On December 3rd, 1965. The Beatles released their 6th studio album Rubber Soul. It is an album I have listened to before but I do not know it inside-out. I have the mindset that this album marks The Beatles upping a gear, maturing, coming into their own. Hints of psychedelia would add to the already established sound.
What Rubber Soul does that isn’t widely acknowledged is that it made the LP an art form in its own right. None of the songs were singles, it was a body of work / art that was designed to be swallowed whole. In the days of MP3’s (now) generations will skip, shuffle and ignore. True, this could be done with a vinyl LP – but surely – it’s much less likely.
Rubber Soul arguably also sees The Beatles pull away from their competitors / other bands and leave them standing. Not necessairly the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan but the “older” sounding artists like Freddie And The Dreamers.
Drive My Car (Lennon / McCartney) and Paul McCartney delivers a solid soulful vocal. Playful, melodic and storytelling, it sets the vibe well.
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (Lennon / McCartney) offers deep pop with George Harrison strumming a sitar to great effect. Dreamy vocals both in the use of words and delivery from John Lennon and The Beatles sound more lush than they have on any of their previous five albums already.
You Won’t See Me (Lennon / McCartney) is a more vulnerable song than the group usually offer. The sound of searching and loss suggests itself in the vocal. The production and sound fit the album very well.
Nowhere Man (Lennon / McCartney) and the album gets deeper. For the first time The Beatles offer an otherwordly sound – they do it like it’s what they really were born to do.
Think For Yourself (Harrison) has a low slung sound and The Beatles embrace moving away from pure pop gems into more groundbreaking vibes. An almost double layered vocal (at times) only enriches the sound.
The Word (Lennon / McCartney) is both sharp and angular. Clean George Martin production throws out more psychedelic brief instrumental breaks. The song fades just as you’re really getting into it – always a good trait.
Michelle (Lennon / McCartney) and it’s back to amazingly familiar sounds. Steeped like a nursery rhyme with an earnest vocal it works on a very high level.
What Goes On (Lennon / McCartney / Starr) sung by Ringo Starr is a stuttering yet flowing pop song with backing harmonies. Not as essential as all songs that have gone before (on Rubber Soul) it still sounds good, good not great, okay, great, not fantastic.
Girl (Lennon / McCartney) offers the sound of bitter, frustrated pop / rock. Sounding almost Eastern European in its plucking it is quite a unique sounding song.
I’m Looking Through You (Lennon / McCartney) soundtracks a failing relationship. Despite its upbeat rhythm it touches a chord that ‘jolly’ Beatles songs simply cannot. More proof of the group really widening their sound and themes. It works.
In My Life (Lennon / McCartney) pushes that deeper vibe further still. An incredibly mature sound that will get even Sun readers getting all philosophical. I’ve stated before that I’m not a Beatles fan but this is superb songwriting on many, many levels.
Wait (Lennon / McCartney) shakes its way at you. Upbeat and maybe not as deep as the album has delved it still sits on Rubber Soul well.
If I Need Someone (Harrison) reaches for nirvana with evocative “ahhh’s“. It serves to show the Beatles have at least three and a half great songwriters in their band.
Run For Your Life (Lennon / McCartney) is a song I’m not that familiar with. It has an evil streak with guarded threat lyrically, you really could not say that about many (any?) Beatles songs prior to Rubber Soul.
Rubber Soul moves The Beatles forward which is something I always admire in music. For a band this huge to be groundbreaking at the same time is rare. Clearly Rubber Soul is the best album thus far (chronologically), it’s only more chin scratching that they would up the bar again very, very soon…