During a recent refurbishment of a room in my house I came across my record player, which had been resting unloved with junk in a cupboard. Left alone in the house, with only tidying or decorating to do, I naturally ignored both of these tasks, promptly set up the turntable and spent the afternoon listening to my old Beatles albums.
Despite being the first band I really got into (or the first band respectable enough to tell you about), I don’t really listen to them very much anymore, since I never saw the point in replacing my vinyl with CDs and The Beatles aren’t on Spotify. So I was listening to them with slightly fresher ears and, lounging on the sofa, my mind floated back to when I first heard the albums.
Though not my favourite Beatles album, most fresh in my mind was Revolver*. I first got into the Beatles around as a child through the red and blue compilation albums my parents had lying around. My brother and I had listened to them when my parents were out with the intention of having a laugh at this old fashioned music, only to find out that they were actually rather good. Not quite old enough to be out buying albums, I managed to borrow Rubber Soul and Revolver from a friend of my brother who was one of the few people I could find with actual Beatles albums. This rather shows my age, given that today any tech savvy child could have downloaded their entire back catalogue in five minutes.
Perhaps Revolver sticks in my mind because everything about it seemed exotic at the time, from the crazy Klaus Voorman collage cover, (which only really looks its best on 12 inch vinyl cover) to the seemingly outlandish production and the weird Eastern music. If Revolver is remembered by music critics as a ground breaking album whose innovations have been heard in rock music ever since, then for me probably what stood out most to my musically naïve ears were the things less heard outside of the sixties. I’m thinking backwards guitars, tape loops, Indian music on a rock record, un-subtle use of stereo etc.
And obviously what leapt to the front was the fact that from start to finish the songs are just so good, perfectly arranged performed and produced. Mind, it took a while to like Love You To (that weird Indian one I mentioned), which I used to dislike to the extent that I would risk scratching my record by lifting the needle off the record and dropping it onto the next track potentially ruining the gorgeous intro of Here, There and Everywhere. Still I like it now, showing that one of the other joys of vinyl is that since it is a pain in the backside to skip tracks you end up listening to everything giving the ‘growers’ on an album the chance to get into your head.
So, though not necessarily the best tracks on the album, most prominent to me was I’m Only Sleeping which captured perfectly that dreamy, hazy half-awake feeling I spend much of my time in. And after the irksome Yellow Submarine, She Said, She Said with its blistering intro riff, clattering drums, frantic fingerpicking, time changes and cryptic lyrics was a breath of fresh air. Got To Get You Into My Life stood out on side 2 with its driving rhythm and horns, reminiscent of the Motown sound I was yet to discover, and of course Tomorrow Never Knows was like nothing I had ever heard.
There are several billion people who could give a better review of the album Revolver than me, no doubt including some who have never heard it. So please treat this instead as nothing more than unreliable memories of a man, feet up on the sofa who should really be doing something more productive with his time.
*Today’s order of preference; tomorrow I may have changed my mind. Let us know your own favourite in the poll below; leave a comment and let us know why, if you like!
1.The Beatles (White Album), 2. Rubber Soul, 3. Revolver, 4. Sgt. Pepper, 5. Abbey Road, 6. A Hard Day’s Night, 7. With The Beatles, 8. Please, Please Me, 9. Help!, 10. Let It Be, 11. Beatles For Sale