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The Beatles - Rubber Soul CD (album) cover


The Beatles



3.94 | 724 ratings

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4 stars Rubber Soul, the Beatles' sixth album, represents a turning point in a number of senses. To begin with, it's the first Beatles LP that strikes me as an album, not just a collection of songs. A part of this may be because two of their strongest pre-1966 songs, "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out," were left off the album, being released instead as a double A-side single. This deprives Rubber Soul of two classics, but it also emphasizes the quality of the "deep cuts" here. Rubber Soul was their strongest album since A Hard Day's Night (their third, released just a year and a half earlier); but the strength of A Hard Day's Night was in its standalone songs.

And in another significant shift, Paul McCartney's songwriting improves perceptibly. "We Can Work It Out" was largely a McCartney composition, but it required Lennon's input to make it the classic it became. McCartney's best songwriting days still lay ahead, but his Rubber Soul songs, like "Wait" and "You Won't See Me," were on a par with Lennon's. This must've been a factor contributing to the decision not to include any cover songs. Among the other strong tracks are the fun "What Goes On," credited to Lennon, McCartney, and drummer Ringo Starr; and Lennon's "The Word" and "In My Life." While Lennon's ventures into weighty material don't always work (e.g., the nonetheless catchy "Nowhere Man"), "In My Life" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" represent Lennon's growing lyrical sophistication. Meanwhile "Girl" and McCartney's "Michelle" are examples of songs which work much better as album tracks than singles (although they received plenty of airplay, it seems, on MOR radio stations eager to play hip music which was nonetheless within the taste range of its presumably staid audience).

Rubber Soul isn't an unqualified success, and to use a cliché, it pales in comparison to either of the group's next two albums, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But while it doesn't rise to masterpiece status, Rubber Soul is a part of a truly great run of albums by a truly great rock band.

patrickq | 4/5 |


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