Rubber Soul is the Beatles' sixth studio album. Help! had come out in August of 1965, and the Beatles rushed Rubber Soul into production, to hit the Christmas market in the same year. It was released in the UK on December 3, 1965. It was the first project to have been created in the studio without interruptions for public appearances, and it established the approach used for almost all of their subsequent albums. The content of the album indeed shows "soul" on the part of the composer and musicians. The title is a reference to "plastic soul," a piece of blues jargon, which, legend has it, was applied depreciatively to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. McCartney heard the term, and used it to describe some of the music played on the album. The phrase was then adopted as the title of the album, but modified to change "plastic" to "rubber." The album cover photo was distorted slightly and the typeface was specially designed to carry through with the concept of elasticity. This was the first Beatles album not to contain the name of the band on the cover.
A US version of the Rubber Soul album has a different track listing, and includes some leftovers from previous UK releases not yet published in America. As a result, the US version portrays the group as more traditional, for "folk-rock" and less innovative than does the UK version. The UK version placed at number 5 on the 2003 list of the Greatest Albums of All Time, compiled by Rolling Stone Magazine.
The Beatles were influenced by other musical trends in this album. A distinct folk-rock feel comes through in several tracks, in the style of The Byrds, and the influence of Bob Dylan can also be felt in many of Lennon's songs. The sitar made its debut in Norwegian Wood, and the fuzz-bass sound can be heard on Think For Yourself. In My Life features a harpsichord sound in the solo section. See My Friends features guitar drones for the first time, in imitation of Indian-style music. Critics especially lauded Norwegian Wood for what they later called a "world music" sound. Ringo added much broader percussion effects, including tambourine, maracas, the hollow sound of a thumped guitar case and taps on a package of matches in I'm Looking Through You. Ringo's first song-writing effort on a Beatles album is What Goes On, where he is credited with co-authorship along with the Lennon/McCartney team.
The lyrics on Rubber Soul are distinctly deeper and more mature than in the earlier albums. Love relationships are now seen as complex, ambiguous and often troubling. Even the light-hearted Drive My Car is a sophisticated take on boy-girl relations. Other songs, like You Won't See Me and I'm Looking Through You, touch on the bitter side of love affairs. Nowhere Man may stand as the first Beatles song that addresses a theme completely removed from romance. In fact, with songs like Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), Nowhere Man, The Word, Girl, In My Life, and Run For Your Life, John Lennon really hit his stride as a mature and seasoned song-writer, perhaps reaching in this album a peak of productivity and genius.
The US album influenced Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, a fan and friend of the Beatles. He was impressed by the coherence of the songs on the album, leading him to record and release in the following year the first "concept album" of American rock and roll, Pet Sounds.
Recording took place between October 12 and November 15, 1965 at Abbey Road and the UK release came on December 3 (December 6 for the US version). In the US the album sold 1.2 million copies within 9 days.
|Side A||Lead Vocals||Written by||Length|
|Drive My Car||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:30|
|Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:05|
|You Won't See Me||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||3:22|
|Think for Yourself||Harrison||George Harrison||2:19|
|The Word||Lennon with McCartney and Harrison||Lennon/McCartney||2:43|
|What Goes On||Starr||Lennon/McCartney/Starkey||2:50|
|I'm Looking Through You||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:27|
|In My Life||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:27|
|Wait||Lennon and McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:16|
|If I Needed Someone||Harrison||George Harrison||2:23|
|Run for Your Life||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:18|