Nearly everyone agrees that Revolver is one of the best albums of all time, if not the best. So let’s get right to the review of the much anticipated remix.
(Klaus Voormann’s cover told us this album was different.)
Although the original 1966 Revolver album is fantastic, it has an old-fashioned mix with poorly separated voices and instruments. This was due to the limited number of recording tracks available (four), and The Beatles’ increasingly more complex use of instruments and overdubbing. The new remix brings a freshness to the whole album! For the first time, we can hear all the vocals and instruments clearly, and with full stereo imaging.
Instead of some tracks having the vocals on one side and the drums on the other, the new remix centers them better, and spreads them out across the stereo spectrum along with the other instruments.
(All the tracks are listed on the box. Click to enlarge.)
The preview track released earlier, “Taxman”, was good, but did not prepare us for how great the rest of the album would be. What a joy to hear “Eleanor Rigby”! It sounds so open and real, it’s like you’re in the room with Paul McCartney and the string octet. The strings are spread out. The “attack” violins are on the left, and the low, more melodic cellos on the right. Wish it could have always sounded like this.
All the rest of the songs on side one are also impressive. The voices and instruments are so clear on “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Love You To”, “Here There And Everywhere” (Gorgeous!), “Yellow Submarine”, and “She Said She Said”. We’re hearing the nuances of the instrumental arrangements for the first time.
(The Beatles performing in 1966)
The quality continues on side two. “Good Day Sunshine” and “And Your Bird Can Sing” sound great, and then “For No One” is outstanding. The French Horn sounds like it’s really being played in the corner of the room, and Paul’s perfect vocal is right in front of you. Paul plays the piano, clavichord, and bass. Ringo is the only other Beatle on the track, with tasteful drums & percussion. “Doctor Robert” is the best it’s sounded, and I definitely prefer this mix of “I Want To Tell You”. George’s voice is fuller, and the dissonant piano blends in better with the other instruments. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is exciting, with the sound of the horns improved. “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a treat with John’s voice better, Ringo’s drums fuller, and the psychedelic instrumentation in more effective stereo.
The remixing was again done by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, but they also got approval from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
In fact, McCartney sat at the mixing board with Martin. Paul switched back and forth between the remix and the original 1966 mix, and then voiced any slight tweaks he wanted. After listening to Revolver again, McCartney said… “It was such a great time.”
In May of 1966 The Beatles released a single with the songs “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” which were recorded in April during the Revolver sessions. A separate CD/Record has the new stereo remixes and the original mono mixes.
(On the left is the original picture sleeve that had George & John’s photos flipped so they look left handed. The one on the right is what the sleeve would have looked like if they hadn’t flipped those photos.)
Although not on the original album, ”Paperback Writer” and “Rain” gave us a preview of the progressive electric sound that was going to be on Revolver in August of 1966. Here we get a fresh remix of “Paperback Writer”, and the first remix of “Rain”. They sound the best they ever have. The extra session tracks include the instrumental backing of “Rain” at the original speed it was played by The Beatles. It sounds like it’s been sped up, and Ringo’s drumming is even more impressive when you know how fast he really played it. The instrumental was slowed down for the effect they wanted on the song, and that’s the music bed John sang to for the completed track.
Here are the two CD’s/LP’s of outtakes:
Besides the versions of “Rain”, the other outtakes are interesting in how the songs progressed to the finished versions. “Yellow Submarine” started completely different, with John singing… “In the place where I was born, no one cared, no one cared.” Of course it eventually became a children’s singalong song.
The unnumbered second version of “Got To Get You Into My Life” is an enjoyable take, just The Beatles, using a fuzz guitar in place of the horns. Take 5 of “And Your Bird Can Sing” is a little more straightforward, and sounds similar to The Byrds. Very few of the outtakes will be versions that will be played often, but they help us understand The Beatles’ recording process.
The box set also includes the original mono mix of Revolver. Although fans of mono will love it, most people prefer to listen to music in stereo.
The box set includes a 100 page hard bound book. It has previously unreleased photos, plus comments & detailed information about the songs on the original album. Online, the CD set is currently $109, the vinyl $192.
Money saving tip: The best value is the 2 CD set, online for $22. You get the remixed album, a second disc with the remixed “Paperback Writer”, “Rain” & 13 outtakes, plus a 40-page booklet.
Revolver and Rubber Soul are the two Beatles albums that were most in need of remixing, with Rubber Soul expected in 2023.
This remix of Revolver is the most important remix so far. It doesn’t sound exactly like the album we’ve enjoyed for 56 years, and that might bother some people, but the remix sounds better. It’s the way this innovative album deserves to be heard.
Extra: Here are some photos of the Super Deluxe CD box set.
The book and album-size CD holder slide out of the cardboard case.
The book, the case, and the open CD folder.
The complete box set. This 56-year-old album actually made it to #2 in England, and #4 in America after the remix was released on October 28th, 2022. Revolver did make it to #1 on three of Billboard’s individual charts…Rock Albums, Rock & Alternative Albums, and Catalog Albums. It was #2 in physical sales. Interestingly, the album sold 33 & 1/3 % more CD’s than vinyl records.