0061. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds [1966]

PetSoundsCover

Okay, I think I’m close to understanding what others see in these guys.  I imagine that, at the time, this album was a pretty strange introduction to the mainstream.  I’m still not tremendously fond of the vocal or instrumental style, but somehow I feel like I’m missing something; something small that’d help me see the bigger picture.  Not quite sure how to go about finding it, but I think I will indeed find it one day.

Wikipedia Says:

Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys. Released on May 16, 1966, it initially met a lukewarm critical and commercial reception in the United States, but received immediate success abroad, where British publications declared it “the most progressive pop album ever”. It charted at number two in the UK but number ten in the US, a significantly lower placement than the band’s preceding albums.[1]In later years, the album garnered enormous worldwide acclaim by critics and musicians alike, and is regarded as one of the most influential pieces in the history of popular music.

The album was produced by Brian Wilson, who also wrote and composed almost all of its music. Sessions were conducted several months after he had quit touring with the Beach Boys in order to focus his attention on writing and recording. Collaborating with lyricistTony Asher, Wilson’s symphonic arrangements wove elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, coupled with sound effects and unconventional instruments such as bicycle bells, buzzingorgans, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, dog whistles, trains, Hawaiian-soundingstring instruments, Coca-Cola cans and barking dogs, along with the more usual keyboards and guitars. Together, they comprised Wilson’s “pet sounds”, played in music styles which incorporated elements of jazz, exotica, classical, and the avant-garde. It was led by the singles “Wouldn’t It Be Nice“, “God Only Knows” and “Sloop John B” while Wilson made his solo debut with “Caroline, No“, issued a few months earlier. Due to his omnipresent directorial role, Pet Sounds is sometimes considered a Brian Wilson solo album in all but name.

A heralding work in the emerging psychedelic rock style, Pet Sounds signaled an aesthetic trend within rock by transforming it from dance music into music that was made for listening to,[2][3] elevating itself to the level of art rock.[4][5] It was one of the first rockconcept albums, and has been suggested to follow a lyrical song cycle format,[6][7]although Wilson has maintained that the album’s real unified theme lies within its cohesive production style.[8] Writer Bill Martin said that within Pet Sounds, “[The Beach Boys] brought expansions in harmony, instrumentation (and therefore timbre), duration, rhythm, and the use of recording technology. Of these elements, the first and last were the most important in clearing a pathway toward the development of progressive rock.”[9] Beyond pop and rock, Pet Sounds expanded the field of music production.[10][11][12][13]

In 1993, it was named the greatest album of all time by NME magazine and The Times,[14][15] and in 1995 by Mojo magazine.[16] In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it second on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[17] In 2004, Pet Sounds was preserved in the National Recording Registry by theLibrary of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”[18] In 1997, The Pet Sounds Sessions was released containing instrumental tracks, vocals-only tracks, alternate mixes, outtakes, and edited recording session highlights, as well as the album’s first true stereo mix.

Background[edit]

The July 1964 release of the Beach Boys’ sixth studio album All Summer Long marked an end to the group’s beach-themed period. From thereon, their recorded material would take a significantly different stylistic and lyrical path.[19] While on a December 23 flight from Los Angeles to Houston, the band’s songwriter and producer Brian Wilson suffered a panic attack only hours after performing with the group on the musical variety series Shindig!.[20] Though the 22-year-old Wilson had already skipped several concert tours by then, the airplane episode proved devastating to his psyche.[21] In order to focus his efforts on writing and recording, Wilson indefinitely resigned from live performances.[20][22] Freed from the burden, he immediately showcased great artistic leaps in his musical development evident within Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), released in the spring and summer of 1965.[23]

Having begun in mid-1965, the folk rockerSloop John B[24] predated the rest of Pet Sounds by several months.[25] It was a traditionalCaribbean folk song that had been suggested to Wilson by bandmate Al Jardine[26][nb 1] Wilson recorded a backing track on July 12, 1965, but after laying down a rough lead vocal, he set the song aside for some time, concentrating on the recording of what became their next LP, the informal studio jam Beach Boys’ Party!, in response to their record company’s request for a Beach Boys album for the Christmas 1965 market.[27] Wilson devoted the last three months of 1965 to polishing the vocals of “Sloop John B” and recording six new original compositions.[nb 2] What would become Pet Sounds could not be finished in time for Christmas 1965.

It felt like it all belonged together.Rubber Soul was a collection of songs …that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, “That’s it. I really am challenged to do a great album.”[nb 3]

—Brian Wilson[31]

Halfway through the Pet Sounds sessions, Wilson became enthralled with the Beatles‘ albumRubber Soul, which was released that December. The British version of Rubber Soul was edited prior to its release in the US to emphasise a folk rock feel that critics attributed to Bob Dylan andthe Byrds. Wilson found Rubber Soul to lack filler tracks, which was mostly unheard of at a time when 45 rpm singles were considered more noteworthy than full-length LPs. Many albums up until the late-1960s lacked a cohesive artistic goal and were largely used to sell singles at a higher price point. Wilson’s previous habits evident in Today! and Summer Days were to sacrifice portions of the album with lesser, superficial material.[30] Wilson found that Rubber Soulsubverted this by having a wholly consistent thread of music.[30][32] Inspired, he rushed to his wife and proclaimed, “Marilyn, I’m gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!”.[33]

In late 1965, Wilson met Tony Asher while working at a recording studio in Los Angeles, a young lyricist and copywriter who had been working on advertising jingles. While together, the two exchanged ideas for songs. Soon after, Wilson heard of Asher’s writing abilities from mutual friends, proceeded to contact him about a possible lyric collaboration, and within ten days, they were writing together. Wilson played him some of the music he had been recording and gave him a cassette of the backing track for a piece with the working title “In My Childhood”. It had lyrics, but Wilson refused to show them to Asher. The result of Asher’s tryout was eventually retitled “You Still Believe in Me” and the success of the piece convinced Wilson that Asher was the wordsmith he had been looking for.[34]

Group resistance[edit]

Pet Sounds is sometimes considered a Brian Wilson solo album in all but name.[35][36][37] According to various reports, the group fought over the radical direction he had presented with Pet Sounds.[38][39] When the other Beach Boys returned from a three-week tour ofJapan and Hawaii, they were presented with a substantial portion of a new album, with music that was in many ways a jarring departure from their earlier style.[40] Both Asher and Wilson state that there was resistance to the project from within the group, but on this occasion, Wilson’s conviction convinced the other members. Marilyn added: “When Brian was writing Pet Sounds, it was difficult for the guys to understand what he was going through emotionally and what he wanted to create. His need. His self-need. It was difficult because they didn’t feel what he was going through and what direction he was trying to go in.”[41] One of the issues was the album’s complexity, and how the touring Beach Boys would be able to perform its music live.[42]

Rumors of group infighting were denied by Dennis Wilson in later years,[43] but corroborated by Mike Love, who admitted an active refusal to sing certain lines,[44] while Carl Wilson intimated: “I loved every minute of it. He [Brian] could do no wrong. He could play me anything, and I would love it.”[45] Authors Andrew Doe and John Tobler wrote that Dennis and Johnston loved the album, but that Jardine admitted “It sure doesn’t sound like the old stuff.”[46] Brian expressed: “I think they [the Beach Boys] thought it was for Brian Wilson only. They knew that Brian Wilson was gonna be a separate entity, something that was a force of his own, and it was generally considered that the Beach Boys were the main thing. So with Pet Sounds, there was a resistance in that I was doing most of the artistic work on it vocally, and for that reason there was a little bit of intergroup struggle. It was resolved in the fact that they figured that it was a showcase for Brian Wilson, but it’s still the Beach Boys. In other words, they gave in. They let me have my little stint.”[47]

Music and style[edit]

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With its Wall of Sound production, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” introduces the album with a sound described by Nick Kent as “limpid harps imitating a teenage heartstrings in a tug of love” with it followed by “growling horns … [and] harmonies so complex they seemed to have more in common with a Catholic Mass than any cocktail lounge acappelladoo-wop.”[48]

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According to music journalist Jim DeRogatis, Pet Sounds is a psychedelic rockalbum,[49] while Goldmine and the Journal Sentinel called its music psychedelic pop,[50][51] and writer Vernon Joyson observed flirtations with acid rock.[52] TheAssociated Press said that the album is a baroque pop work,[53] while authorDomenic Priore referred to it simply as symphonic rock.[54] Professor Kelly Fisher Lowe referred to Pet Sounds as an “experimental rock record.”[55] According to biographer Jon Stebbins, “Brian defies any notion of genre safety”.[56] The album’s innovative soundscape incorporates elements of pop, jazz, classical, exotica, andavant-garde music, as Stebbins adds, “There isn’t much rocking here, and even less rolling. Pet Sounds is at times futuristic, progressive, and experimental. … there’s no boogie, no woogie, and the only blues are in the themes and in Brian’s voice.”[57]

The instrumentation is stylistically appropriated from a wide variety of cultures, with some relating it to exotica and associated producersMartin Denny,[58][59][56] Les Baxter,[59] and Esquivel.[60] In Pet Sounds, Wilson conceived of experimental arrangements[61] which combine conventional rock set-ups with various exotic instruments, producing new sounds with a rich texture reminiscent of symphonic works layered underneath meticulous vocal harmonics.[32] Exemplifying the album’s instrumentation are various stringed instruments,theremin, flutes, harpsichord, bicycle bells, beverage bottles, and the barking of Brian’s dogs.[32][62]

As author James Perone writes, Wilson’s compositions include tempo changes, metrical ambiguity, and unusual tone colors that, culturally speaking, remove the music from “just about anything else that was going on in 1966 pop music.”[63] He specifically touches upon the album’s closer “Caroline, No” and its use of wide tessitura changes, wide melodic intervals, and instrumentation which contribute to his belief; also Brian’s compositions and orchestral arrangements which experiment with form and tone colors.[64] Referring to the opening track “Wouldn’t It Be Nice“, Perone recalls that the track sounds “significantly less like a rock band supplemented with auxiliary instrumentation … than a rock band integrated into an eclectic mix of studio instrumentation.” On the second track “You Still Believe in Me“, “One of the high points of the composition and Brian’s vocal performance,” he writes, “is the snaky, though generally descending melodic line on the line ‘I want to cry,’ his response to the realization that his girlfriend still believes in him despite his past failures.” He describes the “stepwise falloff of the interval of a third at the end of each verse” to be a typically “Wilsonian” feature. The feature recurs alongside a “madrigal sigh motif” in “That’s Not Me“, where the motif concludes each line of the verses. This sighing motif then appears in the next track, “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)“, a piece inspired by classical music, and once again in “Caroline, No”.[65]

The album included two sophisticated instrumental tracks composed solely by Brian.[63] One of them: the wistful “Let’s Go Away for Awhile“, with a working parenthetical title of “And Then We’ll Have World Peace”;[66][67] the other: the title track, “Pet Sounds“. The provisional subtitle of “Let’s Go Away for Awhile” was a catchphrase from one of Brian’s favorite comedy recordings, John Brent and Del Close‘s How To Speak Hip (1959).[66] Both titles had been recorded as backing tracks for existing songs, but by the time the album neared completion Brian had decided that the tracks worked better without vocals.[68] Of “Let’s Go Away for Awhile”, Perone observes, “There are melodic features but no tune to speak of. As an instrumental composition, this gives the piece an atmospheric feel; however, the exact mood is difficult to define.”[63] Of “Pet Sounds”, the piece represents the Beach Boys’ surf heritage more than any other track on the album with its emphasis on lead guitar, although Perone maintains that it is not really a surf composition, citing its elaborate arrangement involving countless auxiliary percussion parts, abruptly changing textures, and de-emphasis of a traditional rock band drum set.[61]

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God Only Knows” is reputed for its subtle complexity, and has been cited as an example of how lyrical meaning can be supported and enhanced by a chord progression.[69]

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In addition to busy orchestrations layered underneath close harmony vocals, Pet Sounds contains numerous instrumental breaks directly inspired by the works of classical composers such as J.S. Bach.[70]Here Today” has been described by AllMusic as one of Brian’s most ambitious arrangements, featuring “swooping harmonies [that] duel and soar in and around a Wall of Sound backing track full of blaring saxophones and percolating keyboards” along with “jazzy drumming” that blends the “complexity of an orchestral piece with the immediacy of a good pop tune”.[71]

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Marshall Heiser expressed for The Journal on the Art of Record Production: “Pet Sounds diverges from previous Beach Boys’ efforts in several ways: its sound field has a greater sense of depth and ‘warmth;’ the songs employ even more inventive use of harmony and chord voicings; the prominent use of percussion is a key feature (as opposed to driving drum backbeats); whilst the orchestrations, at times, echo the quirkiness of ‘exotica’ bandleader Les Baxter, or the ‘cool’ of Burt Bacharach, moreso than [Phil] Spector‘s teen fanfares.”[72]

Musicologist Daniel Harrison has written, however, “In terms of the structure of the songs themselves, there is comparatively little advance from what Brian had already accomplished or shown himself capable of accomplishing. Most of the songs use unusual harmonic progressions and unexpected disruptions of hypermeter, both features that were met in ‘Warmth of the Sun‘ and ‘Don’t Back Down.'”[2] JournalistNick Kent felt similarly for lyrics of Pet Sounds, considering “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to be “teen angst dialogue” that Brian had already achieved with “We’ll Run Away” the year before. However: “This time Brian Wilson was out to eclipse these previous sonic soap operas, to transform the subject’s sappy sentiments with a God-like grace so that the song would become a veritable pocket symphony.”[48] Fussili observed that Brian’s nuance to “wander far from the logic of his composition only to return triumphantly to confirm the emotional intent of his work” is repeated numerous times in Pet Sounds, but never to “evoke a sense of unbridled joy” as Brian recently had with the November 1965 single “The Little Girl I Once Knew“.[73][page needed] Such occurs within “God Only Knows”, which contains an ambivalent key and non-diatonic chords.[2][69] Critics Richard Goldstein and Nik Cohn both noted incongruity between the music and lyrics, where the latter suggested the album to be composed of sad songs about happiness while also celebrating loneliness and heartache.[74]

According to Brian, his writing process at the time involved going to the piano and finding “feels,” which he described as “brief note sequences, fragments of ideas,” and that “once they’re out of my head and into the open air, I can see them and touch them firmly. They’re not ‘feels’ anymore.”[68] Asher maintains that his contribution to the music itself was minimal, serving mainly as a source of second opinion for Brian as he worked out possible melodies and chord progressions, although the two did trade ideas as the songs evolved.[34][nb 4] On his role as co-lyricist, Asher clarified, “The general tenor of the lyrics was always his … and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter.”[76] On Brian’s creative process, Asher remembers that “one of the things that I really enjoyed, was that first time I’d hear him hunting for a chord change and I’d think ‘Man, he’s just gone right off the edge because he’s not ever gonna get close. He’s way out there in some area that’s just—he’ll never get back. And if he’s successful, gets out of there, people are going to say, I’ve lost my tone center, don’t know where the hell I am and stuff. And then, eventually, he’d figure out what it was he wanted to do. A lot of it was just hunting and pecking, the way some of us type.”[34]

While most songs were composed with Tony Asher, “I Know There’s an Answer” was co-written by another new associate, the Beach Boys’ road manager Terry Sachen.[66][77][78] Mike Love is co-credited on the album’s opening track, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice“, and on “I Know There’s an Answer” but with the exception of his co-credit on “I’m Waiting for the Day“,[66] his songwriting contributions are thought to have been minimal. The exact degree of Love’s contribution to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was never fully determined, but under oath in a court of law, Asher stated it consisted of the tag “Good night my baby/Sleep tight, my baby” and possible minor vocal arrangement.[66]

Psychedelia[edit]

Love’s influence on “I Know There’s an Answer” is reputed to have stemmed from his opposition to the song’s original title, “Hang On to Your Ego“, and his desire that it be partially rewritten and retitled. The original lyrics created a stir within the group. “I was aware that Brian was beginning to experiment with LSD and other psychedelics,” explained Love. “The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing… I wasn’t interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego.” Jardine recalled that the decision to change the lyrics was ultimately Brian’s. “Brian was very concerned. He wanted to know what we thought about it. To be honest, I don’t think we even knew what an ego was… Finally Brian decided, ‘Forget it. I’m changing the lyrics. There’s too much controversy.'”[66]

Brian’s response when asked about LSD and “Hang On to Your Ego” was that “Yeah, I had taken a few drugs, and I had gotten into that kind of thing. it just came up naturally”.[79][nb 5] Despite the change from “Hang On to Your Ego” to “I Know There’s An Answer”, the psychedelic lyrics “they trip through their day and waste all their thoughts at night” were kept in the song. Similarly for “Sloop John B“, Brian’s lyric change from “this is the worst trip since I’ve been born” to “this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on” has been suggested by some to be another subtle nod to acid culture.[82][83][84]

Bret Marcus of Goldmine noted that while he believes the album is psychedelic pop, most people hesitate to name the Beach Boys in discussions of psychedelic music.[50] Stebbins writes that the album is “slighty psychedelic – or at least impressionistic.”[56] According to academics Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell, Pet Sounds has a “personal intimacy” that sets it apart from the Beach Boys’ contemporaries in psychedelic culture and the San Francisco Sound, but still retains a “trippy feel” that resulted from Brian’s experimental use of LSD. They attribute this to Brian’s “eclectic mixture of instruments, echo, reverb, and innovative mixing techniques learnt from Phil Spector to create a complex soundscape in which voice and music interweave tightly”.[85] Elsewhere within Pet Soundslyrical content, Brian turned inward and probed his deep-seated self-doubts and emotional longings; Pet Sounds did not address the problems in the world around them, unlike other groups.[84] On the subject of psychedelic records in the 1960s, Sean Lennon stated that “psychedelic music is a term that pretty much refers to these sort of epic, ambitious long-form records … the reason Pet Sounds is considered a psychedelic journey or whatever is because it’s like opening a door and stepping through and entering another world and you’re in that other world for a period of time and then you come back.”[86]

Concept and title[edit]

It felt like we were writing an autobiography, but oddly enough, I wouldn’t limit it to Brian’s autobiography.…We were working in a somewhat intimate relationship, and I didn’t know him at all, so he was finding out who I was, and I was finding out who he was.

—Tony Asher[34]

Brian Wilson posing with a goat at the San Diego Zoo.

The concept album form received a resurgence of popularity in the late 1960s among pop artists, when many rock releases including Pet Sounds presented a set of thematically-linked songs. Other rock music artists, such as Frank Zappa and theMothers of Invention, the Beatles and The Who subsequently released concept albums. Pet Sounds was a musical portrayal of Brian Wilson’s private/public state of mind at the time.[87]Even though Pet Sounds has a somewhat unified theme in its emotional content, Wilson and Asher said repeatedly that it was not necessarily intended to be a narrative. Asher explained that they had “truly spontaneously generated a lot of those songs” from lengthy, intimate discussions centered around their “experiences and feelings about women and the various stages of relationships and so forth”.[34] Wilson stated: “If you take the Pet Sounds album as a collection of art pieces, each designed to stand alone, yet which belong together, you’ll see what I was aiming at.”[88] He considered Pet Sounds to be an “interpretation” of Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound method,[89] something Wilson further clarified by saying: “It wasn’t really a song concept album, or lyrically a concept album; it was really a production concept album.”[90] Marilyn believed that her relationship with Brian was a central reference within the album’s lyrics; namely on “You Still Believe in Me” and “Caroline, No“.[91] “You Still Believe in Me” features the first expression of introspective themes which would pervade the rest of the album.[65]

Keeping the songwriter’s intentions in mind, Kent observed: “[The] album documents the male participant’s attempts at coming to terms with himself and the world about him. Each song pinpoints a crisis of faith in love and life: confusion (‘That’s Not Me‘), disorientation (the staggeringly beautiful ‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times‘), recognition of love’s capricious impermanence (‘Here Today‘) and finally, the grand betrayal of innocence featured in ‘Caroline, No‘. Then again, bearing in mind this conceptual bent, there are certain incongruous factors about the album’s construction. The main one is the inclusion of the hit single ‘Sloop John B’, as well as of two instrumental pieces.”[92] James Perone argues, “To the extent that the listener hears ‘Let’s Go Away for Awhile’ as an incomplete piece, it is possible to understand it as a reflection of the alienation — the sense of not quite fitting in — of the bulk of Tony Asher’s lyrics in the songs on Pet Sounds.”[63] Noting that a sense of self-doubt, concern for the future of a relationship, and melancholy pervades Pet Sounds, Perone claims in reference to “Sloop John B” that the song successfully portrays a sailor who feels “completely out of place in his situation [which] is fully in keeping with the general feeling of disorientation that runs through so many of the songs.”[63]

In Perone’s interpretation, he also suggests a visceral continuity, writing that the high-pitched electric bass guitar part in “Here Today” bring to mind similar parts in “God Only Knows”, culminating in what sounds like the vocal protagonist of “Here Today” warning the protagonist of “God Only Knows” that what he sings stands no chance at longevity. The protagonist’s relationship then concludes shortly after “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, while “Caroline, No” is a rumination in broken love.[61] From another viewpoint, author Scott Schinder has written that Wilson and Asher crafted an “emotion-charge song cycle that surveyed the emotional challenges accompanying the transition from youth to adulthood.” In his interpretation,

Lyrically, Pet Sounds encompassed the loss of innocent idealism (“Caroline, No”), the transient nature of love (“Here Today”), faith in the face of heartbreak (“I’m Waiting for the Day”), the demands and disappointments of independence (“That’s Not Me”), the feeling of being out of step with the modern world (“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”), and the longing for a happy, loving future (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice”). The album also featured a series of intimate, hymnlike love songs, “You Still Believe in Me”, “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”, and “God Only Knows”.[93]

On February 15, the group traveled to the San Diego Zoo to shoot the photographs for the cover, which had already received its title.[31][40] George Jerman was credited for taking the cover photo.[94][better source needed] Both the origin and meaning of the album titlePet Sounds are uncertain. Brian has variously claimed that the title was “a tribute” to Spector by matching his initials[95] or that it was named “after the dogs … That was the whole idea.”[96] At another time, he credited the album title to Carl.[31][97] Carl added with uncertainty that the title may have came from Brian, and said: “The idea he had was that everybody has these sounds that they love, and this was a collection of his ‘pet sounds.’ It was hard to think of a name for the album, because you sure couldn’t call it Shut Down Vol. 3 … It was just so much more than a record; it had such a spiritual quality. It wasn’t going in and doing another top ten. It had so much more meaning than that.”[45] Love laid claim to the title: “We were standing in the hallway in one of the recording studios, either Western or Columbia, and we didn’t have a title,” he recounted. “We had taken pictures at the zoo and…there were animal sounds on the record, and we were thinking, well, it’s our favorite music of that time, so I said, ‘Why don’t we call it Pet Sounds?'”[31][98] According to historians Andrew Doe[28] and Brad Elliot,[31] the cover photo was taken after the album had already received its title.

Recording and production[edit]

Carl Wilson in the recording studio, playing his Rickenbacker 360/12 with session guitarist Bill Pitman.

Brian had developed his production methods over several years, reaching a peak with Pet Sounds during late 1965 and early 1966.[citation needed] Wilson idolized Phil Spector, and his production techniques were greatly inspired by Spector’s famous Wall of Sound productions, but Brian arguably[by whom?] developed a far more complex and refined application of them. Thanks to the freedom offered by the recent development of multitrack tape recorders, both producers adopted the practice of taping their backing tracks first, and adding vocals later, and like Spector, Brian was a pioneer of the studio-as-an-instrument concept, exploiting novel combinations of sounds that sprang from the use of multiple electric instruments and voices in an ensemble and combining them with tape delay and reverberation.[citation needed] He often doubled the bass (typically using an acoustic upright bass and an electric bass), guitars and keyboard parts,[99] blending them with reverberation and adding other unusual instruments.[31][not in citation given]

While the Beach Boys were occupied with concert touring, and with writing well under way, Brian produced several backing tracks.[nb 6]The backing tracks for Pet Sounds were recorded over a period lasting several months, using major Los Angeles studios and an ensemble that included the highly regarded session musicians later known as the Wrecking Crew. Surviving tapes of his recording sessions show that he was open to his musicians, often taking advice and suggestions from them and even incorporating apparent mistakes if they provided a useful or interesting alternative.[32] Brian said that he “was sort of a square” with the Wrecking Crew, starting his creative process with how each instrument sounded one-by-one, moving from keyboards, drums, then violins if they were not overdubbed. Although the self-taught Wilson often had entire arrangements worked out in his head, they were usually written in a shorthand form for the other players by one of his session musicians.[29][nb 7] On notation and arranging, Brian clarified: “Sometimes I’d just write out a chord sheet and that would be for piano, organ, or harpsichord or anything. … I wrote out all the horn charts separate from the keyboards. I wrote one basic keyboard chart, violins, horns, and basses, and percussion.”[29]

Most of March and early April 1966 was devoted to recording the remaining backing tracks and to the crucial recording of vocals.[citation needed] According to Jardine, each member was taught their individual vocal lines by Brian at a piano. He explains, “Every night we’d come in for a playback. We’d sit around and listen to what we did the night before. Someone might say, well, that’s pretty good but we can do that better … We had somewhat photographic memory as far as the vocal parts were concerned so that never a problem for us.”[101] This process proved to be the most exacting work the group had hitherto undertaken. During recording, Mike Love often called Brian “dog ears“, a nickname referencing the fact that dogs can detect sounds far beyond the limits of human hearing.[98]Love later summarized:

We worked and worked on the harmonies and, if there was the slightest little hint of a sharp or a flat, it wouldn’t go on. We would do it over again until it was right. [Brian] was going for every subtle nuance that you could conceivably think of. Every voice had to be right, every voice and its resonance and tonality had to be right. The timing had to be right. The timbre of the voices just had to be correct, according to how he felt. And then he might, the next day, completely throw that out and we might have to do it over again.[31]

The overall total cost of production for Pet Sounds eventually amounted to a then-unheard of $70,000 (today equal to $510,000),[74] and it was mixed in a single nine-hour session.[37][nb 8]

Mixing and engineering[edit]

Further information: Multitrack recording
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A Leslie speaker was used to filter lead guitar for the title track “Pet Sounds“.[103]Other quirks from this recording includeCoca-cola cans and a güiro as percussion.[66]

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Although Spector’s trademark sound was aurally complex, many of the best-known Wall of Sound recordings were recorded on Ampex 3-track recorders. Spector’s backing tracks were recorded live, and usually in a single take. These backing tracks were mixed live, in mono, and taped directly onto one track of the 3-track recorder;[104] instrumental overdubs only rarely added.[citation needed] The lead vocal was then taped, usually (though not always) as an uninterrupted live performance, recorded direct to the second track of the recorder. The master was completed with the addition of backing vocals on the third track before the three tracks were mixed down to create the mono master tape.[104]

By comparison, Brian produced tracks that were of greater technical complexity by using state-of-the-art 4-track and 8-track recorders.[105] Most backing tracks were recorded onto a 4-track recorder before being later dubbed down (in mono) onto one track of an 8-track machine.[106][nb 9] Brian typically divided instruments by three tracks: drums–percussion–keyboard, horns, and bass–additional percussion–guitar. The fourth track usually contained a rough reference mix used during playback at the session,[clarification needed] later to be erased for overdubs such as a string section.[105] After mixing down the 4-track to mono for overdubbing via an 8-track recorder, six of the remaining seven tracks were usually dedicated to each of the Beach Boys’ vocals.[105][nb 10] The last track was usually reserved for additional elements such as extra vocals or instrumentation.[66][nb 11]

Vocals were recorded using two Neumann U-47s, which Dennis, Carl and Jardine would sing on, and a 5-35 used by Brian for his leads.[99] Brian recounted a cupping-the-microphone technique he taught his brother Dennis for recording vocals, elaborating: “Well, he had a lot of trouble singing on mike. He just didn’t really know how to stay on mike. He was a very nervous boy. Very nervous person. So I taught him a trick, how to record and he said, ‘Hey Brian. That works great. Thank you!’ And I said, ‘It’s okay, Dennis: He was really happy. I showed him—not how to sing, but I showed him a way to get the best out of himself—just ‘cup’ singing.”[29] Love sung most of the album’s bass vocals, but necessitated an extra microphone due to his low volume range.[98]

Over the period leading up to Pet Sounds, Brian pioneered and perfected the now-common studio technique known as “looping” – creating master recordings that consisted of heavily edited assemblages of pre-taped segments.[citation needed] Most of the Pet Soundsvocal tracks were recorded piece-by-piece, rather than in a single continuous take. Typically, each small phrase or section of a song was recorded separately – sometimes dozens of times over, until Brian was satisfied that he had the best possible performance – and then each of these segments would be physically spliced together to assemble a composite master vocal track, comprising the best possible performances of each segment of the vocal. Brian also frequently used this editing approach to duplicate certain renditions of song sections, and the choruses of many Beach Boys songs from this period (e.g. “California Girls”) are in fact duplicated edits of the same single rendition (which was itself often an edited composite).[citation needed] Additionally, by the time of Pet Sounds, Brian was using up to six of the eight tracks on the multitrack master so that he could record the voice of each member separately, allowing him greater control over the vocal balance in the final mix.[105]

A true stereophonic mix of Pet Sounds was not considered in 1966 largely due to mixing logistics.[105] However, in spite of the possibility for true stereo, Brian purposely mixed the final version of his recordings in mono, as did Spector. He did this because he felt that mono mastering provided more sonic control over the final result, regardless of the vagaries of speaker placement and sound system quality. In that era radio and TV were broadcast in mono and most domestic and automotive radios and record players were monophonic.[105] Another and more personal reason for Brian’s preference for mono was due to his almost total deafness in his right ear.[nb 12]

Unreleased material[edit]

See also: Good Vibrations

On October 15, 1965, Brian went to the studio to record an instrumental piece entitled “Three Blind Mice”, bearing no musical connection to the nursery rhyme of the same name.[nb 13] By mid-February 1966, Brian was in the studio with his session band laying down the first takes for a new composition, “Good Vibrations“.[31] On February 23, Brian gave Capitol a provisional track listing for the new LP, which included both “Sloop John B”[citation needed] and “Good Vibrations”.[108] This contradicts the long held misconception that “Sloop John B” was a forced inclusion as the hit single at Capitol’s insistence: in late February, the song was weeks away from release.[31][109][verification needed] Brian worked through February and into March fine-tuning the backing tracks. To the group’s surprise he also dropped “Good Vibrations” from the running order, telling them that he wanted to spend more time on it. Al Jardine remembered: “At the time, we all had assumed that “Good Vibrations” was going to be on the album, but Brian decided to hold it out. It was a judgment call on his part; we felt otherwise but left the ultimate decision up to him.”[31] A third instrumental, called “Trombone Dixie”, had been fully recorded, but it remained in the vaults until its inclusion on the album’s 1990 remastered CD release. According to Brian, “I was just foolin’ around one day, fuckin’ around with the musicians, and I took that arrangement out of my briefcase and we did it in 20 minutes. It was nothing, there was really nothing in it.”[110]

Brian devoted some Pet Sounds sessions to avant-garde indulgences such as an extended a capella run-through of the children’s songRow, Row, Row Your Boat” exploiting the song’s use of rounds via tape delay and overdubbing. At least half an hour of tape reels exist which involve Brian and friends attempting to create a psychedelic comedy album, foreshadowing much of his work on Smile, which was set to have followed Pet Sounds.[111] The only product of these sessions present in Pet Sounds was an excerpt of Brian’s dogs barking accompanied by a recording of passing trains[66] which may have been sampled from the 1963 sound effects LP Mister D’s Machine. Brian may also have briefly considered recording other animal sounds for inclusion, as evidenced by a snippet of surviving studio chatter from the “Dog Barking Session” (included on The Pet Sounds Sessions box set). This features Brian innocently asking studio engineer Chuck Britz: “Hey Chuck, is it possible we can bring a horse in here without … if we don’t screw everything up?”, to which a clearly startled Britz responds” “I beg your pardon?”, with Brian then pleading, “Honest to God, now, the horse is tame and everything!”[112] About a year later Brian had moved on to burning wood in the studio.

Promotional films[edit]

Two music videos were filmed set to “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows” for the UK’s Top of the Pops, both directed by newly employed band publicist Derek Taylor. The first was filmed at Brian’s Laurel Way home with Dennis acting as cameraman, the second near Lake Arrowhead. While the second film — containing footage of the group minus Bruce flailing around in grotesque horror masks and playing Old Maid — was intended to be accompanied by excerpts from “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “Here Today”, and “God Only Knows”, slight edits were made by the BBC to reduce the film’s length.[113]

Commercial performance[edit]

In 1966, they [the Beach Boys] were received by the British people very, very highly, they were received very warmly. And the people over there seemed to have had an affinity with our music. But, actually, I was very heartsick. I was very, very, very upset that it didn’t sell like I thought it would.…Pet Sounds was something that was absolutely different. Something I personally felt. That one album that was really more me than Mike Love and the surf records and all that, and “Kokomo“. That’s all their kind of stuff, you know?

—Brian Wilson[29]

Caroline, No” was released as a single; it was credited to Brian alone, leading to speculation that he was considering leaving the band.[114] The single reached number 32 in the US.[115] It was followed by “Sloop John B“, which was extremely successful, credited to the Beach Boys, and reached number three in the US[115] and number two in Great Britain.[116] “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” reached number eight in the US where it was treated as the A-side.[115] Its flip side, “God Only Knows,” was featured as the A-side in Europe, peaking at number two in Britain,[116] as a B-side in the US, it reached number 39.[115]

By mid-April 1966, Pet Sounds was fully assembled.[citation needed] Brian brought a complete acetate to Marilyn, who remembers, “It was so beautiful, one of the most spiritual times of my whole life. We both cried. Right after we listened to it, he said he was scared that nobody was going to like it. That it was too intricate.”[41] Released on May 16, the LP broke into the top 10 in the US, belying its reputation as a commercial failure there. However, compared to previous albums, Pet Sounds earned dramatically less commercial success. Its initial release in the US disappointed Brian,[29] with sales numbering approximately 500,000 units, a significant drop-off from the chain of million-selling albums which immediately preceded it.[117] Pet Sounds’ initial release was not awarded gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) despite eligibility beginning in mid–1967.[118] Eventually, Pet Sounds was presented with gold and platinum awards in 2000.[119]

Some of the blame has been placed with Capitol Records, which did not promote the album as heavily as previous releases.[45][120] Carl stated that Capitol did not feel a need to promote the Beach Boys since they were getting so much airplay, and that they had a “set image” for the group which even Pet Sounds could not alter.[45] Others assumed that the label considered the album a risk, appealing more to an older demographic than the younger, female audience the Beach Boys built their commercial standing on.[121] To Brian’s dismay, within two months, Capitol assembled the group’s first greatest hits compilation, Best of The Beach Boys, which was quickly certified gold by the RIAA.[122] Capitol executive Karl Engemann later speculated: “This is just conjecture on my part because it was so long ago … because the marketing people didn’t believe that Pet Sounds was going to do that well, they were probably looking for some additional volume in that quarter. There’s a good possibility that’s what happened. Anyway, my real forte was dealing with artists and producers and making them feel comfortable so they could achieve their ends. And sometimes, particularly when the label wanted something that the artist didn’t, it wasn’t easy.[123]

Its greatest success was in the UK, where it reached number two.[116] Its success was aided by support from the British music industry, who embraced the record; Paul McCartney spoke often about the album’s influence on the Beatles. Bruce Johnston stated that while he flew to London in May 1966, a number of musicians and other guests gathered in his hotel suite to listen to repeated playbacks of the album. This included McCartney, John Lennon, and Keith Moon. Moon himself involved Johnston by helping him gain coverage in British television circuits, and connecting him with Lennon and McCartney. Johnston claimed that Pet Sounds got so much publicity, “it forcedEMI to put the album out sooner.”[120] Although it has been claimed that the Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham helped Derek Taylorpublicize unsolicited advertisements lauding the album in British music papers, a search of the UK pop press for 1966 fails to uncover any such advertisement.[124][125]

In Australia, the album was released under the title The Fabulous Beach Boys on the Music for Pleasure label.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[126]
Blender 5/5 stars[127]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[128]
Entertainment Weekly A+[129]
Q 5/5 stars[130]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[131]
Slant Magazine 5/5 stars[132]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[133]

Early reviews for the album in the US ranged from negative to tentatively positive.[117]Upon release, it was named by many British publications as the most progressive popalbum of all time.[134] UK newspaper Melody Maker ran a feature which questioned the hype in its headline, but affirmed within: “The record’s impact on artists and the men behind the artists has been considerable.”[135] Andrew Oldham stated “I think that Pet Sounds is the most progressive album of the year in as much as Rimsky-Korsakov‘s Scheherazadewas. It’s the pop equivalent of that, a complete exercise in pop music.”[135] Spencer Davisof the Spencer Davis Group praised the album saying “Brian Wilson is a great record producer. I haven’t spent much time listening to the Beach Boys before, but I’m a fan now and I just want to listen to this LP again and again.”[135]

Pete Townshend was apprehensive of the album, believing “the Beach Boys new material is too remote and way out. It’s written for a feminine audience.”[135] Similarly, journalist and television presenter Barry Fantoni commented at the time that he preferred the group’s Beach Boys Today!, and that Pet Sounds “[is] probably revolutionary, but I’m not sure that everything that’s revolutionary is necessarily good.”[135] In Gene Sculatti’s 1968 editorial “In Defense of the Beach Boys”, he commented that Wilson was “one of the all-time great composers of melody in rock” along with Lennon-McCartney, John Phillips, and Smokey Robinson, yet, “Pet Sounds was by no means a revolutionary work in that it inspired or influenced the rock scene in a big way. It was revolutionary only within the confines of the Beach Boys’ music.” However, later in the piece he affirmed: “Pet Sounds was a final statement of an era and a prophecy that sweeping changes lay ahead.”[136]

Reappraisal[edit]

Retrospectively, in Stephen Davis‘s 1972 Rolling Stone review, Davis called it “by far” Brian Wilson’s best album and said that its “trenchant cycle of love songs has the emotional impact of a shatteringly evocative novel”.[6] Yahoo! Music‘s Bill Holdship called it “a beautiful reflection of romanticism in the modern world”.[137] In Music USA: The Rough Guide, Richie Unterberger and Samb Hicks wrote the album to be a “quantum leap” from the Beach Boys earlier material, and “the most gorgeous arrangements ever to grace a rock record.”[138] In 2006, Dominique Leone wrote a 9.4 review of its 40th Anniversary edition for Pitchfork Media stating: “Certainly, regardless of what I write here, the impact and ‘influence’ of the record will have been in turn hardly influenced at all. I can’t even get my dad to talk about Pet Sounds anymore. … The hymnal aspect of many of these songs seems no less pronounced, and the general air of deeply heartfelt love, graciousness and the uncertainty that any of it will be returned are still affecting to the point of distraction.”[60]Author Luis Sanchez views the album as “the score to a film about what rock music doesn’t have to be. For all of its inward-looking sentimentalism, it lays out in a masterful way the kind of glow and sui generis vision that Brian aimed to [later] expand.”[139] Music journalist Robert Christgau felt that Pet Sounds was a good record, but believed it had become looked upon as a totem.[140]

The A.V. Club theorized that the later success of “Good Vibrations” was what helped turn around the perception of Pet Sounds; that the “un-hip orchestrations and pervasive sadness baffled some longtime fans, who didn’t immediately get what Wilson was trying to do.”[141]By the 1990s, three British critics’ polls would feature Pet Sounds at the top or near the top of their lists.[46]

Legacy and influence[edit]

…by God if this little record didn’t change only the course of popular music, but the course of a few lives in the bargain…nobody was prepared for anything so soulful, so lovely, something one had to think about so much.

Stephen Davis in review of Pet Sounds, Rolling Stone, June 1972[6]

Pet Sounds expanded the field of music production.[10][11][12][13] In 1971, publication Beat Instrumental & International Recording wrote: “Pet Sounds took everyone by surprise. In terms of musical conception, lyric content, production and performance, it stood as a landmark in a music genre whose development was about to begin snowballing.”[142] The album’s historical distinctions include being the first rock record to incorporate the Electro-Theremin, an easier-to-play version of the theremin. Its inventor Paul Tanner performs the instrument on the song “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times“.[66][143]God Only Knows” unusually referred to “God” in its title, a decision Brian feared would be seen as blasphemous.[48][144] Professor of American history John Robert Greene stated that “God Only Knows” remade the ideal of the popular love song, while “Sloop John B” and “Pet Sounds” broke new ground and took rock music away from its casual lyrics and melodic structures into what was then uncharted territory. He furthermore called it one factor which spawned the majority of trends in post-1965 rock music, the only others being the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver (1966), and the 1960s folk movement.[145]

According to music journalists Stephen Davis and Nick Kent, Pet Sounds was the first rock concept album.[92][6] Bill Holdship said that it was “perhaps rock’s first example of self-conscious art”.[137] According to Jim Fusilli, author of the 33⅓ book on the album, it “[raised itself] to the level of art through its musical sophistication and the precision of its statement”,[146] while academic Michael Johnson said that the album was one of the first documented moments of ascension in rock music.[147] It is viewed by writer David Leaf as a herald ofart rock genre.[148] Vernon Joyson omitted the Beach Boys and Pet Sounds from his book The Acid Trip: A Complete Guide to Psychedelic Music on the basis that they “essentially predated the psychedelic era.”[52] Music journalist Jim DeRogatis said that it was one of the first psychedelic rock masterpieces, along with The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966) and Revolver.[49]Writer Bill Martin felt that it aided in the development of progressive rock at a time when the Beach Boys “brought expansions inharmony, instrumentation (and therefore timbre), duration, rhythm, and the use of recording technology“.[11] The album has inspired many progressive rock bands, being later named as one of Classic Rock magazines “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock”.[149][150]

Pet Sounds is frequently cited by both critics and musicians as the greatest rock album of all time. Advocates include Mojo magazine and Paul McCartney.[137] Although not originally a big seller, Pet Sounds has been influential since it was released.[151] In 1995, a panel of top musicians, songwriters and producers assembled by MOJO magazine voted Pet Sounds as the #1 greatest album among them.[152] Artists and musicians have revered the album as a remarkable milestone in the history of popular music.[153][154][155] These have included the Beach Boys’ contemporaries Pink Floyd,[156] Cream,[135] The Who,[nb 14] and The Beatles.[154][159] In the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, it was reported that singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston was enraptured with Pet Soundsand it immediately led him to buy the rest of the Beach Boys discography. He later recorded his own version of “God Only Knows”,[160] a song which also inspired songwriter Margo Guryan to reevaluate her career, saying “I thought it was just gorgeous. I bought the record and played it a million times, then sat down and wrote ‘Think of Rain.’ That’s really how I started writing that way. I just decided it was better than what was happening in jazz.”[161] Seattle-based folk band, the Fleet Foxes have often been seen paying tribute to the album.[162] Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth — who has covered both “Here Today” and “I Know There’s an Answer” from the album — has commented: “I would look at the cover of Pet Sounds and think… these guys with these sheep. I mean, what’s going on here?”[117]

Novelist Thomas Pynchon was played Pet Sounds by journalist Jules Siegel shortly after the album’s release; at the time, Pynchon was unaware why the journalist had been interested in covering the group. After listening, Pynchon was reportedly in a “stunned pleasure,” sighing softly before saying, “Ohhhhh, now I understand.”[163]

Paul McCartney has frequently stated his affinity with the album, citing “God Only Knows” as his favorite song of all-time, and crediting his uniquely melodic bass-playing style to the album. He acknowledged that it was the primary impetus for the Beatles‘ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band[154] The album also influenced their Revolver album.[164] Arranger Robert Kirby claims that English singer-songwriter Nick Drake intended the instrumentals on his 1970 album Bryter Layter to evoke Pet Sounds.[165] Kevin Shields of the Irish shoegazing group My Bloody Valentine referenced Pet Sounds as an example toward why their 1991 album Loveless was recorded in mono.[166] R.E.M.‘s song “At My Most Beautiful” from their 1998 album Up was written as a “gift” from Michael Stipe to his bandmates fond of Pet Sounds.[167] According to Thom Yorke, portions of the album OK Computer were based on the atmosphere of Pet Sounds.[168] When Animal Collective co-founder Noah Lennox was asked about critics comparing his 2007 solo album Person Pitch toPet Sounds, Lennox responded: “For me, Pet Sounds wouldn’t be the first thing I would compare my album with…first, because it would be kind of arrogant.”[169]

Tributes[edit]

Pet Sounds inspired tribute albums such as Do It Again: A Tribute To Pet Sounds, The String Quartet Tribute to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Mojo Presents: Pet Sounds Revisited.[170] Many songs from Pet Sounds have also appeared on general-themed Beach Boy and Brian Wilson tribute albums like Making God Smile and Smiling Pets, which feature cover versions by various artists includingSixpence None the Richer and Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her.[171] Other artists include They Might Be Giants, David Bowie,Black Francis, Peter Thomas, Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wolf, Tim Burgess, Saint Etienne and the Flaming Lips.

Pet Sounds tribute parodies include Punk Sounds by the Huntingtons.[172] Track-for-track mash-ups include Sgt. Petsound’s Lonely Hearts Club Band a blend of Pet Sounds with Sgt. Pepper. It was released under the pseudonym “The Beachles”.[173]

In the mid-1990s, Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo and Jim McIntyre of Von Hemmling founded Pet Sounds Studio, which served as the venue for many Elephant 6 projects such as Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and the Olivia Tremor Control‘s Dusk at Cubist Castle and Black Foliage.

Live performances[edit]

After its release, several selections from Pet Sounds became staples for the group’s live performances, including “Wouldn’t It Be Nice“, “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows“. Other songs were performed, albeit sporadically and infrequently through the years, and the album was never performed in its entirety with every original group member.[174] In the late 1990s, Carl Wilson vetoed an offer for the Beach Boys to perform Pet Sounds in full for ten shows, reasoning that the studio arrangements were too complex for the stage, and that Brian could not possibly sing his original parts.[175]

As a solo artist, Brian performed the entire album live on three occasions on his 2002 and 2006 “Pet Sounds” tours, which included fellow band member Al Jardine at several shows. He also performed it twice on his 2013 tour, which again included Jardine as well as original Beach Boys guitarist David Marks.[176][177] Recordings from Wilson’s 2002 concert tour were released as Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds Live.[178]

Release history[edit]

Pet Sounds has had many different reissues since its release in 1966, including remastered mono and stereo versions. Its first reissue was in 1972, when it was packaged as a bonus LP with the Beach Boys’ latest album Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”. The first release of the album on CD came in 1990, when it was released with the addition of three bonus tracks: “Unreleased Backgrounds”[nb 15], “Hang On to Your Ego” and “Trombone Dixie” all of which were described as unreleased.[179]

In 1997, The Pet Sounds Sessions box set was released. It included the original mono release of Pet Sounds, the very first stereo release, and three discs of unreleased material.[180] The stereo mix was reissued in 1999 on vinyl and on CD. In 2001, Pet Sounds was rereleased with the mono and improved stereo versions, plus “Hang on to Your Ego” as a bonus track, all on one disc.[180][181] On August 29, 2006, Capitol released the 40th Anniversary edition. The new compilation contains a new 2006 remaster of the original mono mix, DVD mixes (stereo and Surround Sound), and a “making of” documentary.[153] The discs were released in a regular jewel box and a deluxe edition was released in a green fuzzy box. A two disk colored gatefold vinyl set was released with green (stereo) and yellow (mono) disks. On September 2, 2008, Capitol reissued a single LP version replicating the original artwork and the inner sleeve with the original mono mix on 180 gram vinyl.[182]

In 2012 a new remaster was released containing the mono and stereo versions of the album as part of another re-issue campaign, which included a new boxed set as well as remasters of many of the albums previously released as two albums on one disc as stand-alone cds.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

Track list notes courtesy of Brad Elliot.[66] Following a 1994 court case, the songs “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “I Know There’s an Answer” were amended to include a songwriting credit to Mike Love that did not exist previously.[183]

All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (B. Wilson/Asher/Love) B. Wilson and Love 2:25
2. You Still Believe in Me B. Wilson 2:31
3. That’s Not Me Love with B. Wilson 2:28
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) B. Wilson 2:53
5. I’m Waiting for the Day” (B. Wilson/Love) B. Wilson 3:05
6. Let’s Go Away for Awhile” (B. Wilson) instrumental 2:18
7. Sloop John B” (trad. arr. B. Wilson) B. Wilson and Love 2:58
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
8. God Only Knows C. Wilson 2:51
9. I Know There’s an Answer” (B. Wilson/Terry Sachen/Love) Love and Jardine with B. Wilson 3:09
10. Here Today Love 2:54
11. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times B. Wilson 3:12
12. Pet Sounds” (B. Wilson) instrumental 2:22
13. Caroline, No B. Wilson 2:51

Personnel[edit]

The following credits are sourced from liner notes included with the 1999 mono/stereo reissue of Pet Sounds,[184] except where otherwise noted.

The Beach Boys
Production staff
Session musicians

Charts[edit]

Chart information courtesy of AllMusic and other music databases.[1][186]

Albums
Year Chart Position
1966 US Billboard 200 Albums 10
1966 UK Top 40 Album Chart 2
1972 US Billboard 200 Albums 50
1990 US Billboard 200 Albums 162
2001 Top Internet Albums 24
US Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1966 “Caroline, No” US Billboard Hot 100 Singles 32
1966 “God Only Knows” US Billboard Hot 100 Singles 39
1966 “Sloop John B” US Billboard Hot 100 Singles 3
1966 “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” US Billboard Hot 100 Singles 8
UK Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1966 “God Only Knows” UK Top 40 Singles 2
1966 “Sloop John B” UK Top 40 Singles 2

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Times United Kingdom The 100 Best Albums of All Time[187] 1993 1
New Musical Express United Kingdom New Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums[188] 1993 1
Mojo United Kingdom Mojo’s 100 Greatest Albums of All Time[189] 1995 1
The Guardian United Kingdom 100 Best Albums Ever[190] 1997 6
Channel 4 United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Albums[191] 1997 33
Grammy Awards United States Grammy Hall of Fame Award[192] 1998
Virgin United Kingdom The Virgin Top 100 Albums[193] 2000 18
VH1 United Kingdom VH1’s Greatest Albums Ever[194] 2001 3
BBC United Kingdom BBC 6 Music: Best Albums of All Time[195] 2002 11
Rolling Stone United States The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[196] 2003 2
Jim DeRogatis United States One Hundred and Ninety Eight Albums You Can’t Live Without[197] 2003 2
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[198] 2006
Time Magazine United States The All-TIME 100 Albums[199] 2006
Q United Kingdom Q Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums Ever[200] 2006 12
The Observer United Kingdom The 50 Albums That Changed Music[201] 2006 10
“—” denotes a non-ordered list

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Jardine plays the opening guitar riff during sessions for the previous album,Beach Boys’ Party!. It can be observed in their 2013 compilation Made in California.[citation needed]
  2. Jump up^ The Little Girl I Once Knew“, “In My Childhood“, “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)“, “Run, James, Run“, “Trombone Dixie”, and “Three Blind Mice”.[28] “Run, James, Run” was the working title for the instrumental “Pet Sounds“, the suggestion being that it would be offered for use in a James Bond movie).[29]
  3. Jump up^ Wilson has said that the main difference between him and the Beatles is that the Beatles “will simplify to its skeletal form an arrangement,” whereas Wilson would be “impelled to make it more complex,” and that if he had arranged “Norwegian Wood“, he would have “orchestrated it, put in background voices, [and] done a thousand things”.[30]
  4. Jump up^ While it has often been said that Brian composed all of the music to Pet Sounds, it has been claimed that Asher made significant musical contributions to “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times“, “Caroline, No“, and “That’s Not Me“.[75]
  5. Jump up^ Brian was publicly effused with the drug during the mid-1960s and was using it to further his creative process, an admitted example being the 1965 single “California Girls“. Throughout the latter half of the decade, Brian was repeatedly been shown to have become interested in Eastern philosophy and the psychedelic experience, often pointing toego loss as the key to a better way of living.[79][80][verification needed] During the spring of 1965, Brian had what he considered to be “a very religious experience” after consuming a full dose of LSD. He stated, “I learned a lot of things, like patience, understanding. I can’t teach you, or tell you what I learned from taking it.”[81]
  6. Jump up^ Sessions begun on July 12, 1965 with “Sloop John B“. After finishing the rushedParty! album, Brian returned to the studio sporadically throughout November and December to finish “Sloop John B”, and to begin work on “You Still Believe in Me“. Fervent sessions devoted to the now-entitled Pet Sounds album were kicked off in January 1966, when Brian began work on the instrumental tracks to “Let’s Go Away for Awhile“, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice“, and “Caroline, No“.[28]
  7. Jump up^ For his session of “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times“, Paul Tannerremembered: “Brian came over to me and sang such and such a thing, and I said ‘Well, write it down and I’ll play it,’ and he said ‘Write it down? We don’t write anything down—if you want it written down you have to write it down yourself.”[100]
  8. Jump up^ In 1995, it emerged that this session was originally intended to add vocals to “Let’s Go Away for Awhile”, but Capitol insisted that the session date be used for the album’s mixing.[102]
  9. Jump up^ This was done at Columbia, because it was the only facility in LA with an 8-track.[105]
  10. Jump up^ The five-piece group was by then being regularly augmented by singer Bruce Johnston, who later became a permanent member
  11. Jump up^ The fortunate survival of most of these 4-track instrumental masters and 8-track vocal masters, permitted Capitol to create the high-fidelity stereo remixes of the isolated backing tracks and vocal tracks which appear on The Pet Sounds Sessions.[105]
  12. Jump up^ Brian’s deafness is rumored to be the result of childhood injury to his eardrumcaused by a blow from his violent fatherMurry Wilson, although Brian claimed that he was born deaf in one ear.[107]
  13. Jump up^ It’s not known what the piece’s purpose was to be, but it was inexplicably included as part of the Beach Boys’ 2011 release of The Smile Sessions.
  14. Jump up^ Pete Townshend of The Who stated “‘God Only Knows’ is simple and elegant and was stunning when it first appeared; it still sounds perfect”.[157] In May 1966, Bruce Johnston flew to London with copies of Pet Sounds and recalls Keith Moon loving the album.[125] Keith later stated “Pet Sounds was too far removed from the style he loved”.[158]
  15. Jump up^ An a cappela demo section of “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” sung by Brian Wilson.
  16. Jump up^ Speculated by Mark Dillon to be Tony Asher.[185]
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0060. The Beatles – Revolver [1966]

Revolver

This is one of my favorite Beatles albums.  Eleanor Rigby and Tomorrow Never Knows are two of my favorite songs by them.  This album was actually given to us as part of Music History class in college.  I think this is where The Beatles started getting particularly interesting.  They show they’re much more than a pop rock band.  Not that any of their past albums are bad, it’s just that the style of their music gets more experimental in later years.  Very great stuff, and you really should check it out if you don’t already know how awesome it is.

Wikipedia Says:

Revolver is the seventh studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 5 August 1966 in the United Kingdom and three days later in the United States. The album marked a progression from their 1965 release Rubber Soul and signalled the band’s arrival as studio innovators, a year before the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. On release, Revolver was widely recognised by critics as having redefined the parameters of popular music. The album’s diverse influences and sounds include the incorporation of tape loops on the experimental “Tomorrow Never Knows“, the use of a classical string octet on “Eleanor Rigby“, and the Indian-music setting of “Love You To“. Together with the children’s novelty songYellow Submarine“, “Eleanor Rigby” became an international hit when issued as a double A-side single.

The album’s Grammy Award-winning cover design was created by Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles’ friends from their fledgling years in Hamburg. In the UK, Revolver ’​s 14 tracks were released to radio stations throughout July 1966, with the music signifying what author Ian MacDonald later described as “a radical new phase in the group’s recording career”.[1] The album spent 34 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, reaching the number one spot on 13 August.[2] Reduced to 11 songs for the North American market, Revolver was the last Beatles album to be subjected to Capitol Records‘ alteration of the band’s intended running order and content. Its US release coincided with the Beatles’ final concert tour and the controversy surrounding John Lennon‘s statement that the group had become “bigger than Christ“. In America, the album topped the Billboard Top LPs listings for six weeks.

Revolver was ranked first in Colin Larkin‘s book All-Time Top 1000 Albums and third inRolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[3] A remastered CD of the album was released on 9 September 2009. In 2013, after the British Phonographic Industry had changed its sales award rules, Revolver was certified platinum. The album has been certified 5x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Background[edit]

In December 1965, the Beatles‘ album Rubber Soul was released to wide critical acclaim.[4] In his book Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘n’ Roll, author Robert Rodriguez writes that it was viewed as a “major breakthrough beyond the Merseybeat sound of their previous five LPs”.[4] The following January, the band carried out overdubs on live recordings taken from their summer 1965 US tour,[5] for inclusion in the concert film The Beatles at Shea Stadium.[6] The group’s manager, Brian Epstein, had intended that the Beatles would then begin work on their third feature film, but the band members were unable to agree on a suitable script.[7][8] With three months free of engagements,[9] the extended layoff allowed the Beatles with an unprecedented amount of time to prepare for a new album.[10]

Writing in The Beatles Forever, Nicholas Schaffner cites 1966 as the start of the band’s “‘psychedelic‘ period” and adds: “That adjective implies not only the influence of certain mind-altering chemicals, but also the freewheeling spectrum of wide-ranging colors that their new music seemed to evoke.”[11] Music journalist Carol Clerk describes Revolver as having been “decisively informed by acid”, followingJohn Lennon and George Harrison‘s continued experimentation with the drug LSD since the spring of 1965.[12] Through these shared experiences, the two musicians developed a fascination for Eastern spiritual and philosophical concepts,[12][13] particularly regarding the illusory nature of human existence.[14] Despite his bandmates’ urging, after Ringo Starr had also partaken of the drug, Paul McCartneyrefused to try LSD.[15] As reflected in the more conventional subject matter of his lyrics on Revolver, relative to those of Lennon and Harrison,[16] McCartney drew his inspiration from the intellectual stimulation he experienced among London’s thriving and varied artistic community.[17][18]

While Lennon had been the Beatles’ dominant creative force through 1965, having contributed the lead vocal for the majority of their singles, album openers, and closers, McCartney now attained an approximately equal position with him.[19] Revolver marks the midpoint in the band’s recording career, between the period dominated by Lennon – who was by this time growing increasingly disinterested in his life as a Beatle – and the period dominated by McCartney, who would provide the group’s artistic direction for almost every post-Revolver project.[20] In addition, Harrison’s interest in the music and culture of India had inspired him as a composer.[21] With Revolver, Schaffner later wrote, “there were now three prolific songwriting Beatles”.[22]

Recording and production[edit]

Interviewer: What’s going to come out of the next recording sessions?
Lennon: Literally anything. Electronic music, jokes … one thing’s for sure: the next LP is going to be very different.[23]

– John Lennon to the NME, March 1966

Sessions for the album began at EMI‘s Abbey Road Studios in London on 6 April 1966.[24] The first track attempted was Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows“,[25] the arrangement for which changed considerably between the initial take that day and the subsequent remake.[26] This take 1 of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, along with several other outtakes from the album sessions,[27] was included on the 1996 compilation Anthology 2.[28]

According to Rodriguez, Revolver marks the first time that the Beatles “deliberately incorporated” the studio into the “conception of the recordings they made”, rather than using it “merely as a tool to capture performances”.[29] A key production technique that the band began using was automatic double tracking (ADT), which EMI engineer Ken Townsend invented on 6 April. This technique employed two linked tape recorders to automatically create a doubled vocal track. The standard method had been to double the vocal by singing the same piece twice onto a multitrack tape, a task Lennon particularly disliked. The Beatles were reportedly delighted with the invention, and used it extensively on Revolver. ADT soon became a standard pop production technique, and led to related developments such as the artificial chorus effect.[30]

Another EMI engineer, Geoff Emerick, recalled of the Beatles’ eagerness to experiment: “Revolver very rapidly became the album where the Beatles would say, ‘OK, that sounds great, now let’s play [the recording] backwards or speeded up or slowed down.’ They tried everything backward, just to see what things sounded like.”[25] The band’s interest in the tones that resulted from varying tape speed (orvarispeeding) extended to recording a basic track at a faster tempo than they intended the song to sound on disc.[31]

Brought in as an assistant to the group’s producer, George Martin, Emerick was responsible for several innovations in the studio.[32]Most importantly for the band’s sound, he and Townsend recorded McCartney’s bass guitar amplifier via a loudspeaker, instead of a standard microphone. With McCartney now using a Rickenbacker bass, in place of his Höfner model, this new set-up ensured that the bass was more prominent than on any previous Beatles release.[33] The recording staff employed this technique only on the two songs that were selected for a non-album single, however:[34]Paperback Writer” and “Rain“.[35] Emerick also ensured a greater presence for Starr’s bass drum, by inserting an item of clothing inside the structure, to dampen the sound,[36] and then moving the microphone to just 3 inches from the drumhead and compressing the signal through a Fairchild Limiter.[37] Musicologist Ian MacDonald writes that, despite Abbey Road being technically inferior to many recording facilities in the United States, Starr’s drumming on the album soon led to studios there “being torn apart and put back together again”, as engineers sought to replicate the innovative sounds achieved by the Beatles.[38][a]

The band had recorded nine songs by 1 May,[40] when they performed at the NME ’​s annual Poll-Winners Concert. Held at Wembley‘s Empire Pool, in north-west London, this was the last concert that the Beatles would play before a paying audience in the United Kingdom.[41] Performing before a crowd of 10,000, they played a set that was perceived as lacklusture.[4] With Lennon and Harrison both publicly expressing their disenchantment with fame and Beatlemania, rumours circulated throughout 1966 that the band were splitting up.[42] The pair also showed their support for Bob Dylan‘s controversial adoption of an electric sound, urging a disapproving audience at his Royal Albert Hall concert that same month to stop their heckling.[43]

Later in May, the Beatles spent two days making promotional films for their upcoming single.[44] The first set of clips were filmed at Abbey Road on 19 May by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of the popular TV show Ready Steady Go! The following day, the group travelled to west London and shot further clips for the songs in the grounds of Chiswick House.[44] On 16 June, five days before the end of the album sessions, they filmed live performances of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” for Top of the Pops.[45]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Rodriguez credits Revolver with influencing the development of a diversity of music genres, including electronica, punk rock and world music.[46] Author and critic Kenneth Womack writes of the Beatles’ exploring “phenomenologies of consciousness” on the album, and he cites as examples “I’m Only Sleeping“ ’​s preoccupation with dreams, and the references to death found in the lyric to “Tomorrow Never Knows”. In Womack’s estimation, the songs represent two important elements of the human life cycle that are “philosophical opposites”.[47]

Side one[edit]

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Womack characterises the solo as “like nothing else in the Beatles’ corpus to date; for that matter, it hardly bears any resemblance to anything in the history of recorded music.”[48] He credits the track with “announc[ing] a sweeping shift in the essential nature” of the Beatles’ sound.[48]

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Harrison wrote “Taxman” as a protest against the high marginal tax rates paid by top earners like the Beatles, which were sometimes as much as 95 per cent of their income.[49][b] The track’s opening count-in was overdubbed by Harrison and is out of tempo with the performance that follows.[51] Music critic Tim Riley credits this contrivance with establishing the “new studio aesthetic of Revolver“.[52]McCartney’s active bassline features glissandi that are reminiscent of Motown ’​sJames Jamerson. McCartney also performed the song’s Indian-style guitar solo, which spans two octaves and uses the Dorian mode.[53] Harrison’s vocals were treated with heavy compression and ADT;[49] Rodriguez cites the “abrasive sneer” of “Taxman” as evidence of its standing as a precursor to the 1970s punk movement.[46] Completed with input from Lennon,[54] the lyrics refer by name to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who were, respectively, the British Labour Prime Minister and Conservative Leader of the Opposition at the time.[55]

Womack describes McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby” as a “narrative about the perils of loneliness”, including the track among the Beatles’ “most fully realized songs”.[56] The story involves the title character, who is an aging spinster, and a lonely priest named Father McKenzie who writes “sermon[s] that no one will hear”.[57] He presides over Rigby’s funeral and acknowledges that despite his efforts, “no one was saved”.[58] Viewed by Schaffner as the only McCartney composition on Revolver that falls outside the bounds of a love song,[22] its lyrics were the product of a group effort, with Harrison, Starr and Lennon all contributing.[59][c] No Beatle played on the recording;[61] instead, Martin arranged the track for a string octet, drawing inspiration from Bernard Herrmann‘s 1960 film score for Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho.[62] MacDonald notes that, because most pop songs avoid the topic of death, “Eleanor Rigby” ’​s embrace of the taboo subject “came as quite a shock” to listeners in 1966.[63] In Riley’s opinion, “the corruption of ‘Taxman’ and the utter finality of Eleanor’s fate makes the world of Revolver more ominous than any other pair of opening songs could.”[64]

“I’m Only Sleeping” features a backwardsIndian-style guitar solo that Harrison played in reverse order during the recording; Martin then reversed the tape and dubbed it into the track, achieving what MacDonald describes as “smeared crescendi” and “womblike sucking noises”.[65]

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“I’m Only Sleeping” was written by Lennon. Author Barry Miles describes the song as “Half acid dream, half latent Lennon laziness personified.”[66] As with “Rain”, the basic track was recorded at a faster tempo before being subjected to varispeeding.[67] The latter treatment, along with ADT, was also applied to Lennon’s vocal as he sought to replicate, in MacDonald’s description, a “papery old man’s voice”.[65] Harrison composed and recorded his backward guitar solo with particular attention to how the notes would sound when the tape direction was corrected.[68][d]Beatles biographer Jonathan Gould views the solo as appearing to “suspend the laws of time and motion to simulate the half-coherence of the state between wakefulness and sleep”.[69] Musicologist Walter Everett admires the recording’s “unusual timbres”, describing the song as a “particularly expressive text painting”.[70]

Love You To” marked Harrison’s first foray into Hindustani classical music as a composer, following his introduction of the Indian sitaron Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood” in 1965.[71] Harrison recorded “Love You To” with musicians from the north London-based Asian Music Circle, who provided instrumentation such as tabla, swarmandal and tambura.[72] While the identity of the sitarist on the track has been the subject of debate among commentators,[73] Peter Lavezzoli, author of The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, is among those who credit the part to Harrison. Lavezzoli describes Harrison’s playing as “the most accomplished performance on sitar by any rock musician” and he recognises the song as “the first conscious attempt in pop to emulate a non-Western form of music in structure and instrumentation”.[74] Harrison’s other contributions include fuzztone-effected electric guitar.[72] Everett identifies the track’s change ofmetre as being without precedent in the Beatles’ catalogue thus far and a characteristic that would go on to feature prominently on the band’s subsequent album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.[75] Partly influenced by Harrison’s experimentation with LSD,[76][77]the lyrics to “Love You To” address the singer’s desire for “immediate sexual gratification”, Womack writes, and serve as a “rallying call to accept our inner hedonism and release our worldly inhibitions”.[78]

Here, There and Everywhere” is a ballad written by McCartney and inspired by the Beach Boys‘ song “God Only Knows“.[78] His double-tracked vocal was treated with varispeeding, resulting in a higher pitch at playback than the original.[79] The song’s opening lines are sung over shifts in time signature from 9/8 to 7/8 to 4/4;[78] according to Everett, “nowhere else does a Beatles introduction so well prepare a listener for the most striking and expressive tonal events that lie ahead.”[80] Womack characterises the song as a romantic ballad “about living in the here and now” and “fully experiencing the conscious moment”.[78] He notes that, with the preceding track, “Love You To”, the album expresses “corresponding examinations of the human experience of physical and romantic love”.[78] Riley describes “Here, There and Everywhere” as “the most perfect song” that McCartney has ever written.[81] In his opinion, the track “domesticates” the “eroticisms” of “Love You To”, drawing comparison with the concise writing of Rodgers and Hart.[82] The Beatles recorded the song towards the end of the Revolver sessions, and as they were under pressure to complete the album before their scheduled flight to Germany, on 23 June, for a European tour.[83][e]

McCartney wrote “Yellow Submarine” – a song he characterises as a “kid’s story” – as a vehicle for Starr’s limited vocal range.[85] With the help of Martin and Emerick, as well as the Rolling StonesBrian Jones, Mick Jagger and the roadies Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, the Beatles attempted to create a nautical atmosphere by mixing the sounds of various instruments, including gongs, whistles and bells, with an assortment of Studio Two’s sound effect units.[85] Lennon recorded the track’s superimposed voices in Abbey Road’s echo chamber, recalling what Womack describes as “a forgotten vestige of a Liverpudlian, seafaring past”.[86] In Riley’s opinion, the juxtaposition of McCartney’s graceful tenor vocals in “Here, There and Everywhere” with Starr’s “throaty” baritone croon in “Yellow Submarine” provides an element of comic relief that only the Beatles could successfully achieve.[87] He cites the track’s mix of comedy to the style of The Goon Show with satire inspired by Spike Jones.[88] Riley adds: “‘Yellow Submarine’ doesn’t subvert Revolver ’​s darker moods; it provides joyous distraction from them.”[88]

The songs got more interesting, so with that the effects got more interesting. I think the drugs were kicking in a little more heavily on this album … the grass and the acid. I feel to this day that though we didtake certain substances, we never did it to a great extent at the session. We were really hard workers.[89]

– Ringo Starr, 2000

The light atmosphere of “Yellow Submarine” is broken by what Riley describes as “the outwardly harnessed, but inwardly raging guitar” that introduces “She Said She Said“.[88] He praises the song’s expression of the “primal urge” for innocence, which imbues the lyric with “complexity”, as the speaker suffers through feelings of “inadequacy”, “helplessness” and “profound fear”.[88] In his opinion, the track’s “intensity is palpable” and “the music is a direct connection to [Lennon’s] psyche”.[88][f] “She Said She Said” marks the second time that a Beatles arrangement used a shifting metre, after “Love You To”, as the foundation of 4/4 briefly switches to 3/4 with the lyrics.[91] Harrison later recalled that he helped Lennon finish the composition, which involved joining together three separate fragments of song.[92] The track was recorded during a single nine-hour session on 21 June, one day before the album’s completion deadline.[93] MacDonald characterises “She Said She Said” as “the antithesis of McCartney’s impeccable neatness” and “one of the most irregular things that Lennon ever wrote”.[94]Owing to an argument in the studio, McCartney did not contribute to the recording, leaving Harrison to perform the bassline in addition to the lead guitar and harmony vocals.[95] The lyric was inspired in part by a conversation that Lennon and Harrison had with actor Peter Fonda in Los Angeles in August 1965,[96] while all three were under the influence of LSD.[97] During the conversation, Fonda commented: “I know what it’s like to be dead”, because as a child he hadtechnically died during an operation.[84] Lennon, fearing that the sombre tone of the story might lead to a bad trip, asked Fonda to leave the party.[94] Riley notes that by ending the first side of Revolver with “She Said She Said”, the Beatles return to the ominous mood established by the album’s first two songs.[98]

Side two[edit]

Good Day Sunshine” was written mainly by McCartney. In a review of the song, for AllMusic, Richie Unterberger describes it as “an appropriate soundtrack” for “one of the first fine days of spring, just after you’ve fallen in love or started a vacation”. The verses reflect aspects of vaudeville, while McCartney has also acknowledged the influence of the Lovin’ Spoonful on the composition.[99]

The song “And Your Bird Can Sing” was written primarily by Lennon, with McCartney claiming to have helped on the lyric, estimating the song as “80–20” to Lennon.[100] Harrison and McCartney played the dual lead-guitar parts on the recording.[101]

For No One” features McCartney playing piano and clavichord, accompanied by Starr on hi-hat and various percussion. The horn solo was played by Alan Civil, who recalled having to “busk” his part, with little guidance from McCartney or Martin at the overdubbing session.[101] While recognising McCartney’s “customary logic” in the song’s musical structure, MacDonald comments on the sense of detachment conveyed in the lyrics to this “curiously phlegmatic account of the end of an affair”. MacDonald suggests that McCartney was possibly attempting to employ in musical terms the same “dry cinematic eye” that director John Schlesinger had adopted in the 1965 film Darling.[102]

Doctor Robert” was written by Lennon and McCartney.[103] McCartney stated: “The song was a joke about this fellow who cured everyone of everything with all these pills and tranquilizers. Doctor Robert,” he added, “just kept New York high.[104] There’s some fellow in New York, and in the States we’d hear people say: ‘You can get everything off him; any pills you want.’ That’s what Dr. Robert is all about, just a pill doctor who sees you all right.”[105]

Harrison said he wrote “I Want to Tell You” about “the avalanche of thoughts” that he found hard to express in words.[106] The song opens with a descending guitar riff as the recording fades in, similar to the start of the Beatles’ 1964 track “Eight Days a Week“. Rolling Stone critic Mikal Gilmore has described Harrison’s incorporation of dissonance in the melody as being “revolutionary in popular music” in 1966, “and perhaps more originally creative than the avant-garde mannerisms that Lennon and McCartney borrowed from the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, Edgar Varese and Igor Stravinsky in this same period”.[107] According to musicologist Dominic Pedler, the E7♭9 chord used in the song is “one of the most legendary in the entire Beatles catalogue”.[108]

McCartney’s “Got to Get You into My Life” was influenced by the Motown Sound[109] and used brass instrumentation extensively. Although cast in the form of a love song, McCartney described the song as an “ode to pot”.[110] It was released as a single in the US in 1976, ten years after Revolver, to promote the compilation album Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, on which it appeared.[111]

There are sounds [onRevolver] that nobody else has done yet – I mean nobody … ever.[112]

– Paul McCartney, speaking during the Beatles’ June–August 1966 world tour

Rodriguez describes “Tomorrow Never Knows” as “the greatest leap into the future” that the Beatles “had yet taken”.[7] The group’s innovation in the recording studio reached its apex with the Lennon composition, which was an early example in the emerging counterculture genre of psychedelic music,[113] and included such groundbreaking techniques as reverse guitar, processed vocals, and looped tape effects. Musically, it is drone-like, with a strongly syncopated, repetitive drum-beat played over a single chord. The lyrics were inspired by Timothy Leary‘s book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The title came via a Ringo Starr malapropism.[114]The song’s harmonic structure is derived from Indian music and is based upon a high volume C drone played by Harrison on a tambura.[74] Much of the backing track consists of a series of prepared tape loops, stemming from Lennon’s and McCartney’s interest in and experiments with magnetic tape and musique concrète techniques at that time. According to the Beatles’ session chronicler Mark Lewisohn,[115] Lennon and McCartney prepared a series of loops at home, and these then were added to the pre-recorded backing track. This was done live in a single take, with multiple tape recorders running simultaneously, some of the longer loops extending out of the control room and down the corridor. Lennon’s processed lead vocal was another innovation. Always in search of ways to enhance or alter the sound of his voice, he gave a directive to Geoff Emerick that he wanted to sound like he was the Dalai Lama singing from the top of a high mountain.[116]

Cover art and title[edit]

The cover illustration was created by German-born bassist and artist Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles’ oldest friends from their time in Hamburg during the early 1960s.[117] Voormann’s illustration, part line drawing and part collage, included photographs by Robert Whitaker,[118] who also took the back cover photographs and many other images of the group between 1964 and 1966, such as the infamous “butcher cover” for Yesterday and Today. To create the Revolver cover, Voormann also used personal photos supplied by the band members, which, in his words, “show their sweet side”.[119] Voormann’s own photograph as well as his name (Klaus O.W. Voormann) is worked into Harrison’s hair on the right-hand side of the cover.[120] In the Revolver cover appearing in his artwork forAnthology 3, he replaced this image with a more recent photograph. Harrison’s Revolver image was seen again on the picture sleeve of his 1988 single “When We Was Fab“, along with an updated version of the same image.[g] Revolver won a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.[122][123]

The album’s title, like that of Rubber Soul, is a pun, referring to both a kind of handgun and the “revolving” motion of the record as it is played on a turntable. The Beatles had difficulty coming up with this title. According to author Barry Miles, the name that the four had originally wanted was Abracadabra, until they discovered that another band had already used it. After that, opinion was split: Lennon wanted to call it Four Sides of the Eternal Triangle and Starr jokingly suggested After Geography, playing on the title of the Rolling Stones‘ recently released Aftermath LP. Other suggestions included Magic Circles, Beatles on Safari, Pendulum and, finally, Revolver, whose wordplay was the one that all four agreed upon. The title was chosen while the band was on tour in Germany late June 1966. The name Revolver finally was selected while in the Hamburg hotel, as drafts prove.[124]

Release[edit]

Revolver was released in the United Kingdom on 5 August 1966 and on 8 August in the United States.[125] “Yellow Submarine” was issued as a double A-side with “Eleanor Rigby”.[126] Schaffner writes that as a novelty song and a ballad devoid of any instrumentation played by a Beatle, respectively, each of the two tracks marked a significant departure from the usual content of the band’s singles. Schaffner adds: “The only thing ‘Rigby’ had in common with ‘Submarine’ was that it sounded nothing like a Beatles record.”[127] The single held the number one position in the UK for four weeks during August and September.[126]

According to Rodriguez, Revolver ’​s release was not the significant media event that Sgt. Pepper ’​s was the following year.[29] There was no accompanying press build-up or conjecture regarding what the group was to offer. To the contrary, the album was “overshadowed” during a period of controversy following the negative reaction in the US to Lennon’s remarks about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus“.[128] In Britain, however, EMI gradually distributed songs from the album to radio stations throughout July 1966 – a strategy that MacDonald describes as “building anticipation for what would clearly be a radical new phase in the group’s recording career”.[129]Schaffner likens the Beatles’ 1966 recordings to the moment of transformation in the film Wizard of Oz, “where, when Dorothy discovers herself transported from Kansas to Oz, the film dramatically changes from black-and-white to glorious technicolor”.[130]

The original North American LP release of Revolver, the band’s tenth on Capitol Records and twelfth US album, marked the last time that Capitol would release an altered UK Beatles album for the North American market. Since three of its tracks – “I’m Only Sleeping”, “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Doctor Robert” – had been used for Capitol’s Yesterday and Today compilation in June 1966, they were removed from the North American version, yielding an 11-track album with a running time of 28:20. As a result, there were only two songs for which Lennon was the principal writer, compared with three by Harrison and the rest by McCartney. When the Beatles re-signed with EMI in January 1967, their contract stipulated that Capitol could no longer alter the track listings of their albums.[131]

The album’s April 1987 release on CD standardised the track listing to the original UK version. Having been available only as an import in the US previously, the 14-track UK version of the album was also issued domestically in the US on LP and cassette in July that year. In January 2014, the Capitol version of Revolver was issued on CD for the first time, both as part of the Beatles’ The U.S. Albums box set and as an individual release.[132]

Critical reception[edit]

Of course, there seem to be a large number of American individuals who are more interested in the Beatles’ political views than the music which they are creating … perhaps everyone isn’t aware of the musical impact and importance of Revolver – but it is certain that Revolver has fired a shot which will be heard around the globe wherever people really care about the music they are listening to.[133]

KRLA Beat, commenting on the lack of immediate acclaim afforded the album in America

With controversy following the Beatles during their summer US tour, critical reaction there was muted relative to the band’s previous releases.[134] KRLA Beat ’​s reviewer described Revolver as “a musical creation of exceptional excellence” while lamenting that, in the wake of the acclaimed Rubber Soul, “it is receiving only a fraction of the attention and respect due”, with recognition “occurring with an amazing absence of fanfare and discussion”.[133] Writing in the recently launched Crawdaddy!, Paul Williams gave the US version of the album a mixed review, in which he admired “Love You To” and “Eleanor Rigby” but derided “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Yellow Submarine”.[135] In a critique that Rodriguez terms “[a]head of the curve”,[135] Village Voice critic Richard Goldstein described Revolveras “a revolutionary record”, stating: “it seems now that we will view this album in retrospect as a key work in the development of rock and roll into an artistic pursuit …”[136]

In Britain, the reception was highly favourable.[137] In their joint review for Record Mirror, Richard Green and Peter Jones found the album “full of musical ingenuity” yet “controversial”, and added: “There are parts that will split the pop fraternity neatly down the middle.”[138] Having found Rubber Soul“monotonous” at times, Melody Maker lauded the new release as “a brilliant album which underlines once and for all that the Beatles have definitely broken the bounds of what we used to call pop”.[139]

Recalling the release in his book Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald writes that, with Revolver, the Beatles “had initiated a second pop revolution – one which while galvanising their existing rivals and inspiring many new ones, left all of them far behind”.[1] In a February 1967 review, Hit Parader declared: “Revolver represents the pinnacle of pop music. No group has been as consistently creative as the Beatles, though the [Lovin’] Spoonful and Beach Boys are coming closer all the time … Rather than analyze the music we just suggest that you listen to Revolver three or four times a day and marvel …”[140] Later that year, in Esquire,Robert Christgau called the album “twice as good and four times as startling as Rubber Soul, with sound effects, Oriental drones, jazz bands, transcendentalist lyrics, all kinds of rhythmic and harmonic surprises, and a filter that made John Lennon sound like God singing through a foghorn”.[141]

Retrospective reviews and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[142]
The A.V. Club A+[143]
Consequence of Sound B[144]
The Daily Telegraph 5/5 stars[145]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[146]
MusicHound 4.5/5 stars[147]
Paste 100/100[148]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[149]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[150]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[151]

Rob Sheffield, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), said that the album found the Beatles “at the peak of their powers, competing with one another because nobody else could touch them”, and concluded that, “these days, Revolver has earned its reputation as the best album the Beatles ever made, which means the best album by anybody.”[150] In a 2007 appraisal of the band’s albums, Henry Yates of Classic Rock magazine paired it withSgt. Pepper’s as the two “essential classics” in the Beatles’ canon, and concluded: “Always the rock fraternity’s favourite (and the blueprint for Noel Gallagher‘s career),Revolver still has the power of a piledriver to the head.”[152]

In the Encyclopedia of Popular Music (2006), Colin Larkin wrote that the album was wide-ranging, with Harrison’s sardonic “Taxman”, melancholic ballads such as “Eleanor Rigby” and “Here, There and Everywhere” by McCartney, and Lennon’s drug-inspired songs such as “Tomorrow Never Knows”, which “has been described as the most effective evocation of a LSD experience ever recorded”.[146] PopMatters said in a 2004 review that the album had “the individual members of the greatest band in the history of pop music peaking at the exact same time”.[153][154]

Revolver invented musical expressions and initiated trends and motifs that would chart the path not only of the Beatles and a cultural epoch, but of the subsequent history of rock and roll as well.[155]

– Russell Reising

According to Rodriguez, whereas Sgt. Pepper has been routinely identified as the Beatles’ greatest album – indeed, as arguably the finest rock album – Revolver has consistently contested and often surpassed it in lists of the group’s best work.[156] He characterises Revolver as “the Beatles’ artistic high-water mark”, and notes that unlike Sgt. Pepper, it was the product of a collaborative effort, with “the group as a whole being fully vested in creating Beatle music”.[29][h] In Riley’s view, Sgt. Pepper is the Beatles’ most notorious record for the wrong reasons – a flawed masterpiece that can only echo the strength of Revolver.”[157] In the opinion of the musicologist Russell Reising: “However one defines and wherever one ranks Revolver, no one can deny that Revolver ’​s impact was, by any standard of measurement, massive and transformative.”[155]

Rodriguez praises Martin and Emerick’s contribution to the album, suggesting that their talents were as essential to its success as the Beatles’.[158] He describes Revolver as the album that marks the group’s waning interest in live performance “in favor of creating soundscapes without limitation”.[159] In his opinion, whereas most contemporary music acts shy away from attempting a concept albumin the vein of Sgt. Pepper, Revolver ’​s “eclectic collection of diverse songs” continues to influence modern popular music.[159] According to the music critic Jim DeRogatis, Revolver represents a relic “of the first era of psychedelic rock and shining testaments to what can be accomplished in the recording studio when folks are fuelled on the potent drug of rampant imagination.”[160] Reising writes that “Revolverremains a haunting, soothing, confusing, grandly complex and ambitious statement about the possibilities of popular music.”[161]

In 1997 Revolver was named the third greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the United Kingdom byHMV Group, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM.[162] In 2000 Q magazine placed it at number 1 in its list of the 50 Greatest British Albums Ever.[163] In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the greatest album in history, a position it also achieved in the Virgin All Time Top 1,000 Albums.[164] In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Revolver third on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.[165] In 2006 the album was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best albums.[166] In 2006, Guitar World readers chose it as the tenth best guitar album of all time.[167] In 2010, Revolver was named the best pop album by the official newspaper of the Holy See,L’Osservatore Romano.[168] In 2013, Entertainment Weekly named Revolver the greatest album in history.[169] The same year, after theBritish Phonographic Industry changed their sales award rules, the album was declared as having gone platinum.[170]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except where noted[171].

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. Taxman” (Harrison) Harrison 2:39
2. Eleanor Rigby McCartney 2:08
3. I’m Only Sleeping Lennon 3:02
4. Love You To” (Harrison) Harrison 3:01
5. Here, There and Everywhere McCartney 2:26
6. Yellow Submarine Starr 2:40
7. She Said She Said Lennon 2:37
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
8. Good Day Sunshine McCartney 2:10
9. And Your Bird Can Sing Lennon 2:02
10. For No One McCartney 2:01
11. Doctor Robert Lennon 2:15
12. I Want to Tell You” (Harrison) Harrison 2:30
13. Got to Get You into My Life McCartney 2:31
14. Tomorrow Never Knows Lennon 2:57

Charts[edit]

Chart Year Peak position
UK Albums Chart[172] 1966 1
Billboard 200 Pop Albums
Australian Albums Chart

Chart succession[edit]

Preceded by
Yesterday and Today by The Beatles
Billboard 200 number-one album
10 September – 21 October 1966
Succeeded by
Supremes A’ Go-Go by The Supremes
Preceded by
What Now My Love by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
1–21 October 1966
Succeeded by
Going Places by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Preceded by
The Sound of Music by Original Soundtrack
UK Albums Chart number-one album
13 August – 1 October 1966
Succeeded by
The Sound of Music by Original Soundtrack

Certifications[edit]

Original release
Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[173] Platinum 70,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[174] Platinum 300,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[170]

North American release
Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[175] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[176] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Personnel[edit]

According to Mark Lewisohn:[115]

The Beatles
Additional musicians and production staff

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Hoping to work in a more modern studio than EMI’s London facility, in March 1966 the Beatles had sent Epstein to Memphis to investigate the possibility of their recording at Stax Studio. The idea was abandoned after locals began descending on the Stax building, as were alternative plans to use either Atlantic Studios in New York or Motown‘s facility in Detroit.[39]
  2. Jump up^ According to MacDonald, this was the “price” the four Beatles paid alongside their being appointed MBEs in September 1965.[50]
  3. Jump up^ Lennon later claimed to have written 70 per cent of the lyrics, which McCartney refutes, stating that Lennon contributed “about half a line”.[60]
  4. Jump up^ The solo consists of two separate guitar lines played by Harrison. The first part was given a clean sound, while on the second, he played his Gibson SG through a fuzzbox.[68]
  5. Jump up^ “Here, There and Everywhere” was the last song that McCartney wrote for the next five months.[84]
  6. Jump up^ According to Riley, “at the core of Lennon’s pain is a bottomless sense of abandonment”, a theme that Lennon would return to in late 1966 with “Strawberry Fields Forever“.[90]
  7. Jump up^ Voorman went on to play bass with Manfred Mann, and later on various post-Beatles solo albums.[121]
  8. Jump up^ Rodriguez also comments that, whereas Sgt. Pepper is a “period piece … inextricably tied to its time”, Revolver is “crackling with potent immediacy”.[46]

0059. The Who – My Generation [1965]

My-Generation--2

The Who is a legendary British rock band, and just like I said in the last entry about Bob Dylan, you should familiarize yourself with them simply for the purpose of music history.  Even if you can’t really relate to the music, the style, the lyrics, whatever.  You can consider it a piece of history, and imagine yourself listening to it in the context of the time in which it was released.  That’s what I always do with older music.  Anyway, check it out.  Pretty awesome stuff.

Wikipedia Says:

My Generation is the debut studio album by English rock band The Who, released by Brunswick Records in the United Kingdom in December 1965. In the United States, it was released by Decca Records as The Who Sings My Generation in April 1966, with a different cover and a slightly altered track listing.[1]

The album was made immediately after the Who got their first singles on the charts and according to the booklet in the Deluxe Edition, it was later dismissed by the band as something of a rush job that did not accurately represent their stage performance of the time. On the other hand, critics often rate it as one of the best rock albums of all time.

Recording and song info[edit]

By 1965 The Who were all set after recruiting drummer Keith Moon and saw their former band name change from The Detours to The Who, after briefly being called The High Numbers.[2] In the spring of 1965, the album was started during The Who’s early “Maximum R&B” period and features cover versions of the popular R&B songs I Don’t Mind andPlease, Please, Please,[3] both originally by James Brown, in addition to the R&B leanings of the tracks written by the band’s guitarist Pete Townshend. Nine tracks were recorded, but several of them were rejected for Townshend originals made at new sessions that began in October.

According to the booklet in the Deluxe Edition, “I’m a Man” was eliminated from the US release due to its sexual content. The US album also used the edited UK single version of “The Kids Are Alright”, which cut a brief instrumental section laden with manic drum rolls and guitar feedback before the final verse.

Many of the songs on the album saw release as singles. Aside from “My Generation“, which preceded the album’s release and reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, “A Legal Matter”, “La-La-La Lies”, and “The Kids Are Alright” were also released as domestic singles by Brunswick after the band had started releasing new material on the Reactionlabel in 1966. As they were not promoted by the band, they were not as commercially successful as “My Generation” or the Reaction singles. “The Kids Are Alright” was however a top 10 single in Sweden, peaking at No. 8.

“My Generation” and “The Kids Are Alright” in particular remain two of the group’s most-covered songs; while “My Generation” is a raw, aggressive number that presaged theheavy metal and punk rock movements, “The Kids Are Alright” is a more sophisticated pop number, with chiming guitars, three-part harmonies, and a lilting vocal melody, though still retaining the driving rhythm of other Who songs of the period. The album is considered an important forerunner of the “power pop” movement.[4] “Circles” was notably covered by contemporaries of the group, British freakbeat outfit Les Fleur de Lys. The cover version has found some notice after its inclusion on Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964-1969.

Release history[edit]

The UK release featured a cover image of the band standing beside some oil drums and looking upward to the camera, with splashes of colour added by the red and blue stencilled letters of the title and a jacket patterned after the Union Flag thrown over John Entwistle‘s shoulders. Townshend was wearing his school scarf. For the US release this was replaced with a portrait of the band standing beneathBig Ben.

The UK mono album was briefly reissued in Britain in 1979 by Virgin Records, during the height of the country’s Mod revival. The bands of that scene owed a direct debt to The Who for inspiration, and the younger generations of their fans were keen to explore those original influences. This pressing of the album went out of print in 1980, meaning there was no official UK edition of “My Generation” again available until the Deluxe edition remaster of 2002.

In 2002 the album was remixed into stereo and remastered for a Deluxe Edition by Shel Talmy. This was the first time any of these songs had seen a stereo release.[5] While sounding clearer in stereo, this edition omits many overdubs that are prominent in the original mono mixes, notably the lead guitar parts in “A Legal Matter” and “My Generation” (though both songs in their mono mixes close disc 2) and the double tracked vocals in “The Good’s Gone”, “Much Too Much”, “La-La-La Lies” and “The Kids Are Alright”.

In 2008 the album’s original UK mono mix was remastered for the Japanese market, appearing in limited numbers as a double-CD box set and a regular single CD album. Both variations included bonus tracks recorded in 1965. The stereo mixes were taken from the 2002 Deluxe Edition release.

In 2012, the album was released using a flat transfer from the original master tapes (for the mono disc) was released in Japan in 2012 as part of a two-disc mono and stereo set with bonus tracks. In the same year, My Generation was released in mono in the UK as a single disc without bonus tracks, using newer generation tapes several removes from the original master tape.[6]

In 2014, My Generation was released on iTunes and HDtracks in mono and stereo versions with bonus tracks. The mono version was mastered from the same source as the 2012 Japanese release. The stereo version are mixes different from the 2002 Deluxe Edition release.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[7]
PopMatters 9/10[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[9]

In his 1967 column for Esquire, music critic Robert Christgau called My Generation “the hardest rock in history”.[10] In 1981, he included its American version in his “basic record library”.[11] Richie Unterberger hailed the album as “the hardest mod pop” ever recorded in a retrospective review for AllMusic: “At the time of its release, it also had the most ferociously powerful guitars and drums yet captured on a rock record.”[7] In The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Mark Kemp wrote of the album’s legacy and influence:

With its ferocious blend of grungy distortion, rumbling bass and percussion, and brutish vocals, The Who Sings My Generation became the blueprint for much of the subsequent garage rock, heavy metal, and punk. In contrast to debut albums fromthe Stones (whose take on Southern American rock & soul was fairly earnest) andBeatles (who spread the word of rock & roll through sweet harmonies and easily digestible melodies), My Generation positively shoved at the boundaries of popular music. Townshend’s fiercely original guitar experiments here predate the innovations of his later American rival Jimi Hendrix.[12]

In 2003, My Generation was ranked number 236 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[13] and named the second greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine.[14] In 2004, it was #18 in Q magazine’s list of the 50 Best British Albums Ever.[15] In 2006, it was ranked No. 9 in NMEs list of the 100 Greatest British Albums.[16] In 2004, the title track was No. 11 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. In 2006, “The Kids Are Alright” was No. 34 in Pitchfork’s list of the 200 greatest songs of the 1960s.[17] In June 2009, the edited 1966 US version of the album “The Who Sings My Generation” was selected for the National Recording Registry of the US Library of Congress. The album, deemed “culturally significant”, will be preserved and archived.[18]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side one
  1. Out in the Street” – 2:31
  2. I Don’t Mind” (James Brown) – 2:36
  3. The Good’s Gone” – 4:02
  4. La-La-La-Lies” – 2:17
  5. Much Too Much” – 2:47
  6. My Generation” – 3:18
Side two
  1. The Kids Are Alright” – 3:04
  2. Please, Please, Please” (Brown, Johnny Terry) – 2:45
  3. It’s Not True” – 2:31
  4. I’m a Man” (Bo Diddley) – 3:21
  5. A Legal Matter” – 2:48
  6. The Ox” (Townshend, Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Nicky Hopkins) – 3:50
The Who Sings My Generation
Deluxe Edition (2002)
Mono digital release (2014)
Stereo digital release (2014)

Sales chart performance[edit]

Album
Year Chart Position
1965 UK NME Chart Albums 5[19]
Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1965 My Generation Billboard Pop Singles 74[citation needed]
UK Record Retailer Singles Charts 2[19]
1966 A Legal Matter UK Record Retailer Singles Charts 32[19]
The Kids Are Alright UK Record Retailer Singles Charts 41[19]

Personnel[edit]

The Who
Additional musicians

0058. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited [1965]

Bob_Dylan_-_Highway_61_Revisited

Bob Dylan.  Just like The Beatles, you don’t need me to hype it up.  I haven’t heard a bad Bob Dylan song yet, and if you’re not familiar with Bob Dylan, you ought to be if for no other reason than the knowledge of music history.

Wikipedia Says:

Highway 61 Revisited is the sixth studio album by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on August 30, 1965 by Columbia Records. Having until then recorded mostly acoustic music, Dylan used rock musicians as his backing band on every track of the album, except for the closing 11-minute ballad, “Desolation Row“. Critics have focused on the innovative way in which Dylan combined driving, blues-based music with the subtlety of poetry to create songs that captured the political and cultural chaos of contemporary America. Author Michael Gray has argued that in an important sense the 1960s “started” with this album.[1]

Leading with the hit single “Like a Rolling Stone“, the album features songs that Dylan has continued to perform live over his long career, including “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Highway 61 Revisited“. He named the album after the major American highway which connected his birthplace, Duluth, Minnesota, to southern cities famed for their musical heritage, including St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and the Delta blues area ofMississippi.

Highway 61 Revisited peaked at number three in the United States charts and number four in the United Kingdom. The album was ranked number four on Rolling Stone ’​s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. “Like a Rolling Stone” was a top-10 hit in several countries, and was listed at number one on Rolling Stone ’​s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Two other songs, “Desolation Row” and “Highway 61 Revisited”, were listed at number 187 and number 373 respectively.

Dylan and Highway 61[edit]

In his memoir Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan described the kinship he felt with the route that supplied the title of his sixth album: “Highway 61, the main thoroughfare of the country blues, begins about where I began. I always felt like I’d started on it, always had been on it and could go anywhere, even down in to the deep Delta country. It was the same road, full of the same contradictions, the same one-horse towns, the same spiritual ancestors … It was my place in the universe, always felt like it was in my blood.”[2]

While he was growing up in the 1950s, Highway 61 stretched from Duluth, where Dylan was born, through St. Paul, and down to theMississippi delta. Along the way, the route passed near the birthplaces and homes of influential musicians such as Muddy Waters, Son House, Elvis Presley, and Charley Patton. The “empress of the blues”, Bessie Smith, died after sustaining serious injuries in an automobile accident on Highway 61. Critic Mark Polizzotti points out that blues legend Robert Johnson is alleged to have sold his soul to the devil at the highway’s crossroads with Route 49.[3] The highway had also been the subject of several blues recordings, notablyRoosevelt Sykes‘ “Highway 61 Blues” (1932) and Mississippi Fred McDowell‘s “61 Highway” (1964).[4]

Dylan has stated that he had to overcome considerable resistance at Columbia Records to give the album its title. He told biographerRobert Shelton: “I wanted to call that album Highway 61 Revisited. Nobody understood it. I had to go up the fucking ladder until finally the word came down and said: ‘Let him call it what he wants to call it’.”[5] Michael Gray has suggested that the very title of the album represents Dylan’s insistence that his songs are rooted in the traditions of the blues: “Indeed the album title Highway 61 Revisitedannounces that we are in for a long revisit, since it is such a long, blues-travelled highway. Many bluesmen had been there before [Dylan], all recording versions of a blues called ‘Highway 61’.”[6]

Recording sessions[edit]

Background[edit]

In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. He told journalist Nat Hentoff: “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained.” The singer added, “It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.”[7]

As a consequence of his dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote 20 pages of verse he later described as a “long piece of vomit”.[8] He reduced this to a song with four verses and a chorus—”Like a Rolling Stone”.[9] He told Hentoff that writing and recording the song washed away his dissatisfaction, and restored his enthusiasm for creating music.[7] Describing the experience to Robert Hilburn in 2004, nearly 40 years later, Dylan said: “It’s like a ghost is writing a song like that … You don’t know what it means except the ghost picked me to write the song.”[10]

Highway 61 Revisited was recorded in two blocks of recording sessions that took place in Studio A of Columbia Records, located inMidtown Manhattan.[11] The first block, June 15 and June 16, was produced by Tom Wilson and resulted in the single “Like a Rolling Stone”.[12] On July 25, Dylan performed his controversial electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, where some of the crowd booed his performance.[13] Four days after Newport, Dylan returned to the recording studio. From July 29 to August 4, he and his band completed recording Highway 61 Revisited, but under the supervision of a new producer, Bob Johnston.[14]

Recording sessions, June 15–16[edit]

Al Kooper seated

Al Kooper’s improvised organ riff on “Like a Rolling Stone” has been described as “one of the great moments of pop music serendipity”.[15]

Tom Wilson produced the initial recording sessions for Highway 61 Revisited on June 15–16, 1965. Dylan was backed by Bobby Gregg on drums, Joe Macho, Jr. on bass, Paul Griffin on piano, and Frank Owens on guitar.[16] For lead guitar, the singer recruited Michael Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.[17] The musicians began the June 15 session by recording a fast version of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and the song “Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence”, which was omitted from the Highway 61 album.[18] Dylan and his band next attempted to record “Like a Rolling Stone”;[19] at this early stage, Dylan’s piano dominated the backing, which was in 3/4 time.[20] “Barbed Wire Fence”, the fast version of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh”, and an early take of “Like a Rolling Stone” were eventually released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.[21]

The musicians returned to Studio A the following day, when they devoted almost the entire session to recording “Like a Rolling Stone”. Present on this occasion was Al Kooper, a young musician invited by Wilson to observe, but who wanted to play on the session.[22] Kooper managed to sit in on the session, and he improvised an organ riff that, critics Greil Marcus and Mark Polizzotti argue, became a crucial element of the recording.[23][24] The fourth take was ultimately selected as the master, but Dylan and the band recorded eleven more takes.[25] After “Like a Rolling Stone” had been completed, he improvised a short unreleased song,[26] bootlegged under the title “Lunatic Princess Revisited”,[25] but copyrighted as “Why Do You Have to Be So Frantic?”.[27] Critic Clinton Heylin calls the song a “weird little one-verse fragment”, but claims that the riff is the blueprint of the singer’s 1979 evangelical composition, “Slow Train”.[26]

Recording sessions, July 29 – August 4[edit]

To create the material for Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan spent a month writing in his new home in the Byrdcliffe artists’ colony ofWoodstock in upstate New York.[28] When he returned to Studio A on July 29, he was backed by the same musicians with Harvey Brooks on bass replacing Joe Mach and his producer had changed from Tom Wilson to Bob Johnston.[29][a 1]

McCoy holding a microphone onstage

Nashville sessions musician Charlie McCoy’s chance visit to New York resulted in the guitar flourishes accompanying “Desolation Row”, the last track on the album.[30]

Their first session together was devoted to three songs. After recording several takes each of “Tombstone Blues“, “It Takes a Lot to Laugh” and “Positively 4th Street“, masters were successfully recorded.[31] “Tombstone Blues” and “It Takes a Lot to Laugh” were included in the final album, but “Positively 4th Street” was issued as a single-only release. At the close of the July 29 session, Dylan attempted to record “Desolation Row”, accompanied by Al Kooper on electric guitar and Harvey Brooks on bass. There was no drummer, as the drummer had gone home.[32] This electric version was eventually released in 2005, on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7.[33]

On July 30, Dylan and his band returned to Studio A and recorded three songs. A master take of “From a Buick 6” was recorded and later included on the final album, but most of the session was devoted to “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” Dylan was unsatisfied with the results and set the song aside for a later date; it was eventually re-recorded with the Hawks in October.[34]

After Dylan and Kooper spent the weekend in Woodstock writing chord charts for the songs,[35]sessions resumed at Studio A on August 2.[36][37] “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues“, “Queen Jane Approximately“, and “Ballad of a Thin Man” were recorded successfully and masters were selected for the album.[38][39][40]

One final session was held on August 4, again at Studio A. Most of the session was devoted to completing “Desolation Row”. Johnston has related that Nashville musician Charlie McCoy was visiting New York, and he invited McCoy to play guitar at the session.[30] According to some sources, seven takes of “Desolation Row” were recorded, and takes six and seven were spliced together for the master recording.[41]

The resulting album, Highway 61 Revisited, has been described as “Dylan’s first purely ‘rock’ album”,[42] a realization of his wish to leave his old music format behind and move on from his all-acoustic first four albums and half-acoustic, half-electric fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home. Documentary director D. A. Pennebaker, who filmed Dylan on his acoustic UK tour in May 1965, has said: “I didn’t know that he was going to leave acoustic. I did know that he was getting a little dragged by it.”[43]

Songs[edit]

Side one[edit]

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In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine declared “Like a Rolling Stone” to be “the greatest song of all time”, and noted “the impressionist voltage of Dylan’s language, the intensely personal accusation in his voice (‘Ho-o-o-ow does it fe-e-e-el?’)” and “the apocalyptic charge of Kooper’s garage-gospel organ”.[44]

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Highway 61 Revisited opens with “Like a Rolling Stone“, which has been described as revolutionary in its combination of electric guitar licks, organ chords, and Dylan’s voice, “at once so young and so snarling … and so cynical”.[45] Michael Gray characterized “Like a Rolling Stone” as “a chaotic amalgam of blues, impressionism, allegory, and an intense directness: ‘How does it feel?'”[45] Polizzotti writes that the composition is notable for avoiding traditional themes of popular music, such as romance, and instead expresses resentment and a yearning for revenge.[46][47] It has been suggested that Miss Lonely, the song’s central character, is based onEdie Sedgwick, a socialite and actress in the Factory scene of pop artist Andy Warhol.[48] Critic Mike Marqusee has written that this composition is “surely a Dylan cameo”, and that its full poignancy becomes apparent upon the realization that “it is sung, at least in part, to the singer himself: he’s the one ‘with no direction home’.”[49] “Like A Rolling Stone” reached number two in the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965,[50] and was a top-10 hit in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.[51][52]

The fast-paced, two-chord blues song “Tombstone Blues“, driven by Michael Bloomfield’s lead guitar, uses a parade of historical characters—outlaw Belle Starr, biblical temptress Delilah, Jack the Ripper (represented in this song as a successful businessman), John the Baptist (described here as a torturer), and blues singer Ma Rainey whom Dylan humorously suggests shared a sleeping bag with composer Beethoven—to sketch an absurdist account of contemporary America.[53] For critics Mark Polizzotti and Andy Gill, the reality behind the song is the then-escalating Vietnam War; both writers hear the “king of the Philistines” who sends his slaves “out to the jungle” as a reference to President Lyndon B. Johnson.[53][54]

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According to critic Andy Gill, “It Takes A Lot To Laugh” illustrates Dylan’s creativity, both in the way it adapts an old blues song, and in the way Dylan recorded two radically different versions of the song: the first, fast and guitar-driven; in his second version, released onHighway 61, Dylan transformed the song into a “slow, loping, piano-based blues”.[55]

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On July 29, 1965, Dylan and his band resumed recording “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry“.[56] Tony Glover, who observed the recording session, has recalled that Dylan re-worked on the song at the piano while the other musicians took a lunch break.[57] Critic Sean Egan writes that by slowing down the tempo, Dylan transformed the song from an “insufferably smart-alec number into a slow, tender, sensual anthem”.[58] Gill points out that the lyrics reveal the singer’s talent for borrowing from old blues numbers, adapting the lines “Don’t the clouds look lonesome shining across the sea/ Don’t my gal look good when she’s coming after me” from “Solid Road” by bluesmen Brownie McGhee and Leroy Carr.[55]

AllMusic critic Bill Janovitz describes “From a Buick 6” as a “raucous, up-tempo blues”, which is played “almost recklessly”.[59] The song opens with a snare shot similar to the beginning of “Like a Rolling Stone”.[60] Partially based on Sleepy John Estes‘ 1930 song “Milk Cow Blues“,[59] the guitar part is patterned after older blues riffs by Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton and Big Joe Williams.[61] Robert Shelton hears the song as “an earthy tribute to another funky earth-mother”,[61] while for Heylin it is close to filler material; he argues that only through the musicians’ performance is Dylan able to “convince us he is doing more than just listing the number of ways in which this ‘graveyard woman’ is both a lifesaver and a death-giver”.[62]

Ballad of a Thin Man” is driven by Dylan’s piano, which contrasts with “the spooky organ riffs” played by Al Kooper.[63] Marqusee describes the song as one of “the purest songs of protest ever sung”, as it looks at the media and its inability to understand both the singer and his work. He writes that the song became the anthem of an in-group, “disgusted by the old, excited by the new … elated by their discovery of others who shared their feelings”, with its refrain “Something is happening here/ But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr Jones?” epitomizing the “hip exclusivity” of the burgeoning counterculture.[63] Robert Shelton describes the song’s central character, Mr Jones, as “one of Dylan’s greatest archetypes”, characterizing him as “a Philistine … superficially educated and well bred but not very smart about the things that count”.[61]

Side two[edit]

Polizzotti, in his study of Highway 61 Revisited, writes that the opening track of Side Two, “Queen Jane Approximately” is in a similar vein to “Like a Rolling Stone”, but the song offers “a touch of sympathy and even comfort in place of relentless mockery”.[64] The song is structured as a series of ABAB quatrain verses, with each verse followed by a chorus that is simply a repeat of the last line of each verse: “Won’t you come see me Queen Jane?”.[65] Gill calls this song “the least interesting track” on Highway 61, but praises the piano ascending the scale during the harmonica break as an evocation of “the stifling nature of an upper class existence”.[66] “Queen Jane Approximately” was released as the B-side of Dylan’s “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” single in early 1966.[67]

Dylan commences the title song of his album, “Highway 61 Revisited“, with the words “Oh God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’/Abe says, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on'”.[68] As Gill has pointed out, Abraham was the name of Dylan’s father, which makes the singer the son whom God wants killed.[69] Gill comments that it is befitting that this song, celebrating a highway central to the history of the blues, is a “raucous blues boogie”.[69] He notes that the scope of the song broadens to make the highway a road of endless possibilities, peopled by dubious characters and culminating in a promoter who “seriously considers staging World War III out on Highway 61”.[69] The song is punctuated by the sound of a “Siren Whistle”, credited as “Police Car” to Dylan in the album liner notes.[70] Highway 61 Revisited” was released as the B-side of his “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” single on November 30, 1965.[71]

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” has six verses and no chorus.[72] The lyrics describe a nightmarish experience in Juarez, Mexico, where, in Shelton’s words, “our anti-hero stumbles amid sickness, despair, whores and saints.”[73] He battles with corrupt authorities, alcohol and drugs before resolving to return to New York City.[73][74][75] In this song, critics have heard literary references to Malcolm Lowry‘sUnder the Volcano, Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Jack Kerouac‘s Desolation Angels.[73][76][77] The backing musicians, Bobby Gregg on drums, Mike Bloomfield on electric guitar, and two pianists, Paul Griffin on tack piano and Al Kooper onHohner Pianet, produce a mood that, for Gill, perfectly complements the “enervated tone” of the lyrics.[38][78] Heylin notes that Dylan took great care—sixteen takes—to get the effect he was after, with lyrics that subtly “[skirt] the edge of reason”.[36]

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Featuring a “courtly, flamenco-tinged guitar backing”,[79] it has been suggested that in “Desolation Row“, Dylan combined the cultural chaos of mid-1960s America with sepia-tinged TV westerns he remembered from his youth, such asRawhide and Gunsmoke.[80]

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Dylan concludes Highway 61 Revisited with the sole acoustic exception to his rock album. Gill has characterized “Desolation Row” as “an 11-minute epic of entropy, which takes the form of a Fellini-esque parade of grotesques and oddities featuring a huge cast of iconic characters”. These include historical celebrities such asEinstein and Nero, the biblical characters Noah and Cain and Abel, the Shakespearian figures of Ophelia and Romeo, ending with literary titans T.S. Eliotand Ezra Pound.[79] The song opens with a report that “they’re selling postcards of the hanging”, and adds “the circus is in town”.[81] Polizzotti connects this song with the lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth, Minnesota, which was Dylan’s birthplace, and describes “Desolation Row” as a cowboy song, “the ‘Home On The Range’ of the frightening territory that was mid-sixties America”.[80] In the penultimate verse, the passengers on the Titanic are shouting “Which side are you on?”.[82] Shelton suggests Dylan is asking, “What difference which side you’re on if you’re sailing on the Titanic?” and is thus satirizing “simpleminded political commitment”.[82]

Outtakes[edit]

Eleven outtakes from the Highway 61 Revisited sessions have subsequently been released on the Columbia and Legacy record labels. The first proper non-album release from the sessions was the single “Positively 4th Street”,[83] although on an early pressing of the single Columbia used another Highway 61 outtake, “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?”, by mistake.[84] “Crawl Out Your Window” was subsequently re-recorded with the Hawks in October, and released as a single in November 1965.[34] Columbia accidentally released an alternate take of “From a Buick 6” on an early pressing of Highway 61 Revisited, and this version continued to appear on the Japanese release for several years.[62] Other officially released outtakes include alternate takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” and “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”, and a previously unreleased song, “Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence”, on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.[21] Alternate takes of “Desolation Row”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, “Tombstone Blues” and a still different take of “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” were released on The Bootleg Series Volume 7.[33] Excerpts from several different takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” appeared on the Highway 61 Interactive CD-ROM,[85] released in February 1995.[86] Several other alternate takes of various songs were recorded during theHighway 61 sessions but remain unreleased,[87] as does the composition “Why Do You Have to Be So Frantic?”.[26]

Packaging[edit]

The cover artwork was photographed by Daniel Kramer several weeks before the recording sessions. Kramer captured Dylan sitting on the stoop of the apartment of his manager, Albert Grossman, located in Gramercy Park, New York, placing Dylan’s friend Bob Neuwirthbehind Dylan “to give it extra color”.[88] Dylan wears a Triumph motorcycle T-shirt under a blue and purple silk shirt, holding his Ray-Bansunglasses in his right hand.[88] Photographer Kramer commented in 2010 on the singer’s expression: “He’s hostile, or it’s a hostile moodiness. He’s almost challenging me or you or whoever’s looking at it: ‘What are you gonna do about it, buster?'”[89]

As he had on his previous three albums, Dylan contributed his own writing to the back cover of Highway 61 Revisited, in the shape of freeform, surrealist prose: “On the slow train time does not interfere & at the Arabian crossing waits White Heap, the man from the newspaper & behind him the hundred inevitable made of solid rock & stone.”[70] One critic has pointed out the close similarity of these notes to the stream of consciousness, experimental novel Tarantula, which Dylan was writing during 1965 and 1966.[58]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[90]
BBC (Favorable)[91]
Entertainment Weekly A+[92]
PopMatters (Favorable)[93]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[94]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[95]

In the British music press, initial reviews of Highway 61 expressed both bafflement and admiration for the record. New Musical Express critic Allen Evans wrote: “Another set of message songs and story songs sung in that monotonous and tuneless way by Dylan which becomes quite arresting as you listen.”[96] The Melody Maker LP review section, by an anonymous critic, commented: “Bob Dylan’s sixth LP, like all others, is fairly incomprehensible but nevertheless an absolute knock-out.”[97] The English poet Philip Larkin, reviewing the album for The Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found himself “well rewarded” by the record: “Dylan’s cawing, derisive voice is probably well suited to his material … and his guitar adapts itself to rock (‘Highway 61’) and ballad (‘Queen Jane’). There is a marathon ‘Desolation Row’ which has an enchanting tune and mysterious, possibly half-baked words.”[98]

In September 1965, the US trade journal Billboard also praised the album, and predicted big sales for it: “Based upon his singles hit ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, Dylan has a top-of-the-chart-winner in this package of his off-beat, commercial material.”[99] The album peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart of top albums,[50] and number four on the UK albums charts.[100] In the US, Highway 61 was certificated as a gold record in August 1967,[101] and platinum in August 1997.[102]

Highway 61 Revisited has remained among the most highly acclaimed of Dylan’s works. Biographer Anthony Scaduto praises its rich imagery, and describes it as “one of the most brilliant pop records ever made. As rock, it cuts through to the core of the music—a hard driving beat without frills, without self-consciousness.”[103] Michael Gray calls Highway 61 “revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy and panache but in its vision: fusing radical, electrical music … with lyrics that were light years ahead of anyone else’s; Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry. The whole rock culture, the whole post-Beatle pop-rock world, and so in an important sense the 1960s started here.”[1]

Among Dylan’s contemporaries, Phil Ochs was impressed by Highway 61, explaining: “It’s the kind of music that plants a seed in your mind and then you have to hear it several times. And as you go over it you start to hear more and more things. He’s done something that’s left the whole field ridiculously in the back of him.”[104] In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine described Highway 61 as “one of those albums that changed everything”, and placed it at number four in its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time“.[105] The Rolling Stonelist of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” ranked “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Desolation Row” and “Like a Rolling Stone” at number 373,[106] number 187,[107] and number one, respectively.[44] In 2012, The Best 100 Albums of All Time book ranked Highway 61 Revisited as the greatest album of all time.[108]

Dylan playing guitar onstage

Having toured continuously since the inception of his Never Ending Tour in June 1988,[109] Dylan has performed “Like a Rolling Stone” more than 2,000 times in concert.[110]

Most of the songs on Highway 61 Revisited have remained important, in varying degrees, to Dylan’s live performances since 1965. According to his website, he has played “Like a Rolling Stone” over 2,000 times, “Highway 61 Revisited” more than 1,700 times, “Ballad of a Thin Man” over 1,000 times, and most of the other songs between 150 and 500 times.[110]

The influence of the songs on Highway 61 Revisited can be heard in many cover versions. “Like a Rolling Stone” has been recorded by artists including the Rolling Stones, on their live albumStripped,[111] David Bowie and Mick Ronson on Heaven and Hull,[112] Johnny Winter on Raisin’ Cain,[113] and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival.[114] My Chemical Romance‘s version of “Desolation Row” was featured in the film Watchmen in 2009.[115] The song has also been covered by the Grateful Dead on their album Postcards of the Hanging.[116] “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” has been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Nina Simone and Neil Young.[75]

Track listing[edit]

The track listing of Highway 61 Revisited is as follows:[90] All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. Like a Rolling Stone 6:13
2. Tombstone Blues 6:00
3. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry 4:09
4. From a Buick 6 3:19
5. Ballad of a Thin Man 5:58
Side two
No. Title Length
1. Queen Jane Approximately 5:31
2. Highway 61 Revisited 3:30
3. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues 5:32
4. Desolation Row 11:21

Personnel[edit]

The musical personnel on Highway 61 Revisited were as follows:[70][85][a 2]

Production personnel

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Polizzotti writes that Wilson and Dylan had a falling out during the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone”, perhaps over the prominence of Kooper’s organ in the mix. (Polizzotti 2006, p. 78) When questioned by Jann Wenner in 1969 about the switch in producers, Dylan gave a deadpan answer: “All I know is that I was out recording one day, and Tom had always been there—I had no reason to think he wasn’t going to be there—and I looked up one day, and Bob was there [laughs].” (Wenner, Jann. “Interview with Jann S. Wenner”, Rolling Stone, November 29, 1969, in Cott 2006, p. 142)
  2. Jump up^ Highway 61 Revisited—Discover: Liner Notes do not list Sam Lay among the personnel, but Heylin 1995, p. 39 does.

0057. The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man [1965]

Byrds-MrTambourineMan

Folk rock.  Pretty much sums this album up.  It’s good if you’re in the mood for it.  Most of you might remember the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!…” from Forrest Gump.  If you dug that song, you’ll probably dig the rest of The Byrds catalog.  I usually prefer something more electronic or brutal, or both.  Anyway, not bad, but not high on the list of things I’d put on outside this project.

Wikipedia Says:

Mr. Tambourine Man is the debut album by the American folk rock band The Byrds and was released in June 1965 on Columbia Records (see 1965 in music).[1] The album, along with the single of the same name, established the band as an internationally successful rock act and was also influential in originating the musical style known as folk rock.[2] The term “folk rock” was, in fact, first coined by the U.S. music press to describe the band’s sound in mid-1965, at around the same time that the “Mr. Tambourine Man” single reached the top of the Billboard chart.[3] The single and album also represented the first effective American challenge to the dominance of The Beatles and the British Invasion during the mid-1960s.[4]

The album peaked at No.6 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and reached No.7 in the United Kingdom.[5][6] The Bob Dylan penned “Mr. Tambourine Man” single was released ahead of the album in April 1965, reaching No.1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.[6][7] A second single from the album, “All I Really Want to Do“, also a Dylan cover, was moderately successful in the U.S. but fared better in the United Kingdom, where it reached the Top 10.[6][7]

Background[edit]

Prior to forming The Byrds, most of the members of the band had come from a folk androots music background, rather than a rock and roll one.[4] Lead guitarist Jim McGuinn[a]had been a folk singer at various New York and Los Angeles folk clubs during the early 1960s and had also served as a sideman with the “collegiate folk” groups The Limelitersand the Chad Mitchell Trio.[8][9] Additionally, he had spent time as a professional songwriter at the Brill Building under the tutelage of Bobby Darin.[8] Gene Clark had also worked as a solo folk singer and as part of The New Christy Minstrels, while David Crosbyhad spent time in New York’s Greenwich Village as a folk singer and had also been a member of Les Baxter’s Balladeers.[10][11] Chris Hillman‘s background was more oriented towards bluegrass music than folk, having been a member of the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, the Golden State Boys (who later renamed themselves The Hillmen), and concurrently with his recruitment into The Byrds, The Green Grass Group.[12] DrummerMichael Clarke‘s musical pedigree was less auspicious, having played congas in a semi-professional capacity in and around San Francisco and L.A. since leaving his home in Spokane, Washington at the age of 16.[13]

McGuinn and Clark initially met at The Troubadour club in Los Angeles and soon formed a Peter and Gordon style duo, playing Beatles’ covers, Beatlesque renditions of traditional folk songs, and some self-penned material.[14] The duo soon added Crosby to the line-up and named themselves The Jet Set in mid-1964.[14] Crosby introduced McGuinn and Clark to his associate Jim Dickson who had access toWorld Pacific Studios.[14] Dickson was impressed enough by the trio to take on management duties for the group, utilizing World Pacific as a rehearsal studio and recording the band as they honed their craft and perfected their blend of pop and folk.[15][16] Over the coming months Hillman and Clarke were recruited to The Jet Set on bass guitar and drums respectively.[17] During this period, Dickson managed to acquire an acetate disc of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, a song written by Bob Dylan that had not been released at that time.[18][19] The Byrds were initially unimpressed with the song but they eventually warmed to it and began to rehearse and record demos of it at World Pacific.[15]

After seeing The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night in August 1964, the band equipped themselves with similar instruments to The Beatles: a Rickenbacker 12-string for McGuinn, a Gretsch Tennessean for Clark (although Crosby commandeered it soon after) and Ludwigdrums for Clarke.[12][20] The band were signed to Columbia Records on November 10, 1964 and finally changed their name to The Byrds over Thanksgiving that year.[12] The band, along with the group of L.A. session musicians later known as The Wrecking Crew, entered Columbia Recording Studios in Hollywood on January 20, 1965 to record the “Mr. Tambourine Man” single.[21] The Byrds continued to record the Mr. Tambourine Man album without the help of session musicians from March 8 through to April 22, 1965.[22]

Music[edit]

Mr. Tambourine Man opens with the Dylan-penned title track, which had been a huge international hit for the group and had initiated the folk rock boom of the mid-1960s.[23][24] Due to producer Terry Melcher‘s lack of confidence in The Byrds’ musicianship at the time, most of the band had been replaced by session musicians (known later as The Wrecking Crew) for the “Mr. Tambourine Man” single and its B-side “I Knew I’d Want You”, with only McGuinn being allowed to play on these tracks.[21] The most distinctive features of The Byrds’ rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” were the vocal harmonies of Clark, McGuinn and Crosby, as well as McGuinn’s jangling twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar playing (which complemented the phrase “jingle jangle morning” found in the song’s lyric).[2] This combination of 12-string guitar and complex harmony work became the band’s signature sound during their early period.[4] Another notable element of the band’s rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” was the melodic bass playing of session musician Larry Knechtel, standing in for The Byrds’bassist, Chris Hillman.[21]

Another Dylan cover, “All I Really Want to Do”, was the first song to be recorded for the album following the “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “I Knew I’d Want You” session and it would go on to become the band’s second single release.[22] Producer Terry Melcher felt confident that the band’s debut single would be, at the very least, a regional hit and so he brought The Byrds back into the studio on March 8, 1965 to record a follow-up.[25] This March 8 recording session yielded the version of “All I Really Want to Do” that appears on the album but the song was later re-recorded on April 14 and it was this later take that graced the A-side of The Byrds’ second single.[22]

Although the band’s musicianship had improved since the recording of their debut single, it was assumed by both Columbia Records and the band’s manager that the entire album would be recorded with session men providing the musical backing.[25] However, the band had other ideas and insisted that they be allowed to perform the album’s instrumental accompaniment themselves.[25] Melcher felt satisfied that the group had polished their sound enough to be able to produce professional sounding backing tracks and thus, The Byrds were allowed to play on all of the remaining songs on the album without any help from outside musicians.[26] However, a persistent myth about the album is that all of the playing on it was done by session musicians.[4] This misconception is likely due to confusion between the “Mr. Tambourine Man” single and the album of the same name. Chris Hillman has noted that the contrast between the smoother, more polished sound of the two tracks featuring session musicians and the rawer sound of the rest of the album is quite noticeable.[27]

For the most part, the Mr. Tambourine Man album consisted of two types of songs: band originals, primarily penned by Clark, the group’s central songwriter during its first eighteen months of existence, and covers of modern folk songs, composed primarily by Bob Dylan. The Clark-penned songs included “Here Without You”, a song detailing a bittersweet trip through the city in which every landmark and physical object reminds the singer of an absent lover, and “I Knew I’d Want You”, a Beatlesque recountal of the first flushes of romance.[3] Although “I Knew I’d Want You” had been recorded as the intended B-side of the band’s debut single, it’s interesting to note that had the band failed to secure permission to release “Mr. Tambourine Man” from Dylan and his manager Albert Grossman, “I Knew I’d Want You” would’ve been issued as the group’s first A-side.[2]

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An excerpt from the Gene Clark penned “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better“, highlighting the song’s use of criss-crossing vocals, with Clark on the lead and Roger McGuinn and David Crosby providing backing vocals.

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A third song from the pen of Gene Clark featured on the album was “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better“, an upbeat number with pounding tambourine, jangling Rickenbacker and criss-crossing vocals from Clark on the lead and McGuinn and Crosby on backing vocals.[3] The song bore a passing resemblance to The Searchers‘ 1963 hitNeedles and Pins” and has, since its release, become a rock music standard, inspiring a number of cover versions over the years.[25][28][29] Two of the album’s songs were co-written by Clark and McGuinn: “You Won’t Have to Cry”, which featured a lyric concerned with a woman who has been wronged in love, and “It’s No Use”, which anticipated the harder-edged, psychedelic sound that the band would begin to explore towards the end of 1965 and throughout 1966.[3]

The abundance of Dylan material on the album, with three songs taken from the Another Side of Bob Dylan album alone, led to accusations of the band being too reliant on his work.[26] However, the Dylan covers, including “Chimes of Freedom“, “All I Really Want to Do”, and “Spanish Harlem Incident“, in addition to the title track, remain among The Byrds’ best-known and most enduring recordings. Another enduring cover included on the album was an expansive arrangement of Idris Davies and Pete Seeger‘s “The Bells of Rhymney“, stressing the band’s folk music roots.[3] “The Bells of Rhymney” was a relative newcomer to the band’s stage repertoire, having been worked up in March 1965, during The Byrds’ residency at Ciro’s nightclub on the Sunset Strip.[3][21] The song, which told the sorrowful tale of a coal mining disaster in Wales, had originally been adapted by Pete Seeger from a lyric by the Welsh poet Idris Davies.[2] During recording, the band paid special attention to their diction and pronunciation of the song’s lyrics but in spite of this attention to detail, the band actually mispronounced the word “Rhymney” in their recording of the song.[3] Although the song had a somewhat sombre theme it became one of the band’s most popular numbers during their residency at Ciro’s.[2] “The Bells of Rhymney” was also influential on The Beatles, particularly George Harrison, who co-opted McGuinn’s guitar riff and incorporated it into his own composition, “If I Needed Someone“, from the Rubber Soul album.[30]

The band also covered two non-folk songs on the album: “Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe” by Jackie DeShannon, an early supporter of the band, and Vera Lynn’s World War II era standard, “We’ll Meet Again“.[3] The latter was given a very sardonic reading, influenced by the song’s appearance in the final scene of Stanley Kubrick’s movie Dr. Strangelove.[3] This treatment of “We’ll Meet Again”, sequenced at the end of the album, began a tradition of closing The Byrds’ albums with a tongue-in-cheek or unusual track, a policy that would be repeated on several subsequent LPs.[2]

Release and legacy[edit]

Mr. Tambourine Man was released on June 21, 1965 in the United States (catalogue item CL 2372 in mono, CS 9172 in stereo) and August 20, 1965 in the UK (catalogue item BPG 62571 in mono, SBPG 62571 in stereo).[1] It peaked at No.6 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, during a chart stay of 38 weeks, and reached #7 in the United Kingdom, spending a total of 12 weeks on the UK albums chart.[5][6]The preceding single of the same name was released on April 12, 1965 in the U.S. and May 15, 1965 in the UK, reaching No.1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.[6][7][21] A second single taken from the album, “All I Really Want to Do”, peaked at No.40 on the Billboard Hot 100 but fared better in the United Kingdom, where it reached No.4.[6][7] The album’s distinctive fisheye lens front cover photograph was taken by Barry Feinstein and has since become an acknowledged classic.[31] The album’s back cover featured liner notes, written in the form of an open letter to a friend, by Columbia Records’ publicist Billy James. In addition, the back cover also featured a black and white photograph, taken by Jim Dickson, of The Byrds on stage with Bob Dylan at Ciro’s.[21]

Upon release, critical reaction to the album was almost universally positive, with Billboard magazine noting “the group has successfully combined folk material with pop-dance beat arrangements. Pete Seeger’s “The Bells Of Rhymney” is a prime example of the new interpretations of folklore.”[31] In its July 1965 issue, Time magazine praised the album by stating “To make folk music the music of today’s folk, this quintet has blended Beatle beats with Lead Belly laments, created a halfway school of folk-rock that scores at the cash box if not with the folk purists.”[31] In the UK, the NME described the band and its debut album by commenting “They look like a rock group but are really a fine folk unit. They play their stringed instruments with great skill and invention against the rock-steady drumming. Their voices merge well…As the first group to bridge the gap between beat and folk, they deserve to be winners.”[32] The UK publicationMusic Echo was also enthusiastic about the album’s contents, concluding that the record was “an album which easily lives up to the promise of their great knock-out singles.”[32] However, not all reviews of the album were positive: Record Mirror in the UK awarded the album two stars out of five, deriding it as “The same nothingy vocals, the same jangly guitar, the same plodding beat on almost every track. The Byrds really must try to get some different sounds.”[32] In more recent years Richie Unterberger, writing for the Allmusicwebsite, has called the album “One of the greatest debuts in the history of rock, Mr. Tambourine Man was nothing less than a significant step in the evolution of rock & roll itself, demonstrating that intelligent lyrical content could be wedded to compelling electric guitar riffs and a solid backbeat.”[33]

The “Mr. Tambourine Man” single instantly established the band on both sides of the Atlantic, introducing the new genre of folk rock and challenging the dominance of The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion.[4][26][33] At roughly the same time that their debut single peaked at #1 on the Billboard charts, the U.S. music press began using the term “folk rock” to describe the band’s blend of beat musicand folk.[3] In the months following the release of the Mr. Tambourine Man album and its attendant singles, many acts imitated this hybrid of a British Invasion beat, jangly guitar playing and poetic or socially conscious lyrics.[4][24] The roots of this sound were to be found in the American folk music revival of the early 1960s, The Animals‘ recording of “The House of the Rising Sun“, the folk-influenced songwriting of The Beau Brummels, and the twelve-string guitar jangle of The Searchers and The Beatles.[4][23][34] However, it was The Byrds who first melded these disparate elements into a unified whole.[23] The Byrds’ influence can be heard in many recordings released by American acts in late 1965 and 1966, including The Turtles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Barry McGuire, The Mamas & the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, We Five, Love, and Sonny & Cher.[23][35][36][37][38] The Byrds’ folk rock sound, as heard on Mr. Tambourine Man, has continued to be influential on many bands, including Big Star, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, R.E.M., The Church, The Long Ryders, The Smiths, The Bangles, The Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub, The Bluetones, and Delays amongst others.[39]

Mr. Tambourine Man was remastered at 20-bit resolution and partially remixed as part of the Columbia/Legacy Byrds series.[40] It was reissued in an expanded form on April 30, 1996, with six bonus tracks, including three alternate versions of songs found on the original album, the outtakes “She Has a Way” and “You and Me”, and the single version of “All I Really Want to Do”.

The album was selected by Rolling Stone magazine as No.232 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Track listing[edit]

Side 1
  1. Mr. Tambourine Man” (Bob Dylan) – 2:29
  2. I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” (Gene Clark) – 2:32
  3. Spanish Harlem Incident” (Bob Dylan) – 1:57
  4. “You Won’t Have to Cry” (Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn)[b] – 2:08
  5. Here Without You” (Gene Clark) – 2:36
  6. The Bells of Rhymney” (Idris Davies, Pete Seeger) – 3:30
Side 2
  1. All I Really Want to Do” (Bob Dylan) – 2:04
  2. I Knew I’d Want You” (Gene Clark) – 2:14
  3. “It’s No Use” (Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn)[b] – 2:23
  4. “Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe” (Jackie DeShannon) – 2:54
  5. Chimes of Freedom” (Bob Dylan) – 3:51
  6. We’ll Meet Again” (Ross Parker, Hughie Charles) – 2:07
1996 CD reissue bonus tracks
  1. “She Has a Way” (Gene Clark) – 2:25
  2. “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” [Alternate Version] (Gene Clark) – 2:28
  3. “It’s No Use” [Alternate Version] (Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn) – 2:24
  4. “You Won’t Have to Cry” [Alternate Version] (Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn) – 2:07
  5. “All I Really Want to Do” [Single Version] (Bob Dylan) – 2:02
  6. “You and Me” [Instrumental] (David Crosby, Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn) – 2:11

Singles[edit]

  1. “Mr. Tambourine Man” b/w “I Knew I’d Want You” (Columbia 43271) April 12, 1965 (US #1, UK #1)
  2. “All I Really Want to Do” b/w “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” (Columbia 43332) June 14, 1965 (US #40, UK #4)

Personnel[edit]

NOTE: Sources for this section are as follows:[2][21]

The Byrds
Additional Personnel

Release history[edit]

Date Label Format Country Catalog Notes
June 21, 1965 Columbia LP US CL 2372 Original mono release.
CS 9172 Original stereo release.
August 20, 1965 CBS LP UK BPG 62571 Original mono release.
SBPG 62571 Original stereo release.
1970 Columbia LP US 465566 1
1974 Embassy LP UK EMB 31057
1974 CBS/Embassy LP UK S 31503
1975 CBS LP UK S 33645 Double album stereo reissue with Turn! Turn! Turn!
1987 Columbia CD US CK 9172 Original CD release.
1989 CBS CD Europe 465566 2
1993 Columbia CD UK COL 468015
April 30, 1996 Columbia/Legacy CD US CK 64845 Partially remixed stereo album plus six bonus tracks.
May 6, 1996 UK COL 483705
1999 Simply Vinyl LP UK SVLP 0032 Reissue of the partially remixed stereo album.
2003 Sony CD Japan MHCP-66 Reissue containing six bonus tracks and the partially remixed stereo album in a replica LP sleeve.
2004 Sony/BMG CD UK 4837055003 The Vinyl Classics reissue containing six bonus tracks and the partially remixed stereo album.
February 7, 2006 Columbia/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab SACD(Hybrid) US UDSACD 2014 Reissue of the Mono album plus stereo bonus tracks.
February 21, 2006 Sundazed LP US LP 5197 Reissue of the original mono release.
February 10, 2009 Sony/Columbia CD US 743323 2 CD reissue with Sweetheart of the Rodeo, containing six bonus tracks and the partially remixed stereo album.

Remix information[edit]

Mr. Tambourine Man was one of four Byrds albums that were partially remixed as part of their re-release on Columbia/Legacy.[40] The reason for the remix was explained by Bob Irwin (who produced these re-issues for compact disc) during an interview:

The first four Byrds albums had sold so well, and the master tapes used so much that they were at least two, if not three generations down from the original. In most cases, a first-generation master no longer existed. They were basically played to death; they were worn out, there was nothing left of them.[41]

He further stated:

Each album is taken from the original multi-tracks, where they exist, which is in 95% of the cases. We remixed them exactly as they were, without taking any liberties, except for the occasional song appearing in stereo for the first time.[41]

Irwin’s assertions that no liberties were taken have been proven false in many instances. There is a short section of “Chimes of Freedom” that exists in the stereo remix that didn’t appear in the original mix.[citation needed] The song “Mr. Tambourine Man” appears in a radically different, super-wide stereo remix, whereas the original stereo mix was so narrow as to almost be mono. The fades are different on almost every song as well.[citation needed]

Many fans enjoy the remixed album because it’s very close to the original mix in most cases and offers noticeably better sound quality.[40] However, there are also a lot of fans who dismiss the remix as revisionist history and prefer to listen to the original mix onvinyl or on the pre-1996 CD releases.

0056. Bert Jansch – Bert Jansch [1965]

BertJansch1965

This is a guy named Bert Jansch, whom I imagine most of you haven’t heard of. Which, again, is fine, because I hadn’t heard of him before this project either. His stuff is British folk music, so basically a British Bob Dylan, but with less harmonica. Pretty good stuff if you’re into folk. If not, then feel free to skip it, but you’re missing out.

Wikipedia Says:

Bert Jansch is the debut album by Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch. The album was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder at engineer Bill Leader‘s house and sold toTransatlantic Records for £100. Transatlantic released the album, which went on to sell 150,000 copies. It is also mentioned in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The record includes Jansch’s best known tune “Needle of Death,” which was inspired by the death of a folk singer friend of his, Buck Polly.[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bert Jansch unless otherwise noted.

  1. “Strolling Down the Highway” – 3:06
  2. “Smokey River” – 2:56
  3. “Oh How Your Love Is Strong” – 3:40
  4. “I Have No Time” – 3:09
  5. “Finches” – :51
  6. “Rambling’s Gonna Be the Death of Me” – 3:18
  7. “Veronica” – 1:32
  8. “Needle of Death” – 3:20
  9. “Do You Hear Me Now?” – 2:06
  10. “Alice’s Wonderland” – 1:46 (inspired by Charles Mingus)
  11. “Running from Home” – 2:24
  12. “Courting Blues” – 4:02
  13. “Casbah” – 2:10
  14. “Dreams of Love” – 1:44
  15. Angie” (Davey Graham) – 3:15

0055. The Beatles – Rubber Soul [1965]

Rubber_Soul

So, what?  This is the third Beatles album on this list so far, right?  Do I need to repeat myself yet again?  Apparently so.  Look, I’m not going to try selling you on The Beatles.  They’re one of the most legendary bands in all of music.  They don’t need any hype from me or anyone else.  So, let me keep it simple.  I love this album with the same enthusiasm that I love every Beatles album I’ve heard thus far, and likely every other album I will hear in the future.  Check it out, or don’t.  If you don’t at least appreciate The Beatles for their contribution to rock’n’roll history, I don’t even know what to do with you as a person.  Just go away, okay?  I don’t need assholes like that in my life.

Wikipedia Says:

Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album by English rockgroup the Beatles. It was recorded in just over four weeks to make the Christmas market, and was released on December 3, 1965. It was produced byGeorge Martin. Unlike the five albums that preceded it,Rubber Soul was recorded during a continuous period, whereas the group had previously recorded albums during breaks in between tour dates or other projects.[4]After this, Beatles albums would be made without the burden of other commitments, except for the production of short promotional films.

Rubber Soul is a folk rock album that incorporatesR&B, pop, soul, and psychedelic music styles.[3][5][6]The album is regarded by musicologists as a major artistic achievement that continued the Beatles’ artistic maturation while attaining widespread critical and commercial success.[7] It was the second Beatles album – after the British A Hard Day’s Night album – to contain only original material; the Beatles would record no more cover songs for their records until 1969, with the “Maggie Mae” excerpt appearing on the Let It Bealbum.

Rubber Soul is regarded by fans and critics alike as one of the greatest albums in popular music history.[8][9][10][11] In 2012, Rubber Soul was ranked number five on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.[12] In 2013, after theBritish Phonographic Industry changed their sales award rules, the album was declared as having gone platinum.[13]

Composition[edit]

Music[edit]

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The Beatles‘s “Michelle” from Rubber Soul

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Sample of “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” from Rubber Soul (1965). The use of a sitar on this song is representative of The Beatles’ incorporation of unconventional instrumentation into rock music.

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Virtually all of the album’s songs were composed immediately after the Beatles’ return to Londonfollowing their North American tour.[14] The Beatles broadened their sound on the album, with influences drawn from soul music, the contemporary folk-rock of Bob Dylan and The Byrds,[10][15] and the vocal harmony pop of The Beach Boys.[16] The album also saw the Beatles expanding rock and roll’s instrumental resources, most notably on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” through George Harrison‘s use of theIndian sitar. He had been introduced to it via the instrumental score for their 1965 film Help!. Although The Kinks had incorporated droning guitars to mimic the sitar after a visit to India on “See My Friends“,[17] “Norwegian Wood” is generally credited as sparking off a musical craze for the sound of the novel instrument in the mid-1960s—a trend which would later branch out into the raga rock andIndian rock genres.[18][10] The song is now acknowledged as one of the cornerstones of what is now usually called “world music” and it was a major landmark in the trend towards incorporating non-Western musical influences into Western popular music. Harrison’s interest was fuelled by fellow Indian music fan David Crosby of the Byrds, whom Harrison met and befriended in August 1965.[19]Harrison would eventually be transfixed by all things Indian, taking sitar lessons from renowned Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.[20]

French-like guitar lines on “Michelle” and Greek-influenced ones on “Girl“, fuzz bass on “Think for Yourself,” and a piano made to sound like a baroque harpsichord on the instrumental bridge of “In My Life” added to the exotic brushstrokes to the album.[21] Ringo Starr had frequently augmented Beatles tracks with standard percussion instruments such as maracas or tambourine, but on the track “I’m Looking Through You” unusually used taps on a matchbook, perhaps influenced by a similar trick as done by Gene Krupa in the 1941 film Ball of Fire.[citation needed]

Lyrics[edit]

Lyrically, the album represents a major progression in the Beatles’ music. Though a smattering of earlier Beatles songs had expressed romantic doubt and negativity, the songs on Rubber Soulrepresented a pronounced development in sophistication, thoughtfulness and ambiguity.[21] In particular, the relationships between the sexes moved from simpler boy-girl love songs to more nuanced and negative portrayals. “Norwegian Wood” sketches a failed relationship between the singer and a mysterious girl, where she goes to bed and he sleeps in the bath.[22] and songs like “I’m Looking Through You”, “You Won’t See Me“, and “Girl” express more emotionally complex, bitter and downbeat portrayals of romance. John Lennon‘s “In My Life” depicts nostalgic reverie for younger days, while “The Word” looks at love as an abstract term, arguably the first time a Lennon-McCartney song strayed from their usual ‘boy/girl’ notion of romantic love, and songs such as “Nowhere Man” and Harrison’s “Think for Yourself” explored subject matter that had nothing to do with romance at all.

Recording[edit]

Recording commenced on 12 October with final production and mix down taking place on 15 November.[23] The song “Wait” was dusted off after initially being recorded for but rejected from Help!. “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper” were recorded during these sessions, but the band chose to leave them off the album, releasing them instead as their first double A-sided single.

To achieve the mimicry of a harpsichord by the piano on “In My Life”, George Martin played the piano with the tape running at half-speed. When played back at normal speed during the mixdown, the sped-up sound gave the illusion of a harpsichord.[24][25] Processing used included heavily compressed and equalised piano sound on “The Word,” an effect soon extremely popular in the genre of psychedelic music. Prior to the recording sessions, McCartney was given a new bass, a Rickenbacker 4001, which had a much beefier bass sound than the Hofner. All of the songs on the album, except for “Drive My Car”, were recorded using the new bass. McCartney also experiments with a fuzz box on Harrison’s composition “Think For Yourself”.

Until very late in their career, the “primary” version of The Beatles’ albums was always themonophonic mix. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, Martin and the Abbey Road engineers devoted most of their time and attention to the mono mixdowns, and the band were not usually present for the stereo mixing sessions. Even with their landmark Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, the stereo mixdowns were considered less important than the mono version and were completed in far less time.

While the stereo version of the original release of Rubber Soul was similar to that of their earliest albums, featuring mainly vocals on the right channel and instruments on the left, it was not produced in the same manner. The early albums were recorded on twin-track tape, and they were intended only for production of monaural records, so they kept vocals and instruments separated allowing the two parts to later be mixed in proper proportion. By this time, however, the Beatles were recording on four-track tape, which allowed a stereo master to be produced with vocals in the centre and instruments on both sides, as evidenced in their prior albums Beatles for Sale and Help!. Looking for a way to easily produce a stereo album which sounded good on a monaural record player, Martin mixed down the four-track master tape to stereo with vocals on the right, instruments on the left, and nothing in the middle, even though in “What Goes On“, Starr’s vocal is mixed on the left instead of the right, with Lennon and McCartney’s harmony vocals on the right, while on “Think for Yourself” Harrison’s double-tracked lead vocal is split between the two channels.

This was the final Beatle album that recording engineer Norman Smith worked on before he was promoted by EMI to record producer.[26]

Packaging and artwork[edit]

Rubber Soul was the group’s first release not to feature their name on the cover, an uncommon tactic in 1965. The ‘stretched’ effect of the cover photo came about after photographer Bob Freeman had taken some pictures of the group wearing suede leather jackets at Lennon’s house. Freeman showed the photos by projecting them onto an album-sized piece of cardboard to simulate how they would appear on an album cover. The unusual Rubber Soul album cover came to be when the slide card fell slightly backwards, elongating the projected image of the photograph and stretching it. Excited by the effect, they shouted, “Ah! Can we have that? Can you do it like that?”, to which Freeman said he could.[27] The distinctive lettering was created by Charles Front (father of actor Rebecca Front), and the original artwork was later auctioned at Bonhams, accompanied by an authenticating letter from Robert Freeman.[28]

Capitol Records used a different colour saturation for the US version, causing the orange lettering used by Parlophone Records to show up as different colours. On some Capitol LPs, the title looks rich chocolate brown; others, more like gold. On the 1987 compact disc reissue, the letters appear a distinct green, and the 2009 reissue uses the original cover design with the Parlophone Recordslogo.

Paul McCartney conceived the album’s title after overhearing a musician’s description of Mick Jagger‘s singing style as “plastic soul“. Lennon confirmed this in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, stating, “That was Paul’s title, meaning English soul. Just a pun.”[29] McCartney uses a similar phrase, “plastic soul, man, plastic soul … ,” heard at the end of “I’m Down” as released on Anthology 2.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[30]
The A.V. Club A–[31]
Consequence of Sound A+[32]
The Daily Telegraph 5/5 stars[33]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[34]
MusicHound 4/5 stars[35]
Paste 97/100[36]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[6]
Q 5/5 stars[37]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[38]

Rubber Soul was commercially successful, beginning a 42-week run in the British charts on 12 December 1965. The following week it replaced The Sound of Musicsoundtrack at the top of the charts, and held the top spot eight weeks. On 9 May 1987, Rubber Soulreturned to the album charts for three weeks,[39] and ten years later made another comeback to the charts.[40]

Critical response to the album was also positive. In a 1967 article for Esquire, Robert Christgau called it “an album that for innovation, tightness, and lyrical intelligence was about twice as good as anything they or anyone else (except maybe the Stones) had done previously.”[41] He later cited it as “when the Beatles began to go arty”.[42] Rolling Stone magazine commented “they achieved a new musical sophistication and a greater thematic depth without sacrificing a whit of pop appeal.” Pitchfork Mediadescribed the album as “the most important artistic leap in the Beatles’ career—the signpost that signaled a shift away from Beatlemania and the heavy demands of teen pop, toward more introspective, adult subject matter”. Since 2001, the album has been included in several media-sponsored “best” album lists.[8][9][10][11]

Walter Everett, author of The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology, calls Rubber Soul an “important album”, referring to its rich muti-part vocals brimming with expressive dissonance vocals, a deep exploration of guitars and the different capos that produced different colours from familiar finger patterns, surprising new timbres and electronic effects, a more soulful pentatonic approach to vocal and instrumental melody tinged by twelve-bar jams that accompanied the more serious recording and a fairly consistent search for meaningful ideas in lyrics”.[43]

In 2012, Rubber Soul was voted #5 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.[12]

The US version of the album greatly influenced the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson believed it was the first time in pop music that the focus had shifted from just making popular singles to making an actual album, without the usual filler tracks. He “answered” the album by releasing Pet Sounds in 1966.[44]

“What Goes On” was the first song which has a Richard Starkey writing credit, as co-composer beside Lennon and McCartney. Lennon later said this was the first album on which the Beatles were in complete creative control during recording, with enough studio time to develop and refine new sound ideas. Exhausted from five years of virtually non-stop touring, recording, and film work, the group subsequently took a three-month break during the first part of 1966 and used this free time exploring new directions that would colour their subsequent musical work. These became immediately apparent in the next (UK) album, Revolver.[45]

Compact disc reissues[edit]

Rubber Soul was released on compact disc 30 April 1987, with the 14-song UK track line-up now the international standard. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the 14-track UK version of the album was issued on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. As with the Help! album,Rubber Soul featured a contemporary stereo digital remix of the album prepared by George Martin. Martin expressed concern to EMI over the original 1965 stereo remix, claiming it sounded “very woolly, and not at all what I thought should be a good issue”. He went back to the original four-tracks tapes and remixed them for stereo.[46]

When the album was originally released on CD in Canada, pressings were imported from other countries, and used the 1987 remix. However, when the Disque Améric and Cinram plants in Canada started pressing the album, the original 1965 stereo mix was used by mistake. This was the only source for the 1965 stereo mix in its entirety until the release of the mono box set in 2009.[47]

A newly remastered version of the album, again using the 1987 George Martin remix, was released worldwide with the reissue of the entire catalogue on 9 September 2009. The original 1965 stereo and mono mixes were reissued on that date as part of the mono box set.[48]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. Drive My Car McCartney with Lennon 2:25
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) Lennon with McCartney 2:01
3. You Won’t See Me McCartney 3:18
4. Nowhere Man Lennon with McCartney and Harrison 2:40
5. Think for Yourself” (George Harrison) Harrison 2:16
6. The Word Lennon and McCartney with Harrison 2:41
7. Michelle McCartney 2:33
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. What Goes On” (Lennon–McCartney–Richard Starkey) Starr 2:47
2. Girl Lennon 2:30
3. I’m Looking Through You McCartney 2:23
4. In My Life Lennon 2:24
5. Wait Lennon and McCartney 2:12
6. If I Needed Someone” (Harrison) Harrison 2:20
7. Run for Your Life Lennon 2:18

North American Capitol release[edit]

Rubber Soul was the eleventh album by the group in the US, released three days after the British LP by Capitol Records in both the mono and stereo formats. It began its 59 week chart run on Christmas Day, topping the Billboard Album chart for six weeks starting on 8 January 1966. The album sold 1.2 million copies within nine days of its release, and to date has sold over six million copies in America.

The American edition differed markedly from its British counterpart. Capitol removed “Drive My Car”, “Nowhere Man”, “What Goes On” and “If I Needed Someone“, and replaced them with two from the UK Help! album: “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “It’s Only Love“. Through peculiarities of sequencing, by placing the Help! tracks at the beginning of each side, Rubber Soul was deliberately reconfigured to appear a “folk rock” album to angle the Beatles into that emergent lucrative American genre during 1965.[49]

The stereo mix sent to the US from England has what are commonly called “false starts” at the beginning of “I’m Looking Through You” which are on every American stereo copy of the album from 1965 to 1987. The US version of “The Word” is also noticeably different because it has Lennon’s double-tracked vocals, an extra falsetto harmony on the left channel during the last two refrains, with some percussion panning to the right and then the left channel during the instrumental break. The 1965 American stereo and mono mixes are available on compact disc as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 boxed set. In 2014, the Capitol edition of Rubber Soul was released on CD again, individually and included in the Beatles boxed set, The U.S. Albums.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. I’ve Just Seen a Face McCartney 2:04
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) Lennon with McCartney 2:05
3. You Won’t See Me McCartney 3:19
4. Think for Yourself” (Harrison) Harrison 2:19
5. The Word Lennon with McCartney and Harrison 2:42
6. Michelle McCartney 2:42
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. It’s Only Love Lennon 1:53
2. Girl Lennon 2:33
3. I’m Looking Through You McCartney 2:24
4. In My Life Lennon 2:24
5. Wait Lennon and McCartney 2:15
6. Run for Your Life Lennon 2:15

Personnel[edit]

According to Mark Lewisohn,[50] Ian MacDonald[51] and The Beatles Anthology.[52]

Production and additional personnel

Charts[edit]

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[53] 1965 1
UK Albums Chart[53] 1966
Billboard Pop Albums
Australian Albums Chart

Certifications[edit]

Original release
Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[54] 2× Platinum 120,000x
Australia (ARIA)[55] Platinum 70,000^
Brazil (ABPD)[56] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[57] Gold 250,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[58] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Platinum 300,000^
*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[13]

North American release