|The Beatles Evo|
The Beatles Evolution
The Beatles constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, combined with George Martin's arranging abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith, Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all played significant parts in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries. Other contemporary influences included the Byrds and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's.
The Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds." After Sgt. Pepper was released, Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson was so despondent that he went to bed for months. Lennon also named Elvis Presley as a spark that interested him in music: It was Elvis who really got me buying records. I thought that early stuff of his was great. The Bill Haley era passed me by, in a way. When his records came on the wireless, my mother used to hear them, but they didn’t do anything for me. It was Elvis who got me hooked on beat music. When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel', I thought ‘this is it’ and I started to grow sideboards and all that gear...."
Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel in "Strawberry Fields Forever". They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever", and the clavioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby You're a Rich Man".
Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin with input from McCartney) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). A televised performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 directly inspired McCartney's idea to include a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane". The Beatles moved towards psychedelia with "Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967.