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The Beatles - Rubber Soul CD (album) cover


The Beatles



3.95 | 766 ratings

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4 stars This is where things start to get really interesting for The Beatles, with Rubber Soul being more in the folk-rock vein than the Merseybeat style. The songs are really good, and tasteful, which is the most important thing. But there is also some very interesting developments here that would lead to all manner of future musical avenues (including progressive rock). Yes, I'm talking about the sitar on 'Norwegian Wood'.

'Drive My Car' is a catchy number with a cool groove and some nice guitar work. Vocals come complete with "beep beep!" cliche. The aforementioned 'Norwegian Wood' is one of Lennon's finest so far; a warm slice of pure folk that would influence bands like The Byrds and Fairport Convention. 'You Won't See Me' has another great Paul melody that is difficult to ignore. It's also quite long for a Beatles tune. Then there is 'Nowhere Man', which isn't bad but gets quite annoying after a few listens. Lennon starts to get philosophical on this track and would take this further on Revolver. 'Think For Yourself' is a mediocre Harrison composition, saved by Paul's nifty fuzz bass, while 'The Word' speaks of the same word in Yes's 'Time And A Word'. This song is one of the band's funkiest. Side one closes softly with the charming 'Michelle', the obligatory acoustic Paul ballad for this album. It's as beautiful as 'Yesterday', and there's a bass solo; what more could we ask for?

Ringo dutifully sings his allocated song on Rubber Soul, the country-influenced 'What Goes On'. It's probably the dullest song on the album, but Lennon's dark ballad 'Girl' immediately raises the quality back up again. 'I'm Looking Through You' is a simple folk ditty but it's one of my favourite Beatles songs ever, probably because of the melody again. Paul is a master at creating medlodies. The icing on the cake has to be those Hammond organ stabs, playing edgy "Gershwin chords" at the end of each chorus, by Ringo no less. 'In My Life' is a fairly downbeat song, but it's very reflective. George Martin's sped-up piano solo is the highlight. 'Wait' is nothing special, and I wasn't surprised to find out that it was a leftover from the Help! sessions. George's 'If I Needed Someone' has a famous transatlantic riff, and is one of his better songs, although a year later he would deliver what he was really capable of. The closing 'Run For Your Life' is a bit of a let down. A forgettable tune with strangely murderous lyrics.

There is plenty of pop on Rubber Soul, but also heavy dosages of folk, skiffle and pure rock. The album's main draw is the band's increasing use of unconventional instruments, although later, more adventurous album's like Sgt Pepper would not capture the friendly intimacy of this record. As with almost every Beatles album, they struggle to give us 14 amazing songs, but there are probably 8 or 9 here.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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