Thursday, December 3, 2015

50 years ago: The Beatles released Rubber Soul

Rubber Soul

The Beatles

Released in UK: December 3, 1965

Released in U.S.: December 6, 1965

Peak: 16 US, 18 UK, 1 CN, 111 AU

Sales (in millions): 6.5 US, 0.75 UK, 13.9 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock

Tracks (UK Version of Rubber Soul):

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. Drive My Car [2:30]
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) [2:05]
  3. You Won’t See Me [3:22]
  4. Nowhere Man [2:44] (3/5/66, 3 US, 1 CN, 1 AU, gold single)
  5. Think for Yourself [2:19]
  6. The Word [2:43]
  7. Michelle [2:42]
  8. What Goes On [2:50] (2/21/66, 81 US)
  9. Girl [2:33]
  10. I’m Looking Through You [2:27]
  11. In My Life [2:27]
  12. Wait [2:16]
  13. If I Needed Someone (Harrison) [2:23]
  14. Run for Your Life [2:18]

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 34:55

Tracks (U.S. Version of Rubber Soul):

  1. I’ve Just Seen a Face [2:07]
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) [2:05]
  3. You Won’t See Me [3:22]
  4. Think for Yourself [2:19]
  5. The Word [2:43]
  6. Michelle [2:42]
  7. It’s Only Love [1:58]
  8. Girl [2:33]
  9. I’m Looking Through You [2:27]
  10. In My Life [2:27]
  11. Wait [2:16]
  12. Run for Your Life [2:18]

Total Running Time: 28:39

The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)

Rating for UK Version:

4.574 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)

Rating for U.S. Version:

4.038 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)

Awards for UK version of Rubber Soul:

About the UK Version of Rubber Soul:

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 “John, Paul, George and Ringo finally gave in to their urge to grow and released their first introspective work.” RV “While John and Paul were beginning to carve separate songwriting identities at this point, the album is full of great tunes.” AMG2

“Whilst the overall sound and feel of the album is cohesive, ‘Think For Yourself’, ‘What Goes On’, ‘I’m Looking Through You’ and the closing ‘Run For Your Life’ don’t feel like major compositions…They sound perfectly fine…and work within the LP’s framework, but any one of these four songs taken away and judged individually would lose power.” AD On top of that, “there’s no cornerstone to Rubber Soul - no ‘A Day in the Life’ or long medley,” IB although “‘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

It could also be argued that ”The Fabs don’t go as far out on a limb here as on the more overtly experimental Revolver,” DBW Despite it all, “as a collection of songs” IB 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 In short, “this record is a blast;” DBW a “virtually flawless” IB and “undeniable pivot point in the Fab Four’s varied discography” AZ “and consequently many fans’ and critics’ favorite.” CDU

Rubber Soul perhaps finds John Lennon at his absolute best. Several of his songs were written under a quick approaching deadline, and when it came to writing under pressure, nobody churned out better lyrics than Lennon.” KN

“In My Life”

John’s "In My Life is the best of the lot, marked out by timeless lyrics” MU that “wrap up a lifetime’s worth of reminiscing and maturity in a manner that is rarely achieved in any art form.” DV Its “poignant” DV and “misty-eyed reflections” IB make for a slice of “pop perfection,” CDU that is both “emotionally devastating and beautiful.” AD To top things off, there is “a backwards piano solo courtesy of George Martin” MU that “sound[s] like a harpsichord.” AMG2 This may “be the best Beatles song ever written.” DV

“Norwegian Wood”

“In My Life” and Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) are both “highly personal, almost diary-like sketches that rank among his most popular work.” JA “The Beatles’ burgeoning experimentation comes to fruition on [the latter] with George Harrison introducing the sitar into the band’s work” RV “long before Ravi Shankar’s set at Woodstock, by using it as - egads! - a lead instrument.” DV It was “the first prominent rock record to feature a sitar” JA and, thanks to the “continuing improvement in the inventiveness of [George’s] playing,” AD made for “a strange combination that [was] absolutely magical,” DV “mysterious and pained.” TL

“Nowhere Man”

John uses ‘Norwegian Wood’ and Nowhere Man to showcase a touch of “dark, irony-filled Dylanism.” CDU The latter “compositionally things take a further step forward” AD as “the first Beatle song to move beyond romantic themes entirely.” AMG2 “’Nowhere Man’ was one of those songs that John wrote at the last minute for the album, and it turns out super.” KN “John sounds wonderful, the lyrics are wonderful, the guitar folk rock and the bass fluid and melodic. The harmonies work well and the whole thing works together, creating something of a minor masterpiece.” AD

“The Word”

”John is experimenting with anthems [such as] The WordAZ which “can be read as a pre-psych warning shot.” AZ The song “summarizes the whole flower power movement two years before it even happened.” JA Both that and ‘Drive My Car’ “parade a fat, Stax-like bottom end.” IB

“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 “but exhibited some “amusing tale-spinning” IB and a “love of good ol’ rock & roll music.” CDU The song demonstrated that while “the Beatles were often still sticking to their tried-and-true love song format,” JA most notably on Paul’s contributions, “the lads could still rock, but with a little more substance.” RV

“You Won’t See Me” / “I’m Looking Through You”

Other examples of the tried-and-true love song format include “You Won’t See Me[which] works as a showcase for Paul’s new mellow bass sound,” AD and I’m Looking Through You, which features “fantastic hammond organ playing” MU from Ringo, turning “a better than average Paul folk-rocker into an instant classic.” MU Those songs and “’Michelle’ are all delightful, immediate, and enduring.” IB


Michelle, Paul’s best contribution,” KN “is typical McCartney;” AD “a simple but sweet ballad” KN whose “arrangement and melody really do a good job of creating the atmosphere of a night in Paris,” MU not to mention “a little bit of French thrown in that adds to the song’s feel.” KN Of course, it is another line in the song that “raises a smile:” AD “‘these are words that go together well’…McCartney does exactly that with his lyric writing,” AD “opposed to the lyrically more thoughtful John.” AD


“Michelle” and Girl, both laced with “Greek-like guitar lines” AMG2 and “the ability to make young girls swoon.” RV reveal a “passion for classic tin pan alley balladry.” CDU The latter, “written on the last night of the sessions” AZ ranks as “of the best ballads [John] ever wrote.” IB “He’s on wonderful vocal form throughout” AD on what “stand[s] as [one of the] turning points in John Lennon’s oeuvre.” AZ

“If I Needed Someone” / “Think for Yourself”

George Harrison, who was “developing into a fine songwriter,” AMG2 “comes through with his best tunes to date.” MU He “throws in clever lyrics” DBW on “the Byrdsish If I Needed SomeoneAMG2 “and rocks out on Think for Yourself, with Paul on fuzz bass.” DBW

“What Goes On”

“There is but one stumbling point on Rubber Soul - namely, the sole contribution that drummer Ringo Starr makes” DV with “the countryish-ditty What Goes On.” MU “This has nothing to do with Starr’s songwriting ability or vocal talents…Starr was more competent of a singer and songwriter than many people are willing to give him credit for;” DV if anything, blame…is shared with Lennon and McCartney, who also wrote the song. Simply put, it’s not…the strongest material ever to come from these songwriters’ pens.” DV

“Run for Your Life”

”John’s insecurely misogynistic Run for Your LifeJA is “a cold-blooded attack on an unfaithful lover. ‘I’d rather see you dead little girl, than be with another man,’ he bawls.” RV Despite being “perhaps the least essential track” AD on the album, the song still “features a great vocal” JA and some nice “little guitar interludes between the verses and following the chorus parts.” AD

About the U.S. Version of Rubber Soul:

Rubber Soul was repackaged in the U.S. “in an attempt to offer a more ‘American’ release” AZ “that better reflected “the folk-rock sound blossoming in the States,” AMG1 and “ the influence that the sound of the Byrds and the songwriting of Bob Dylan were having on the Beatles.” AMG1

”Capitol Records removed four songs from the U.K. edition of Rubber Soul [later on the US-only album ”Yesterday”…and Today], and added two songs from the U.K. Help!AMG1 – “the pleading acoustic ‘It's Only Love’ and the rollicking opener ‘I've Just Seen a Face.’” AMG1

“By dropping the piano-driven ‘Drive My Car’ and the stark ‘Nowhere Man,’ the U.S. edition stands as a much more organic and warm musical whole,” AMG1 “more earthy and textural.” AMG1

One final note: “Some pressings of the U.S. edition were released with an odd ‘false start’ at the beginning of ‘I'm Looking Through You,’ a fact that is sure to prick up the ears of die-hard Beatles fans upon first listen.” AMG1

Notes: In 2006, the Capitol Records Vol. 2 box set gathered the U.S. albums The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help!, and Rubber Soul on CD for the first time.

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 2/15/2008; last updated 9/4/2021.

No comments:

Post a Comment