All-Time Albums: #15



Taxman 2:39
Eleanor Rigby 2:07 (UK AA-sided single, #1)
3 I’m Only Sleeping 3:01
4 Love You To 3:01
5 Here, There And Everywhere 2:25
6 Yellow Submarine 2:40 (UK AA-sided single, #1)
7 She Said She Said 2:37
Good Day Sunshine 2:09
9 And Your Bird Can Sing 2:01
10 For No One 2:01
11 Doctor Robert 2:15
12 I Want To Tell You 2:29
13 Got To Get You Into My Life 2:30
14 Tomorrow Never Knows 2:57

If I had to pick a favourite Beatles album at gunpoint, I would definitely choose Revolver.

(I’ll get my coat).

No Top 100 would be complete, or credible, without something by the Fab Four. Although they’d broken up by the time I entered this world, my parents had Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper still around in the house during the early 70s; there’s a photo of me aged about 4 in our old living room, on a sunny Sunday morning, playing a plastic guitar next to my Dad with the Abbey Road LP sleeve clearly visible by the hi-fi.

I wasn’t really that into music until much later, and I officially discovered the Beatles for myself on a wet summer’s afternoon in 1985. With apparently nothing better to do, I had a rifle (sorry) through the record collection over in the corner, and plucked out the Beatles stuff. Which also included Revolver (we once had them all, so I’m told, but all the others were lost at parties when naughty “friends” never returned them…tsk).

I was drawn to Revolver because it had Eleanor Rigby on it, with those distinctive strings (inspired by Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene) and its overwhelmingly sad tone. It sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard, and still does. Remember this is 1985, before the whole Beatles nostalgia market had really taken hold of popular culture; it had been three years since a Beatles Love Songs compilation reached the Top 10, and a low-key reissue programme of all their original 7″ singles had only reached 1965’s efforts….none of them causing much fuss in the media.

My actual favourite that day was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the likes of She’s Leaving Home, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite and A Day In The Life. It was also the first of the Beatles CD reissues I bought in 1987, but overexposure in the years since and its tiresome installation as The Nation’s Favourite Album Ever have taken some of the appeal away for me. It’s still a great album, but probably behind Abbey Road, The White Album and ever Rubber Soul nowadays; the era I like most of all is in fact the one covered by the Magical Mystery Tour compilation – 1966 to 1967 – with the non-album singles and EP tracks such as Fool On The Hill, Your Mother Should Know, I Am The Walrus, Baby You’re A Rich Man, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields…but I digress.

Revolver was released at the end of 1966, the year they quit playing live and instead found solace in the endless possibilities of the recording studio. There was only the one – Double A-sided – single, Eleanor Rigby being incongruously paired with the childlike playfulness of Yellow Submarine. It was, of course, yet another UK #1, and several of the other songs would almost immediately turn up in versions by other, often quite famous, artists (this happened every time a new Beatles album hit the shops). Covers of Revolver tunes would continue to appear well into the 1990s, thanks to Suggs’ respectful trundle through I’m Only Sleeping.

Here There And Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine, Taxman, Got To Get You Into My Life, Tomorrow Never Knows; all classics, and all on the same album!

Its influence spead far and wide, from Phil Collins (who covered Tomorrow Never Knows in 1981), to Paul Weller (The Jam’s 1980 chart-topper Start! borrows heavily from Taxman), to The Blow Monkeys (Doctor Robert), to the unavoidable Oasis and any indie combo from the Eighties or Nineties who tried to evoke that jingle-jangle, Byrdsian guitar pop thrill – Northern accent and attitude included – of She Said She Said or And Your Bird Can Sing.

Just like many of the choices in this list, Revolver captures The Beatles in mid-stream, after they’d grown out of covering old rock and soul classics and found their own voice, but before the experimentation became too self-indulgent and before the Lennon/McCartney axis completely splintered into quite separate and often disparate parts.

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