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Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (IAS #41)

Today's review is (almost officially) a non-review, so don't even bother checking it out:

The Beatles: Rubber Soul

14 comments:

  1. I thought that by 2016 we would overcome the mediocrity of Beatles...

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  2. I thought that by 2016 we would be done with the "it's so hip to call The Beatles mediocre" crowd.

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  3. I thought by 2016 we would recognise that not everyone has to like the Beatles.

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    1. Very true: but it is quite evidently objectively incorrect to call them 'mediocre', by most standards that you would hold a popular music group to. They are probably the least mediocre band in history. That does not preclude taste, though, and you do not have to like them.

      (You'd be missing out, though!)

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    2. There's a difference between saying The Beatles are overrated because they weren't the only creative and talented songwriters of the 60s, and saying that The Beatles are overrated because they were mediocre. The former opinion I can respect without necessarily agreeing with that opinion, but the latter opinion is just laughable. I would not take anyone's music tastes seriously if they said The Beatles were mediocre.

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  4. I remember a local radio interview from the 80's featuring Ray Manzarek reflecting on major moments in the Door's development. He described seeing the Rubber Soul album cover for the first time as a big one, trying to make clear to us young folk in the 80's how impactful that visual declaration had been. I can't quote him precisely, but his verbal caption for Rubber Soul went something like, "Look out assholes, we dropped LSD." He then played "I'm looking Through You" as further evidence of the Rubber Soul message to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

    Their subsequent albums certainly top it, but if we're talking true importance (not the Wu-Tang variety), then Rubber Soul qualifies more than we probably know. It's just as well GS's brain went ellipse on it.

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  5. Dean "They're Still Great" LaCapraraOctober 11, 2016 at 3:02 AM

    First of all, I cannot help feeling this is their best actual group album; White Album/Abbey Road might be preferable overall but are largely solo numbers with backing from the others.

    Second, our greatest act of the Sixties lives on in terms of the music, video clips and various aspects of their story. Great reviews GS though you should know (hopefully aware) that last names take priority, even if the artist changed their name. Only exception I know of is Alice Cooper because that was originally the band's moniker.

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  6. I can understand the "non-review" feeling. Especially if it's these albums we've listened to virtually from birth, they're practically in our DNA now.

    The downside is feeling a bit numb from the familiarity, so I'll be reaching for 'SF Sorrow' over the next while.

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  7. "Wait" has grown on me -- Lennon and McCartney's harmonies are masterful, and the use of each of their single voices adds variety to the track. Love the ending, with the low "I've been ah-loone," and McCartney's "I feel as though / you ought to know . . ." Plus the maracas/shaker/whatever that additional percussion is. "Rubber Soul" seems to have a good bit of extra percussion going on generally (in "The Word," for instance). For any other group, this would be their greatest album.

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  8. I would only like to add that you don't exactly address the "soul" component of the album while wondering why it's titled as such, for example:

    - Drive My Car is absolutely a Stax-influenced number (the most R&B sounding backbeat Ringo ever gave us, the bass & guitar rhythm figure credited to the influence of Otis Redding's "Respect" by Paul);

    - You Won't See Me has the Motown influence of James Jamerson's bass playing all over it (once again copped to by Paul in interviews); in fact if you took the drum track and replaced it with a typical Motown drum-track (snare on every beat, etc.) it could be a Supremes or Four Tops outtake;

    - The Word is another track with a skin-tight pocket from Ringo and Paul that is influenced by the R&B world far more than the well-credited "Indian / Baroque / French / Folk" influences you previously mentioned;

    - I'm Looking Through You originally featured two bluesy guitar breaks in the first version released on Anthology before giving way to a new bridge in the final released cut;

    - In My Life has long been attributed to the influence of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles by Paul, and the drum track (exactly the same as the one on "All I've Got to Do" back on With the Beatles) comes from the arrangement of "Anna (Go To Him)" by Arthur Alexander that they faithfully copied on PPM.

    - And lastly we mustn't forget the Booker T. influenced "12-Bar Original" that was attempted and left in the can until Anthology 2...one author made a great postulation that this track might've been attempted as a possible title track for the Rubber Soul album.

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    1. I totally agree with you on 12-Bar, it should be the title track.

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    3. Exactly. As Ian McDonald pointed out, they must've seen this as a soul/R&B-influenced album at the time- "Drive My Car", the Jamersonian bass everywhere (Paul using the Rickenbacker for a better sound), the motown-style guitar strikes on "The Word" and "You Wont See Me". The American version of the album was designed to be "Folk-Rock" and the presence of the folky numbers on the British version combined with their idiosyncratic take on soul meant that the punny title got neglected.

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  9. "Rubber Soul and Revolver are the only two albums in the band's catalog whose titles neither make literal sense nor allow for an unambiguous figurative interpretation"
    I thought ambiguity was the essence of figurative interpretation, the idea that the analogy is open to translation by the interpreter. Unambiguity implies that there is no need for interpretation, that the meaning is clear, right? Rubber soul can refer to a spirit or a shoe; Revolver can refer to records or guns.

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