The best Beatles album? The rock historians often point to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as the moment, in 1967, when rock magically grew up and became a legitimate art form, at least as it was perceived by the mainstream media. Many fans love the sprawl and variety of the self-titled 1968 double album, popularly known as The White Album. In some quarters there’s a fondness for Abbey Road and its side-long suite of mini-songs, and lovers of the Bob Dylan-influenced folk-rock of the mid-‘60s cherish Rubber Soul above all. They all have merit, but none of them is as consistently brilliant and innovative as Revolver.
It does everything Sgt Pepper did, except it did it first and often better. It just wasn’t as well-packaged and marketed. The hype that preceded Sgt Pepper had a lot to do with the leaps in imagination, the studio-as-instrument adventurousness, that flourished on Revolver in half the time: the sessions for the 1966 album spanned two-and-a-half months whereas Sgt Pepper took an unprecedented five months to record.