You Say you Want a Revolution? – Records and Rebels 1966-1970 is a fab gear new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum – and a must visit for Beatles fans.
During the years covered by the exhibition, the Beatles wee arguably at their collective peak, and not surprisingly, feature prominently in the exhibition, including many items never seen in public before. A highlight is a display about Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, featuring the original Sgt Pepper uniforms worn by John Lennon and George Harrison; the cut outs of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe, that are seen on the album cover; the lyrics of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, handwritten by John; and Within You, Without You, Handwritten by George; and one of Georges own sitars. This area of the exhibition is worth the admission money on its own!
The Beatles memorabilia doesn’t end there – Yoko and Olivia have donated lots of their late husband’s mementos, including the jacket worn by John on the ‘Our World’ TV broadcast of ‘All You Need is Love’, and a purple velvet jacket worn by George on the Frost programme. Then right at the end of the exhibition, the jacket John wore on the ‘Imagine’ video. This really got to me.
One item that’s exhibited which isn’t quite what it seems is a white suit, that the exhibition book says was the one worn by John Lennon on the Abbey Road crossing, for the iconic album cover shoot. However, the book says it was designed by Ted Lapidus, when John’s Abbey Road suit was designed by Tommy Nutter in Savile Row. The suit might have belonged to John, but it wasn’t the one he wore that day.
Overall, there must be at least 25 Beatles handwritten lyrics dotted about the exhibition, surely the most ever seen in one place.
But of course, there is much more to the exhibition than just the Beatles. A highlight is certainly the Woodstock Room, where you can watch the film of the iconic festival on a huge screen, lounging on beanbags, and surrounded by loads of mementos from the various bands and artists that took part, including Roger Daltrey’s stage outfit, Pete Townshend’s broken guitar.
As well as all these stage suits and instruments etc, the exhibition includes hundreds of album covers from the period, which are very much works of art in their own right, and great concert posters.
The exhibition is not confined to music by any means. There are sections on fashion, art, politics, early computers, and space travel.
I must have spent at least 2.5 hours in the exhibition, and will definitely go back again. I came out feeling like I’d just smoked a massive joint! A very hippy, trippy, show!