The Beatles: Rubber Soul
This is where things get really interesting. The Beatles left pure pop behind them, and started to venture into uncharted territory. It may not sound like it now, but this was a truly groundbreaking album. Brian Wilson cited it as an inspiration for “Pet Sounds.” This was where rock became a true art form. They incorporated different time signatures, new instruments, and other musical styles. This may not be prog as we know it now, but it was the prog of the time.
“Drive My Car is a solid rocker, but sounds more like the big rock bands of the ’70s, than the bands of the mid ’60s. The bass is finally given its due (as it is throughout the album), and what is that sound … oh yes, a cowbell (I’ve got a fever…).
“Norwegian Wood” is a beautifully crafted tune, complete with sitar. It’s an odd tale, about a one-night stand. The lyrics must have had people all over the world scratching their heads.
“Nowhere Man” has incredibly lush vocal harmonies. The instrumentation is not overblown, and just the right accompaniment.
“Think for Yourself” has those harmonies again, and nice fuzz guitar (is this the first time?).
“The Word” is a groovy, funk inspired number, with a few change-ups. Lyrically, it is a great, simple message about the power of love. This also may be the first time it was used as a general concept, instead of just between two people.
“Michelle” is yet another outstanding love song, and has that added international aspect.
“What Goes On” has the boys going country again, with Ringo handling the lead vocal. I love Harrison’s clipped guitar work on this one.
“Girl” is a heart wrenching number about a troubled relationship. The changes, and mandolin sounds, bring this tune very close to prog.
“In my Life” is a candidate for my favorite song of all time. It’s simple, and excessively beautiful. This is the perfect one to play for a girlfriend who is worried about your past relationships. Great use of harpsichord on this one too.
“If I Needed Someone” is where George finally stands out as a songwriter. It isn’t that he hadn’t done well before, but this one is brilliant.
“Run for Your Life” is an odd choice for an album closer. Not so much a love song, as it is a threat. Nice slide guitar work from Harrison here (something he would later get a lot of recognition for).
This is a perfect album. Absolutely flawless is not an overstatement. If you have never heard it, I suggest you turn off the computer, and go get a copy right now. It is a must for any well-rounded music collection. Actually, this would be good candidate for the only album you own.
Paul McCartney – bass, vocals
John Lennon – guitar, vocals
George Harrison – guitars, sitar
Ringo Starr – drums