18. The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
As a young buck of about fourteen, fifteen years old. I hated Manchester United. They were by a street the best team in the country yet I just wouldn’t accept it, I was utterly convinced in my own mind that they were completely overrated, fluky and undisciplined. And similarly, as a young punk fan at the idiotically naive age of eighteen, I took no notice of The Beatles. The line I always used to come out with was, “If they hadn’t have done it, someone else would.” I didn’t dislike them, I just hated the general consensus that they were the greatest thing since processed loaves. Surely the rawness and attitude of Iggy, Sid, and Joe was better than the pretty melodies of John and Paul? Fast forward to my early twenties, when I grew a brain, I obviously accepted that Eric Cantona was a genius, in both box office and professional terms, and also that every single note of music played since 1966 can be traced back, in some way, to Revolver.
Revolver is one of those rare albums, like Screamadelica and London Calling, in that it is definitive of a time and place yet has not dated at all. Liberated by the retirement from live performances, The Beatles became the first band to really use the studio to great effect. And LSD to great effect. And cannabis to great effect. And whatever the fuck else was available down Carnaby Street in 66 to great effect…
You’ve got songs on here that people still haven’t replicated. They pretty much invented dance music with Tomorrow Never Knows, post-punk before punk with Taxman, and in And Your Bird Can SIng, one of the greatest guitar songs ever, yet one that is never mentioned alongside the likes of Layla and Whole Lotta Love.
She Said She Said is probably the best song on the album, and it is Lennon’s, but McCartney is playing an absolute blinder all the way through. He is a phenomenal bass player, and it could be argued that his single greatest contribution to the medium of pop music was the idea that bass could be used as a melodic engine, listen to Doctor Robert on a decent stereo and you can understand how much Mani and Andy Rourke, to name but two, owe to him. He was also majorly responsible for Eleanor Rigby, Here There and Everywhere and For No One. Only one song on the album goes over three minutes, and that’s only by a second. This is what pop music used to be. Tunes, tunes, tunes.
Yes, it’s weird, even now. I’m Only Sleeping sounds literally like a song that has been written in his sleep and the afore-mentioned Tomorrow Never Knows must have sounded like a communiqué from another planet in 1966, and the world only caught up with it when The Chemical Brothers sampled it in 1997. “Listen to the colour of your dreams.” They say drugs were involved…
Best Tracks: Here, There and Everywhere, She Said She Said, For No One
Best Moment: Ringo’s brilliant shuffles on She Said She Said. People who say Ringo was a crap drummer are the same as people who say Bob Dylan was a crap singer. They’re imbeciles.
Like this? Try: Fifth Dimension by The Byrds, 1966