Friday 9 September 2022














“At the end of last year when I was finishing ‘Get Back,’ I went, ‘Oh, God, I better listen to these outtakes and start going through them to see whether we’ve got enough to do this’,” says Giles Martin, who oversaw not just the remix but the two CDs’ worth of previously unheard recordings of early versions and alternate takes. “Because we always want to make sure that we’re not scraping the bottom of the barrel, and you want to make sure that there’s enough outtakes for a ‘Revolver’ boxed set. If not, do we think about doing ‘Revolver’ and ‘Rubber Soul’ all together and just have outtakes from both?” 

Fortunately, both records had enough top-quality alternate versions.

Martin credits the technology that Peter Jackson’s audio team did for the “Get Back” documentary — in which they figured out how to properly separate voices from instruments in rehearsal footage — for making the “Revolver” remix possible (and presumably, eventually, re-releases to come of the group’s 1962-65 recordings).

Certainly it’s been talked about why the pre-“Sgt. Pepper” albums could be a problem for remixes. You said in the middle of 2021 that you thought the technology was arriving there, or almost there. It looks fair to say it got there?
 Yeah. If it hadn’t got there, we wouldn’t have done it — it’s as simple as that. There’s always pressure, which is great. I mean, the first one we did was “Sgt. Pepper’s.” And as I’ve said before, I wasn’t that keen on doing it, and then I did a few tracks and they sounded interesting or good, and then the Beatles said they liked it, and so we did “Sgt. Pepper.” Then what’s happened is the fans themselves now sort of demand, “When do we get this? When do we get ‘Revolver’?”  And there’s also forums going, “Why would you wanna remix ‘Revolver’?” and all those sorts of conversations.

But my hands were tied by the fact that there was no isolation. It was kind of designed for mono. There wasn’t much stereo around in ’66, certainly in the U.K. So on “Taxman,” for instance, everything’s on one side (or the other) — like drums and bass basically on one side, then you have vocals in the middle, and then you have a lead guitar and shaker on the right-hand side. That is exactly what I would (have to) do if I was gonna remix it (without fresh technology); otherwise you end up in mono, and then you’re just remastering.

But we did a lot of work on this for “Get Back.” And luckily, thanks to the pandemic, because it slowed the whole project, a lot more people spent more time in their rooms working on stuff than they would’ve done normally, and Peter’s team started making these breakthroughs. I was working with them. I said, “Look, should we try doing ‘Revolver’?” We started looking at that, and eventually we had all the ingredients so I could mix it. It was as simple as that. That “Taxman” track, which I’m using as a demo, (now) has guitar, bass and drums together; I can take off the guitar, I can take off the bass, and then I can even separate the snare drum and kick drum as well. And they sound like the snare drum and kick drum. 

There’s no hint of guitar on there (even though they’d been baked together on the master tapes). And I don’t know how it’s done! It’s like I’m giving them a cake and they’re giving me flour, eggs, and milk and some sugar.















So even with all your technical know-how, there’s still some magic to you about the tech Jackson’s team came up with?

Yeah, it’s AI, and it scares me, because I’m thinking, OK, what’s next? But yeah, it’s very, very, very, very clever technology. There’s no one in the world who’s doing this as well as they are. I love the fact also for the Beatles that this album’s over 50 years old — it’s what, 56 years old, is it? — and they’re still using groundbreaking technology.

Many fans have looked forward to an eventual remix, and then of course there are people who are like, “That’s the way it was done, and I like it.”  But listening to it on headphones has always been kind of an ear-puzzling experience, even if you got used to it.

It’s the headphone thing that annoys people more than anything else. And so much music is listened to on headphones.

There’s certain tracks… On “Yellow Submarine,” I think there was acoustic guitar, bass and drums on one track. I tried moving the acoustic guitar away from the drums. And to me it sounded like they (still) needed each other to be next to each other. It sounded fine; it just didn’t sound quite right. So there’s certain things where I’m still leaning to one side or the other, because there’s just not much (instrumentation) there. I mean, compared to modern-day recordings, you go back to “Taxman” or “She Said” —  most of it’s guitar, bass guitar, drums… and that’s it. And then they want Dolby Atmos! And then you go, OK, there’s bass guitar, guitar… I’m not gonna put guitar and bass in the back!

(The music is) really incredibly efficient. It’s like, you don’t need a big plate for very posh French food; it’s like only three little pieces of things. And that’s what “Revolver” is quite often like: It sounds big, but there’s not much on it. 

But it’s not just about moving the instruments around for a readjustment of the left-right balance.

I now have two teenagers who are 13 and 15, and they listen to stuff in the car and they play me stuff like they discovered it, like “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. They’re listening to Rex Orange County or Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish, and then there’s music that was not (from) now, and that could be Fleetwood Mac, it could be the Arctic Monkeys, it could be the Beatles, but they’re all the same era for them. And what I want to make sure is that when people hear the Beatles, that it has the same dynamic as the other stuff they’re listening to.

I mean, “Abbey Road” was a slightly different album to the rest because it sounds more hi-fi than the other Beatles albums. And I think that’s probably why the later stuff is streamed more. I sound like a commercial record company guy, and you know I’m not, but you think about what’s the biggest — “Here Comes the Sun,” “Let It Be,” “Get Back,” all those are up there because kids like it… there’s something about it. And so if I can make “Revolver” not sound like it’s been buried… Because (the Beatles are) just a bunch of 20-year-olds singing songs in the same way that nowadays there’s a bunch of 20-year-olds singing songs. I don’t think music gets old, we just get old around it. You know, (on the recordings) the bands are the same age as they were. 

And I love the fact that there’s forums going, “I’m never gonna listen to anything Giles Martin does.” It just means they’re just passionate about stuff. I have no issue at all. I think it’s great. They’re the ones listening to the stuff. It’s all the people that aren’t listening to the albums that I want to get to.

There was a conventional wisdom many years back that “Sgt. Pepper” was their masterpiece, and then there was a correction to that with many fans believing it’s “Revolver” — insisting that that was the exact moment in time that they peaked — so for those who make that argument, this is a holy grail of sorts.

Every single Beatles project is the holy grail of someone. I’ve never been very good at this (comparative album) stuff because my background was doing “Love” (with his father in the 2000s), and “Love” was just basically all of the Beatles, if that makes sense… You could argue they were peaking on “Abbey Road”; the second half of that record is just amazing. Their most popular song is “Here Comes the Sun” off their last album. Very few bands, their most popular album is their last one… Rick Rubin will say the White Album is their best… 

“Revolver” almost seems like kind of a test run for the White Album…

It does!

… in terms of how many different styles it quickly covers and everyone bringing in very distinctive songs that are theirs. But here, about half the album is really experimental, whether it’s with sitar or a somber orchestra or a soul-revue horn section, and then about half of it is a pretty rocking guitar album.

I recently just mixed “Pet Sounds” in Dolby Atmos at the same time I was doing this. So I was stuck in 1966. I said it’s amazing how the change that happened at this time, musically. You listen to “Rubber Soul” (the preceding album) and it is much more kind of that ‘60s feel, rhythmically and timing-wise, with “The Word” and stuff like that — much more the “Austin Powers,” if you like, generation of that Beatle swing. Whereas ”Revolver” changes the tangent. The only one close to that is “Doctor Robert,” which much more feels like “Rubber Soul.” It’s interesting how they just morphed in that very short period of time. 

Starting the album off with “Taxman” and then going immediately into “Eleanor Rigby” is one strange segue, any way you look at it.

And then “I’m Only Sleeping”… Yeah, that whole running order, it is like dealing with six different bands. Sonically as well, mixing it, it’s very strange. But that has to be celebrated.

Do you have any favorite outtakes among those that have been included? 

There’s an outtake of my dad recording the “Eleanor Rigby” string session where he’s talking to the musicians about where they should play with vibrato or no vibrato. And he says to Paul in the control room, “Paul, have a listen to this.” And Paul sort of puts on this slightly posh acts and goes, “What, what?” Because obviously he’s trying to impress the string players or whatever. But the surprising thing is not the conversation. The surprising thing is how the string players are fully engaged in the opinion about what they think is better, and the camaraderie they have with my dad, which shouldn’t surprise me. But I always was under the impression that in those days, the string players were a bit stiff and resented playing on this sort of stuff. And just to hear the conversation, where (the string players) say, “You know what, I think we prefer it this way.” And you can hear the difference… I always think it’s amazing when you hear that snapshot of like a 15-minute (exploration) that ends up being a three and a half minute period of time, which is just stamped forever. And we don’t even think that humans are involved at this stage. You think it just exists.

There’s a version of “Yellow Submarine” which is John and Paul writing “Yellow Submarine,” which I always thought was a Paul song he gave to Ringo. John sings that, and he sings it as a sort of almost like Woody Guthrie-type, maudlin kind of thing. And that’s interesting, because I always just thought “Yellow Submarine” was like, “We’ve got a song for you, Ringo, here you are.” And the Atmos version of “Yellow Submarine” is really good, because you’ve got the sound effects you can put around people.

So there’s a few things like that … and things like “Got to Get You Into My Life,” where they’re doing that with an organ (before the horns entered the picture).

The thing for me when I started to listen to them was that I found that the vibe was different from “Get Back,” obviously. With “Get Back,” they enjoying themselves, but they weren’t unwrapping their presents, I suppose. Here, they’re unwrapping their presents.

Does anything strike you as your father’s most important contribution to this album?
No, it’s hard for me to tell, because I wasn’t there. But I think you can tell what he did — he was a sort of satellite dish for ideas, and he managed to pull in everything they wanted and filter it onto a disc. Whether it’s the French horn on “For No One” or the horn arrangement on “Got to Get You Into My Life” or the string arrangement on “Eleanor Rigby”…  You can tell how open-minded he was as a producer compared to a lot of other producers that would go, “No, we need more hits.” They never had that discussion: “We need more hits.” They were like, “How different can we make every song?” — whether it’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” just as a drone in C to “Here, There and Everywhere,” which is obviously a complex, rounded song. I think that probably his musicality and open mind are what stand out. And it’s hard to go “He did this,” whether it’s the backwards guitar on “Rain,” or slowing it down or speeding it up so it sounded heavier… There is so much innovation and complexity on each song on this album. But whether that’s him or whether that’s them, it’s probably all of it, I’d have thought.

Isn’t “Here, There and Everywhere” Paul’s own favorite of his own stuff? Or maybe it’s somebody else’s favorite I’m thinking of… 

No, it’s one that Paul does really like. He was always proud of the way it resolves itself; he’s always said that, yeah. It was my dad’s favorite song of Paul’s, though.

Did you get any input that from Paul about the remix at the last minute, or does he just say, “Good job”? There are so many of his babies on this album.

We were in L.A. together and listened to it over here and he had some really good comments — mainly about guitars, actually. It’s always fun listening to it with him, because he wouldn’t listen to it otherwise, because he just moves forward all the time. But listening, he realizes, like, “Oh, we were a good band, weren’t we?” You go, “Yep.” And he can now listen to it with admiration, not envy — just going, , “Yeah, we did this stuff,” and he’s incredibly proud of it now. And so he should be.

It’s quite useful for me to have another set of ears, and I have Sam (Okell) as well and we work together. He was really happy. Funnily enough, he just wanted a bit more energy on the guitars on a couple of tracks. I was like, “Great. You’re absolutely right.” So “And Your Bird Can Sing,” that 12-string guitar, that guitar solo, he goes: “Just make it really loud.” I was being polite about it, do you know what I mean?

“Revolver” editions coming Oct. 28



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