the Lovin' Spoonful. He was quite proud of the result and in fact the song was featured in the "Give My Regards To Broad Street" album. The track is quite simple with just a piano, a bass guitar and drums (overdubbed by Ringo with some more stuff, basicly cymbals) and quite effective harmonies.

And your Bird Can Sing

Lennon
John:Rythm Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums and Tambourine

Although John Lennon seemed to dislike this song, y called it "a horror" and "a throwaway" the truth is that the song is quite catchy and far from bad. However, we must not forget that John used to hate songs just because the lyrics had no meaning or were dull, and the song was to fill the record. Specially interesting is the guitar riff all throughout the song with TWO guitars doubling each other and the high pitch harmonies by Paul and George. The stereo effect on the drums, specially during the chorus "...when your priced possesions..." are a sample of great producing by George Martin.

For No One

McCartney
Paul:Piano, Clavichord and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums, Cymbals and Maracas
Alan Civil:French Horn

One of Paul's best song by all means (and one of my favourites for that matter). The simplicity of the backing track, with just a piano, a harpsichord and drums, is beautifully complemented with the baroque French Horn solo in the middle eight. Climax comes when in the last verse, Paul's superb vocal mixes in with the French Horn. The song was written in a chalet at the Klosters ski resort, Switzerland.

Dr. Robert

Lennon
John:Harmonium and Lead Vocal
Paul:Piano, Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Maracas and Lead Guitar
Ringo:Drums

It seems quite certain that Dr. Robert existed. It also seems true that he had his practice in New York. According to Lewishon in 48th st, his real name was Charles Roberts (the same Charles Roberts lived in 49th st according to Harry). Turner on the other hand claims there never existed a Charles Roberts, it was Robert Freymann and his patients payed him visit on East 78th st. Whatever the truth is, Dr. Robert was a physician who leasuressly prescribing amphetamines and all kind of pills to celebrities and friends. John Lenonn was among them and decided to write this song.

I Want To Tell You

Working Titles:Laxton's Superb, I don't Know Harrison
John:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar, Piano and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums

Once again George didn't know how to call his new song. And so, when George Martin asked him what he was going to call it, he answered "I don't Know" John inmediately pointed out that it should be "Granny Smith part Friggin' Two". Geoff Emerick thought that "Laxton Superb" fitted perfectly then (it was another variety of apple) and wrote it down. Two days later, the song working title changed again to "I don't know", which was in fact how George had said it should be called. Not one of George's best songs, although as a Beatle fan you sure will enjoy it.

Got To Get You Into My Life

McCartney
John:Tambourine
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar
Ringo:Drums
George Martin:Organ
Eddy Thornton, Ian Hamer, Les Coslon:Trumpets
Alan Brascombe, Peter Coe:Tenor Sax

A magnificent song from Paul with a great brass section. Once again the instruments were miked very close and the signal was limited a lot to get a different feeling in the brass sound. The result was a song with reminiscences of the Motown sound

Tomorrow Never Knows

Lennon
Working Title:Mark I
John:Tambourine and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar
George:Lead Guitars
Ringo:Drums
George Martin: Piano

Also in Revolver (see Rubber Soul) the last song in the album was the first to be recorded. The story of Tomorrow Never Knows is a studio story all the way. The song words were taken out of the book "The Psychidelic Experience", a interpretation of "The Tibetan Book Of The Dead" by Timothy Leary. The song title was once again, a phrase by Ringo.

Several effects are sprinkled through the song giving it the totally psychidelic sound that was finally achieved. First of all, the hypnotic beat achieved by getting the microphone very close to the bass drum, and having Paul play the same note in his bass guitar. A single note was hit on a Hammond Organ throughout the song. Several guitars, one of them backwards, the other one through a Leslie Revolving speaker and the seagull-sounding guitar out of a tape loop (backwards distorted guitar). Another sound quite distinctive is the one achieved by saturating a magnetic tape. This was achieved by removing the erasing head in a tape recorder, thus sumperimposing once and again the recordings without erasing them. The result was a single sound.

Finally John's voice. Lennon, always being maniatic about his voice wouldn't make an exception here. In fact his demand was to sound like "the Dalai Lama singing from the highest mountain top" while "4000 monks chanted in the background". The final result was a heavy ADT'd voice at the beginning of the song, and later John's voice fed through a Leslie speaker (giving it the final swirling effect by continously rotating). A truly experimental work, although by no means unbearable.


©Copyright 1996-2000 Enrique Cabrera
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