August 6, 2016

REVOLVER AT 50

Spy Vibers, I've returned from my mission at last! Stay tuned for my new photographs of filming locations from classic 1960s spy adventures (and from Doctor Who!). I also shot many images for my upcoming Spy Vibe book, so I'll try to share a sneak peek of some of the rare artifacts that crossed my lens. Peering through my jet-lag haze, I see The Beatles released their groundbreaking Revolver album 50 years ago today. Fifty! The 1960s represented a great renaissance of new ideas and pushing the boundaries in fashion, fine art, design, and the performing arts. Revolver sat right at the crossroads in 1966. For readers who are not familiar with the story, Revolver marked an important paradigm shift in the band's career. Bob Dylan had inspired The Beatles to explore a more personal approach to songwriting, which was increasingly evident on Help and Rubber Soul. The transition away from third-person pop continued into Revolver, but new elements were also making their way into the mix. The media loves to highlight drug influences, which were indeed referenced in some of the music. But it was in the field of avant-garde experimentation that the group made their greatest discoveries. As his bandmates moved out into the suburbs, Paul McCartney famously became increasingly involved in the London Art scene. He supported avant-garde galleries and the publication of International Times, and McCartney became fascinated with experimental filmmaking and sound collage. The most notable leap of curiosity focused on the use of tape loops inspired by performances of new music and the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Ever inventive as a group, The Beatles took to these new techniques in the recording studio and created the now-classic Tomorrow Never Knows. They each created tape loops, compiling about 30 in the end, and George Martin selected 16 from the batch. BTR3 tape machines were set up and the loops could be held at constant tension on the spools by hand with a pencil during playback. As John Lennon's voice chanted out lines inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, studio technicians positioned themselves throughout the hallways and tended to the long tape loops- played in real time- as the track was assembled. Revolver is filled with top-tier compositions such as Here, There, and Everywhere and Eleanor Rigby, but with this experimental track, the record ultimately stood as a bridge between the youthful moptops of A Hard Days Night and the sophisticated, mature artists stretching toward Sgt. Pepper and beyond. This creative journey would redefine Rock music and their ideas continue to ripple through contemporary culture. The use of Musique Concrete was revolutionary in pop, and I'd hazard to suggest the construction in Tomorrow Never Knows connects us conceptually to the evolution of nonlinear audio composition. Revolver was released on August 6th, 1966. The band performed their final public concert on August 29th that same year at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Beatles manager Brian Epstein was worried that fans wouldn't accept the group's new direction. But the album cover art by Klaus Voormann apparently put Epstein at ease, as he felt the graphics would function as a kind of invitation into the band's experimental world. If you look closely at the cover design below and compare it to Tomorrow Never Knows, one can recognize a cohesive process using cut-ups and collage. Klaus Voormann (designer, artist, musician, and insider from the band's early days in Hamburg) worked at his kitchen table for three works to create this now-classic record jacket. He was paid 50 pounds for the job. Voormann recently spoke in an interview about his new book chronicling Revolver. Readers can order the book at his website here. By the way, Sean Lennon has been performing Tomorrow Never Knows on his recent tour promoting the Claypool Lennon Delirium project. Enjoy! Related posts: New Beatles film, The Curious Camera, Paul At 71Notes Behind the Curtain I, Notes Behind the Curtain IINotes Behind the Curtain IVThe Goldfinger Variations, UK Surrealism Sellers to LennonIvan Vaughn and The Beatles, Tony Sheridan RIP, George Martin RIP, Essential Ringo Tribute


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Interview:Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art Interview, Fergus Fleming Interview, Avengers: Alan Hayes InterviewJaz Wiseman Interview, Diana Rigg BFI InterviewCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonLost Diana Rigg InterviewHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming Memorial, Portmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJohn Buss interview, Saint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore CalypsoCynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., Comics Week: Archie, Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IRodney Marshall Avengers InterviewRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixCold War ArchiePlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Catsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

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