The Beatles - Rubber Soul - Review
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critics' view

All contents were hot off the press and out just in time for Christmas. All original compositions, there are eleven credited to Lennon / McCartney, two to George (“Think For Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone”) and one to Lennon / McCartney / Starkey (“What Goes On”). As Paul would later comment: “We always wanted every single record to have a different sound. We never wanted to get trapped in this THE Mersey Beat.” I think that’s particularly true on “Rubber Soul” – this a real progression into a more thoughtful, cerebral brand of pop.

Fresh from their North American tour, the folk rock influences are still very apparent, whilst a mid-tempo soul rock feel is also to the fore. The wonderful curveball is delivered via George Harrison’s intervention on Lennon’s extra-marital affair shocker, “Norwegian Wood”, which is an absolute revelation. I would describe his contribution as masterful but he himself is rather modest about the whole thing: “I went and bought a sitar [in April ‘65] from a little shop at the top of Oxford Street called Indiacraft – it stocked little carvings, and incense. It was a real crummy-quality one, actually, but I bought it and mucked about with it a bit. Anyway, we were at the point where we'd recorded the Norwegian Wood backing track and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up – it was just lying around; I hadn't really figured out what to do with it. It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked.” Ravi Shankar eat your heart out.

Two tracks later, the confrontational “Nowhere Man” bursts in with terrific 3-part harmonies from John, Paul and George: “Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me? Nowhere man please listen, you don't know what you're missing, nowhere man, the world is at your command.” Is he talking to ME? Gulp. Notably, my three favourite tracks on this LP feature John Lennon singing about his own life and the prettiness of “In My Life” on side 2 completes the set. On “Rubber Soul”, there’s much for the pseuds to get stuck into…

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