Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Beatles - Rubber Soul

I've seen Rubber Soul marked as the time when the Beatles started really coming into their own as musicians, creating songs that went beyond simply ditties about love (although that's still a common theme), and beyond that, crafting cohesive albums and popularizing the idea that they could be more than a group of singles with some filler holding them together. It's only their second studio release featuring no cover songs, and for the most part the praise seems to hold true. While I don't think it's quite a great album, it's a very consistent song, it's just that the songs tend to be good to very good rather than outstanding. That's not to say that there aren't standouts, because there are, whether they be among the band's dozens of very famous radio hits or just damn good compositions that I'm hearing for the first time. It doesn't impress me quite like the other albums I've heard, but it's still darn good, especially when you remember this came out in 1965.

The song I'm most familiar with is "In My Life", which I remember best from being the theme song in covered form of Providence, a show my mom used to watch a lot. I didn't realize it was a Beatles song for a while, but that doesn't prevent it from holding up as a very nice, nostalgic little tune. "Drive My Car", with the most traditional rock sound on the album and some nice piano in the chorus, and "Nowhere Man" are the other ones I'm sure I've heard before. The other ones that stick out tend to be primarily Lennon's work, though McCartney's "Michelle" is very nice and the two Harrison songs make me continue to wonder why his presence was so limited on these albums. Not that much though, because he was working with, uh... Lennon and McCartney. "Norwegian Wood" has its own thing going for it, and I really like "Girl" a lot, and I especially think the way the backing vocals during the bridge are later mimicked by guitars is something of a stroke of genius. Rubber Soul is a really important release in the band's history, and a fairly enjoyable one as well.


Anonymous said...

Rubber Soul was an amazing album to me. I got it as a Christmas gift way back in 1965. I was just about to turn 14 years old and I loved everything the Beatles did. Rubber Soul, the American version, positively blow me away. I listened to that album so much that day that by the end of the day I knew the lyrics, the order of the songs, who sang which and the could hear the intro to the next song before it began. If I were to assign a color to the album I would say it was brown and although I hadn't heard any of the songs before, they all seemed natural and in perfect time to one another. Also, the accoustic guitar feel of the album was a terrific change. Looking back on it now I think sensed almost a Sgt. Pepper collection. The songs seemed to have a high standard or a theme of some sort. I envision that The Beatles were learning to master the art of making a collection of work rather then one song at a time. They were learning to define themselves and their music as moments in time. The great thing about those moments in time is that everything about each album was different, new and exciting and built on what they had recorded on a previous album. John always had a way with letting us know his personal take on things, Paul had a knack for entertaining us, George always was a surprise in his phrasing of the obvious and Ringo was the celebrity. Also I can't forget to mention George Martin, his contribution of conducting the recording sessions and keeping the projects on track must not be forgotten. Can you imagine trying to make sense of some of those recording sessions. I have to figure there were times when John wanted to get high and play rock n' roll, Paul wanted to refine a middle eight or a harmony, George wanted to work on his own material and Ringo would rather have been at home watching the telly. Maybe it's just me but the perfection that came out of the union of these five men was friggin incredible.

Anonymous said...

Opulently I assent to but I about the collection should have more info then it has.

Anonymous said...

Rather amusing phrase