listen to the color of your dreams

More Beatles listening diary – this time, Revolver.

First – would it have killed them to correct the double-tracking error on the first syllable of “Eleanor Rigby”‘s first verse? I mean, yeah: this is a remaster, not a remix…but they did correct a small handful of other problems, at least according to the tsunami of pre-release publicity.

Anyway: this is the album where Ringo truly comes into his own as a fantastic drummer. Illustrations all over the place…but just put on “She Said She Said”: I’m not a drummer, but it seems like his fills here are both totally unexpected and absolutely right, both pushing the song along and adding rhythmic tension. Plus: this and a few other tracks feature a wonderfully metallic “ting” on the snare. (And what the hell is going on with the drums on “Yellow Submarine”? Were they actually recorded underwater?) Another trick: there appear to be two separate drum parts in “Good Day Sunshine,” panned left and right.

This is also the first place I can recall noticing a detail in the remaster that I don’t think I’ve heard before: there’s a very nicely distorted guitar buried in the left channel on “Got to Get You Into My Life” which I really wish had been brought up a bit. That song also features some curious production: at the beginning, the tambourine in the left channel appears to be exactly the same “size” as the brass group in the right channel…

Here’s a curious compositional note: Fully four songs (“Taxman,” “Love You To,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”) feature sections built on single-chord drones, with the only alteration being the implication of a chord built on the minor seventh (one whole step below the tonic), usually while the bass retains the drone pitch of the rest of the section. In both “Love You To” and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the effect is merely a single droning note (under, respectively, “make love all day long” and “it is not dying”). In “Got to Get You Into My Life,” it’s a little more elaborated: both the horn voicing and McCartney’s ending the line on that seventh degree clearly imply the entire chord, even though the bass often stays on the tonic. “Taxman” is possibly an exception: while George’s melodic line in the second half of each verse phrase might imply a change to that flat-seventh chord, the rest of the time the band clearly moves to that chord (as indicated by Paul transposing the bass riff down a whole step).

That’s a common drone strategy (and, I recall reading somewhere, something common in a lot of old folk traditions predating the development of Western functional harmony) and one the band seems to have hit on spontaneously here.

Also: lots and lots of very fine, crunchy guitar tones! “Taxman,” “She Said She Said,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Doctor Robert,” “Tomorrow Never Knows”…and even that little droning bit under “Love You To.” (There also seems to be an electric guitar buried in the left channel in parts of that track as well.)

But after today’s running everywhere at such a speed, I’m miles away…and soon enough, I’m only sleeping…

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