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Album facts: Revolver

On August 5th 1966, The Beatles released Revolver in the UK; the band's seventh studio album. It was issued in the US three days later on August 8th. The American version had the same album cover but only included 11 tracks, and would mark the last time The Beatles' albums were altered by Capitol Records for the US market. 

At this stage in 1966 The Beatles were worn out from touring and wanted to spend more time in the studio, sculpting something unique. They had shed the mop top image of old and matured greatly as songwriters. George Harrison began to to blossom as songwriter and contributed three new compositions to Revolver: Taxman, Love You To and I Want to Tell You.

Originally The Beatles wanted to record Revolver in America, but EMI were unwilling to fit the bill. 

"We were going to record Revolver in America, but they wanted a fantastic amount of money to use the facilities there. We thought we'd forget it because they were obviously trying to take us for a ride because we were The Beatles." - Paul McCartney
Revolver album cover designed by long-time Beatle friend Klaus Voormaan, 1966. 

Revolver album cover designed by long-time Beatle friend Klaus Voormaan, 1966. 

Album cover

The iconic album cover was designed by The Beatles' longtime friend Klaus Voormann; a German artist and musician whom they met in their early Hamburg days. The cover is largely comprised of pencil drawings by Voormann blended with photographs by Robert Whitaker and Robert Freeman.

Thanks to Voormann The Beatles won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover in 1966.

"He did, and we were all very pleased with it. We liked the way there were little things coming out of people's ears, and how he'd collaged things on a small scale while the drawings were on a big scale. He also knew us well enough to capture us rather beautifully in the drawings. We were flattered." - Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

Recording

Compared to their first album Please Please Me, which took all of 11 hours to record, Revolver was recorded over the course of 300 hours between April 6th and June 21st of 1966, at Studio Three at EMI. On April 6th The Beatles started work on John Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows.

With the help of George Martin the band employed a number of cutting-edge recording techniques that would sew the seeds for future experimentation: including tape-loops, backwards-recording and ADT (artificial double-tracking); a technique invented by EMI engineer Ken Townsend. George Harrison continued his use of the sitar that began on Rubber Soul, while George Martin composed the iconic classical string octet for Eleanor Rigby. 

The sessions for Revolver also produced Paperback Writer and Rain, which were released as a single that year, along with promotional films The Beatles shot in London.

Buy Revolver on Amazon (US or UK)

Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

George Harrison at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

George Harrison at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

Chart success

Beginning on August 7th, Revolver spent 34 weeks on the UK Albums Chart; seven of which were at number one. In the US the american version of Revolver enjoyed six weeks at number one, on September 10th 1966.

Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

Paul McCartney at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

John Lennon at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

John Lennon at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

"We suddenly thought, 'Hey, what does a record do? It revolves. Great!'. You know - and so it was a Revolver." - Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison recording Revolver, 1966.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison recording Revolver, 1966.

"That's the first record with backwards music on it; before Hendrix, before The Who, before any fucker." - John Lennon
George Harrison at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

George Harrison at a Revolver recording session, 1966.

"Musically, I felt we were progressing in leaps and bounds. Some of the stuff on this and the Rubber Soul album was brilliant. There was nothing like it." - Ringo Starr
"Their ideas, now, were beginning to become much more potent in the studio, and they would start telling me what they wanted, and they would start pressing me for more ideas." - George Martin

Track listing

Side one 

1. Taxman

2. Eleanor Rigby

3. I'm Only Sleeping

4. Love You To/

5. Here, There And Everywhere

6. Yellow Submarine

7. She Said She Said

Side two

1. Good Day Sunshine

2. And Your Bird Can Sing

3. For No One

4. Doctor Robert

5. I Want To Tell You

6. Got To Get You Into My Life

7. Tomorrow Never Knows

Personnel

  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and backing vocals; rhythm and acoustic guitars; Hammond organ, harmonium; tape loops, sound effects; tambourine, handclaps, finger snaps
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and backing vocals; bass, acoustic and lead guitars; piano, clavichord; tape loops, sound effects; handclaps, finger snaps
  • George Harrison – lead, harmony and backing vocals; lead, acoustic, rhythm and bass guitars; sitar, tambura; tape loops, sound effects; maracas, tambourine, handclaps, finger snaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums; tambourine, maracas, cowbell, shaker, handclaps, finger snaps; tape loops; lead vocals on "Yellow Submarine"

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