This month’s Throwback Thursday is based on the 1960’s – The decade that changed everything.
For the first Throwback Thursday of January, we are going to the 1960’s, and who else but The Beatles. We couldn’t do the 60’s without mentioning one of the greatest bands to ever grace a stage, and a recording studio.
This week we focus on their 1966 album, ‘Revolver’. From great music, to groundbreaking recording techniques, and what is possibly the best artwork in the world, this album leaves very little out, and is arguably their finest hour.
Revolver was the final album that The Beatles made before retiring from their performing duties, and it was the album where ‘The Quiet One’ came out of the shadow that Lennon and McCartney had created. Harrison penned 3 songs on the album, ‘Taxman’, which Harrison used to have a bit of a pop at parliament, and their many taxation’s. ‘Love You To’, which was Harrison’s second Indian influenced track, and ‘I Want To Tell You’, which was an LSD fuelled masterpiece. ‘Revolver’ was the first time that Harrison had more than two songs on an album, and the only time he had more was one their 1968 album ‘The Beatles (The White Album)’, on which Harrison penned 4 songs.
Revolver not only featured the three Harrison masterpieces that have been mentioned, but also featured, in my opinion, some of the finest Lennon-McCartney compositions that were ever released. From the cheery ‘Good Day Sunshine’, to the slightly dark ‘Eleanor Rigby’, this album really showed the true talent of the best song writing duo in history. The album also showed how LSD and other hallucinogenics could change how they wrote, and even change how they acted, as this album nearly killed Lennon during the recording of the background vocals for ‘Yellow Submarine’, when he placed a live , 240 volt microphone in a bottle of water, to try and achieve an ‘under-water sound’, Lennon’s life was saved by Mal Evans (Beatles road manager), who placed the microphone in a condom, to prevent the electrocution of Lennon. We can only assume that Lennon was unaware of the dangers due to his strong experimentation with acid at the time of recording.
Not only did this album show off the true talent of each Beatle, it also really showed off how great George Martin (the 5th Beatles) was at composing and recording. His wonderful composition is shown in ‘Eleanor Rigby’, as he arranged the score for the strings that feature on the track, where his mind-blowing recording technique was shining throughout the album. One song in particular where Martin’s sheer talent behind a recording desk shone through is ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, where he manipulated a guitar so that it imitated a seagull, and he deadened the drums by moving the mic closer to the drum, and inserting a picture into the gap that was left. He also fed vocals through a rotating speaker. I feel Martin really captured the essence of this song, because it was a weird and wacky drug fuelled masterpiece lyrically, and then the feeling of hallucination was created by these different techniques, which George Martin became known for, and had done before.
Finally, there is the intricate, and beautiful, hand-drawn masterpiece that became the album artwork. Drawn by Klaus Voormann, a friend whom the Beatles met in Hamburg before fame took over their lives. The line drawing mixed with the photographs adds a contrast of realism. This artwork is probably Voormann’s most famous work, despite that he has also drawn albums up for many other bands, including, The Bee Gees, Harry Nilsson, and he was also a member of John Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’, in which he played bass.
This album leaves very little out. Musically, it’s outstanding. Technically, it’s groundbreaking. Artistically, it’s amazing. From love songs, to songs about acid trips, to attacks on a Labour Government, this album has everything and more, and was the perfect fit between ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.