[64] The Beatles – Rubber Soul

27 Jun

After the obvious magnificence of A Hard Day’s Night, Rubber Soul comes across as the awkward, unfortunate, transitional teen.

Rubber Soul

Rubber Soul










There are many moments of sheer genius and some of the most perfectly crafted songs in the history of popular music, but unlike their previous effort The Beatles don’t hit on all cylinders here.

This time the lesser known tracks are lesser known for a reason.

Alongside the magnificent and melancholy weirdness of “Norwegian Wood” or “Nowhere Man” is Ringo, given a vocal lead on “What Goes On” – noone had yet figured out he should only sing with his tongue in his cheek.

For every piece of pop perfection (“Michelle”, “Girl”) there is an uncomfortable, experimental track where it seems that the Four are trying to sound like someone else.  They want to leave their roots behind, but are not yet confident enough in their ability to do so.

Perhaps this is why Rubber Soul is so important.  It is exploratory without overreaching – it didn’t scare off the fans.  This 1965 album is the stepping stone to the astonishing series of recordings that would follow.

And despite its flaws, it is still packed with more glimpses of wonder than most other bands could muster in an entire career. The hits remain instant favorites generations after their release – my 5-year-old daughter reacted immediately and positively the first time she heard “Drive My Car”, insisting I add it to her Spotify playlist the moment “Beep beep mmmm beep beep, yeah!” happened.

And any band would sell their soul to have written “In My Life”.

It is impossible not to recommend Rubber Soul, especially to anyone who has never heard it.  The rough edges and dull corners just make the bright spots shine all the more brilliantly.

Next week:  The Beatles – Revolver

Owned before blogging? Yes. (5 of 64 = 8%)
Heard before blogging? Yes. (7 of 64 = 11%)
Recommend? Yes. (51 of 64 = 80%)

3 Responses to “[64] The Beatles – Rubber Soul”

  1. Joe Gola June 29, 2014 at 7:25 PM #

    It’s a mixed bag, for sure; some of it is great and some of it is completely forgettable. It has one of my favorite Beatles obscurities, though—”You Won’t See Me.”


  1. [65] The Beatles – Revolver | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - July 4, 2014

    […] You To” sounds somehow less experimental here than the tentative looks in that direction on Rubber Soul.  It is more integrated, more organic – there is no doubt that both this song and […]

  2. [151] The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - March 4, 2016

    […] The high points of the album initially feel like little more than a tease – in the close harmonies and jingle jangle guitars I’m hearing mid-career Beatles and wondering why I shouldn’t just go back and listen to A Hard Day’s Night or Rubber Soul. […]

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