on May 24, 2005
RUBBER SOUL remains a milestone in The Beatles' recording careers. It ushered in their most celebrated and sophisticated musical phase that is unrivalled to this day.
In the 20 months since The Beatles landed in America to the time the band recorded this album, rock 'n' roll had undergone a revolution, sparked by The Beatles themselves. The British invasion inspired Bob Dylan to go electric, while The Beatles converted the L.A. folk quartet, The Byrds, to replace their acoustic guitars with electric music. Add to this the whiff of American grass and you get the influences which shaped the late-1965 Beatles.
Above all, the Beatle's songwriting takes a big leap forward with RUBBER SOUL. For the first time John, Paul and George avoid the cliched boy-meets-girl songs and address introspective themes. Though RUBBER SOUL was widely viewed as Just Another Beatles Album in late-1965, some listners took notice of the words with as much care as they did Dylan albums. Some started to use the word "poetry" to describe Beatles music.
The album opens superbly with the funky Drive My Car which features a sharp vocal by Paul and a gorgeous bass influenced by Motown. John's Norwegian Wood is one of the record's highlights and introduces the sitar to Western ears. It obliquely tells of an affair John once had. You Won't See Me could've easily been a single. Paul's song, it is simply structured but strong. Nowhere Man was actually pulled as a single in the U.S. and is the first Beatles song not to talk about love or girls. John looks in the mirror and finds himself lost in a lyric that was one of his best (Dylan covered it many years later). George's Think For Yourself also steers away from the love song and features Paul playing the distinctive fuzz bass. The Word preceeds All You Need Is Love and discusses love not in boy-girl terms but universally (at a time when the Anti-War Movement was growing). Michelle closes side 1 in style. Love it or hate it, it is a fine love song with another great bass line.
Side 2 opens and closes with two disposable songs, What Goes On? and Run For Your Life. RUBBER SOUL would have been far better with the double-sided single, We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper, taking their place. However, the rest of side 2 shines with Girl and I'm Looking Through You -- John and Paul's complex views about women which are light-years away from She Loves You -- and In My Life which the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently named as the best song of all time. In My Life is a milestone in Lennon's career, featuring a nostalgic but bittersweet lyric. Lennon has never been this candid with his audience. Word is merely a leftover from the Help! sessions, though George's If I Needed Someone features the chiming Rickenbacker put to good use.
Today, RUBBER SOUL remains fresh. Amazingly, it was rush-recorded in two weeks with most of the songs written in the studio. John and Paul are at the height of their powers, while George is keeping pace with two songs instead of his customary one (or none). The album's acoustic sound allow's the band's maturing lyrics to be heard, while the arrangements are simple, yet intelligent. Few Beatles albums can rival RUBBER SOUL in songwriting. The sound of the album sounds unified which will pave the way for their next two albums, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. RUBBER SOUL is The Beatles' first masterpiece.
on June 21, 2004
I really don't care what people say, Rubber Soul is a great album! Sure, it's a transition from the crowd-pleasing pop-ish songs to their more mature, complicated songs but the transition has it's own great points that CANNOT be overlooked. Rubber Soul is great because of the experimentation. This was all new stuff, a breakthrough in the music world. Several songs on the album are among the most favorite of all time. They aren't so simplistic as the earlier stuff, you can hear a change in all of their voices and in their way of thinking.
Drive My Car: First track, not bad, George's guitar is a great start and the song has a sexy undertone.
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown): Great sitar, excellent use of it. I love the lyrics. I mean, really, there is something very lovable about the transition songs because they still had some fun in them and weren't so heavy yet. This song has a great flow that makes anyone want to listen to it many times in a row.
You Won't See Me: Along with "She's a Woman" this is probably one of my least favorite Beatles songs. One can really hear Paul's pop influence on this song. It's ok but it gets old really fast.
Nowhere Man: ABSOLUTE CLASSIC!!! Here is where you can hear the expression of John's inner feelings, Rubber Soul is really where the Beatles began to get into self-exploration and the result is FANTASTIC! Most every song on this album is peak perfection in it's own right.
Think for Yourself: Good, George is really starting to establish himself here, that's another landmark for Rubber Soul.
The Word: Definitely following with the mid-sixties vibe. All about spreading love and showing what a good thing love is. This is almost a protest song against all the uptight people in the world. John is telling you to keep love alive everywhere, The Word could be a lead-in to All You Need is Love.
Michelle: I've read in here that some people dislike Michelle. WHY??? This is yet another area where the Beatles were able to branch out in the types of songs they were doing. The French words are great, it's a lovely ballad to a girl who can't understand him but he desperately wants to show her how much he cares.
What Goes On: Personally, I really don't like this. 60's country is just not my thing, it's sort of an out-dated song for the Beatles to have been doing.
Girl: Ah, the pain of a cold woman, John portrays it so clearly. Again, these songs are just so different from what they had been doing before! I personally love them, they have great melody and a variety of new sounds, they all tell a story. That's what's important right? If so, Rubber Soul meets all the requirements.
I'm Looking Through You: Another distant woman. Great melody again, great portrayal of everything Paul is feeling. So different from previous songs!
IN MY LIFE: This is the big song on the album for me. Personally my ALL TIME FAVORITE!!! I first heard it at the beginning of The Beatles Anthology and have loved it ever since. It's so sweet and wistful and just full of meaning. In My Life is John's story about his life in Liverpool and Hamburg. Basically a tribute to all the wonderful people, places and things that he had known. Stuart, his Mom, old hangouts, etc. It's a song that can have meaning for everyone and shows so much depth is such simple wording. Not to say the song is simple, just that the words didn't have to be complicated to show all of that emotional depth. It's a song that makes you cry happy and sad tears, makes you long for a part of your life lived before, makes your heart leap. It's very nostalgic. And, John has such sweet, soothing vocals in it. I've also heard that In My Life was voted by a group of songwriters as the best song ever written. I MUST agree.
Wait: Very unselfish, honest, good melody.
If I Needed Someone: I can't say it's the best George-in-the-Beatles song (that might fall to a song like Something) but it's very good. Love the melody, great words, good emotion.
Run for Your Life: John's jealous streak, he admits to it here and in his later song Jealous Guy. I suppose a fear of rejection and the reprocussions. It's a really good song though, I love the guitar and the melody. Even in a song like this, John's voice is still soothing to me.
All in all, Rubber Soul is just so full of variety and new experiments. It jumps from Blues to Pop to Rock to Ballads and on and on, it was a great beginning to their later stuff. But, it really shouldn't be considered a prototype, it's not like it's a rough album that could have been fixed up. It is smooth, flowing, has a great variety. It's very finished and every song sounds like it was meant to sound just like it does. The later Beatles cannot be judged as better or improved from Rubber Soul, just different and in a different era of their musical careers. Don't overlook Rubber Soul, it's really studded in jewels!!!
on July 16, 2004
This is an elegant collection of songs that was a starting point for music. Here excellent music composition was combined with thought provoking lyricism and affective production. The guitars, pianos and bass play complementary melodies to the tunes, resulting in one flawless package that simply doesn't date.
Along with Pet Sounds and Mr Tambourine Man (Byrds) here is a the new intellectualism of Bob Dylan combined with a production that emotionally frames it's lyrical content. Every track is a winner, although 'Run for your life' is somewhat lightweight. 'Norwegian Wood', 'In my Life', 'Nowhere man' and 'Girl' are probably the finest examples of songcraft here. Anyone interested in music must have this album.
The repackaging is neat, with new pictures and a booklet, and a mini documentary on the CD... which makes it difficult/impossible to copy songs from the CD (which was easy to do with the older CD). The older CD cover photo looked more natural while the remastered version looks more green and has a larger image which gets a bit cropped. Old plastic covers are replaceable while the new covers can't really be replaced if they wear or tear.
Overall they did an excellent job remastering this CD and staying true to the original CD mixes. The bass guitar is louder and there is more noticeable bleed of reverb between the 2 speakers. I'm not sure if it's a modern reverb effect added or just that you can now HEAR the original reverb a lot more than ever before.
Some noticeable different things are:
Nowhere Man: the 1987 version has distorted vocals while the newer one definitely sounds cleaned up (you can hear George's harmony clearer) and the vocal reverb bleeds a lot to the other speaker.
Micelle: newer version has a lot more bleed from opposite speaker and significantly louder/cleaner drums and backing vocals.
What Goes On: the 1987 version left Ringo's vocal more bare in the one speaker, while the newer version has more bleed of the rhythm guitar beneath Ringo's vocal.
Girl: the old version has bass guitar in both speakers while the new one has bass in one speaker.
I'm Looking Through You: the old version has bass guitar bleeding into the vocal speaker, and the keyboard and lead guitar riff blend together to create ONE sound. On the new version you can clearly hear the keyboard as distinct from the lead guitar. Although it's cool to finally hear how it was done, to me it also takes away a little magic from the sound.
All the rest are true to the old CD mixes, just a bit louder and clearer/cleaner.
I've yet to compare it to the mono remastered CD.
on May 29, 2003
As I put this CD into my car player, I eagerly anticipated hearing the music that would take me back to the fall of 1965, when this became my all-time favorite Beatles album, and remained so, even after Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, White Album, Let it Be, et al., came out.
Expecting it to start out, as the original did, with "I've just
Seen a Face," I was startled to hear "Drive My Car"! Was I really so old that I had misremembered that that song came out later? NO! It has been added! I like that song, but it doesn't fit the overall totality that the Rubber Soul songs add(ed) up to. Nor does "If I Needed Someone" and certainly not the flat and inferior "What Goes On."
And though I love "Nowhere Man," again, that's "Yellow Submarine" stuff, not Rubber Soul. Why put it here?
And if it isn't bad enough that the original "weave" was disrupted by those songs' inclusion, what's worse is that two of the best, "It's Only Love" ( a magnificent piece, intelligently written and beautifully sung by John, with harmonies from Paul)
and the aforementioned "I've just Seen a Face" were left off!!!
It's like taking the "White Album" and slipping "Doctor Robert" and "Act Naturally" in the place of "Julia" and "Blackbird."
(Or, putting a scene from Romeo and Juliet into Hamlet!)
They don't fit -- and the album experience I looked forward to is NOT what I got. I just don't understand why they tampered with the original this way!
It's still worth buying, but don't expect that '65 experience. That's why I gave it three stars instead of five!
From: Puzzled in Raleigh
on August 30, 2009
All the signs were there on Help and yet, somehow, no one was quite ready for Rubber Soul. The Beatles sixth album was their best to date, and yet, were it the first album by an unknown band, it probably would not have received the acceptance and scrutiny it did. The world of popular music was probably eight to ten years away from easily embracing an album such as Rubber Soul, but when put out by the Beatles, audiences gave it the hearing it richly deserved and loved it,... mostly. To be sure, there were some AM radio dj's who lamented the 'new Beatles' and continued to play I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. But most people 'got it', a pop album of impeccable composition, that redefined 'commercial' by situating itself halfway between the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. This was rock's first great album, a collection of songs that sounded like they belonged together without sounding the same. It kicks off with a jaunty Drive My Car which could have been a number one hit, but was never released as a single. Next up is Lennon's Norwegian Wood, a lyric about an extramarital affair which was largely ignored in favour of discussing George Harrison's use of the sitar on this track. An infectious You Won't See Me gives way to Lennon's masterpiece Nowhere Man. Think For Yourself is a musical delight, but the odd vocal is handled by composer George Harrison, singing one of two compositions from this album. The best thing about The Word is the harmonizing and then McCartney's lovely ballad Michelle closes out the first side. Side two is nearly as memorable. What Goes On, I'm Looking Through You and Wait are less impressive than Girl, John's effort at writing about Christianity through the metaphor of romantic love, the mysoginistic Run For Your Life, George's If I Needed Someone, and best of all, John Lennon's In My Life, one of the greatest songs by anybody ever. With Rubber Soul, the Beatles had scaled new heights. They would never really come down, even when they failed or partly failed. Starting with Rubber Soul the Beatles were always breathing deeply the rarified air from the heights that they alone had reached.
on June 24, 2004
RUBBER SOUL is the Beatles' best album, because it breaks new ground without straying from true rock & roll. All of the songs here are originals, and this is where all post-1970 rock sprung forth from. This album, the other 12 British Beatles albums (except YELLOW SUBMARINE), LET IT BE...NAKED, and PAST MASTERS, VOLS. 1 & 2 are the essential Beatles library.
on July 6, 2004
1964, and I'd at last escaped private school imprisonment, fit mean n lean n heading for my nth dan in shotokan, meanwhile doling out killer chops on the Telecaster.
Every time I took a hit in the dojo, I'd pick myself up and talk of 'rectifying' the situation, at which the guys would laff at such posh lingo. Then 'Soul' hit the shops and composer George used 'rectify' in "Think For yourself" and suddenly basic literacy was hip.
Dating the daughter of the manager of a Harrow record store at the time, we concluded a major snog to the soundtrack of the 4-somes' latest a whole 12 hours before the album went on sale to the rest of the grockles. Gives lust a good name.
Apart from Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky", I reckon this was the album to which I bedded more virginal sweeties than any other sounds of the season. Talk about a summer of seduction.
If *only* someone had invented back then some way of skipping the appalling atonal offering of the nasal Starkey. Sacré Bleu! Just *any* of those Ringo tracks, on any of the albums - what a musical service for all mankind.
That apart, enjoy this aphrodisiacal ace of an album. Bliss was it to be alive to rock to these albums *as* they came out. GOd *bless* those lads.
on July 6, 2004
Much if not all of what I'd have to say about this delightful album has already been said (probably to death) by the hundreds of reviewers who have beaten me to this site. But this really is great stuff -- catching the Fab Four in transition from radio-driven singles "hits" toward musical artistry and maturity.
In my opinion, the weakest song by far is "What Goes On," essentially because I passionately dislike country-western music and cannot abide Ringo's obvious infatuation with such sounds especially in the early to mid-60s. But it is far more than compensated for by McCartney's "Drive My Car" (which begins so stunningly) and Lennon's amazingly haunting "Norwegian Wood," "Nowhere Man" and "In My Life." Lennon could have never written another song and his legacy would have been secure on the strength of those three pieces alone. (Fortunately he wrote many other good ones!)
Harrison was clearly beginning to flex his songwriting muscles here too, with "Think for Yourself" and "If I Needed Someone" both adding thoughtful and singable critiques of pop romance.
In many ways, this has been my favorite Beatles album for over three decades because it moves at the cusp of the relative innocence of the Beatles' earlier work and the edgier, more artsy, more electric and studio-layered music that followed, e.g., "Revolver," "Sergeant Pepper's" and "Abbey Road" -- all of which, to be sure, also merit ratings of 5 for their own reasons. Most of those reasons, though, finally are rooted in the fact that the synergy of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison was virtually a gift to the world and will likely never again be matched in the annals of popular song.
on June 12, 2004
The Beatles often referred to Revolver as 'the Acid Album', and to Rubber Soul as 'the Pot Album'. Indeed, drugs' influence is flowing into this album like rain into a paper cup. But that's not what makes Rubber Soul the classic it is. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band is usually considered the Beatles' creative turning point and their greatest achievement; while Beach Boys fans like to diminish the album's importance by pointing out that the Beatles often said that Sgt. Pepper was greatly inspired by the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. However, while relating to Pet Sounds itself, Brian Wilson often admitted that he was actually inspired by the Beatles' Rubber Soul when he conceived his own breakthrough album. Indeed, listening to the Beatles catalogue reveals that it is Rubber Soul that was the major turning point, creatively and artistically, and it is this album that paved the path for the Beatles' timeless masterpiece. Though it was a process that was going on for two years now, it was on Rubber Soul that the Beatles finally waved their moptop image goodbye, and abandoned pop music forever. A look at the druggy cover is enough to illustrate that point; listening to the album makes it substantial. The Beatles experiment like they never did before with recording techniques, new harmonies and new instruments, and their music captivates and fascinates like it never did before.
On Rubber Soul, the individual personalities of the Beatles as musicians and songwriters are more obvious than ever before. But still, perhaps for the last time, John Lennon is the true leader of the band. John's songwriting went up a notch on this album (it happened for George and Paul on Revolver), and he turned in for Rubber Soul some of his greatest, most revolutionary and inventive songs. 'Nowhere Man' immediately springs to mind, with its haunting and beautiful vocal harmonies, druggy vocals, and surreal spiritual-social lyrics. John's socially / politically-aware persona surfaces here for the first time, and 'Nowhere Man' remains one of his most important and groundbreaking compositions. There's also 'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)', one of John's most beautiful tunes, which also has lyrics more inventive and surreal than anything he recorded previously. 'Norwegian Wood' is revolutionary for another reason: it's the first pop / rock song to use a sitar in its recording. George Harrison had bought the sitar some time before (inspired by some recordings he had heard of Ravi Shankar), and suggested using a sitar backing on the song; it's that unique sound that made the song so unique, and it shows the Beatles at their most original and experimental, no longer concerned with commercial success and wanting to experiment and innovate as much as possible. And then there's the great 'In My Life' - John's most beautiful and heartfelt song of his recording life. 'In My Life' is a song that comes straight from John's soul, and is more touching than anything he wrote before or after. It also boasts a strange and innovative keyboard solo by master producer Sir George Martin (though he didn't really play it that fast - he recorded it at half speeds, and then sped up the recording). And that's not mentioning 'Girl' and 'The Word', which are both two of the most beautiful and captivating songs ever recorded.
That's not to say Paul and George - both brilliant songwriters by their own right - didn't make their contributions to the greatness of Rubber Soul. Paul turned in some of his greatest hits with the wonderful and classic ballad 'Michelle' (which won the Beatles their only Grammy award), which stands with 'Eleanor Rigby', 'For No One' and 'Yesterday' as one of his greatest ballads; as well as the hard and heavy 'Drive My Car', that has great guitar work and terrific, sharp lyrics. He also scored a perfect pop song with the lovely 'I'm Looking Through You', one of my favorite Beatles songs and one of their most underrated efforts. George made two great contributions with the heavy, sarcastic 'Think For Yourself' which has great guitar work and a fantastic, heavy bass line; and 'If I Needed Someone', which remains one of his greatest songs and probably his first truly complete composition. It has great vocal harmonies and instrumental work, lovely lyrics and a catchy tune, and it paves the way to George's greater achievements - from 'I Want To Tell You', to the classics 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' and 'Something'. George proves for the first time that he can be as much of a songwriter as John and Paul (even if his compositions on the album seem pale next to John's groundbreaking masterpiece works).
So I'll wrap this review up on the same note I did the reviews for Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road and Let It Be: Rubber Soul is essential listening. I can't imagine a self-respecting music lover going through life without the complete Beatles catalogue (maybe omitting - MAYBE - With The Beatles, Beatles For Sale and Yellow Submarine), and Rubber Soul is not only an crucially important step in the musical story of the development of this great band and of music in general, it's also a timeless rock album by its own right, one of the Beatles' best and one of the best albums ever recorded. Like Dylan, The Who and the Beach Boys at around the same time, the Beatles progressed from recording songs to recording albums - and thus changed popular music forever.