50 years ago, the Beatles made the greatest rock album ever, Revolver, released on August 5th, 1966 – an album so far ahead of its time, the world is still catching up with it 50 years later. This is where the Beatles jumped into a whole new future – where they truly became the tomorrow that never knows.
7 awesome facts about the classic album
The Beatles’ Revolver celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – an album many consider not just to be the band’s greatest, but the greatest record ever made.Following on a mere six months from previous album Rubber Soul, Revolver saw the band move away from their beat-pop sound into a world of psychedelia, classical orchestration, tape loops and free-wheeling rock and roll.
1. The album artwork won Album Cover Of The Year at the 1966 Grammys
Created by German-born bass player and artist Klaus Voormann using personal photos supplied by the band – he subtly also works his own name into George Harrison’s hair.
The album’s title is said to refer to the revolving motion of a record as it is played on a turntable with previous title Abracadabra rejected after discovering it had already been used. Other suggestions included Magic Circles, Beatles on Safari and Pendulum.
2. Tomorrow Never Knows was originally called ‘Mark I’
Is there a more influential song than this? Debatable – but there’s simply no denying it’s a landmark in pop culture.Lennon’s lyrics were inspired by Timothy Leary’s book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead while the track features prominent drums and an array of processed vocals, sitars, reversed cymbals and a droning tanpura.The key five tape loops contain: a “laughing” voice (the ‘seagull’ sound), an orchestral drone, an electric guitar reversed and played at double-speed, a Mellotron and a sitar – again played backward and speeded up.The track has subsequently inspired whole movements of pop and dance culture – most notably with the Chemical Brothers insisting the song shaped their career; with chart-topping Setting Sun a direct tribute.
3. Only Paul and Ringo feature on For No One and it was written in a Swiss Alps ski resort bathroom.
Another indication that The Beatles were working less as a band, For No One features Ringo on percussion and Paul playing bass guitar, piano and clavichord.Alan Civil played the French horn solo. Recording engineer Geoff Emerick regarded Civil as the best horn player in London and the performance was deemed so good it pushed the instrument through barriers previously unexplored.Remarking about the lyrics, Paul said: “I suspect it was about another argument.” The song finishes with the line, “a love that should have lasted years.
4. The band wanted to record and take inspiration from Memphis’ Stax sound.
Brian Epstein attempted to book Stax’s studio in Memphis and later Motown in Detroit as The Beatles were so taken with their influential sounds.
However, plans were aborted after fans descended on the facilities – instead the McCartney penned Got To Get You Into My Life is an ode to the bold brassy soulful sound.
Five session players were brought in to produce the brass section and were paid £18 each.
Paul McCartney later said: the song was about marijuana, “I wrote it when I had first been introduced to pot – like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret.”
5. Revolver took 300 hours of studio time to create.
The recording of the album was extensive, roughly three times the amount of time for Rubber Soul – an astronomical amount for a record in 1966.
Sessions took place at the intimate studio three in Abbey Road and key to the recording was EMI engineer Ken Townsend’s pioneering work double-tracking production technique.
Townsend used two linked tape recorders to automatically create a doubled vocal track when the standard method had been to double the vocal by singing the same piece twice onto a multi track tape – something John Lennon particularly disliked.
ADT soon became a standard pop production technique. Also recorded during the Revolver sessions were Paperback Writer and classic B-side Rain.
6. She Said She Said was inspired by John Lennon’s adverse reaction to an LSD trip.
Manager Brian Epstein had rented a flat in the Beverly Hills mountains and while there singer Joan Baez, The Byrds, actor Peter Fonda and Playboy models joined them.
During one particular conversation Fonda relayed an anecdote about a self-inflicted gun shot wound saying, “I know what it’s like to be dead.”
Lennon, who was enjoying the effects of the acid, reportedly snapped back: “Listen mate, shut up about that stuff – you’re making me feel like I’ve never been born.” And so the song began to take shape.
7. Here, There and Everywhere is The Beatles’ response to The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows.
There was healthy competition between both bands who were reshaping pop music and McCartney, having attended a listening party for the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album was inspired to pen Here, There and Everywhere.
Paul lists it among his personal favourites ever written – a claim backed up by George Martin and Lennon. Art Garfunkel names it his favourite ever track.
In 2000, Mojo ranked it 4th in the magazine’s list of the greatest songs of all time.
Meanwhile, in TV series Friends the song is played on steel drums when Phoebe walks down the aisle during her wedding.
McCartney’s My Love was also used in a Friends wedding sequence when Chandler and Monica married.