The Beatles' remixed "Revolver" is a revelation, adding even more rich sonic detail for the ears

Come for Giles Martin and Sam Okell's re-mastered tracks and stay for the amazing studio outtakes

By Kenneth Womack

Contributing Writer

Published October 26, 2022 12:01PM (EDT)

The Beatles in Abbey Road Studios during filming of the Paperback Writer and Rain promotional films. 19 May 1966 (Apple Corps Ltd.)
The Beatles in Abbey Road Studios during filming of the Paperback Writer and Rain promotional films. 19 May 1966 (Apple Corps Ltd.)

As the latest installment in the band's deluxe series of box sets, the Beatles' "Revolver" is a revelation for the ears, a bravura experience befitting an album that will eclipse the ages. And when it comes to outtakes and unreleased demos, the "Revolver" box set may be Apple's finest effort yet.

As with previous installments, Giles Martin and Sam Okell's remixed version of the LP not only does the album justice, but succeeds in creating a richer sound palette characterized by clarity and separation. Fans will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to hear the Beatles' magisterial performance with an enhanced sonic spectrum. Martin and Okell's disaggregation of the bandmates' instruments, for example, affords listeners a new appreciation of their unparalleled musicianship.

But the real gems among the box set involve the studio outtakes. Frankly, when it comes to the Beatles' deluxe repackagings, they've simply never been better. The additional takes of "Eleanor Rigby" offer an unforgettable window into the production of one of the band's most essential compositions. Fans can follow along as members of the classical octet refine their parts. In a memorable exchange, producer George Martin asks the string players to try performing his arrangement with vibrato as the song takes shape.

Paul McCartney's "For No One" enjoys a similar treatment, with listeners being treated to the evolution of his painstaking keyboard work in bringing the song to fruition. In perhaps the most revealing instance, the box set takes the creation of "Yellow Submarine" from ideation through studio production. John Lennon's original demo, laden with loneliness and regret, marks a far cry from the final version, overdubbed with an array of sound effects that imbue the recording with childlike appeal and wonderment.

If the box set has a flaw, it's a truly minor, albeit slightly mystifying one. The four-track "EP" disk devoted to "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" seems like a strange, even wasteful exercise, just as the EP did with the "Let It Be" edition. All of that digital real estate might have been better deployed with even more outtakes and studio chatter, which is where these deluxe editions really shine.

Love the Beatles? Listen to Ken's podcast "Everything Fab Four."

It was no less than novelist Kurt Vonnegut who once remarked that "the function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before," adding that "when I've been asked if I've ever seen that done. I say, 'Yes, the Beatles did it.'" The "Revolver" album — as with the band's late-period masterworks — offers powerful testimony about how the Beatles have made our lives irredeemably better. And these deluxe box sets, especially because of the studio outtakes, provide us with a vital window into how these miracles came into being in the first place.

By Kenneth Womack

Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography of the life and work of Beatles producer George Martin and the host of "Everything Fab Four," a podcast about the Beatles distributed by Salon. He is also the author of "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles," published in 2019 in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, "John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life" and the authorized biography "Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans" (November 2023).  Womack is Professor of English and Popular Music at Monmouth University.

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Music Review Revolver The Beatles