Phase three was probably their highest achievement. This is when their level of song writing, performance and innovation all came together.
It spanned four albums and a number of singles.
For a variety of reasons, such as they had got fed up with it, couldn’t hear themselves and didn’t think they could do justice to the music they were producing in the studio, they gave up live performance.
It gave them more time in the studio and the influence of Dylan and the burgeoning sixties counter-culture and arts movement started to come through. Nothing was off limits – electronic sounds, loops, backward tapes, strange instruments, music forms from Jazz, Indian, Folk and brass bands were fused together with classical instrumentation and a touch of avant garde. It all went in the mix.
There was the first glimmer of things to come on Rubber Soul with its production and songs such as Here, There and Everywhere, Nowhere Man and I’m looking Through You. Then there was the B-side of Ticket To Ride – Rain, with its backwards tape. Things were afoot.
By the time we got to Revolver things were in full flow. It was a mass of innovation with searing guitar, electronic distortions, sitar and lyrical developments. Tomorrow Never Knows would have been unthinkable an album before. We have the beauty of Here There and Everywhere and Eleanor Rigby and the up tempo Got To Get You Into My Life. The counter-culture and psychedelia was beginning to raise its head. The love song fodder had been surpassed and extended into new arenas. No longer were Beatle songs based on the two and a half minute formula. The Beatles had moved to Adult Orientated Rock – as it became known.
Many believe that the next album – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heartsclub Band – was their epitome. Those that know them better reckon that it was the next double white album that saw them reach their peak. It is of little importance. These two albums along with the single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane saw them at their zenith. They were still there at the top setting the standard for others to follow. Even the Stones, when they tried to match Sgt Peppers by making a psychedelic album – Their Satanic Majesties Request – fell short. The Beatles had made the jump from a teenybop band to a recognised force in the burgeoning counter-culture field of psychedelic Rock. They were looked up to by the likes of Hendrix.
It did not get much better than this. They could pound out heavy riffs, do acoustic ditties, Indian ragas or produce experimental electronic music. There were no limits other than their imaginations and with the run of the studio and George Martin’s skills they forged brilliance.