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RUBBER SOUL

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

3.94 | 724 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars It's certainly mind-blowing in the 21st century, an age when artists take several years to craft the next album, that in the 1960s artists would crank out new products at an astonishing speed and no other act more than THE BEATLES displayed not only how prolific they were with a seemingly endless supply of infectious melodic pop rock tunes feeding a ravenous music scene but in how they crafted one of rock music's most inventive canon's of product within the span of a mere decade. It was only 1963 when Beatlemania captured North America when the band instantly took the world by storm and found itself as the top dog of complete pop rock domination so it's utterly amazing to ponder the fact that within only a short two year run, the band that caused utter hysteria for the female fanbase with banal tracks such as "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was proving by 1965 that the Fab Four had a much deeper and more profound nature to their genius that was not allowed to express itself in the beginning.

The early years of THE BEATLES is a true headache for databases with different albums emerging on each side of the Atlantic that included different track listings, some the same, some completely different but by the time Beatlemania began to subside from its initial impact, the band was maturing into more sophisticated musical expressions and at last a convergence of marketing strategies that allowed the same album to be released everywhere was allowed. RUBBER SOUL was the beginning of the next step of THE BEATLES' musical reign that dominated until the band's ultimate demise in 1970. The only difference between the UK and US versions is that the former opened the album with the more suitable "Drive My Car" whereas the American versions for some reason started the album with "I've Just Seen A Face" which appeared on the UK version of "Help." This review is about the only true RUBBER SOUL album in my book, the UK version of course.

While later albums such as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" often get credit for the innovative experimentation that allowed catchy pop hooks to insert themselves into bouts of psychedelia, folk music, R&B and rock music, the trend actually began on RUBBER SOUL. The title was a play on on the term "plastic soul" which alluded to the tongue-in-cheek admission by the band that their music was devoid of soul compared to the African-American music of the era. RUBBER SOUL along with the following album "Revolver" were sort of the second phase of the band that were transitional albums between the Beatlemania years that preceded and the full-blown mind bending experimental albums that followed. Despite "Sgt. Pepper's" and "Magic Mystery Tour" finding the band at the peak of their creative free-for-all experimentalism, RUBBER SOUL initiated the process by augmenting the mostly folk inspired feel of the album to incorporate various new guitar tones, musical ideas such as ska syncopation as well as new instruments such as harmonium, sitar and fuzz bass.

The experimental touches proved to be a gateway drug for the band to continue this approach until the climactic thunderous roar of "Sgt. Pepper's" but at this stage the band kept the pop infused tracks less cluttered with experiments since they were still touring and performing the songs to live audiences. Despite the inchoate experimental touches, RUBBER SOUL successfully managed to display another batch of 14 instantly infectious pop tracks that found the songwriting triumvirate prowess of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison ratcheting up a few notches in sophistication and while Harrison's contributions had been extremely limited up until this point, on RUBBER SOUL his two contributions "Think For Yourself" and "If I Needed Someone" showed his songwriting techniques to be on par and (in my opinion) even better than the powerhouse team of Lennon-McCartney penned tracks. At this point, it was practically a tradition to include on lighthearted tension breaking track by Ringo Starr who cowrote and sings on "What Goes On"

RUBBER SOUL was also the first BEATLES album to shift the focus away from singles and focus the attention of a complete album experience was has been cited as one of the most innovative moves in all of pop music. Of course singles were still a big part of THE BEATLES experience but this was the first time non-album singles were released, a trait that THE BEATLES would continue for much of their remaining years, therefore while the non-album double single "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out" was hitting #1 on the singles charts, the album RUBBER SOUL was set apart from it in terms of musical experiences thus creating a newly uncharted duality that more serious rock bands would adopt. Of course RUBBER SOUL itself hit #1 and contained 14 well crafted pop tunes that were all worthy of singles consideration in their own right and both "Michelle" and "Girl" were ultimately released as such. While the whole idea of a concept album hadn't gelled yet, RUBBER SOUL took the first steps in that direction with an overarching cohesiveness to the album even if not in lyrical content.

RUBBER SOUL may get buried beneath the phenomenal leaps of musical maturity that follow but if accepted on its own merits, that being a well crafted folk music inspired pop rock album, then it's hard to find any flaws in this album whatsoever. It was clear by this point that THE BEATLES were no one trick pony and had the musical chops to reinvent themselves as the musical sophistication reached new heights. By taking the crab walk approach of gradually transitioning into the proto-progressive and psychedelically infused albums that followed, RUBBER SOUL was more than an extraordinarily strong album of ingenious pop hooks supplied by inventive instrumental interplay and soulful harmonic interactions but also served as an invitation into a much richer musical universe that even THE BEATLES themselves were not sure as to where it would lead. The remarkable success of RUBBER SOUL that outsold all the albums before was an affirmation that the public was ready to follow anywhere THE BEATLES were willing to go and as such RUBBER SOUL was that musical portal that gave permission to the entire explorative nature of all the creativity that followed to blossom like a million flowers in spring time and therefore RUBBER SOUL should never be forgotten for this amazingly underappreciated significance.

4.5 but i'm rounding this sucka UP!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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