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Monday, September 14, 2015

REVOLVER

On August 8th, 1966, only a month and a half after the arrival of the Capitol Records compilation album "Yesterday"...and Today, two new worldwide releases by the Beatles hit the stores in the USA.  First up was the group's second double A-sided single Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine.  It was the track sung by Ringo that proved more popular with American fans, though it stopped just short of topping the charts, peaking at number two.  The unusual thing about this single is that both sides appeared on the album released on the same day (this was also true of the UK versions issued on August 5th) - not the typical value-for-your-money attitude previously associated with the group's manager Brian Epstein, who made this decision.

Despite the redundancy of those two tracks, the album itself was a stunner, featuring the following line-up:

SIDE ONE

Taxman
Eleanor Rigby
Love You To
Here, There and Everywhere
Yellow Submarine
She Said She Said

SIDE TWO

Good Day Sunshine
For No One
I Want To Tell You
Got To Get You into My Life
Tomorrow Never Knows

This was the closest yet that Capitol had come to giving us an album that was akin to its UK counterpart.  (Vee Jay Records had come closest of all with its two versions of Introducing the Beatles.)  None of these tracks are leftovers from a past album - all are from the British version of Revolver and, for once, Capitol did not keep any in reserve for a future compilation.

The major difference was the lack of three tracks by Lennon which, as you may recall from my last entry, had premiered on "Yesterday"...and Today.  While those songs tilted that album heavily in Lennon's direction, their omission here shifted the emphasis strongly toward McCartney (heck, even Harrison has three tunes to Lennon's two).  And, though it is once again a pure coincidence, this happened just as McCartney was hitting his creative peak as a composer, making this release a career high point for the future Sir Paul.

Instead of the backwards guitars on the fade out of I'm Only Sleeping anticipating the sitar on Love You To, here we have the abrupt ending of Eleanor Rigby in front of Harrison's first Indian excursion.  McCartney's two piano-based numbers, Good Day Sunshine and For No One, have a different feel when separated by Lennon's guitar-driven And Your Bird Can Sing on the British album.  The UK release also features the fade out of Doctor Robert cleverly leading into the fade in of I Want To Tell You.  These variations demonstrate how a few seemingly minor adjustments can significantly alter the experience of listening to a sequence of songs.

Yet, for me, a huge fan of Mr. Lennon, his overall absence is not at all detrimental to the American record, in part because of the incredible strength of the album as a whole, and also due to the fact that each side ends with his songs, leaving his contributions etched in my mind.  Nevertheless, producer George Martin and the Beatles were tired of being frustrated by Capitol's liberty to tamper with the layout of their albums...but that was about to change.

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