"Revolver" On Target Or A Misfire?
Klaus Voormann's cover alerts fans that Rubber Soul's bucolic country acoustic phase was over, replaced by a harder, electric edge and if the boys didn't exactly wear their dark shades comfortably on the back cover they surely did in the grooves.
The record begins surprisingly with a countdown and a cough and then ramps into George's complaint about the British tax system that's saved from its inherent negativity by Paul's great bass line, crunchy guitar parts and even a well placed cowbell. There's no let up.
Just as you catch your breath it's on to the black and white windy bluff string quartet desolation of "Eleanor Rigby."
Sadly, Americans were deprived of the hazy psychedelic allure of the Lennon dominated "I'm Only Sleeping" with its backwards loops that hinted at what was to come. What kind of chump would deprive us of that? Must have been Bill Miller who took credit on the American jacket for preparing the record for release in the U.S.A. I would have left my name off had I done that but maybe Bill needed to curry favor with his kids.
George follows with his first overtly Indian composition that combines another complaint about people who will "screw you in the ground" with the good advice to "make love all day long" because life is short and you don't get another one.
The gentle ballad "Here There And Everywhere" was one of those songs you could play for "adults" and say "See? These guys are really good!" And when they still said The Beatles were nonsense as they often did, you knew that person was just an a-hole.
The first time I heard "Yellow Submarine" I almost cried. We were growing up to The Beatles, progressing and exploring along with them and here they were taking us back to childhood! Lennon's background repeating of what Ringo was singing was so damn charming.
The psychedelic side ender "She Said" was almost too much creativity for one young brain to absorb. "I know what it's like to be dead"?
If you're of a certain age, and I mean in college and having all of your post adolescent assumptions shattered, you remember the first time you heard this side and how you felt when it ended: you were left reeling. How could so much "new" be packed into one LP side?
Then you turned it over figuring your heroes couldn't top themselves but they did!
McCartney starts with one of his good-timey "grandma" songs as Lennon referred to them but the arrangement manages to make it end on a psychedelic high.
Mr. Miller deprived Americans of the liberating "And Your Bird Can Sing" with its baroque guitar line and some of Ringo's most deft cymbal work. Hardly a throwaway.
"For No One" is sort of the flip-side of "Eleanor Rigby" with its unusual time signature, delicately drawn horn part and melancholic desolation.
Again Mr. Miller deprived Americans of "Dr. Robert." Maybe it was the socialized medicine angle that made him cut it.
Then comes "I Want to Tell You" one of George's best songs, followed by Paul's pro-marijuana soul song "Got To Get You Into My LIfe" ("I took a ride I didn't know what I would find there") and finally the jarring, startling, life-changing, psychedelic masterpiece, Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows," where all kinds of studio hell breaks loose spurred on by one of Ringo's best drum parts.
There's flanging backwards loops, the vocals put through a rotating Leslie Hammond organ head, vocal double tracking and more.
Okay, it's official! I've talked myself into it: Revolver is the best album by The Beatles! And so far, this is the best remaster in the box, though obviously I'm far from finished listening.
As on the others the bass line is far more predominant than on the original UK pressing. More bass that's very well-textured just as it was on the CD reissue. It does stick out somewhat, especially on a full-range system. I recall writing that about the box too.
If you have an original U.K. issue you'll hear the reissue's diminution of transparency and three-dimensionality—just compare the strings on "Eleanor Rigby," but it's also apparent that the reissue's EQ is warmer and more inviting overall despite the last bit of hardness on top that produces a flat perspective unlike the original's more even balance and overall cohesiveness.
Listening to "I'm Only Sleeping" the "woo woo's" sound real as if you can imagine the guys standing before the microphones delivering them. They appear in a different space. On the reissue they are flattened into the flat mix and lose impact.
On the other hand the original has a certain metallic cast on top that the reissue removes, along with space and transparency. After enjoying the reissue's version of "Love You Too" for what it is, I played the original and George's sitar is so much more multi-layered and multi-textured on the original. Too bad.
. I could point out a hundred ways in which the original reveals so much more genuine detail and musicality from Ringo's tom fills on "Hear There And Everywhere" to...well why go on? On the other hand, listen to Ringo's cymbal work on "And Your Bird Can Sing" and it's very well-textured on the reissue and probably a bit cleaner.
So far I'd say Revolver is the best reissue in the box. There's justification for the EQ and it makes for pleasant listening.
Just don't expect the surf in "Yellow Submarine" to appear well in front in the mix or the horns to pop even further forward and don't expect the feeling of being 'aboard' the sub that you feel on the original to translate to the reissue. The reissue sounds like a good recording and mix. The original creates magic.
Or am I just being childish? Given how this was produced for reissue I have to say it's on target.