Thursday, 3 December 2015

50 Years Ago Today The Beatles' Album Rubber Soul Was Released

It was fifty years ago today, on December 3 1965, that The Beatles' album Rubber Soul was released. It was The Beatles' sixth album and the first two to be recorded during one, continuous  period of time (from October 12 to November 15 1965, to be exact). It was only The Beatles' second album, after A Hard Day's Night, to contain completely original material. Each of their earlier albums had featured covers of songs originated by other artists.

Most importantly, Rubber Soul marked a milestone in The Beatles' evolution as a band. On Rubber Soul The Beatles expanded their sound to include influences as diverse as folk rock, rhythm and blues, pop, and even Indian music. The Beatles also expanded the way in which they used various instruments. George Harrison's "Think for Yourself" featured fuzz bass. For the bridge of John Lennon's "In My Life" a piano was made to sound like a harpsichord. One song even featured an instrument new to The Beatles' repertoire.  "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" marked the first use of Indian sitar on a Beatles' song. Of course, here it must be pointed out that, contrary to popular belief, it was not the first rock song to feature a sitar. That was "See My Friends" by The Kinks, released in September 1965.

Rubber Soul also saw the maturation of The Beatles' subject matter. While Rubber Soul featured its share of love songs, they were considerably more sophisticated. Both "You Won't See Me" and "Girl" took a darker, more bitter look at love. Other songs on the album largely eschewed love in favour of other subjects. While "In My Life" makes reference to the subject, it is only in the final verse, with most of the song devoted to nostalgia. John Lennon's "Nowhere Man" was a look at a man who has "no point of view" and makes "nowhere plans for nobody". "The Word" examined love as an abstract concept. On Rubber Soul The Beatles had grown a great deal with regards to lyrical content.

Given how popular The Beatles were in the Sixties (indeed, they still are), it should be no surprise that Rubber Soul hit number 1 on the UK albums chart, the Billboard albums chart, and the Australian albums chart. Of course, here it must be pointed out that when Rubber Soul was initially released in the United States, Capitol omitted the songs "Drive My Car", "Nowhere Man", "What Goes On", and "If I Needed Someone", and included the "I've Just Seen a Face" and "It's Only Love", both of which had appeared on the British edition of Help!. In the United States Drive My Car", "Nowhere Man", "What Goes On", and "If I Needed Someone" would appear on the compilation album Yesterday and Today.

Rubber Soul has remained one of The Beatles' most highly regarded albums, as well as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. In 2010 Time magazine included Rubber Soul in their list of 100 All-Time Albums. In 2012 Rolling Stone ranked Rubber Soul number five on their list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

For myself, Rubber Soul is second only to Revolver as my favourite Beatles album. The original British version of the album also features one of my all time favourite Beatles songs. "Nowhere Man". Here, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the album, is "Nowhere Man".

The Beatles - Nowhere Man from Phap Than on Vimeo.

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