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Beatles under a microscope - Rubber Soul

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tkitna:
Rubber Soul

Finally got around to reviewing this album. I think its leaps and bounds better than HELP!. They were on a roll and it shows. Its not perfect and probably ranks around the 4th or 5th favorite Beatle album of mine, but its good.

Drive My Car - I’ve taken more abuse being a Beatle fan for this song more so than any other it seems. Its downright silly and people call me on it all the time. It starts the album with an upbeat number and some energy, but its almost as if it’s a novelty song. First thing is the bass is super cool. Paul does well. Guitar tone is decent too. I like the tambourine throughout, but the cowbell starts to get under my skin really fast. Its too much. I like the piano. :30 mark I love how Johns voice comes in with the ‘Baby I Love You’. Background vocals are solid. Guitar solo is alright, but nothing great. I do like how it ends with the delayed notes though. Was that a Paul solo or George? I cant remember right now. Ringo does well enough. 1:42 you can hear a guitar lead faintly in the background. 2:18 I like the lead guitar notes being played. So far the review isn’t that bad, BUT the ‘Beep Beep Beep Beep Yeahs’ are horrible. They kill the song for me. They make the song annoying and thus why other people make fun of it. I cant blame them.

Norwegian Wood - Here’s a really good song that I’ve been really sick of for a long time. Fortunately, I havent heard it in a long time and it sounded refreshing today. Love the acoustic guitar sound. Johns voice is killer. The sitar sounds nice too. Bass is out there in the forefront and sounds good. :31 mark I love Pauls backgrounds. :47 I think the sitar buzz throughout the following verses adds a lot and is a nice touch. 1:19 Ringo comes in with just the bass drum and it adds so much. Great touch. Great song with a nice little story to it if your into those type of things.

You Wont See Me - My guilty pleasure and my favorite song on the album. Its not the best song on the record, but hey, what can I do? I really like the beginning and the space and sound that the crash cymbals take up. :02 mark somebody coughs in the background. I really like the added hi hats on top of the drum track. Neat. Piano is cool. I like the sound of the guitar strums throughout also. Harmonies are top notch here. 1:31 Johns voice is awesome. Bass sounds good. Ringo rocks throughout. The falsetto ‘La La La’s’ are a bit much for me. John seems to struggle towards the end of them also. 2:32 somebody says something in the background. 3:05 I love the ‘Yeah’ and background stuff going on.

Nowhere Man - The Beatles very last early sounding song in my opinion. This would have fit nicely on ‘AHDN’. Has always been one of my favorites too. The harmonies don’t get much better than this. The acoustic and bass together sounds awesome. The ‘La La’s’ here sound great. I dig the guitar tone. The guitar solo is fantastic. Love the high guitar note at 1:02. Sweet. Speaking of the bass earlier, man Paul really rocks on this song. Never really noticed that before. Love Pauls voice at the end too. Another great song.

Think For Yourself - A slight drop in quality here with regard to the other songs, but still an enjoyable tune. I really like Georges voice on this song. Background vocals rock. The fuzz bass aggravates me. I don’t like the sound. Too busy in my opinion. I dig the tambourine and morocco’s throughout. Ringo has some nice fills in this song. The production on Ringos drums is awesome. They really sound good. Speaking of Ringo, he hit’s the rim at the end of a fill at the 1:57 mark. We drummers all do it, but just thought I’d mention it. Nice enough song, but nothing special. Leaning towards filler.

The Word - I think this is the Beatles first psychedelic song whether it was meant to be or not. The bass is awesome. Like the morocco’s throughout. Harmonies are cool, but they arent tight throughout the song. Makes me wonder if they spent a lot of time with this one. 0:28 Johns voice sounds great. Like the electric guitar tone, both the strums and other playing. Not thrilled with the electric organ sound or whatever the hell it is they are playing, but its what gives the song the psychedelic feel. Decent song, but theres better on this album.

Michelle - I used to hate this song when I was younger, but now I’m alright with it. If you are a girl and your name is Michelle, how many times has this song been sung to you throughout your lifetime? I never dated a Michelle so I never had the pleasure of doing so. I count myself lucky. Anyways, I love the acoustic guitar sound. Bass is nice. Pauls voice is top notch here. John and George’s backgrounds are great. Ringo’s constant rim shots during the song kind of annoy me. I would have changed it up a little and went to the snare some, but then once again, I’m not Ringo Starr. It definitely works, its just not my taste. Love the guitar solo. Awesome. Fade out ending was nice. It’s a nice song and somewhat legendary, but its not a favorite.

What Goes On - Ahhh, the album killer. This song is bad. Not just bad, its terrible. It brings the album down an entire point its so bad in my opinion. I love Ringo and I know the guys cater to him with a song or two, but at least try. The guitars are horrible throughout the entire song. Sloppy and resemble a huge pile of puke. Ringo does play a hard shuffle though. I hate John and George’s backgrounds. Paul might have been in there too, but I cant hear him. The guitar solo is embarrassing. 1:28 you can hear a voice in the background. 1:49 the song speeds up and its obvious. Might have been the studio, but I think its Ringo trying to keep up with the terrible guitar playing. One of the lamest songs the Beatles have ever done.

Girl - Michelles twin sister. I used to hate this song too when I was younger, but its not bad now. I love Johns voice. Backgrounds are awesome. Acoustic guitar sounds great. I dig the part where John seems to be taking a hit off a joint. The ’tit tit tit tit tit tit’ throughout the chorus is neat and ok I suppose. 1:30 mark I like the acoustic guitar playing here. Adds a lot. 1:52 mark theres two quick guitar notes in the background. They are faint, but its cool. 2:00 love how the song breaks out into some kind of Russian tune. All I ever think of is some guy kicking his legs out with his arms crossed. Nice enough song. Most people think higher of it than I do.

I’m Looking Through You - Now here’s a song I used to like a lot more than I do now. Its still a good song, its just I’m not so hung up on it. I like the acoustic guitar. The constant knee slapping sucks though. It wasn’t needed. 0:27 I hate the electric piano and guitar together. I love Pauls double tracked voice. 0:48 guitar part makes the song in my opinion. Add the 1:02 mark to that previous statement too. At the 1:07 mark though, you can hear guitar in the background and it seems to stay that way for the rest of the song. I don’t dig that. 1:18 theres a squeal in the mike. 1:24 Ringo misses a snare hit. Weird, but he just doesn’t play it. I still like this song.

In My Life - This song gets a ton of hype it seems. I think its great too, but maybe not up to par with other peoples opinions. The harmonies are awesome. Like the guitar tone. :28 they play something that sounds like a triangle or higher pitched tambourine that I don’t care for right before Ringo comes in with the snare and ride. Never really noticed that before. The electric piano solo wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Actually its really well played. 1:47 dig the guitar note played there. John barely pulls off the falsetto ending. His voice started to crack. All in all, the song is really good. I always thought it was John trying to write a Yesterday though.

Wait - I’ve always liked this song although I don’t think its much more than filler. It’s the first Beatle song I properly learned on the drums when I was young. I love the tambourine and morocco’s in the beginning. The volume control effect guitars annoy me. 1:16 love Pauls voice when it comes in here. Background vocals are sloppy throughout the entire song. The ending is cool. Good song, but nothing great.

If I Needed Someone - George’s first really good song in my opinion. I never seem to tire of this song. If its not in my top 10 Beatle songs, its scrapping to get in. Love the guitar sound. Bass is great. Backgrounds are awesome. Did I say this was a good song yet? :37 love George’s double tracked voice. 1:07 here is where the song was either won or lost with me. Instead of doing some traditional middle break with a guitar solo, George got innovative and went with background harmonies and a guitar that followed the scope of the song. I thought that was super cool. Speaking of the background harmonies the ’Ah’s’ are awesome. Tambourine filled some space nicely. Love the song.

Run For Your Life - Here’s a song that seems to get lambasted by Beatle fans for some reason. This song (along with Dr. Robert) always seems to find the Beatles most hated lists. Its not great by any means, but I don’t feel it should receive some of the negative feedback it gets. First off, as you can probably see by now, I’m a fan of the Beatles use of the tambourine. They use that instrument in such a tasteful way on most songs that its hard to find fault. I think it’s a lost instrument in todays music. Anyways, its not just nice here, its an absolute must. Its fills out enough space that the song can get by. It would be to bare without it. Love the acoustic guitar sound while the electric guitar strums at the same time. Ringos beat is infectious and the bass foot is hard to do clean. Guitar solo is good. Johns voice is good and convincing here. The backgrounds get a little high for my taste though. 2:07 Johns ’No No No’ makes the song for me. Its obvious I like this song more than most people do. Its pretty average, but an average Beatles song is better than most others.


There you have it. Great album that loses some points for a few mediocre songs and one really bad one. Its easily the best they’ve done to date and it’s a nice stepping stone for the one to come next. 

peterbell1:
I think John was at a real high point here (probably literally!). Songs like Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, In My Life, Girl - all fantastic tunes and not really the Lennon rockers of old. A lot of acoustic guitar, nice melodies, cool lyrics (none of the "I love you, you love me" stuff).

The Paul songs are OK but I think his are just a bit below John's standard here.

I agree about If I Needed Someone - I love it. George surpasses himself there. Love the 12-string Rickenbacker sound. He out-Byrds the Byrds!

And I also agree about What Goes On - I can't stand it.
It is unfeasibly bad - it does spoil the whole flow of the album, just like Yellow Sub on Revolver (sorry Ringo!)

Lose that song and maybe Run For Your Life, then add in Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out, which were recorded around the same time as the LP, and you would have a record that I would give six stars out of five!!  ;D

And a note about the cover - how cool do they look!?! Not just the front cover, but on the back as well.  8)

Hombre_de_ningun_lugar:
Rubber Soul, what a great record. It's my very favourite Beatles album and probably my very favourite album by any artist. I like every song, even "What Goes On" which seems to be the second part of "Act Naturally", but much better.

I think that this record was heavily inspired by the Byrds' debut album Mr. Tambourine Man, another folk rock masterpiece. George's "If I Needed Someone" is the obvious example, not only for the 12-string guitar sound but also for the harmony vocals, almost a carbon copy of "The Bells Of Rhymney" (George even wrote a letter to the Byrds admiting this). But the whole album have that folk rock sound that reminds me to the Byrds, with the magical Beatles' touch, of course. Paul's unusual anti-love songs ("You Won't See Me" and "I'm Looking Through You") seem to be inspired in theme by Gene Clark's "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better", even though things weren't going so good with Jane Asher. The drumming and the use of tambourine in almost every track, they were very Byrdish too. Even the sitar may have been there because David Crosby introduced Ravi Shankar's music to George. I think this opening of mind of the Beatles to others' music was one of the reasons that made them get better, instead of repeating themselves all the time until death as other artists usually do.

Some points to add about the songs:

Drive My Car. Love this song, the perfect opening track. I love the "beep beeps", I don't care what others say about it; it reminds me to the innocense of the early days but inside a more mature framework. The guitar solo was played by Paul, it was a slide guitar I think. George also played guitar, repeating the amazing bass lines of Paul.

Norwegian Wood. Probably the best song in the album, which is saying a lot. Ringo is not only on bass drum, but also on tambourine during the second half of the song.

Nowhere Man. Another gem. Very spiritual song, about the inner loneliness that many people may feel at some point of their lives. Love the guitar solo, apparently it was recorded to get a very treble sound.

The Word. I agree that this could be the first psychedelic Beatles' song, though more because of the colorful lyrics about universal love than the music. I always feel great when I listen to this song, it's like my pot subtitute.

In My Life. The classic piano solo of this great song was played at half-speed when it was recorded and then the tape was played at double-speed to get that baroque sound.

Wait. This track was an actual filler because it was recorded during the Help! sessions and used here at last time because they needed one more song. They added some details like more percussions, getting a decent recording. George's tone pedal guitar makes the song in my opinion.

Run For Your Life. This may have been the last song of side-B because John hated it (though it seemed to be a favourite of George). Still, it was the first song recorded during the sessions (excluding "Wait"), and John's vocal is just great.

Ovi:
Great reviews, I agree with most of them.

Girl has always been one of my favourite Beatles songs. It is so simple, so "Beatlish", I don't know, I just have this feeling when I listen to it, they didn't worked their ass off to produce it, neither to write the lyrics, it's just John saying a simple story. The "Is there anybody going to listen to my story" beggining is brilliant, it gets me every time.
You can never hear that kind of lyrics (the "is there anybody..." one) in a Led Zeppelin song or in a Pink Floyd one, it's just the fact that they were not taking themselves too seriously, and that's what I love about the Beatles.

Wait and What Goes On are the weakest songs to me. I pretty much like the rest of the album, with In My Life and Girl tied for the best song, and the rest of the album except the two ones I mentioned below for good songs.

blmeanie:
great album, agree with most if not all the comments.  Has a mood about it that is perfect.

Also produced the base for one of the best (IMO) covers from the catalog.  Paul Westerberg's version of Nowhere Man from the I am Sam soundtrack is amazingly good.

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