It’s 50 years old TODAY and I think it’s fair to say that over recent years and decades The Beatles‘ seventh studio album Revolver, with its monochrome Klaus Voorman designed cover, has overtaken the colourful and psychedelic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as the critics’, and perhaps the fans’, favourite Beatles album.
So let’s examine what is one of the best albums in the world and, for fun, SDE will go through the tracks on Revolver and rank them from best to worst…
1. I’m Only Sleeping
My favourite song the album, has that weirdness that distinguishes Revolver from Rubber Soul. Brilliant lyric, backwards guitar, some nice bits of Paul vocal harmony (“keeping an eye on the world GOING BY MY WINDOW”), those spaces where the bass goes “bom, bom, bom, bom” and the eastern influenced outro. Perfect.
2. Eleanor Rigby
Paul at his very best. Great lyric, great drama and great pathos. Structurally this song is brilliant. The ‘chorus’ is “all the lonely people…” but then there’s the refrain of “ahh, look at all the lonely people” at 1.19 which has a completely different melody and Paul later uses as a counter-melody at around 1.50. George Martin’s superb string arrangement keeps the pace up and the momentum driving forward. “Father McKenzie” was going to be Father McCartney, but Paul considered that a little too close to home. If you want ‘more’ of Eleanor Rigby then try (a-hem) Eleanor Rigby/Eleanor’s Dream from Paul’s 1984 soundtrack Give My Regards to Broadstreet. It extends the track to nine minutes and George Martin is at the helm again. Interesting if nothing else.
The first track on the album (not if you bought the cassette tape in the 1970s, that reordered the album and stared with Good Day Sunshine) and apparently the first Beatles lyric not concerned with that thing called lurrvve. For me this song, more than any other defines Revolver. That bass line, that guitar solo are both Paul, but the lyric is pithy George at his best. John said (rather grumpily) in an interview that he helped George a great deal with this track even though he wasn’t credited. At this stage I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth around that.
4. Here, There and Everywhere
Paul often cites this as his best, or one of his best, songs. Hard to argue with that. If anyone ever doubted his talent, the sheer craft and skill with melody and lyric is something to behold. Although I love the album version, I also rate the Anthology / Real Love CD single outtake/remix, which has a single tracked vocal and brings in the harmonies at the end.
5. Tomorrow Never Knows
This track still sounds unbelievable today, so I’d love to have been there when people first played this 50 years ago. A perfect album closer, and in terms of studio experimentation and the avant garde, surpassed anything Lennon did on Sgt. Pepper.
6. And Your Bird Can Sing
I must admit the ‘laughing’ outtake of And Your Bird Can Sing first heard at the end of one of The Beatles Anthology programmes in 1995 increased my love for this song. The – clearly high – fab four giggling away while trying to do vocal overdubs is infectious. I have no idea what John is singing about, but even if meaningless his lyrics were never not interesting.
7. For No One
Another classic in the vein of Eleanor Rigby. It’s the lyric that makes all the difference, mature, understated, moving. The french horn is perfect. John and George don’t play on this at all.
8. Doctor Robert
On the face of it a fairly lightweight number, but this song just sounds so damn good. The guitar and rhythm section is amazing and I defy anyone not to sing along to the great harmonies “he’s a MAN YOU MUST BELIEVE…”. Paul and John singing together is pure heaven, sometimes. Also, so many of John’s songs on the album had drug influenced lyrics, and I like the fact that his ‘social’ habits were informing his work!
9. She Said She Said
Bonus points straight off, for the way the title repeats “She Said”. I first listened to Revolver as a seven or eight year old child, casually playing my Dad’s mono original with wonderment. This song has some great hooks, especially the “and you’re making me feel like I’ve never been born line”. Great drumming from Ringo.
10. Love You To
Much better than Within You Without You from Pepper, it’s a testament to George’s Love You To that you almost forget about the Indian instrumentation as the spiritual lyrics and the melody pull you in.
11. Got to Get You into My Life
I’ve gone off this song over the years. It used to be a big favourite, and a great singalong, but these days I feel like it doesn’t really ‘fit’ on Revolver. This was issued as a single in 1976 to promote those Rock ‘n’ Roll albums, and was The Beatles’ last US top ten hit until Free As A Bird nearly 20 years later.
12. Yellow Submarine
Okay, so it’s a jokey children’s song written for Ringo, but as jokey children’s songs go, it’s a good ‘un! A Beatles classic and not the worst thing on the album (see below).
13. I Want To Tell You
Not bad I suppose, but the rather droney and moany I Want To Tell You doesn’t feel like much of a progression from some of George Harrison’s contributions to Rubber Soul, particularly If I Needed Someone, which I think is a much better song. The piano is quite annoying on this track, although the outro is satisfying.
14. Good Day Sunshine
The rather bassy piano accompaniment and the, frankly, boring lyric, combined with the ‘isn’t life great’ outlook make this McCartney song my least favourite track from Revolver.
Do you agree with this ranking? Leave a comment with your views!