The Beatles Revolver Special Edition: so good, divorce papers will be filed if this isn't in certain stockings this Christmas

Can Giles Martin work his magic on Revolver's four-track recordings? Yes, he can.

The Beatles - Revolver cover art
(Image: © Apple Corps)

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Characterised by Paul McCartney as the album “where we all became individuals”, 1966's Revolver marked the point at which The Beatles resigned themselves to the fact that the only environment within which they could truly grow as artists and explore the possibilities of their collective artistic vision was in the recording studio. 

The band played their last ever live show within a month of its release. It marked the end of an era; the days of one-night scream-ups and soaked cinema seats were behind them. Psychedelics had opened their minds, and rapidly advancing studio technology brought them the tools to turn on an entire generation, to expand pop consciousness toward rock and ultimately to redefine the very meaning of the word ‘progressive’.

To say the release of this widescreen redux of Revolver has been keenly anticipated is an understatement, yet it was believed (even by the man himself} that Giles Martin would not be in a position to provide the full remix magic he'd previously performed on the multi-track recordings of the White Album and Abbey Road because Revolver had been recorded on four-track, so the guitar, bass and drums all shared the same track.

Miraculously, however, using next-generation tech, Peter Jackson's team in New Zealand found a way to isolate each instrument, even taking apart the elements of Ringo’s kit, so they could be remixed for stereo. No one, not even Martin, knows how they did it. But they did. And the results are both revelatory and astonishing.

Safe to say, the album's 14 tracks are confirmed to be nothing less than brilliant (it wasn't consistently voted the best album of all time back in the 90s for nothing), with Martin's beautifully burnished, respectful restorations of For No One, Here There And Everywhere and the enduringly magnificent Tomorrow Never Knows packing particular emotional punch.

So there’s your LP/CDs, 1 (stereo) and 4 (mono). Disc 5 is an EP covering Paperback Writer and Rain, but the gold for more obsessive members of the Fabs’ fan community come on 2 and 3: the 31 session takes and home demos. Here's the album's original midwife George (Giles’s dad) Martin taking McCartney's direction on Eleanor Rigby’s strings, and Yellow Submarine’s first take (an acoustic Lennon mournfully intoning: 'In the place where I was born, no one cared, no one cared’ like a clinically depressed Woody Guthrie)... And there's a 100-page book.

There will be divorce papers filed if this doesn't grace certain stockings come December 25.

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.