Back in 1987, the late and dearly missed Tom Petty, along with The Heartbreakers, released “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough,)” which featured the song “Jammin’ Me.”
One can easily update the song to today in terms of which people to take back. Paul Pelosi, John Fetterman, and Taylor Swift immediately come to mind. I’d also like to take my ears back from today’s autotuned recipe drek and listen to some actual music made by real musicians.
Enter The Beatles.
Friday, October 28th saw the Special Edition release of “Revolver,” the Liverpool lads’ seventh studio album. Originally gifted to the world in early August 1966, the new version features not only multiple takes of many of the album’s tracks showcasing how they progressed during recording sessions but also a new mix bringing amazing clarity and detail never before heard.
Making this process all the more remarkable is that the album’s initial recording was on a four-track machine, with multiple parts “bounced” onto a single track in order to add additional instrumentation and vocals. Through a process dubbed de-mixing, the team of producer Giles Martin, whose late father George produced all the Beatles albums, and engineer Sam Okell have put together a package in which the fantastic sound quality matches the incredible music contained herein.
There are no tricks and no liberties taken with this iconic recording. Instead, you hear the vocals in such enveloping pristine warmth you’re more than likely to sneak a peek behind your stereo’s speakers to see if John, Paul, Ringo, and George are hiding back there. The instrumentation is equally clear and warm. Everything is perfectly balanced. It says something that a 56-year-old recording sounds better than records made today after a half-century plus of steadily improving recording equipment.
All of this is nice, but if the music isn’t there, what use is modern technological wizardry? Oh, the music is there, all right.
As the Beatles had abandoned touring by the time “Revolver” came into being, the quartet, with Martin’s able assistance, turned the recording studio into an additional band member, letting the creativity run wild. There are still moments of straightforwardly bashing it out, such as “I Want To Tell You” and “Taxman.” Speaking of the latter, you can instantly place an individual within a certain age bracket if they can identify Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath.
However, as noted, instrumental creativity took full flight on the album. Taking the string quartet plus acoustic guitar arrangement of the previous year’s “Yesterday” as a starting point, “Eleanor Rigby” went one step further by dispensing with the guitar, instead adding aggressive vocal harmonies atop a string octet making the song’s sobering commentary on lives and deaths unnoticed by the world all the more poignant. “Here, There, and Everywhere” showcases Paul McCartney’s gift for lush pop balladry, while “For No One” highlights him at his most plaintive. George Harrison’s interest in Eastern music, first indicated via the sitar on “Norwegian Wood,” grew as did his input into the songwriting process, this evidenced in “Love You To.” Of course, John Lennon was all over the album, his acidic-in-more-ways-than-one viewpoint permeating “I’m Only Sleeping.” And who can forget the sly child’s anthem “Yellow Submarine?”
So, there you have it. Freshly reloaded, if ever there is an album deserving of the designation “number one with a bullet, ” Revolver” is the one.