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Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll Paperback – 1 Jun 2012
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About the Author
Pop culture historian Robert Rodriguez is an acknowledged expert on all things Beatle.
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The climate that Revolver was produced in is covered very well...the odd factual mistake....no analysis of a couple of important Stones' singles (maybe he ran out of time/space)
The meat of the book concerns how each track on revolver was achieved. To be honest, he could have told me that they prayed to the god of music & he delivered the completed album....I've no way of knowing if what he says is true &, although some of the detail made the eyes of this non-tecchie glaze over, the general sweep of how they developed new technology on the run is fascinating (for example, Paul's bass was so deep, it would have made the stylus on a record player jump the groove, so they had to find a way to record that). That is what hit when Revolver came out ( I remember it well)....the new sounds. The Moptops were gone for good . There was a depth to the music (literally) & the lyrics that was breathtaking....we'd been used to new stuff on every album, but this was a full frontal assault) & he's right to point this out (although George's self-indulgent lyrics on Taxman still make me cringe....saved only by Paul's guitar)
The last section deals with Revolver v Pepper & this is where I have my problems. I certainly don't dispute that lots of people prefer Revolver & see weaknesses in Pepper for very good reasons, but he becomes almost rabid here & resorts to what I consider unreasonable arguments I suspect this may be because the original part of his book is the collating of technical detail....the general arguments have been done before & it's been quite a while now since the critics' choice has moved from Pepper to Revolver. He belongs to the Revolution In The Head school where individual clings & clangs are analysed....a valid approach, but you lose something too if you don't take qualifying factors into account.
OK....so, first of all, Pepper doesn't confront themes like mortality & social isolation like Revolver does. True...but I don't really want another Revolver. It doesn't mean Pepper is any the less worthy....I love having Pepper AND Revolver. He concedes that A Day In The :Life casts a chilling pall across the frothier tracks...in some ways, I'd say that this is more effective than one serious track after another. (That's why I'm glad Strawberry Fields wasn't on Pepper)
Secondly, he says Revolver is the album where all Beatles work together (he says Pepper is more like a cooperative). Obviously, I wasn't in the studio, so I'll take his word on it. But, to be honest, that's not how it comes across. Three of Paul's tracks are more or less completely self-made (with Ringo drumming on two), whereas on Pepper, it's seems a pleasant return to John & Paul working together (She's Leaving Home & A Day In The Life)
Linked to this argument, he says that this was the album where John & Paul's influence was balanced. Really ? It's true that Paul's fingerprints are all over the SHAPING of Pepper but, track for track, Paul's are the most influential by a country mile. When it came out, we all wondered where John had gone to. It's not that John's tracks are bad, but they're badly matched (Come Together & I Want You on Abbey Road provide a better balance as do Happiness Is A Warm Gun & Sexy Sadie.....& Sexy Sadie is far superior to Dr Robert)
You, have to consider the question, anyhow......would these 2 factors necessarily mean a better album or just a more significant one in terms of the Beatles' story ?
He then resorts to desperate arguments. He says they released Pepper for commercial reasons (No...certainly wasn't commercial reasons, as always, they didn't want to repeat themselves) &, then, the ludicrous argument that people at the time were too stoned to see that Pepper wasn't very good (some of us weren't & even those who prefer Revolver wouldn't write Pepper off in this way). He finally defeats himself by saying that Revolver is better because it deals with more serious themes (listen to wife beating concealed behind the gloss of Getting Better) & then dismisses Pepper for being "too intellectual" (am I missing something here or do these 2 arguments not go together)
I get the impression that he has coupled a very good & thorough analysis of how Revolver was made with arguments from other people about Pepper that he has only half digested (for example, he says Pepper is dishonest but doesn't explain why or what this term means)
Someone should tell him that he doesn't make his case for Revolver any stronger by ranting on , almost incoherently at times, in his arguments about Pepper.
For all that, a very interesting read
First of all, the climate in which Revolver was made is covered very well (the odd factual error, a lack of appreciation for how a couple of Stones
The Fabs stepped into studio no 2 at abbey road to record this album, right up to Pepper he leaves no stone unturned looking at not only the songs,
what inspired them how they were recorded and gives us a glimpse of what was not just happening in the lives of John, Paul, George and Ringo but also what was happening in the wider world at the time and charts what contemporaries and peers of The Beatles were recording and releasing around this period. This includes Stars such as The Stones, The Who, Dylan and The Beach Boys to name but a few. Complete with some unbelievable illustrations and photos, this is an essential purchase for every Beatles fan, thought my knowledge of all things fab was quite good, but
I learned quite a bit about this incredible record and the band that made it from this book. Rodriguez has managed to tell a fascinating story of the biggest act of all-time in music and show business, written well and brought in under 270 pages. If he can write a book of this standard on Revolver,
what would he write if he were to spotlight albums like Rubber Soul, The White Album, Abbey Road or Let It Be?
The one annoying thing about this book however is Rodriguez quest to prove that Revolver is the better album than Sgt Pepper's... To me this is ridiculous, BOTH are great albums. Why Rodriguez is hell bent on having Revolver crowned the better album is beyond me, it serves no purpose. Song for song, Revolver is perhaps better BUT Sgt Pepper's is much more cohesive as a complete album with a consistent vibe across all the tracks. Also, Rodriguez tries to dismiss Sgt Pepper's cultural influence, that it was overblown and hasn't dated very well. I feel he is wrong here. Sgt Pepper's crystallizes perfectly a significant moment in 1960s culture and the rise of psychedelia, it carries with it a spirit that Revolver just doesn't. When viewed from this perspective, Revolver still resembles a 'beat' album, albeit very advanced (particularly when one takes into account Tomorrow Never Knows). Yes, Revolver still sounds rather contemporary with many UK indie bands aping the sound and look but I don't think that alone means it somehow trounces Sgt Pepper's; there are after all many successful psychedelic inspired bands out there too.
At the end of the day they are both great albums and should sit side by side in the Beatles canon as examples of their best work. With this book, and it is only at the end that he starts gunning for Sgt Pepper, you get the impression that Rodriguez wanted to have a slightly controversial edge to his book to help create some extra interest. He really didn't need to.
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Most recent customer reviews
Essy to read, with some nice pics.
Good value for what I've payed for it.
A bit slow starter, but otherwise okay.