RANKING THE BEATLES ALBUMS FROM BOTTOM TO TOP- #2 RUBBER SOUL

A photo of the Beatles – George, John, Ringo, and Paul

The countdown of The Beatles albums is nearly over- two albums left. Coming in at #2- Rubber Soul. Rubber Soul was recorded in the fall of 1965- October 12 to November 11- and released on December 3, 1965. It is The Beatles sixth studio album. Rubber Soul is said to have been influenced heavily by Bob Dylan and The Beatles having been introduced to grass.

For the first five  Beatles albums they band were progressing- remember the period from the first album Please Please Me to their sixth Rubber Soul was roughly two years and eight months- today that could be the time between a bands debut and second albums. The progression had been noticeable between the second album- With The Beatles- and A Hard Day’s Night the third- and with each album the songwriting and sound was changing but with Rubber Soul- it was the great leap forward. Rubber Soul was the key album that kept The Beatles steps ahead of everyone else and also kept their career viable. They could have rested easy and repeated their past successes but where would that in the long run have gotten them? In 1965 supposedly Herman’s Hermits sold more records than The Beatles did. When is the last time you heard one of their records? Can you even name a Herman’s Hermits album? I am not saying The Beatles had they kept the same hit formula would have become a forgotten band like that but I think their popularity and impact on the music world would have begun to slip. Rubber Soul was a fresh and new sound. Was this even the same band as the one who released Please Please Me just a couple years earlier?

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Rubber Soul was the second Beatles album to contain all original material- the first being A Hard Day’s Night. Never again would they fill out an album with covers. The songs were again mainly written by either John Lennon or Paul McCartney- of the fourteen songs there is one George Harrison song and one credited to Lennon-McCartney and Starr- the remaining dozen are Lennon-McCartney. The songs are all in the 2-3 minute range with only one song going over 3 minutes. The key to the greatness of the album is of course these short pop songs.

In my opinion- the four top songs on this album were all ones written by John Lennon. In My Life-one of my favorite Beatles songs ever. It is top rank not only lyrically but musically. Originally John wrote a long poem reflecting back on his childhood-and the poem took the bus route he took in Liverpool back then- naming the places he passed along the way. He found this to be too boring and revised it. Rolling Stone Mag ranked it #23 on their all time song list and 5th overall on The Beatles Top 100. I have never gotten tired of hearing this song. Lennon himself would call “In My Life” his first major piece of work.” I think it really blows away everything The Beatles had done up to this time- which is not to knock the back catalog- but this was a great leap forward. George Martin’s piano solo on the bridge is remarkable.

Norwegian Wood {This Bird Has Flown} is John’s song- very Dylanesque- and another sign of the great leap forward for Beatles-not only in the lyrics- John’s story of an affair he had -but musically- George Harrison had fallen in love with Indian music and this song would be the first released rock and roll song with the sitar in it.

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Another Lennon song- Nowhere Man was a big hit single #3 in the US- another groundbreaking in Beatles songwriting- not a love song or about love in anyway. I always thought the key line in the song was the ‘isn’t he a bit like you and me”-  Lennon would later say he had written the song about himself. He felt at the time that he was getting nowhere.

Girl- was the last song that was completed for the album. It was John’s answer to Paul’s Michelle. There is some dispute over a couple of the lines in the song- Paul claims to have contributed the lines “Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure” and “That a man must break is back to earn his day of leisure.”- John claimed those lines as a comment  on Christianity. Either way those are great lines- to a great song.

 

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My four favorites from this are John’s mentioned above but a case could be made for Paul’s major songs on the album- Michelle, You Won’t See Me, Drive My Car and I’m Looking Through You’- all brilliant. George’s song on the album was If I Needed Someone is love song to Pattie Boyd. It was the best Harrison written song to date and fits in well on Rubber Soul.

 

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The song for Ringo- What Goes On- was an old song John had written back in the Quarrymen  days which wasn’t used until now- for Ringo to sing. It is the only Lennon- McCartney- Starkey credited song. Nothing groundbreaking here- they generally gave Ringo a song on every album to sing.

Consider two songs that didn’t make the album- The Beatles would release singles that were not attached to any album- and the single that they released at this time was  Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out. What is those songs had been on the album? What if Paperback Writer/ Rain would have been on Revolver, What if Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane had been on Sgt. Pepper. Hey Jude/ Revolution on The White Album etc etc.

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Rubber Soul is #2 on my Beatles album list- for the great leap forward in their songwriting- lyrics and music- and this is an album that to me still sounds fresh after having listened to it thousands of times. Sgt. Pepper at #3 a great achievement- sounds like 1967 to me. Rubber Soul sounds timeless so I have it at #2. What will be #1? Well there is only one Beatles studio album left and if you have been following the countdown you know what #1 will be.

 

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22 responses to “RANKING THE BEATLES ALBUMS FROM BOTTOM TO TOP- #2 RUBBER SOUL

  1. I agree with the Lennon songs… One Paul song I really like is “You Won’t See Me”…his fighting with Jane led to many good songs.

    • I would rank that as my favorite Paul song on the album also- he had some good ones on there. Jane inspired a lot of songs. I tend to think the fighting with Jane- wasn’t all Jane’s fault.

    • in re-reading the Lewisohn book- I don’t know how many times I’ve run across paul saying he didn’t like being told what to do….and would do the opposite of what he was told lol.. Louise Harrison does come across as the most supporting parent.

    • You know of all of them…he usually likes to please. He gave Brian the most trouble…You would think it would have been John.

    • The fella who gave us the tour of Liverpool back in 2003- he had lived in Liverpool all his life etc- I asked him if he knew people who knew them back when they were younger- and he said he had interviewed a number of people who knew them- an the general feeling was young John -when he would walk into a coffee bar- everyone would kind of groan- ‘oh Lennon is here”… Paul was a pleaser- but a lot of people thought he really tried too hard to please. George- quiet. Ringo- make no impression.

    • Thats what I mean…he was a pleaser and did try so when I read that in the book about him not going to that gig and staying in his home…I’m thinking…wow Paul of all people.
      That is an intersting story about them. It confirms what we thought.

    • He is an interesting and at times puzzling fellow. … that book has to be by far the best book i’ve ever read about rock music. come on lets get volume 2 out!!!

    • Oh I was ready for volume 2 as soon as I finished the last word of the first one.
      I remember you said you were going to reread it or some of it … I started to listen to the audio book again.

    • One of my favorite sections is where they get back from Hamburg the first time and start playing in Liverpool…people don’t know what to make of them and are shocked and they knew at that point…hey we are good.

    • That made them…gave them time to grow. Other bands had a lot of time there but were not as tight… They were so organic. Everything seemed to happen in the right order, right time and the right place.

    • It was like magic- if someone made up the whole story you’d be like- no way it couldn’t have happened that way.. improbable.

    • I didn’t realize it until I read the book. It was if they lived a charmed life…until Allen Klein.
      I mean George Martin, Brian Epstein, and even Dick James treated them better than their peers would have… what if Don Arden would have found them first…or Decca had signed them. You coud go on and on…. You are right. It sounds like Fiction.

    • You are right- as you read along- it was perfect- the people that who they attracted- the odds were not good- you hear all the horror stories of bands and the sharks that they unfortunately got involved with…

    • I’ve told people there will never be another Beatles. Things don’t fall out like that. They just don’t…

    • The story ties into the songs so well…it makes the already great songs more interesting.
      I guess that is why they have college classes on them… Now if Mark would just get on with writing more for us.

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