By the end of 1965, the Beatles were on top of the charts and on top of the world. Having successfully crossed the Atlantic and sparking the British Invasion, the goal was another year filled with the Beatles’ usual two commercial album releases coupled with touring and constant travel.
However, inspired by the Beach Boys’ deeply expressive effort in “Pet Sounds” – not to mention their own desire to avoid the chaos of touring life – the Beatles retreated from their routine of pop production and focused on exploring their ability to express themselves intimately through their music.
The result was the album “Revolver,” a daring foray into new sounds, techniques and themes, bundled with beautiful melodies and harmonies. Released last week, the album was remixed and expanded by producers Sam Okell and Giles Martin – the latter being the son of Beatles’ producer George Martin – in hopes of cleaning the sound and revealing previously unreleased takes and demos.
Released as “Revolver Super Deluxe,” the release takes after the previous remixes of “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be,” all of which were issued as collectors sets with various purchasing options. While I will be reviewing the digital collection without the physical media from the set, I do want to comment on the absence of a Blu-ray copy. This comes as a disappointment to many who are accustomed to receiving the studio quality of Blu-ray tracks with every Super Deluxe release.
From the infamous count in “One two three four / One two” on the opening track “Taxman” by George Harrison, the audio quality of the 2022 mix proves to be superb. Giles Martin’s work on past remixes has been stunning, and the intricate tones of “Revolver” benefit greatly from improved balancing, separation and general clarity.
Improvements are clear in all tracks. For instance, in the song “Eleanor Rigby” a much-needed increase in clarity between the strings and vocals has been worked out. Likewise, the complex arrangements of “Love You To” as well as “And Your Bird Can Sing” comes across wonderfully with their great stereo mixes, providing a full and rich sound.
Following the 2022 mixes of the stereo recordings, the next 31 tracks are an assortment of takes and demos of various songs from the “Revolver” era. While they’re too much to cover individually, all of these tracks are excellent listens for any Beatles fans looking to feel immersed, as if they were in studio with the band.
One standout is the unnamed take of “Got To Get You Into My Life,” which shows immaculate harmonies that get lost with the brass added in later versions. Likewise, takes for “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Rain” show insights on how the Beatles experimented, with the former displaying intense studio vocal distortion in the hopes of making John’s voice sound as if it were coming from a mountaintop, and the latter played at a seemingly fast speed as it was later slowed for the final mix.
Additionally, Beatles fans will be excited to find the songwriting demos of “Yellow Submarine” and various other tracks. These are newly released prototype versions of the songs, often with different lyrics and an intimate acoustic setting. While the audio quality isn’t superb, the tracks were mostly home demos or rough performances, so the quality is still impressive considering the equipment used.
These progressive demos are no doubt the highlight of the entire release, especially revealing the early stages of “Yellow Submarine.” Absent are Ringo’s iconic vocals, and instead, John sings lead and Paul takes harmony, creating an entirely different feeling for the track. Likewise, the cheerful vocals of the final version were not yet added. In place were darker lyrics from John, such as: “In a place / Where I was born / No one care / No one care.”
The set concludes with the original mono mix of the album, followed by a nice inclusion of the single “Paperback Writer” with the B-side “Rain” in both a new stereo mix and the original mono. Out of these, the new stereo mix for “Rain” stands as an impressive piece redone in a wonderful mix, often overlooked in the past as the track was not released as an album track on “Revolver” (at least in the common UK discography).
Generally, “Revolver Super Deluxe” is an awesome relook at the classic “Revolver” album, worth checking out by any Beatles fan or general fan of music history. Considering the absence of Blu-ray tracks from the full Super Deluxe set, the $139 price tag seems a bit excessive, but the music contained within makes for a worthwhile purchase regardless. Lastly, if you’re interested in a direct comparison between the new mixes and the old, I recommend the highly informative episode on “Revolver” by the podcast Mixology.