image from fabfourstore.com
Tracks (original UK listing): (Click for codes to singles charts.) Drive My Car / Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) / You Won’t See Me / Nowhere Man (2/21/66, #3 US) / Think for Yourself / The Word / Michelle / What Goes On (2/21/66, #81) / Girl / I’m Looking Through You / In My Life / Wait / If I Needed Someone / Run for Your Life
Sales (in millions): 6.5 US, 0.75 UK, 13.9 world
Peak: 16 US, 19 UK
Review: “Rubber Soul is without a doubt the first album to definitively put the Fab Four in the running for Greatest Band Ever.” CDU It was ”the best ‘60s rock album produced up to this point, which is saying a lot – there was…some stiff competition (e.g., The Beach Boys’ Today).” AMG2 “Written and recorded in just over a month,” AD Rubber Soul was “the opening volley of the album era.” IB “While the Beatles didn’t totally eschew the two-minute pop ditties on Rubber Soul,” DV “the songs started to get more serious” KN and “more than the traditional radio fodder.” DV This was really “the first set of rock ‘n’ roll originals written, recorded and packaged as an album.” IB It was “important historically [for] pushing The Beach Boys, The Beatles themselves and countless others” AD “away from singles” AD and “into a more considered album-making approach.” AD It would become “the foundation upon which the music industry would be based for the next 15 years.” IB
The album “was well-timed, well put together and is very easy to listen to…thanks to clever sequencing.” AD “Musically, too, it was a substantial leap forward” AMG2 as this “was the first disc…to give the Beatles room to experiment musically.” DV ”Virtually every aspect of the Liverpool quartet’s incredibly diverse sound is in evidence here.” CDU “Intricate folk-rock arrangements…reflected the increasing influence of Dylan and the Byrds” AMG2 and the “burgeoning folk rock movement.” AD “The group and George Martin were also beginning to expand the conventional instrumental parameters of the rock group.” AMG2 The album is “peppered with nasty fuzz bass, exotic sitar, cartoonishly sped-up piano that sounds like harpsichord, and elements of country, Motown, and classical music, the album reveals a creative scope and willingness to experiment so revolutionary it can now only be termed ‘Beatlesque.’” CDU
“The lyrics represented a quantum leap in terms of thoughtfulness, maturity, and complex ambiguities.” AMG2 “The band sounds far more intelligent…(and stoned) than on their early records.” MU They “finally gave in to their urge to grow and released their first introspective work” RV and “John and Paul were beginning to carve separate songwriting identities” AMG2 with John “perhaps…at his absolute best.” KN
In My Life
With In My Life, John “wrap[s] up a lifetime’s worth of reminiscing and maturity in a manner that is rarely achieved in any art form.” DV It is “emotionally devastating and beautiful” AD and “marked out by timeless lyrics.” MU It may “be the best Beatles song ever written.” DV
Similarly, John’s Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) is “highly personal [marked by] almost diary-like sketches that rank among his most popular work.” JA It was “the first prominent rock record to feature a sitar.” JA
On Nowhere Man, John “compositionally [takes] things…a further step forward” AD as “the first Beatle song to move beyond romantic themes entirely,” AMG2 “creating something of a minor masterpiece.” AD
Drive My Car
“The punchy R&B” IB of Drive My Car, is a “relatively straightforward pop/rock opener” AD “rooted in their early cute phase,” TL showing “the lads could still rock, but with a little more substance.” RV
“Michelle, Paul’s best contribution,” KN “is typical McCartney;” AD “a simple but sweet ballad” KN which “raises a smile” AD with lyrics like “These are words that go together well.” “McCartney does exactly that with his lyric writing,” AD “opposed to the lyrically more thoughtful John.” AD
Rubber Soul “is perhaps the Beatles’ most finely crafted and accessible work.” CDU This is “not a raft for a few hits or a soundtrack to a wacky film, but something to be listened to and contemplated from start to finish.” TL Songs like “‘Drive My Car’ and…‘In My Life’ are lasting classics of such different styles you can hardly believe one band recorded them. Only one band could have.” IB In short, this record is “virtually flawless,” IB an “undeniable pivot point in the Fab Four’s varied discography” AZ “and consequently many fans’ and critics’ favorite.” CDU
Resources and Related Links:
- The Beatles’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- AMG1 All Music Guide review by Zac Johnson
- AMG2 All Music Guide review by Richie Unterberger
- JA John Alroy, Wilson & Alroy’s Record Reviews
- AZ Amazon.com review by Don Harrison
- CDU CdUniverse.com
- DV The Daily Vault review by Christopher Thelen
- AD Adrian Denning, Adrian’s Album Reviews
- IB Ink Blot Magazine review by Jesse Fahnestock. No longer online.
- KN Keno’s Album Reviews
- RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
- TL Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light (11/13/06).
- MU Marco Ursi. No longer online.
- DBW David Bertrand Wilson, Wilson & Alroy’s Record Reviews