Revisiting the Beatles’ First Apple Release, ‘Revolution’
The song was recorded twice, first as a slow blues – called "Revolution 1" and released on The Beatles – and then as a searing rocker. This doesn't include the experimental "Revolution 9," which bears no major relation to either version, other than in name, but was built from the last six minutes of the final take of "Revolution 1."
Even though they had stayed away from making political statements throughout their career, Lennon wanted to release "Revolution 1" as a single. The other members of the band felt it lacked power, however, and recorded a new version on July 10; Nicky Hopkins overdubbed electric piano, including a solo, the next day.
Watch the Beatles Perform 'Revolution'
The song's distinctive opening buzz-saw guitar lick – played by Lennon and George Harrison simultaneously – was achieved by overloading the signal through pre-amps and directly injecting it into the console. Even for the Beatles, this was not allowed at the still-somewhat conservative Abbey Road Studios. Fortunately, nobody found out about it.
There was one other main difference between the two versions. Just before the first chorus of "Revolution 1," Lennon sings, "But when you talk about destruction / Don't you know that you can me out ... in," illustrating his mixed feelings on the subject. On the single, Lennon only sings "out."
"Revolution" came out in the U.S. on Aug. 26, 1968, and in the U.K. four days later. And if you needed any more proof of the Beatles' greatness: "Revolution," which would have been a career highlight for thousands of bands, was relegated to the B-side. The A-side was "Hey Jude," which stayed at No. 1 in the U.S. for nine weeks, a then-record.
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