Wednesday, June 6, 2007

No. 5: Rubber Soul

Band: The Beatles
Album: Rubber Soul
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: “Rubber Soul” is really the first record where the Beatles experimented with different sounds, starting with the fuzz base of “Think for Yourself” and the sitar on “Norwegian Wood.” Several iconic songs litter “Rubber Soul,” including “Michelle,” “In My Life” and “Nowhere Man.”
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The record isn't as good as the other two in this period. While “Norwegian Wood” is there, it's not that different, sound-wise from the early Beatles records. It's kind of uneven sounding, probably because the band was kind of in a transition to “no drugs Beatles” to “take lots of drugs Beatles.”
Best song: They're all pretty good.
Worst song: I find “In My Life” to be absolutely dreadful, though that's mostly because about 100 people quoted as their senior quotes in my high school yearbook.
Is it awesome?: Sure. Even an uneven mid-career Beatles album is one of the top 50 albums ever.

A lot of people have commented that “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” should be a double album, though I can't really support that. Most of the best songs come from “Revolver,” though there are some real highlights on “Rubber Soul.” Certainly the two Harrison songs are top-notch. “What Goes On” is a fun Ringo song, but all Ringo songs are fun in their own way. “Nowhere Man” is awesome, and “Norwegian Wood” is beautiful. “You Won't See Me” is a great Macca record. Still, some of the songs are kind of dumb (“Girl,” even with the inhale thing, comes to mind, as does “Wait” and “The Word”). I fluctuate on “Drive My Car.” When I think about it, it's one of the stupidest Beatles songs recorded. On the other hand, “Beep beep, mmm beep beep, yeah!” is an amazing refrain and incredibly singable.

1 comment:

bob_vinyl said...

I agree that Rubber Soul and Revolver wouldn't make a good double album, because there's real change that occurs between them. I've often heard Rubber SOul refered to as the album on which the Beatles "came of age" or "lost their virginity" and I think that's pretty accurate. They started writing some darker songs and they did lay the groundwork for the experimentation to come. However, Rubber Soul has an almost folk feel to it and very little in the way of the grand sounds that they would start making with Revolver (which I agree is their best album). While the two wouldn't work as a double album, they certainly flow well in their catalog.