Ray Davies Called the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ a ‘Load of Rubbish’ in a 1966 Review
Apparently not everyone is a fan of Revolver.
The Beatles‘ 1966 classic album is universally praised as one of the group’s best records and one of the most influential LPs in the history of pop music. But Ray Davies — leader of another band from England that was a pretty big deal at the time, the Kinks — didn’t think too much of the album upon its release.
In a 1966 review from a magazine called Disc and Music Echo, Davies called the album “a load of rubbish,” and breaks down the LP track by track, pointing out exactly what he didn’t like about it.
In the intro to the piece, the magazine’s editors note that “if that celebrated songwriter Ray Davies is a reliable judge, the Beatles have made a big mistake. Ray thinks Miss Rigby was definitely dedicated to John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney]‘s music teacher back in primary school, while ‘Submarine’ should sink into a dustbin.”
The entire review is worth reading, but here are some highlights:
“Taxman”: “It sounds like a cross between the Who and Batman. It’s a bit limited, but the Beatles get over this by the sexy double-tracking. It’s surprising how sexy double-tracking makes a voice sound.”
“Eleanor Rigby”: “I bought a Haydn LP the other day, and this sounds just like it. It’s all sort of quartet stuff, and it sounds like they’re out to please music teachers in primary schools. I can imagine John saying, ‘I’m going to write this for my old schoolmistress. Still it’s very commercial.”
“Here, There and Everywhere”: “This proves that the Beatles have got good memories, because there are a lot of busy chords in it. It’s nice — like one instrument with the voice and guitar merging. Third best track on the album.”
“Yellow Submarine”: “This is a load of rubbish, really. I take the mickey out of myself on the piano and play stuff like this. I think they know it’s not that good.”
“Good Day Sunshine”: “This’ll be a giant. It doesn’t force itself on you, but it stands out like ‘I’m Only Sleeping.’ This is back to the real old Beatles. I just don’t think the fans like the newer electronic stuff. The Beatles are supposed to be like the boy next door, only better.”
“Got to Get You Into My Life”: “Jazz backing — and it just goes to prove that Britain’s jazz musicians can’t swing. Paul’s singing better jazz than the musicians are playing, which makes nonsense of people saying jazz and pop are very different. Paul sounds like Little Richard. Really, it’s the most vintage Beatles track on the LP.”
What does Davies like? “I’m Only Sleeping,” which he called a “beautiful song … and definitely the best track on the album.” And “She Said She Said,” which he noted “restore[s] confidence in the old Beatles sound.”
Davies summed up his review by writing, “This is the first Beatles LP I’ve really listened to in its entirety, but I must say there are better songs on Rubber Soul. Still, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ is a standout, ‘Good Day Sunshine’ is second best and I also like ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ But I don’t want to be harsh about the others. The balance and recording technique are as good as ever.”
Davies later shared a story about how one of the Beatles said something to him before a show that the Kinks opened. “We’d played with the Beatles in Bournemouth [on Aug. 4, 1964], and John Lennon made a remark that we were only there to warm up for them,” Davies told Mojo in 2013. “But we got a great reaction to ‘You Really Got Me.’ It was an early validation that we had something that stood up for us, like being bullied in school and having something that was bigger than the bully, it was that sort of feeling.”
Two years later, Davies got his revenge in print.
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