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Old 06-06-2012, 05:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Beatles: Rubber Soul- 1965


The Beatles Rubber Soul- 1965
RMR Album Rating- 8


Does the phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” also apply to album covers?

The Rubber Soul album cover looks nothing like any of the previous Beatles’ album covers, as it has a very psychedelic look to it; however, it is not quite as revolutionary as I once thought. Just look at The Rolling Stones’ album cover for Out Of Our Heads, it’s basically identical to the cover of Rubber Soul, but it was released about 6-months earlier.

So, does the music on Rubber Soul match the cover of the album? In other words, did the music change as much as the album cover did? Well… yes and no.

On one hand, Rubber Soul is definitely the start of a new, more serious chapter for the Beatles. I think with Rubber Soul, they were intentionally trying to break away from the early Beatlemania boy-girl love songs, and as evidence of this, Rubber Soul is the first Beatles album not to have the word “Love” in any of its song titles, and most of the themes that are presented throughout the album are much more serious in tone. Therefore, they succeeded in setting a new tone for the album’s content thematically, but they fail to translate these new themes into songs that are better than the songs on Help (the album’s predecessor).

With that being said, none of the songs on Rubber Soul are bad. In fact, all the songs are fantastic. They’re just not the quantum leap in quality over the songs on Help that most people make them out to be, and this makes sense. Help was the pinnacle of early Beatles pop material, and it is arguably the greatest pop record ever recorded. Whereas Rubber Soul is just the first page of a new chapter of Beatles material, so how can we expect it to be perfect? In other words, the seeds of seriousness were planted thematically on Rubber Soul, but we won’t hear the full results bloom until future albums.

As for the songs, “Norwegian Wood” is a true highlight, and it is also one of my personal favorite Beatles songs. It shows them branching out and tackling lyrical content that they would have never touched on their early albums. “Norwegian Wood” is also a major step forward musically, in that it features George Harrison on his newly acquired sitar from India.

“Nowhere Man” is also a standout, and it continues Lennon’s string of songs about despair that he started on The Beatles for Sale album with “I’m a Loser,” and he then continued on the Help album with the title track. Aside from the song dealing with Lennon’s frustration and sadness, it is an incredibly unique track. McCartney and Lennon sing together in an almost blurred harmony, and it gives the track a great psychedelic feel.

Then there’s “In My Life.” For me, it is one of the Beatles’ most moving songs, and I still get chills every time I hear it.

Circling back around, I’ll make a few final comments. First, you cannot judge an album by its cover, although most people do with Rubber Soul. Second, although The Beatles were intentionally going for a more mature and serious sound on this album, I actually enjoy the Help album more because it is the zenith of their straight pop period of music, whereas Rubber Soul is just the first chapter in their more serious style of song writing.

Post Script:
Everyone has always made a huge deal over George Harrison’s sitar work on “Norwegian Wood” because of how revolutionary it was for him to use a foreign instrument on a pop song. It does sound great, but it is not nearly as revolutionary as you might think. The Kinks had traveled to India before the Beatles, and they released “See My Friends” before “Norwegian Wood.” Although both songs are great, “See My Friends” is much more Indian inspired and much more psychedelic than “Norwegian Wood.” (Click here to listen the Kinks’ See My Friends)



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Old 06-07-2012, 10:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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As a huge Beatles fan, I used to have a huge thing for Rubber Soul. I thought it was an amazing improvement over everything the Beatles' did beforehand and it was the first time they got their stuff together album-wise (just like all reviews want you to think, eh?). As time went on I kind of lost something for it. Still a great album and an important part of the Beatles' evolution as artists and other historical points but it's...perhaps overrated? I guess everything the Beatles' touched was overrated, but I mean, I'd agree with your point about a lot of the songs not being a marked improvement over Help! I'd even say that the majority of the highlights of Help! might even top some of the highlights of Rubber Soul, even if the latter is a more consistent album. Although 'In My Life' might be an exception.

Still, love the album, even if it's not one of my favorites like it used to be. Good review. I'd probably give it a 9/10, but based on your writing your score seems well-warranted (and review's rating is secondary to the written words, anyway, right?)

I'd always heard that the Kinks did India first, but this is actually the first time I've heard the song in question. Good show, and kudos.
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Rubber Soul is one of my favorite from The Beatles, actually, their first great album IMO. What I get from this album is some sort of drakness which is absent from other works. Not a complete darkness, but a sense of unhappiness that makes the songs way more special. Still one of my favorites.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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objectively, still my favourite Beatles

song-craft-wise, nothing else touches this (i mean from the Beatles camp)
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Rubber Soul would be my favorite if it wasn't for Abbey Road.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i dont like this album
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i dont like this album


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Old 06-21-2012, 07:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i dont like this album

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Old 06-28-2012, 12:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Reading this inspired me to sign up to this forum (just found it 5 minutes ago by searching "music forum").

Firstly, 8/10 is quite unfair in my opinion. Although it's hard to rate music out of 10 in the first place, to say Rubber Soul isn't perfect is ill-informed. It is perfect by its own measure; the execution of the concept is flawless, and this is surely alls you can fairly measure a piece of art by?

Nonetheless, this album is heralded by some of the greats as the most important and influential album to modern music. I'd have to agree as personally, I feel Rubber Soul closed the door on Rock 'n' Roll and forged Alternative Rock with its shell.

1965 was the starting point of everything that followed.

Unfortunately, this review throws around some common myths regarding the enginuity of Harrison in this era - something people have tried to discredit him for for more than a short while. Here are the facts:

1) See My Friends was based on Davies' seeing fishermen in India upon his arrival. His jetlag coupled with this scene felt rather trippy and inspired the appropriately psychedelic record that was See My Friends.

2) The song isn't very much like Norwegian Wood and, if you study the origin of that song, it's very unlikely it was inspired by it. In fact, the sitar was used on The Beatles record and it was actually a downtuned guitar creating the same drone-y sentiments for The Kinks.

3) The whole Indian inspiration was not unique to The Kinks or The Bealtes or ANY other band in the 60s for that matter. Everyone was embracing Indian culture at the time, so what came 6 months before what is irrelevant.

There's also If I Needed Someone which had an extremely iconic riff and Think For Yourself that, when coupled together, not only marked the start of everything to come from Harrison, also allowed McCartney to get very inventive with double-tracked fuzzy basslines.

Lennon's song-writing also became more poetic and meaningful around this time and drug-influences on the whole came into play. In My Life and Nowhere Man are two of the best Beatles' songs of any era and the exploration of other styles really becomes apparent in Norwegian Wood, Michelle and Girl (barre the whimsical nod at Elvis in the closing track).

Also, I'm glad you pointed out the breakdown in the typical boy/girl love song scenario that was the staple of early Beatles' music - The Word is an interesting insight into a further exploration of the concept and meaning of love.

Anyway, before this gets any more boring, I shall stop - although I warn you, I could write about the Beatles all day and PARTICULARLY Rubber Soul.

Thanks,
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Rubber Soul was my first Beatles record. I think it's historical significance is that, to my understanding, this was one of a handful of records that actually was conceptualized as a rock album rather than just being a string of hits and b-sides. I do think it was a transitional record, echoing what came before it, but definitely sowing the seeds for what would be delivered on Revolver, which was the Beatles as a band's ultimate statement for me. When you throw in all the songs they did for Help!, which were very similar in tone to Rubber Soul, that whole 1965-66 period was just an amazing time for them.
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