Saturday, November 17, 2012

#119: The Beatles - Revolver (1966)

If I had to choose a favorite Beatles album, this would be it. It's impossible for me to be impartial because I know this album better than most, and it's an absolute pleasure every time I listen. I think when non-Beatles fans think of the Beatles they think of, "Love Me Do", "Yellow Submarine", "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", but songs like that aren't the reason why the Beatles are so highly regarded. It's the depth of their work. Look no further than the opening track, Taxman, it's not a big hit by any means for the Beatles but for anyone else it could have been their one big song.

Eleanor Rigby
I don't know how better else to phrase it, it's the depth of the record that makes it so amazing. Having such variance from track to track, keeping the listener engaged, and not reusing themes and ideas but somehow finding a way to tie everything together. We go from a rock song about the Taxman wanting all your money to a song featuring only strings and vocals about no one showing up to Eleanor's funeral. The string arrangement is the phenomenal of phenomenals. I realize that I sometimes use big language and shower things with praise (sometimes I go overboard) to make a point, but the only danger in doing this that some words lose their meaning. This track is phenomenal. Looking backwards, no one had written music similar to this, but it still works, it still fits. That's what makes this one of the greatest albums of all time, it pushes boundaries in an acceptable way to the listener where you wonder why it hadn't been done before.

And Your Bird Can Sing
Musically it's deep, lyrically it's deep, but the harmonies are just so good. It's amazing how well it holds up all these years later. Then again, if someone put this exact album out today with more modern recording techniques - I'd be just as floored. It has nothing to do with it's place in history and everything to do with it being song of the best song writing of all time. The details are what makes it so incredible, the bass isn't a prevalent part and yet I could spend an afternoon figuring it all out and exactly how it all fits together.

For No One
I think it's one of the best songs ever written, lyrically it's one of Paul's best. He has the most incredible way of telling stories that you've heard before, yet it's never been said quite like this. The instrumentation isn't necessarily "normal" for this sort of song (especially with the horn part) it's like the song wouldn't have worked and would have never happened unless it happened exactly like this.

All in all, it's about as close to perfect as you can get. I don't find the recording quality to be a detriment, nor do I find it endearing either. I don't notice it when I listen, partially because the bass is more upfront and fuller than some of their earlier records. Throughout these reviews, I feel like I'm a broken record. I'm asking for a bunch of different things in order for it to be considered timeless. This album delivers. Each track is it's own complete entity and has it's own unique identity, however, they work perfectly together as a whole.

Tomorrow's album: Howie Day's Stop All the World Now.

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