106: Deconstructing The Beatles – Revolution 9

May 30, 2017

Podcast, Podcasting

Before you roll your eyes, take a second: in this special episode, Richard and Robert dissect what is easily the most polarizing recording of The Beatles’ entire canon: the musique concrète produced by John, with assistance from Yoko and George, issued on their wildly expansive 1968 self-titled double album. Adding to the conversation: Jack Petruzzelli from The Fab Faux – a rare ensemble who have actually performed the piece live. No matter what you think of “Revolution 9,” there’s a lot here worth discussing: the inspiration – the intent – the influence (yes, there is that).

Songs include “Your Feet’s Too Big.”

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    23 Responses to “106: Deconstructing The Beatles – Revolution 9”

    1. Ray Says:

      From Ray in Australia:- June 1st…”It was twenty years ago today”

      Well actually it was 50….when the iconic Sgt Peppers Album was released
      if U go here http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/musicshow/

      U can listen to some brilliant interviews. The one with Epstein’s secretary and
      the one with Mark Lewisohn are exceptional. This bloke is the Ph.D of Beatles.
      I have his mammoth book which in GREAT DETAIL logs every fact about every
      Beatles song recorded at Apple. It is a studio log. Even tells how much the musos were paid,
      instruments used on every song… a must listen. There is also a discussion on how Lennon came about writing Mr Kite and what it means.


    2. Montgomery Ramone Says:

      Extraordinary -one of your best. Thanks. Let’s hope Carnival of Light will one day see the light!


    3. BW Says:

      Paul didn’t wait ’till The Fireman to do more avant garde stuff. Look at some of the electronic stuff Paul did during the McCartney II period including the dreadful single B sides “Check My Machine” and “Secret Friend”. Pretty out there (and so my most UNfavorite Paul period). Jeez, even “Kreen Akore” from ’70 was pretty avant garde considering what he was known for at the time, though with contemporary instruments and no tape loops flown in. Just my opinion of course.


      • James Says:

        McCartney II is great. It would have been wonderful to have collaboration between Paul and Yoko in 1981—bringing together the styles and sensibilities of McCartney II and her stuff on Double Fantasy.


      • boner Says:

        It’s ‘Kreen Akrore’.


    4. James Says:

      Thank you, thank you. Much deserved attention to a track that helps make the album their last truly forward looking, forward pushing venture; taking John and Yoko’s separate Plastic Ono albums from 1970 as of apiece might get us as near as there is to a bold artistic follow-up. John may not have wanted Paul’s participation on the track for fear than Paul would take over rather than simply take direction on a piece of this scope. This might be particularly so if John was approaching this on some level in a stream of consciousness mode–which is not that same, of course, as unstructured or disorganized.


    5. Paul Gase Says:

      Loved this episode. Very thoughtful conversation about a track that gets a lot of attention, but usually in a negative fashion.

      I’ve read the mono release was just a fold down of the stereo. Just curious if you guys have heard any earlier (stereo or mono) mixes of R9? Thanks again!


      • Us Says:

        Hi Paul,

        Yes, the official mono release was a fold down of the stereo; not surprisingly, given that, like “I Am The Walrus,” some of the mixing was locked in by feeding in streams of audio straight into the mixing board in real time. However – there was a preliminary mono mix predating the final stereo that was captured on a reference acetate. We didn’t think we could get away with playing both versions in the show, but here it is:


        • boner Says:

          1:08 what reaction did they expect? lol They knew there was a Manson out there somewhere – with the amount of lsd being consumed. That’s why they have that ‘questo abrigado’ on Abbey Road – they were on a quest for a brigade to bring about the revolution. That’s why ‘apple’ in Spanish is ‘manzana’.


    6. Dab Mo Says:

      I’ve long sensed Ken Scott’s fingerprints on the overall sound.Listen to it backwards (no cliche). Just an observation….


    7. rickylee369 Says:

      I think I may be one of the few who actually look forward to the arrival of Revolution #9 when playing the White Album and actually skip tracks to get there quicker…

      Thanks for this podcast. The only thing I would have wanted you to add was some talk about the acetate version which you covered in the comments. It may seem odd to many, but for me, upon finding out about it just a few weeks ago, it was refreshing to hear a track I genuinely love from a different angle.

      Looking forward to the Technicolour Dream and Pepper at 50 shows.

      I am hoping you will one day do a show on the links between The Beatles and The Stones, the supposed rivalry that never really was, the collaborations, the parties and sitting in on sessions, and post Beatles hook-ups.



      • Cajun Queen Says:

        I am hoping you will one day do a show on the links between The Beatles and The Stones

        THAT sounds good! 🙂


    8. Kevin Says:

      Great show! I know that Lennon was sore at McCartney for doing so many tracks alone- Do it in the Road, etc. Maybe he left Paul out for this reason?


      • Robert Rosen Says:

        I was thinking the same thing! So I checked and it turns out Why Don’t We Do It In The Road wasn’t recorded until several months after Revolution 9 (on October 9th, John’s birthday!) Of course John could have been sore about other tracks recorded earlier.


    9. Andy F. Says:

      Great show. Really interesting to see what shaped this piece of music. Loved it.


    10. jim Says:

      the group Heart did their own version/tribute inspired by Revolution #9 on their greatest hits/live album from 1980 on a track called “strange euphoria”, 2:45 of music concrete, obviously inspired by the Beatles/#9…


    11. Jim Dean Says:

      This is really a great episode about a subject I’ve never heard anyone really discuss before. There may have been a couple times when I skipped past it, but I generally listen to this track. It is so rich, so odd, so filled with choice little bits. i didn’t really have any idea that there were sources or inspirations that were so close-sounding. But as you point out, the Beatles would take an idea, a note, a lyric and turn it into their own creation. I also didn’t know about Paul being cut out of this. But with all the songs that India generated and all the recording going on, and that creative competitiveness, it’s not really a surprise. This wasn’t a vindictive John & George track like How Do You Sleep. But more of a “Top This” kind of move. You guys did an outstanding, thorough job breaking it down, examining the structure and the many many elements. Excellent show.


    12. Cajun Queen Says:

      holy crap, this was a great episode


    13. WingsFan2012 Says:

      McCartney II was an amazing avante garde album from Paul. Guys you could do a whole show on that album-the end of Wings etc. That album really benefitted from a great remastering done about 6 years ago. #9 was allegedly hated by Paul and George Martin. Crazy Crazy track. Plus I always thought it was Ringo saying “Number 9, Number 9″…………


    14. Pablo Ramon Says:

      For me, the White Album wouldn’t be the White Album without Revolution 9… I particularly love the way it leads into the deliberately saccharine “Good Night.” I will fully admit I didn’t always hear the musicality of it. At first it was just a bunch of scary noise. But repeated listening is rewarded, and it all begins to hang together with a rhythm of its own…

      In any case, it was a major push of the envelope for a group that was recording “Good Day Sunshine” a mere two years earlier.


    15. Jim Mullahy Says:

      That’s Joe Butler, drummer of The Lovin’ Spoonful, on the cover of ‘Revelation’.


    16. Tony S. Says:

      Surprised no one mentioned George Harrison’s “Dream Sequence” from his “Wonderwall” album, since it’s a sound montage that supposedly pre-dates “Revolution 9.” Maybe this was a reason George took to what John was doing.

      Also, have you guys heard this? It’s the source of that ghost-like operatic voice that’s part of the “radio dial” ending segment of “Revolution 9.” Always wondered whose voice it was.



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