First recorded (as a demo) by The Beatles (1968).
Hit version by The Beatles (US #12 1968).
Also recorded by The Beatles (as “Revolution 1”) (1968), The Beatles (as “Revolution #9”) (1968).
From the wiki: “Around the fourth week of May 1968, The Beatles met at Kinfauns (George Harrison’s home in Esher) to demonstrate their compositions to each other in preparation for recording their next studio album. During his time in Rishikesh, India, that past February, John Lennon decided to write a song about the recent wave of social upheaval. He recalled, ‘I thought it was about time we spoke about it [revolution], the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese war. I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India.’ A bootleg recording from the informal Esher session shows that ‘Revolution’ had two of its three verses intact. The line referencing Mao Zedong was added to the lyrics in the studio. During filming of a promotional clip later that year, Lennon told the director that it was the most important lyric of the song. Lennon had changed his mind by 1972, saying ‘I should have never put that in about Chairman Mao.’
“Despite Lennon’s antiwar feelings, he had yet to become anti-establishment, and expressed in ‘Revolution’ that he wanted ‘to see the plan’ from those advocating toppling the system. The repeated phrase ‘it’s gonna be alright’ in ‘Revolution’ came directly from Lennon’s Transcendental Meditation experiences in India, conveying the idea that God would take care of the human race no matter what happened politically. Another influence on Lennon was his burgeoning relationship with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono; Ono attended the recording sessions, and participated in the unused portion of “Revolution 1” which evolved into ‘Revolution 9’.
“The Beatles began their studio sessions for the new album on 30 May, starting with ‘Revolution 1’ (simply titled “Revolution” for the first few sessions). It was recorded in a Blues style, performed at a relaxed tempo. There is an extra beat at the end of the last chorus, the result of an accidental bad edit during the mixing process that was left uncorrected at Lennon’s request.
The Beatles, “Revolution 1” album version (1968):
“Lennon wanted ‘Revolution 1’ to be the next Beatles single, but Paul McCartney was reluctant to invite controversy, and argued along with George Harrison that the track was too slow for a single. Lennon persisted, and rehearsals for a faster and louder re-make began on 9 July; recording started the following day. The song begins with a fuzz guitar riff, with Lennon’s and Harrison’s guitars prominent throughout the track. McCartney overdubbed the opening scream, and Lennon double-tracked some of the words “so roughly that its careless spontaneity becomes a point in itself” [quote from Revolution Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties. New York: Henry Holt].
The Beatles, “Revolution 2” single version (1968):
“This version of ‘Revolution’ was released as the B-side of the ‘Hey Jude’ single in late August 1968. The song reached #12 in the US and was certified gold. and reached #1 in New Zealand. The ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’ single was listed as a double-sided #1 in Australia. The slower, more bluesy ‘Revolution 1’ was released on the album The Beatles (aka The White Album) in late November 1968. The Beatles would record a rare live TV performance of ‘Revolution’ on The David Frost Show, in 1968, that combined elements of both ‘Revolution 1’ and ‘Revolution 2’.
The Beatles, “Revolution” live performance The David Frost Show (1968):
“In 2009, a high-quality version labeled ‘Revolution Take 20’ appeared on the bootleg CD Revolution: Take…Your Knickers Off! The release triggered great media fanfare and activity among fans. This version, RM1 (Remix in Mono #1) of Take 20, runs 10 minutes 46 seconds (at the correct speed) and was created at the end of the 4 June session, with a copy taken away by Lennon. It was an attempt by Lennon to augment the full-length version of ‘Revolution’ in a way that satisfied him before he chose to split the piece between the edited ‘Revolution 1’ and the musique concrete ‘Revolution 9’.
“Lennon soon decided to divide the existing ten-minute recording into two parts: a more conventional Beatles track and an avant-garde sound collage. Within days after Take 20, work began on ‘Revolution 9’ using the last six minutes of the take as a starting point. Numerous sound effects, tape loops, and overdubs were recorded and compiled over several sessions almost exclusively by Lennon and Ono, although Harrison provided assistance for additional spoken overdubs.”
The Beatles, “Revolution 9” (1968):