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The Beatles - Rubber Soul CD (album) cover

RUBBER SOUL

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

3.87 | 476 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rubber Soul is the album that marked a new era for the Beatles. Gone were the simplistic pieces about holding hands and being happy just to dance, and in came songs about risque affairs, nowhere men, and reflections on life itself. It also would be the first album since A Hard Day's Night to feature all original compositions and it would also be the first album to have a Starkey contribution to it (although it was only one line in the middle eight), and Harrison's two songs would be thought provoking and prove that not all catchy songs have to be love songs. Surely, though, this album would be the first in a string of many excellent albums for the Beatles that would take them through the rest of their career's working together.

Drive My Car opens the album with a rollicking guitar lick and some nice piano work from McCartney, as well as a fun chorus and some nice harmonies. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) is the first track to show the first true progression in the Beatles. This nice acoustic ballad is augmented with George Harrison's first flirtations with the sitar, and it gives the piece a nice oriental feel. Lennon is also great on the guitar and he wrote some great lyrics (about an affair) to go along with it. You Won't See Me also features some more keyboard oriented parts with some nice hammond organ bits from Mal Evans and some nice harmonies. Nowhere Man is a song that would become one of my favorite songs from the group. A creative chord progression and some witty lyrics are combined with lush vocals and a great lead performance from John. Think For Yourself is the first Harrison penned piece of the album, and similar to You Like Me Too Much, Harrison was writing about failing relationships and the idea that you don't need people to carry on. It has a nice chorus as well as some great guitar work. The Word features some nice stabbing chords and a cool harmonium break from George Martin (the Beatles seemed to be using the classic progressive rock keyboards even this early in the game) and some cool mutli-layered vocals from John.

Michelle is a somber tune with some touching lyrics and vocals from McCartney as well as a nice melody and some creative instrumentation. What Goes On is the Starr vocal performance of the album, and it would mark his first writing credit with the group (the next one wouldn't come until The White Album). It's an affair similar to that of Act Naturally on the previous album Help!, it being a more country/rockabilly tune at its core, and it's a very fun song as well. Girl is one of the songs that really doesn't do anything for me. It's not that it's a bad song, it's good, but it just doesn't have that kick that the other songs do. I'm Looking Through You gives Ringo a shot at the Hammond organ during the instrumental breakdowns. This song also shows Paul McCartney delving into the same territory that George Harrison was going into, and he did a great job at it with this sneering piece. In My Life is a somber retrospective song with some thoughtful, almost tear jerking lyrics from Lennon as well as a creative melody, and George Martin's piano break is nothing short of spectacular. Wait, and Run For Your Life are two of the last pieces, and they are a bit underwhelming (Lennon always said Run For Your Life was his least favorite song), but If I Needed Someone makes up for both of them with nice intelligent lyrics from Harrison and some creative instrumentation and musicianship.

Overall, Rubber Soul would be the best Beatles album to date and it ushered in a new era of creativity and experimentation for them. Their next album, Revolver, would utilize more studio techniques and a lot more experimentation. So does this make Rubber Soul a progressive record? Well, not entirely, but it certainly was a step in the right direction and it would ultimately lead to their masterworks and their most creative albums. For those looking into the foundations of progressive rock, you could find something of value here. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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