All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

In early 1966, The Beatles (busy being the biggest band in the world) had little time to make music. They were tired of playing live. They had recently completed a British tour, and had to do a World Tour (which would end up being their last) starting June. Luckily, a break opened up in The Beatles' schedule. The contractually obligated third Beatles movie, (after A Hard Day's Night and Help!) was scheduled to be filmed, but when the time came, a script had not been agreed on. The Beatles had three months of free time. Those three months were well spent.

August 5th, 1966, Revolver was released. It was named by Lennon, a pun on the movement of a record.. Other names for the record that never made it are 'Abracadabra' and 'Beatles on Safari'. The cover art (appropriately trippy, but not as trippy as Sgt. Pepper) was done by Klaus Voorman, an early friend of The Beatles. The American version of Revolver was without the songs I'm Only Sleeping, Doctor Robert and And Your Bird Can Sing.

Revolver is variety. It begins with a political rock rant, which is followed by a two minute song, with violins replacing guitars. Next comes a light and lazy song about sleep. Then we get an Indian sounding song. Then a ballad. Then a children's song. Then a psychedelic song. And that's just the first side. What could Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine ever have in common? How could these records be pressed without the machines exploding? One thing comes to mind: all these songs are examples of the best of their genre.

George Harrison has three songs on this album, a much higher appearance rate than usual. Harrison's stuff is just as solid as the Lennon/McCartney stuff, and he even gets to start the album off with Taxman. Ringo's time to shine on the album is Yellow Submarine, which stuck around as his most memorable song. (Paul can write a damn fine children's song). And the boys learn to play with a brand new band member on Revolver, who makes guest apperances in songs like She Said She Said and Tomorrow Never Knows.

    1. Taxman

    2. Written by Harrison
      George Harrison opens up Revolver with a rant about the British taxes. Supposedly, The Beatles were taxed up to 95% of their earnings at that point in time. Surprisingly, It is Paul, not George (the lead guitarist) who is responsible for the great guitar riff that opens up the song..
    3. Eleanor Rigby

    4. Written by McCartney with Lennon assistance
      Short and haunting song about loneliness, backed up with strings. One of the Beatles best. Multiple stories behind the name and the content of the song have been told. Paul and John met at church St. Peter's, Woolton, where in the graveyard, there is a grave with the name Eleanor Rigby, which could have stuck in Paul's head. But then again, he says...
      "I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. The first few bars just came to me, and I got this name in my head... Daisy Hawkins picks up the rice in the church. I don't know why. I couldn't think of much more so I put it away for a day. Then the name Father McCartney came to me, and all the lonely people. But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad's a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name McKenzie. I was in Bristol when I decided Daisy Hawkins wasn't a good name. I walked 'round looking at the shops, and I saw the name Rigby. Then I took the song down to John's house in Weybridge. We sat around, laughing, got stoned and finished it off." -McCartney, 1966
    5. I'm Only Sleeping

    6. Written by Lennon with McCartney assistance
      Light Lennon song about sleep, made interesting with a Harrison solo both recorded and played backwards, to spruce things up.
    7. Love You To

    8. Written by Harrison
      Harrison's first major Indian-sounding song, which still managed to be poppy enough to look fine on this album. Unfortunately, from here on, Lennon would refuse to aid Harrison in his songs.
    9. Here, There and Everywhere

    10. Written by McCartney
      There are 3 real McCartney ballads on Revolver, Eleanor Rigby, For No One, and Here, There and Everywhere, the latter being the only one that isn't incredibly gloomy. Paul wrote this outside, sitting at Lennon's pool, as a response to The Beach Boys' God Only Knows (on their fantastic Pet Sounds album)]. Some nice tunes can be made with all four of the The Beatles singing. Perhaps not at a Beach Boy level, but still....
    11. Yellow Submarine

    12. Written by McCartney with Lennon assistance
      A goofy children's song, perfect for Ringo's voice. Later turned into the cartoon (which is excellent, despite the lack of Beatles input) which fulfilled their contract as the third movie.
    13. She Said She Said

    14. Written by Lennon
      While they were tripping, Peter Fonda repeatedly told John Lennon "I know what it's like to be dead". So Lennon wrote this song.
    15. Good Day Sunshine

    16. Written by McCartney with Lennon assistance
      Side two of the album begins with this cheery McCartney song, influenced by the style and music of The Lovin' Spoonful.
    17. And Your Bird Can Sing

    18. Written by Lennon
      And Your Bird Can Sing, is a catchy upbeat song, and according to Lennon himself, completely empty, a throwaway. But I've always liked it.
    19. For No One

    20. Written by McCartney
      Recorded with just Ringo and a horn player, this is Paul's last attempt to depress us on Revolver. He writes and sings of lost romance and all that usual stuff, and as always, he does it so much better than anyone else. And the French Horn is a nice touch.
    21. Doctor Robert

    22. Written by Lennon with McCartney assistance
      Written as a parody about a real doctor in New York who cured giving you drugs. One of the weaker songs on the album, but that's not saying much.
    23. I Want To Tell You

    24. Written by Harrison
      A simple song, Harrison sings about his struggle expressing himself with lyrics.
    25. Got To Get You Into My Life
      Written by McCartney with Lennon assistance
      Motown and marijuana. McCartney experimented with the Motown sound. And the lyrics, according to him, are about pot.
    26. Tomorrow Never Knows

    27. Written by Lennon
      "That's me in my 'Tibetan Book of the Dead' period. I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics."
      -Lennon, 1980
      The title of this song was taken by an offbeat comment by Ringo (just like A Hard Day's Night). Lyrically, Lennon was influenced by LSD and the Timothy Leary book. Musically, it's a masterpiece, complete with experimental sounds of all kinds. Lennon originally wanted a thousand Tibetan monks to chant in the background, but was convinced against it. Unfortunately.

      The song is way, way ahead of its time.

    According to VH1, Revolver is the best Rock and Roll album of all time. Actually, VH1 didn't pick it, a bunch of music critics and famous artists were polled, and this came out on top. Perhaps Revolver is your favorite album of all time. Perhaps it isn't. Maybe you dislike it. Or maybe you hate it. Maybe you buy copies of the original vinyl on ebay and at garage sales, just so you can smash them on your porch.

    Doesn't matter. Revolver is still important; it's still a Beatles album, and it still made a significant impact on music. Personally, Revolver isn't my favorite album of all time. But I certainly can't object to it being on the top.

    So, they stepped up their music, leaving the rest of the music community in the dust, and their product? Rubber Soul. A leap from Rubber Soul? Revolver. Where could they go from there?

    Really now, what could possibly top Revolver?

    So play the game "Existence" to the end
    Of the beginning
    Of the beginning
    Of the beginning
    Of the beginning

A revolver is a repeating firearm which uses a rotating cylinder to chamber successive rounds. In a less strict sense, a revolver is also a sidearm chambered for pistol-calibre rounds; the cylinder capacity usually ranges from five to eight rounds, with six being most common (revolvers are often known as 'six-shooters'). Sidearms with capacities fewer than five rounds, such as the Derringer pocket pistol, typically use multiple barrels rather than a cylinder, and are not therefore revolvers.

The revolver was invented by a Mr Samuel Colt, who patented the idea in 1836; like an early Henry Ford, Colt evangelised the use of mechanised mass production, and his company dominated the market for revolvers during the 1800s, making Colt a very rich man. Other famous firms who got their start competing with Colt included Smith & Wesson and Remington; during the civil war, Colt refused to supply firearms to the Confederate forces, thus denting sales in the south for many years afterwards.

By the middle of the 19th century revolvers had supplanted earlier, flintlock pistols, and throughout the 19th century the revolver was king in the commercial, police and military spheres. By the early 1900s, however, the perfected automatic pistol began to replace the revolver, which was essentially obsolete for general use. In military use, although the British Army continued to use the Webley Mk V throughout WW1, America and Germany standardised around the Colt M1911 and the Mauser C96 and Luger P09 respectively. By WW2 the 1911 and particularly the Browning Hi-Power were almost universal. In police use revolvers continued as standard until the 1980s before fading away (even Dirty Harry gave up his Smith & Wesson Model 29), and although some forces still use revolvers, automatics - commonly made by Glock or SiG - are far more common. In the commercial sphere revolvers still have a lot of fans, although the casual shooter is more likely to go for something that can fire ten rounds in quick succession whilst being held sideways.

Revolvers have a number of advantages and disadvantages when compared with automatic pistols. Firstly, they are extremely reliable, even when loaded with substandard ammunition; barring a hard whack or stones in the barrel, a revolver will neither jam nor fail to strike the round, this being the main reason why police forces continued to use revolvers. Furthermore, revolvers can cope more easily with extremely high-powered ammunition. The most powerful handguns in the world are revolvers, or single-shot breechloading designs; high-powered automatic pistols (such as the Desert Eagle or Automag) tend to be extremely expensive, heavy, and with ammunition capacity not much higher than that of a revolver. Another reason for the revolver's continued popularity in the law enforcement and commercial sectors is more intangiable - its image. Replicas of wild west pistols make a lot of money for Ruger et al, whilst a policeman armed with a revolver seems less threatening and paramilitary than one armed with an automatic; the limitation of only having six shots before having to reload is likely to give a policeman pause before engaging in a gunfight.

The obvious disadvantages of a revolver are the limited cylinder capacity and the inability to reload swiftly - 'speed-loaders' (small clips which hold either a full load, or half a load of bullets, and which are pushed into the open cylinder) are still slower than a box magazine. Furthermore, it is easier to make an automatic pistol concealable, as there is no cylinder bulge, and with only a couple of exceptions (the 19th Century Nagant being the most famous) it is not possible to silence a revolver, as there is a gap between cylinder and barrel for gas to escape.

In a revolver the mechanism encompassing the trigger, the hammer and the rotating cylinder is called the 'action'. Early revolvers were 'single action' - that is to say, the trigger merely released the hammer, and in order to chamber a new round the hammer had to be pulled back manually. From the late-1800s 'double action' revolvers emerged. With a double action revolver, pulling the trigger releases the hammer, rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer again. This allows for faster firing, but the extra weight of the mechanism makes the trigger pull heavier, which decreases accuracy unless the shooter is very skilled (and has strong hands).

The firing rate of a single action revolver can be sped up by keeping the trigger held down whilst repeatedly whacking the hammer backwards with the off hand; this method is popular in Clint Eastwood westerns, although in real life it would result in terribly inaccurate fire, and a sore hand. Many double-action revolvers can be used in single-action mode by pulling the hammer back manually. A curious footnote to this was the short-lived Webley Automatic Revolver, a revolver which used the recoil impulse of each round to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer; neither fish nor fowl, it failed to catch on.

As previously noted, revolvers are available in a much wider range of calibres than automatics. Police revolvers (such as the snub-nosed Colt Detective Special) are typically .38 or .357 magnum, whilst at the other end of the power and size scale, the .454 casull and .44 magnum are amongst the most powerful rounds available for handguns. In between, the common automatic rounds are available - 9mm, 10mm, .40, and .45 - as are .41, .22, as well as derivates of all the aforementioned; the Taurus Raging Thirty even fires the same .30 cartridges as the World War 2 M1 Carbine. This is all without mentioning the obsolete calibres used before the 20th century, such as the Webley .455.

'Revolver' is, as noted above, also an album by the Beatles (presumably named for the revolving action of a turntable). 'Revolver' was also a British comic from the early 90s, part of the brief boom in 'serious' comics (such as 'Crisis' and 'Deadline'). It lasted seven issues, from July 1990 to January 1991, and is remembered nowadays - if at all - for Grant Morrison's 'Dare', a revisionist update of Dan Dare, featuring Frank Hampson-style artwork and a story which seemingly suggested that Margaret Thatcher was in league with the Mekon. A fuller writeup for this title would be most appreciated.

Here, I will focus on the instrumentation and other technical details of The Beatles' seventh album (Britsh Release):

Overall: Recorded mostly between April 6 and June 21, 1966 at Abbey Road. Released on August 5, 1966. Continued use of studio technology and experimentation mark this album, including tabla and sitar, tape loops, backwards recordings, brass bands, and submarine sounds among other things.

  1. Taxman...Recorded on April 21, 1966 (remake of an April 20 recording), at Abbey Road, and overdubbed on April 22 and May 16, 1966.
  2. Eleanor Rigby...Instrumental backing was recorded on April 28, 1966, at Abbey Road Vocals were overdubbed April 29, with another McCartney overdub on June 6. Released as a single August 5, 1966
    • McCARTNEY: lead vocal (double-tracked)
    • LENNON: harmony vocal
    • HARRISON: harmony vocal
    • Session musicians: four violins, two violas, two cellos
  3. I'm Only Sleeping...Recorded on April 27, 1966 at Abbey Road with the lead vocal overdubbed April 29, backwards guitar on May 5, and backing vocals May 6.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: acoustic guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums
  4. Love You To...Recorded on April 11, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs on April 13.
    • HARRISON: vocal (double-tracked)
    • Anil Bhagwat: tabla
    • Session musicians: other instruments
  5. Here, There, and Everywhere...Recorded on June 14, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs on June 16 and 17, 1966
    • McCARTNEY: acoustic guitar, lead vocal (double-tracked)
    • LENNON: backing vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums
  6. Yellow Submarine...Recorded on May 26, 1966 at Abbey Road, with special effects overdubbed June 1. Released as a single August 5, 1966. All kinda of effects were used, including bubbles blown in tanks, chains rattling, and Lennon speaking through a hand mic through his Vox amp.
    • McCARTNEY: acoustic guitar, backing vocal, "submarine crew"
    • LENNON: acoustic guitar, backing vocal, blowing bubbles through a straw, funny voices, including "submarine crew"
    • HARRISON: tambourine, backing vocal, swirling water in a bucket
    • STARR: drums, lead vocal
    • Session musicians: brass band
    • Chorus on fadeout: Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Alf (?), Geoff Emerick, Patti Harrison, and studio staff
  7. She Said She Said...Recorded on June 21, 1966 at Abbey Road. It took only nine hours to complete this song, with overdubs and all.
    • McCARTNEY: bass
    • LENNON: acoustic guitar, vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar
    • STARR: drums
  8. Good Day Sunshine...Recorded on June 8, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs on June 9
    • McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
    • LENNON: harmony vocal
    • HARRISON: harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums
    • George Martin: piano
  9. And Your Bird Can Sing...Recorded on April 26, 1966 (remake of an April 20 recording) at Abbey Road.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums, tambourine
  10. For No One...Recorded on May 9, 1966 at Abbey Road, with the vocal overdubbed May 16, and french horn solo on May 19.
  11. Doctor Robert...Recorded on April 17, 1966 at Abbey Road, with vocals overdubbed on April 19.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: harmonium, maracas, lead vocal (double-tracked)
    • HARRISON: lead guitar
    • STARR: drums
  12. I Want to Tell You...Recorded on June 2, 1966 at Abbey Road, with bass overdubbed June 3. This was the first time bass was overdubbed on a Beatles recording. It was very common later on becuase it allowed flexibility in the mixing process.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, piano, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: tambourine, harmony vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, lead vocal (double-tracked)
    • STARR: drums
  13. Got to Get You Into My Life...Recorded on April 7 and 8, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs added April 11, May 18, and June 17.
  14. Tomorrow Never Knows...Recorded on April 6, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs on April 7 and 22. Lennon's voice was recorded through a loudspeaker and rotated. Each Beatle worked at home creating weird sounds, which were recorded at different speeds, forwards and backwards. Lennon himself made eight tape loops, which were eight tape machines, and faded in and out as desired. The birdlike noises are a tape loop of McCartney laughing.
    • McCARTNEY: bass
    • LENNON: tambourine, vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, sitar
    • STARR: drums
    • George Martin: piano

Other singles from this period:

My sources are Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding1989) and The Beatles Anthology, by "The Beatles" (©2000).

Re*volv"er (?), n.

One who, or that which, revolves; specifically, a firearm ( commonly a pistol) with several chambers or barrels so arranged as to revolve on an axis, and be discharged in succession by the same lock; a repeater.


© Webster 1913.

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