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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 30, 1966

The Beatles' unprecedented sonic experimentation on their 1966 album Revolver make it one rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest albums. But ironically, one of the album’s greatest innovations happened on a B-side that came out before the final album.

Backward guitar and sitar solos appear throughout Revolver, which is credited as the first popularized use of “backmasking”, the intentional recording of a track in reverse. But songs like “Love You To” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” were not the first songs the band recorded backward.

The real birth of the Beatles’ backmasking came in the form of John Lennon's reversed vocals during the outro of “Rain”, the B-side to lead single “Paperback Writer” that came out in the U.S. on May 30, 1966.

It was not the first time anyone had tried recording backwards – it had been available since the early days of Edison’s phonograph and avant-garde composers experimented with it as early as the 1950s. But the Beatles are universally credited with bringing the technique to the mainstream.

And, like so many other musical miracles, it happened by accident.

 

 

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