This is a running series here “Rolling Stone Magazine likes to make lists, everybody these days likes to make lists. I suppose we could blame the Billboard charts or David Letterman, but it’s probably just a reaction to the public outcry to rank what we love and hate. My friend Brian is overly obsessed with the R.S. mag and their opinions about music in general. I have found in organizing their lists and going through them that there is quite a lot of musical history lessons involved – whether or not one agrees with their overall assessments. (Can anyone seriously agree with their numerical evaluations?) “I like Byron, I give him a 42 but I can’t dance to it!” – comes to mind. So, whether R.S. Mag’s opinions actually represent those of the world at large or even the U.S. collective – I don’t think they do, but that’s not really the point. I think it might be fun to go through the albums on The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time one at a time and give my own personal opinions – cuz that’s what I do.
Revolver was released in 1966 and is the seventh album by the Beatles. Wikipedia (which never lies and should be trusted implicitly,) says “The album is often regarded as the greatest achievement in rock music.” VH1 named it the number 1 greatest album of all time. I personally have always felt this the Side B to “Rubber Soul”‘s Side A. I was astonished to hear this said almost exactly word for word in the new mini documentary that was included with the new remastered versions by one of the Fab Four. These are really similar albums, really inseparable, if you like the one you’ll like the other. These were really the “break-out” albums by the lads from Liverpool, not in the charting success way that we think about, but in the innovative way that they changed the face of music forever – cliche’s aside, that’s what these two albums did. “Rubber Soul” (#5 in this list) came out in December of the previous year and this album came out August 5th. That’s pretty fast – these days when an artist puts out an album every year (not counting Ryan Adams) it’s faster than most. This particular album of the Beatles is to me the most even, there are fewer tracks that get skipped if I put this album on than any of their others, even the Ringo track is a real keeper, spawning a life of its own (Yellow Submarine.) These two albums are also the first that I put consistently into my iTunes mixes. There are a couple of earlier songs that I still really enjoy, but prior to “Rubber Soul” there is more pop and less rock, more boy-band cuteness and a bit too much repetition. Though they recorded this album prior to their final concert tour, they didn’t play any of the songs from it. The songs were beginning to be a bit more complicated bits of music – what with their looping and progressively more difficult instrumentation (including the backwards riffs of “I’m Only Sleeping”.) One of the reasons they were able to start innovating as much with this album was the invention of the multi-tracking capabilities (so they didn’t have to sing backing over and over.) This is a great album to introduce someone unfamiliar with the entire Beatles catalog as it is pretty much right in the middle, or rather it still holds true to the radio pop that they were so good at producing while introducing the psychedelic tinged sounds (began with “Rubber Soul,”) that would begin to more fully permeate their following albums. Everyone knows ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Yellow Submarine’ and probably ‘Taxman’. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ has always spoken to me and I’ve found the instrumentation in the new Remastered version to be much improved, the other stand-out Lennon vocal here is ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, though a bit trippy, that’s what makes it fun. The two stand-out McCartney tracks here (other than the obvious “Rigby”) are the lilting ‘Here, There And Everywhere’, but more especially ‘For No One’ which might possibly be my favorite track here. I find the ones the radio killed fall lower on the list of songs to which I continue to come back.