The Beatles, the most popular and innovative rock group of their era — or any era — released their album Revolver 51 years ago this week. Though the album’s significance was largely overlooked at the time, the work is now widely thought of as even better than The Beatles’ acknowledged classic released a year later, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.
The 14-track Revolver was released in the United Kingdom on August 5, 1966, after recording sessions that lasted from April 6 to June 21 of that year. But that two and a half month period was easily eclipsed by the recording sessions for Sgt. Pepper, which began on November 24 of the same year but didn’t wrap up until April 21 of 1967. Pepper became the first Beatles album released in the United States in a version identical to its U.K. release. But when Revolver hit stores in the United States on August 8, 1966, the American version contained only 11 tracks.