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4.6 out of 5 stars
Rubber Soul (1990)
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123 of 137 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
RUBBER SOUL is the Beatles first masterpiece, and the original UK version is far better than the American LP. This is how the Beatles themselves intended it, not some hack from Capitol Records.
DRIVE MY CAR is an excellent opening track. It was chopped off of the original American record and was replaced by It's Only Love.
NORWEGIAN WOOD is about one of John's real-life affairs, and it is my favorite song on the album. It is probably the first time the sitar was used in popular music.
YOU WON'T SEE ME, great pop from Paul, and has some fine drumming from Ringo.
NOWHERE MAN, one the best tracks on the entire album, and it was cut off the American record.
THINK FOR YOURSELF, good track from George, not his best but still very good. Nice fuzz bass.
THE WORD, very much in the same vein as ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, but this track is much better.
MICHELLE, classic Paul. Beautiful melody.
WHAT GOES ON, country song co-written and sung by Ringo. Neither bad nor great.
GIRL, more classic Lennon. He dominates this album.
I'M LOOKING THROUGH YOU, great Paul track, features Ringo on Hammond organ.
IN MY LIFE is possibly the Beatles' best song, and may be the greatest song ever written. Excellent keyboard solo.
WAIT, more classic stuff.
IF I NEEDED SOMEONE, George's best song up to this point. Great lyrics and a hypnotic guitar intro.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE is Lennon at his most jealous. One of the weaker songs on this CD, but it features some great guitar work.
Rubber Soul is essential to everyone's music collection.
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115 of 129 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The impact of this 1965 album is incredible. The earliest recorded of the five great Beatles albums (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, White Album, and Abbey Road are the others), Rubber Soul was the album that invented "album rock." This was the first rock album recorded for its own sake, without any Top Forty hit singles to back it up (Nowhere Man did not appear on the U.S. version). The songs "Girl", "Michelle", and "Norwegian Wood" each got massive radio airplay despite never being released as singles. Before Rubber Soul, most albums were junk, consisting typically of one or two songs that were Top Forty hit singles with the rest being throwaway filler tracks. Thanks to Rubber Soul, rock artists for the first time got serious about recording albums as works of art rather than just another way to make money. My favorite songs here are "Girl" and "In My Live", but just about everything on this CD is superb. However, I don't like the way they tinkered with the song selection; I would have preferred the original vinyl release format. The psychedelic cover art was the best of its time and it too was trendsetting. Overall, a must have CD for anyone who wants an introduction to their work, and don't forget the other four!
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117 of 140 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
By the time they recorded "Rubber Soul," The Beatles were an unstoppable sensation with classics like "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," and "A Hard Day's Night" under their belt. "Rubber Soul," however, marked the band's first foray into the arty pop that would make up the bulk of their later efforts.
"Drive My Car" and the brilliant, lesser-heard "You Won't See Me" are certainly of the pure pop ilk, ditto for "What Goes On" and "I'm Looking Through You." And while these songs are all among rock's finest compositions, a more mature, forward-thinking spirit inhabits the likes of "Nowhere Man," "I'm Looking Through You," and "Wait." Three of the Beatles' finest ballads are featured as well (in fact, they're two of rock music's finest ballads), "Michelle," a country-tinged gem; the bluesy "Girl"; and the stately "In My Life," a masterpiece that gave the first true glance of the lyrical depth Lennon & McCartney were capable of.
A minor slip-up can certainly be forgiven in the face of such brilliance, which is fortunate for "Run for Your Life," a deceivingly-happy sounding pop number that offers a glimpse of the Fab Four's ability to occasionally shock ("I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than with another man"). Unlike some of their other dark lyrics this one doesn't register on the fun scale. Luckily the same can't be said for the rest of the album..."Rubber Soul" is one of the brightest moments in rock history, and with The Beatles' growing taste for experiment, one of the most important as well.
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162 of 203 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
RUBBER SOUL is an undeniably brilliant album, but before I get underway I want to address a statement I read in an earlier review, which I find difficult to believe that someone would actually make this statement. Matthew McDowell, in his review dated September 4, 2000, said this was the first significant album ever produced. That is simply an asinine statement. Even that year, Dylan gives The Beatles a run for their money (and arguably beats them, especially with HIGHWAY 61 Revisited), and both BIABH and HW61R were already released. There was a significant body of recordings and albums in other genres being produced for a long time, especially jazz, and his claim of RUBBER SOUL being first important album ever is both ridiculous and uninformed. That being said, I will resume the review proper.

RUBBER SOUL, The Beatles' sixth studio album in a mere three years, takes its place as the very first full length release that truly beings the evolution of away from the boy-girl "I Love you" pop that dominated the first half of their career.

The truly fascinating element of The Beatles are going through their recordings chronologically. You can watch that extremely rapid artistic growth explode. It is amazing that this is the same band who, a mere three years ago, recorded PLEASE PLEASE ME. Obviously, there are several influences that can be felt on this album, although The Beatles up the antes one with this release.

This album sounds like The Beatles playing (and beating) The Byrds at their own game. There are gorgeous three part harmonies, several compositions that would become standards almost on their release, and such a vast improvement artistically over the last five albums. The Beatles knew the time to move was now. Dylan had released BRINING IT ALL BACK HOME and HIGHWAY 61 REVISTED that year, both of which are much better aestheticallythan The Beatles' effort that year (HELP!).

The critics always talk about RUBBER SOUL being that pivotal album in The Beatles' artistic growth, but that is simply not true. While it is true that it is the first ALBUM by The Beatles to have that mature sound, about half of HELP! stands proudly alongside this release, as does the non lp tracks "Yes, It Is," and "I Feel Fine," which, to me, has always sound much more midperiod Beatles than the earlier material with which it belongs. Although it's true it's the first ALBUM of their mature sound, the seeds were already there in earlier material already released.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had they scrapped HELP!, but the five or six extra tracks on this, and released the other half as singles, but we can never know. What we do know, however, is that tracks like "Help!," "Ticket to Ride," "It's Only Love," "Yesterday," "I've Just Seen a Face," and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," (which, by the way, is the best song Dylan never wrote) point toward this release. The first two tracks cited hearken back to tracks like "Hard Days' Night" and their earlier sound, the lyrics are much better and without expense to the melody.

Those who complain that the record company has butchered the pre-1967 Beatles releases by coming out with totally reconfigured albums are putting on prominent display their ignorance of The Beatles' history and the decadence of Capitol in regards to respecting the artistic integrity of their artists. There were ELEVEN*, count them, eleven U.S. albums released from1963 to 1966. In the UK, however, The Beatles had only issued FIVE albums before this. No one complains about these missing albums with the exception of this US version of RUBBER SOUL.

In those days, The Beatles were extremely hot commodities (which they still are) and the market supported singles more than albums anyway, so the reshuffling of all the tracks does not effect (much) the artistry of the songs until we get to RUBBER SOUL and REVOLVER. It is only until SGT. PEPPER that the American version and the UK version coincided. The most famous of these bastardized American albums is "Yesterday . . . and Today," the famous Butcher album, which is comprised of the four lost RUBBER SOUL tracks, two from the Side 2 of Help!, three from the then current REVOLVER sessions (the album was not completed when YESTERDAY was released), and the "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out Single." Yet that album has its place in Beatles history more for the cover as opposed to the music inside, although the music is brilliant. But of all the American albums, this and the U. S. RUBBER SOUL are the most sorely missed.

Why are they sorely missed? Well, there's a reason why there have been many people complaining about the UK version when they grew up with the American version. With the release of this particular album, The Beatles and their contemporaries (especially Dylan) were firmly moving the market away from the singles and were becoming much more album oriented, which is why this is the most controversial reconfiguration. The rest sound like a collection of singles: this sounds like a unified album. To those who argue that the American release is better I do not necessarily agree. "Nowhere Man" stands as a vastly important composition, the first of The Beatles to move beyond the boy-girl subject of their early pop material, and to remove it from this album makes the record suffer greatly. The American release compensated (partially) as having "Face" as the opener, which I greatly prefer to start the album off as opposed to "Drive My Car." This version of the album also is strengthened by dropping the rather bland "What Goes On," the worst track on the album.

As everyone praises this album, no one seems to fully discuss the disturbing "Run For Your Life," an extremely misogynistic Lennon song and the most baffling song in The Beatles' canon. This song makes a rather weakened end, and Ringo's simply isn't that impressive.

Still, an enthusiastic five star release non-the-less.

* For those interested, on these eleven albums there are tracks that are no longer available commercially, although they are of only marginal interested to the general fan as they are only tracks used for scoring the movies. A HARD DAYS NIGHT has four instrumental tracks used for movie scoring which are currently unavailable. THE BEATLES' SECOND ALBUM supposedly has some tampering to it to the actual recordings themselves, though what I do not know. The U. S. version of HELP! contains five tracks of Ken Thorpe's film score from the movie, which makes it like the YELLOW SUBMARINE album.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is probably my favorite cd I own. There's really not a bad song on the whole thing. The quality is even more amazing when you consider the context in which it was first released. The 45 rpm was the dominant format, and any Lp had a lot of filler material. Anyone of these songs had the potential to become a major hit. Also, these songs have aged much better than some of their other work. Granted Strawberry Fields Forever is a masterpiece, but outside the late 1960's it doesn't really have much directly in common with popular music. The songs on Rubber Soul are timeless -- they'll sound as good today as they will 35 years from now as they did 35 years ago.
Drive My Car is the opening song, and it's a good country-based rock song with a good beat and excellent chords. Norwegian wood is a knockout of a song with just the right amount of sitar, and John Lennon's lyrics are great.
You Won't See Me is good song, but compared to the rest of the cd is just an OK work. Nowhere Man has a really catchy melody and lyrics;if you've never heard it before, your'e bound to find yourself singing it when you east expect it.
Think For Yourself turns up the heat a little bit and has some heavy beats. The arrangement on this song is nice and shows off some cool sounds. The Word is an ok song, but not as good as most of the other ones.
Michelle is one of the best songs on the whole album. It showcases Paul's ear to write a pretty tune. Ringo co-wrote What Goes On with Paul and John, and it has an upbeat countryish kind of feel. It's a strong song.
Girl is a cool song by John; the opening is captivating and is in the same vein as Norweigian Wood. I'm Looking Through You has its ups and downs. The organ part is both strange sounding and approriate at the same time. It's probably the most awkward song.
In My Life is fantastic. It's not all that well known, but it's a classic song which still sounds as new and original in the year 2000 as I'm sure it did in 1965. The piano by George Martin is almost breathtaking. Unfortunately for me, it sounds to my ears like a couple keys run together, but considering how fast it's played I don't think it's avoidable. I wonder how it would've sounded if Paul has played it though?
Wait is good song similar to I'm Looking Through You, but a little softer. If I Needed Someone is pretty strong throughout, but isn't one of my favorites. Run For Your life is another one of those catchy tunes with solid lyrics and excellent instrumentals.
I didn't want this album to end, that's how good it is. You can listen to Revolver right afterwards and it feels like a continuation, but then the songs start getting a little trippy, so the connection fades. Rubber Soul is nothing less that excellent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2000
Format: Audio CD
To start with, this is a Beatles LP/CD. I've always considered myself a Stones fan first, a Beatles fan second. The fact is, though, that it's hard to go wrong no matter what Beatles music you get. This is my personal favorite Beatles CD. It is more polished and sophisticated than earlier CDs without losing any of the power or enthusiasm. Their maturity is evident in both the music and the lyrics. The simple four-piece arragements have given way to a more intricate and innovative studio presence. John's breathy sighs on "Girl", "Norwegian Wood" with George's sitar and John's clever lyrics, Paul's gentle ballad "Michelle", the mature sentiment of "In My Life" with its speeded up piano solo all illustrate the advaned level of studio craftsmanship. This CD also marks the emergence of George as a songwriter. His "If I Needed Someone" surpasses the Byrds at their own game.
This CD, along with "Revolver" and "Sgt. Pepper..." are the Beatles at their peak as a band. Subsequent efforts, while still music of very high quality, give evidence of the disarray as the Beatles disintegration into four independent musicians proceeds. Of these three peak CDs, I have always found "Rubber Soul" to be the most accessible. It feels a little softer and more personal. In terms of individual songs, there's not a dud anywhere. Personal favorites include "Drive My Car", "Norwegian Wood", "You Won't See Me", "The Word", "Girl", "I'm Looking Through You" and "In My Life".
Any Beatles CD is worth having. That the Beatles are still so popular after all these years says a lot. If you don't own this one, then by all means get it. It's one of my ten all-time favorites. It will probably be one of your favorites, too.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
It's hard to say which Beatles album is truly "best," but 'Rubber Soul' has the edge. Most of the songs on this album are acoustic love songs, like "Michelle," "Girl," "I'm Looking Through You" and "Norwegian Wood." While all these Lennon/McCartney songs have similar basic instrumentation, the Beatles vary their approach slightly with each one, bringing in additional instruments and subtracting others. Although this isn't a 'concept album' the general threads running through these 14 songs qualify it as a song cycle. Beautiful harmonies, tasteful guitar work, and lyrics clever enough (yet general enough) for you to identify with the songs completely. "In My Life" is possibly John Lennon's most beautiful set of lyrics.

There isn't a lot of straight-ahead rock on this CD; most of this is really acoustic pop or folk rock. This softer approach is often overlooked by people dazzled by the psychedelic marvels of 'Sgt Pepper' or the pulsating rock of 'With the Beatles.' I find that this is the single Beatles album I return to time and time again, and it seems more enriching each time.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
'Rubber Soul', 'Revolver' and 'Sgt. Pepper' -- these are the Beatles' big three ('Abbey Road' is wonderful but flawed). This album features what arguably ranks as the best overall work on a Beatles album from John Lennon. "Norwegian Wood", "Nowhere Man", "Girl" and "In My Life" are some of the finest compositions that he ever offered to the group. If you could take John Lennon's work from 'Rubber Soul' and combine it with Paul McCartney's work on 'Revolver' onto one album, you would easily have the greatest album ever made. The lyrics to the songs on 'Rubber Soul', as it stands, are some of the most introspective and deeply moving that the group members ever came up with.

The album was made during a time when the Beatles were still united as a performing unit, maturing in their abilities but still tied to the group as a whole and not pursuing their own individual interests and avenues. They were still THE Beatles --- touring, performing, recording, hugely influential and the best damn rock 'n roll band on the planet. They were also incorporating folk-rock and Dylan-inspired influence into their music , which of course lead 'Rubber Soul' to inspire the Beach Boys' masterpiece 'Pet Sounds'. This album, in terms of the quality of its individual songs, has to be recognized as one of the band's greatest achievements.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Why is Rubber Soul perhaps the best Beatles album of them all?
1. No weak links. Every song is solid. 2. There is more vocal harmony on this album than any other Beatles album, and except for John's occasionally flat singing, they do it well. 3. Lyrically, this is the album where the Beatles (particularly John) began to mature. "In My Life" is a good example. 4. Musically, things are starting to get interesting (Paul's bass playing is more melodic, for instance), but it is still fairly raw (not a whole lot of orchestration), which arguably makes the music more accessible. 5. George makes two excellent contributions: "Think for Yourself" and "If I Needed Someone." 6. Anything that would inspire Brian Wilson to do the Pet Sounds album must be pretty good. My only complaint about this album is that it doesn't have a strong climax like Revolver and Sgt. Pepper do, but everything else about this album is excellent. I personally single it out as the major transition point in the Beatles recording history. BUY THIS RECORD!!!
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon January 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Rubber Soul marked a turning point in the Beatles' career. Tiring of their lovable moptop image and shifting away from the formalmatic music they felt they were making, they made over their sound and with the grim album cover, their image. Rubber Soul is the first non-soundtrack album to feature all original compensations. Lennon & McCartney were expanding their horizons with such songs as the mocking "Nowhere Man", the aggressive "Run For Your Life" and the cutting "I'm Looking Through You". They were no longer singing about puppy love, but looking at the bitter side of love. "Norwegian Wood" is about an extra-marital affair and contains George Harrison playing a sitar. "Girl" shows the Beatles still had a playful side by inserting the word tit into the backing vocals and "Michelle" is a love song in the traditional sense. "In My Life" is one of the most poignant songs of all time and still brings tears to your eyes. The Beatles broke alot of their stereotypes with Rubber Soul and showed that they could make music that wasn't made for the girls to scream to.
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