Collection: 11. The Beatles - Revolver

Revolver was the sound of the Beatles fully embracing the recording studio as a sonic canvas, free to pursue musical ideas and possibilities that would reshape rock forever. It speaks volumes that the first song the band worked on upon entering Abbey Road studios in April 1966 would have been impossible to replicate live — a swirl of hazy guitar, backward tape loops, kaleidoscopic drum tumble, and John Lennon’s voice recorded to sound like “the Dalai Lama singing from the highest mountaintop.” They titled it “The Void” and later renamed it “Tomorrow Never Knows.” “I was wondering how George Martin would take it,” Paul McCartney later recalled. Martin’s response: “Jolly interesting.”

The Beatles’ lives were changing too: Lennon had taken LSD at this point, George Harrison was deepening his interest in Eastern mysticism, and McCartney was getting into avant-garde composition. All those influences came through here.

Revolver wasn’t totally without precedent. The Beatles’ previous album, Rubber Soul [see No. 35], had a similar experimental introspect. Harrison once said Rubber Soul and Revolver “could be volume one and volume two.” But no band, including the Beatles, had tried anything like McCartney’s strikingly mature art song “Eleanor Rigby,” Lennon’s trippy tape-loop swirl “I’m Only Sleeping,” or Harrison’s “Taxman,” with its cutting groove and lyrics that took shots at British politicians.

It made sense that the disappointing live shows the band played in the summer of 1966 would be their last. By the time Revolver came out, they’d already entered another world. -

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