The Beatles, “Paperback Writer / Rain” from Past Masters (1966): One Track Mind

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There was no limit to what the Beatles could do. It goes without saying by the time “Paperback Writer / Rain” arrived, the Liverpool band had created so many accomplishments, that if they suddenly splintered and permanently retired from music, they would still be remembered and revered for eternity.

Conceived in a period when pop rock was changing and progressing at an unbelievably rapid clip, the Beatles — who were of course chiefly responsible for such revolutionary episodes — logged even more influential mileage on this electrifying effort.

The lead vocal on “Paperback Writer” is handled by Paul McCartney, who narrates the song with clarity and excitement. An ode to an aspiring novelist, this Beatles track rumbles and bubbles to a bold burst of chattering guitars, jarring breaks, spinning rhythms, and slick and shiny harmonies. For a splash of cheekiness, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr croon “Frere Jacques” in the final verse of the song. Charged with melody and mettle, “Paperback Writer,” in typical Beatles fashion, shot straight to the No. 1 spot on the charts.

John Lennon takes on the role as front singer on the Beatles’ “Rain,” which captures the heart and soul of psychedelic music with magnetic force. Powered by trembling rhythms, commanding drum fills, dreamy choruses, and jangly distorted chords, the song is rife with trippy impressions, informing the weather is just a state of mind. At the end of the tune, backward tape looping is employed, giving John Lennon’s voice a positively paranormal quality. Though “Rain” was not the first acid-dappled song, it certainly shaped the tenor of the movement and spawned oodles of imitators.

Both “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” were recorded in April of 1966 during the Revolver sessions, but neither cut appeared on the album. Or any studio album, for that matter. In December 1966, however, “Paperback Writer” surfaced on A Collection of Beatles Oldies, a greatest hits package. The song, along with “Rain” was also heard on the Beatles’ Hey Jude compilation album, which landed on the shelves in February of 1970 and concentrated on non-album offerings. “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” are further included on Past Masters that was initially released on vinyl and compact disc in 1988 and 2009 respectively.

Lyrically, sonically, and instrumentally innovative, the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” sound as spellbinding today as they did all those years ago.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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