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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

REVOLVER - side two

Good Day Sunshine - A song of unbridled joy by McCartney opens this side.  It comes as something of a relief after the angst of She Said She Said.  A pulsing piano and bass start off as if in anticipation of a sunrise until the drums join in and a glowing chorus sung by Paul, John and George bursts forth.  Other than Paul's bass, no guitars are used on the recording.  Piano is the dominant instrument here, with George Martin playing one of his signature solos.  In his book Tell Me Why, Tim Riley points out that the end of the song features one of the only instances of a modulation in the group's catalog.

And Your Bird Can Sing - Lennon was never proud of this composition, considering it a throwaway, but it features some incredible guitar work by George, John and Paul on bass.  Like If I Needed Someone, it pays homage to the sound of the Byrds, but is much more intricate than George's effort.  An earlier take on Anthology 2 is even more Byrds-like, plus it has John and Paul giggling hysterically as they attempt to overdub additional vocals.

For No One - A haunting ballad by McCartney, another uncharacteristic piece for him and all the more impressive for that reason.  Paul on piano and bass and Ringo on drums are the only members of the band playing.  At Paul's request, George Martin brought in a French horn player named Alan Civil (credited in the liner notes) to play a beautiful solo of his own devising.

Doctor Robert - A most peculiar composition by Lennon about an actual New York doctor who dispensed vitamin shots laced with speed and LSD to Andy Warhol's circle and other beautiful people.  As with most of John's songs on the album, it is guitar-driven, although John does play the harmonium for the choir-like bridge.  The recording has a curious ending, as it begins to fade out, yet we hear it come to a complete stop.

I Want To Tell You - Harrison's third composition on the album sets a career high for the junior songwriter of the group.  The song begins with a fade-in, like Eight Days a Week.  The lyrics are about miscommunication, and to illustrate this musically, there is a good deal of dissonance provided by Paul, either in his vocal harmony or on piano.  George revived this tune many years later for a tour of Japan with Eric Clapton.

Got To Get You into My Life - This McCartney tribute to Tamla Motown is unlike anything else the Beatles ever released.  For the first time, they ask George Martin to add a horn section to one of their recordings.  Bass and drums propel the entire track forward as Paul delivers an inspired vocal performance.  When a guitar finally enters near the end of the song (and some accounts have Paul playing this instead of George), it is a glorious moment.  For the fadeout, the horns are allowed to cut loose alongside Paul's vocal gymnastics.  The early version of the song on Anthology 2 is a rhythm track barely hinting at the transformation this tune would undergo and featuring backing vocals from John and George which were eventually cut.

Tomorrow Never Knows - This apocalyptic piece by Lennon is also unique in the group's catalog.  John deliberately chose another Ringoism as a title to undercut the self-important nature of the lyrics.  A droning sitar fades in and is quickly joined by Ringo's lopsided drum pattern and a single note plucked continuously by Paul on his bass.  Tape loops of various sounds created by all four Beatles swirl in and out of the entire song, mixed live by engineer Geoff Emerick at a playback session.  A backwards guitar appears during the instrumental break - supposedly Paul's Taxman solo cut up into segments.  Most amazing of all is John's voice delivering lyrics based on Timothy Leary's version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, especially after the instrumental break when Geoff Emerick put the vocal through a rotating Leslie speaker to create a swirling effect.  

Anthology 2 gives us take one of the song, which had a completely different background - a repetitive wash of sound with a more straightforward drum pattern by Ringo.

The album was released in early August of 1966.  The US version omits And Your Bird Can Sing and Doctor Robert.  These two songs plus I'm Only Sleeping from side one had already been released in the US on the compilation "Yesterday"...and Today in June.  Once again, limiting Lennon's presence on side two gives a very different feel to the US album, but this time, Capitol cannot be held to blame.  When the American label requested three songs for their compilation, Martin had numbers from McCartney and Harrison to choose from, as well, but for some reason, the three selected were all by Lennon.

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