Baby, Emerick Man
September 14, 2006 2:07 AM   Subscribe

A good book is always a joy, and a good, free online book about The Beatles' Revolver album (PDF) is a real treat for fans of the Moptops at thier most transitional. Paul Ingles has a bunch of audio interviews to peruse. Somehow, everything was just right.
posted by maryh (4 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post, maryh. I like reading about the Beatles when it's meat-and-potatos stuff like how tracks were recorded, what they were thinking at the time, what George Martin contributed, etc. Good show!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:18 AM on September 14, 2006

I look forward to reading this, even though I disagree with the author's contention that Revolver is one of the greatest albums of all time. In fact, Revolver was the beginning of the Beatles big downward slide. There are wonderful songs on Revolver, but there are the Beatles' first real original-song dogs (as opposed to cover dogs, like "Mr. Moonlight).

"Got to Get You into My Life," is only half or three quarters of a completed song. McCartney (as can be heard on the anthology takes) never figured out how to get out of the second part of the verse. He thinks that the horn part completes the melodic line begun with the shout "got to get you into my life," but it doesn't. The song dies right there. The tinny, horrid horn sound makes this a promising, but ultimately failed song.

"Eleanor Rigby" is as dreary as its subject matter and the string arrangement a plodding failure, especially in comparison to "Yesterday" (listen to the way the string part pounds away at one note in the beginning of the verse). The song is a way overdone "look at all those sad little people who aren't lucky enough to be stars like me" song, and a foretaste of Bruce Springsteen's career-long essays in the American vein of "little people" genre.

"I'm Only Sleeping" is another John Lennon's numbing explorations of self-obliteration, carried on with even greater tediousness in "I'm So Tired," and acted out in his idiotic bed-ins with Yoko Ono, and later house-bound heroin addiction. It's real fun to listen to a man shutting his own brain down.

"I Want to Tell You," has one trick: its dissonant chord. The chord, and the song, do nothing but annoy.

Then there's "Tomorrow Never Knows," which continues to be praised for the whooping noise that goes on behind its ugly, draggy rhythm and melody -- as if it were a great accomplishment to have come up with a new way of irritating the listener.

"Taxman" and "Dr. Roberts" are rightly praised for the mighty and rarely equaled rhythmic excellence and harmonic and melodic originality. Both are triumphs for George Martin.

The slow songs "Here, There and Everywhere" and "For No One" are superb. The melodic structure of "For No One" is far more startling, innovative and unprecedented than the simplistic dirge of "Tomorrow Never Knows," yet "Tomorrow" is somehow considered the more "progressive" song. "Here, There and Everywhere" suffers from mooshy harmonies and production, alas.

"Yellow Submarine" is wonderful, of course.

"Good Day Sunshine" is mediocre, and -- like "Got to Get You Into My Life," strangely incomplete and unsatisfying. The repeated "good day sunshine" chorus does not really relate to the verse. It just hangs out there, relating to nothing before or after it. The weakness may be in the verse, which doesn't really set up a melodic problem for the chorus to solve -- and yet, a chorus seems called for.

The weakness of "Revolver" probably comes from the fact the Beatles were really getting into drugs around this time. We all were. The idea became not so much to produce good songs, but to produce trippy songs, songs that got away with something, songs with a "secret" message.

The ratio of dogs to good songs kept favoring the dogs after "Revolver." The masterpieces kept on coming ("Strawberry Fields," "Penny Lane," "Rich Man," "Hello-Goodbye," "A Day in the Life"), but spark was dying -- finally being extinguished altogether in "The White Album," which contained only one good song.

"Abbey Road" was a reanimated corpse, and while it is suffused with genius, the whole is ghastly and lifeless and a trial to listen to.

People who think "Revolver" was the Beatles best album are the same people who think "Pet Sounds" was the Beach Boys best album (it isn't -- "Beach Boys Today" is where the innovations heard in "Pet Sounds" began, and where the songs themselves are ten times as good).

The best Beatles album would hard to pin down, as their earliest, and best work was mixed up among various LPs, EPs and singles between British and U.S. releases. But the American "Meet the Beatles" would probably be it.
posted by Faze at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2006 [2 favorites]

And here are some video interviews with Geoff Emerick, filmed right after his book came out (some decent stories):
The Personalities
Recording the Beatles
The Beatles Break Up
posted by jimmymcvee at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2006

thankfully we have faze to tell us what to like.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:06 PM on September 14, 2006


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