Guest Blogger Rosanna Luke: The Beatles – Revolver

30 Jun

Our first return guest (but only because Pat Higgins blew a deadline . . .)

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From the unconventional opening count (a “one-two-three-four” quite unlike anything you’ve heard) and asthmatic cough of “Taxman”, right through to the closing churning tape loops and backwards drum track of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, on its 1966 release this album was The-Beatles-As-You’ve-Never-Seen-Them-Before, but yet it perfectly bridged the folky Dylan-influenced Rubber Soul of the previous year and the full-blown concept album of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

From the mash-up collage cover to the music, it was early British psychedelia at its gloriously swirling, unselfconscious best.

On first listening after a gap of ten or so years, the album seems almost derivative – a trait that it shares with the equally brilliant and weird The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society.  But on second and subsequent listenings, unoriginal it certainly isn’t; instead Revolver is surely the album that launched a thousand Britpoppers.  (Yes, Gallagher brothers, I’m looking at you – and some of the basslines sound awfully familiar to any fans of The Jam).

As I alluded to in a previous blogpost, I was raised on a diet of the best of 1960s and 1970s music:  The Beatles were my first great musical love, and so there is a special place in my heart for almost all of their creative output – but Revolver is by far and away my favourite Beatles album.

It is quite simply perfect.

There is enough out and out John Lennon weirdness (the LSD-fuelled and Peter Fonda inspired “She Said She Said” and trippy Tibetan philosophy of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, with its unsettling, hypnotic rhythm and tambour drone) to give hints of his future experimental musical direction.

A couple of candy-sweet classics (such as the feather light “Here, There and Everywhere” and the altogether darker boy-loses-girl tale “For No One”) that hark back to the Beatles-as-boy-band era.

The otherwise almost throwaway “And Your Bird Can Sing” stands out quite starkly as one of the only examples of a genuine 50/50, Lennon/McCartney co-writing partnership on the album.

The sheer exploding joy of brassy, Motown number “Got to Get You Into My Life”.  The unsurpassable genius and gentle strings of “Eleanor Rigby”, which crams more humanity into a three-minute pop song than can be found in many three-act plays.  George Harrison’s increasing maturity as a songwriter with “I Want to Tell You” and “Taxman” and his brilliant demonstration of influence from all points East in the form of the shimmering tabla on “Love You Too.”

Even Ringo even gets a look-in with kids’ favourite “Yellow Submarine”, which was surely written for him and him alone but it’s this latter song that forms the only weak point of the album:  for me, overfamiliarity has turned it into a cliché.

George Martin, too, deserves credit for making production appear effortless on what could have been a mismatched, mixed bag of songs from a band who by 1966 were busy heading off in three different songwriting directions.  Revolver clearly marked the change in the Beatles’ journey from three minute pop songs and live performances to a more mature and yet experimental approach that would be seen again with the musical collage approaches on subsequent albums The Beatles (aka The White Album) and Abbey Road.

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Rosanna Luke is a Brighton-based writer, project manager, student and quilter, not necessarily in that order.  Her short stories have been published in printed magazines such as Scribble (where her World War 2 story “Shooting Apples” won first prize in the Winter 2012 edition), Debut and also online at Alfie Dog e-publishers and The Cynic Online Magazine.

Her story “The Reunion” was shortlisted in the Curry Mallett Festival short story prize.

Rosanna is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and hopes one day to finish writing the novel she’s been drafting for three years.

Rosanna has an eclectic and unfashionable taste in music, her particular favourite bands are 80s post-punkers Carter USM and veteran alternative rock band New Model Army.

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One Response to “Guest Blogger Rosanna Luke: The Beatles – Revolver”

  1. Murray B July 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM #

    Your favorite Beatles album? Mine too, absolutely.
    Nice write-up!

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