Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year by Steve Turner review

Exhaustive chronicle of their Annus Revolveris

Cover art for Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year by Steve Turner

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It seems that if one is prepared to research meticulously and dig deep enough, there are still revelations to be found about The Beatles’ already forensically deconstructed career, even at the very peak of their celebrity. The best way to glean the ultimate truth is to sidestep all first-person testimony and stick firmly to evidence-based facts. This is where Steve Turner (formerly familiar for his work on The Complete Beatles Songs, and most certainly not the one out of Mudhoney) triumphs over all opposition. That Paul McCartney says Paul McCartney did something on a certain date is nowhere near enough for Turner. He demands proof. And considering how much Beatle-ing (artistically, socially, spiritually and indeed chemically) McCartney was engaged in at the time, it’s hardly surprising that his memory is rather more emmental than infallible when it comes to recalling exact psychedelic details ata50-year distance.

Consequently we learn, from no less a reliable source than ex-Pretty Things drummer Viv Prince (yes, the very fella who used to walkalobster around on a lead), that McCartney’s all-important first LSD trip didn’t take place in late ’66 as previously thought, but on December 14, 1965. Which would mean Revolver was made post-acid, rather than pre. Intelligence that, to we of a Beatles persuasion – and probably Macca himself–representssignificant and revelatory information indeed.

If you’re afflicted with an excessive Beatles fixation, that last bit probably sent you off on-line for a bit of retail therapy already. If not, there’s plenty more to recommend Turner’stake on The Beatles’ most artistically transformative year. Moving chronologically in nicely illustrated and exhaustively researched monthly instalments, you learn not only what it was that they watched on TV at the Royal Turk’s Hotel in Newcastle, but also that it (Armchair Theatre) had recently switched its time slot. If you consider this to be the very epitome of too much information, you clearly don’t spend a lot of time in the company of Beatles fans.

In short, then, this is an essential purchase for all true aficionados of the Fabs and a valuable addition to the veritable Himalaya of similar material that’s out there already.

All the market will take? Nowhere near, apparently.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.