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fromheadtoheart flag England - Full Moon 237 - 12/25/15

From head to heart
The Beatles' Rubber Soul and more....

Following our retroscope series going on for several years, here we go again. Yes, for one more year! Here's Speakers' corner's cousin; From head to heart. Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves'n'vaults of pop'n'rock. Blowing our ears and our head, punching our chest and shaking our heart, or simply tapping our shoulder. Making us go sentimental, but not slaphappy. This moonth we present - hey! - two 50-year-olds! From the same band! A little platter and a big platter. A double A-sided single and an album. And, yes, as last moonth's retro corner we're talking iconic records here. "I think the title came from a comment an old blues guy had said of Jagger. I've heard some out-takes of us (doing "I'm Down") and at the front of it I'm chatting on about Mick. I'm saying how I'd just read about an old bloke in the States who said, 'Mick Jagger, man. Well you know they're good - but it's plastic soul.' So 'plastic soul' was the germ of the idea." (Paul McCartney) The single had two songs penned by John and Paul. The album had two songs penned by George, and even one co-penned by Ringo. So, go work it out yourself. You might not have to take the easy way out.'Life is very short, and there's no time / For fussing and fighting, my friend.'. Well, all I wanted for Xmas was peace for our time....

coverpic coverpic The Beatles
Rubber Soul
We Can Work It Out + Day Tripper
Parlophone Records/Columbia Records

The Fab Four were at a first all-time high concerning releases. Not only did they have an album with 14 new self-written songs on offer. They also released a new double A-sided single the very same day with two great songs not included on the album. We're talking 3 December 1965 in Britain and three days later in the USA. Well, The Beatles released the previous album Help! and the single "Yesterday"/"Act Naturally" on the same day as well, only four moonths prior, but both songs of the single were also included on the album, and two of the songs of the album were cover versions, including "Act Naturally".

I've owned and played and loved Rubber Soul for 40-something years. Here's a quick impression of the songs listening with today's old and worn ears...:

  • "Drive My Car" - Great guitar-work at the start, and those unusually dynamic drums have to be mentioned! And Paul's piano playing, too! The 'Beep-beep-m-beep-beep yeah!' before the guitar solo and at the end still hold!
  • "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" - The favourite Beatle song of all Norwegians, of course... One of John's greatest. George playing the sitar on record for the very first time. But unlike some of his later sitar excesses it works as an effect, like a bit strange sounding guitar as much as a sitar. This is not raga rock like Kinks' "See My Friends" four moonths earlier, the sitar just adds a nice original touch to this classic pop song. The lyrics are similar to what Bob Dylan was dealing with at the time and Dylan recorded the song "Fourth Time Around" a couple of moonths later, to be released on his double album Blonde On Blonde in May 1966, that sounds quite similar to "Norwegian Wood". There have been speculations if this was meant as a friendly homage from Dylan or a message to Lennon to not imitate him.
  • "You Won't See Me" - One of the half-forgotten gems! This sounds real fresh, one of the highlights listening to the album today! The great dynamic rhythm guitar and those great Beatles' harmony vocals... One of Paul's best ever!
  • "Nowhere Man" - Like with "Norwegian Wood" John had certainly developed as a lyric writer. They didn't have to deal with newly gained or lost love anymore. One of George's better guitar solos. What's that beep at the end of it? Feedback?
  • "Think For Yourself" - Two great Harrison offerings on the album. This one is especially distinguished by Paul's fuzz-bass. Real cool!
  • "The Word" - Strange song structure. It seems to start with and be more dominated by the choruses than the two verses. Another one with great rhythm-guitar work. And George Martin playing that strange sounding harmonium. The word is Love and The Summer Of Love was still one and a half years ahead...
  • "Michelle" - The doughnut and the successor of "Yesterday". Quite played to death during the intervening years. But hey, the part with French lyrics is a translation of the English counterpart. It took years before it occurred to me. And the short bass solos towards the end are quite effective. Bass solo on a soft ballad; unheard of both before and after!
  • "What Goes On" - This is the only Lennon-McCartney/Starkey composition of the Beatles cannon. The successor of the aforementioned "Act Naturally". Ringo in the limelight, slightly country & western-flavoured. The guitar solo sounds like a relic from the happy days of 1963 and 1964. The only lightweight song of the album. But still, it's nice and cozy.
  • "Girl" - 'Ah girl...!'. The classic with the one word chorus. Though the sighing after the word might be even more memorable about this song. Great classic acoustic guitar in the last verse that leads to the twin guitar sequence with the staccato effect. Maybe the greatest offering of the entire album?
  • "I'm Looking Through You" - A typical McCartney-composition. Another girl worth sighing and moaning about. Profiled rhythm-guitar in addition to the dynamic acoustic one in the background throughout. One of the few r'n'b-flavoured songs of the album.
  • "In My Life" - Once again classic pop. Lennon was 25 at the time it was recorded and a few days ago it was 35 years since he was shot dead. This is a looking-back-at-life-song that John should have sung in his 60s or 70s... The fascinating piano solo by George Martin that sounds like harpsichord gives it an extra touch of classic European composition.
  • "Wait" - Lots of tambourine in the verses and drums only in the choruses that also includes fascinating twin guitar playing.
  • "If I Needed Someone" - George was improving as a songwriter by the minute and this was the highlight of his cannon at the time. A bit raga rock'ish flavour of the melody and guitar playing here. A little bit.
  • "Run For Your Life" - Lennon at his most jealous and threatening: 'You better run for your life if you can, little girl, hide your head in the sand, little girl, catch you with another man, that's the end, little girl!' Strange way to end the album, perhaps. But it works. And anyway you'll most likely flip the LP and start again at the beginning of side one. Or jump on to the single:

  • "We Can Work It Out" - A good example of a genuine Lennon-McCartney cooperated composition. More reflective than the happy or sad love songs they had written together two years previously. Confident vocals by Paul. Fascinating organ playing by John. And then there is the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4 and back in the choruses.
  • "Day Tripper" - In the tradition of "Ticket To Ride", one of the greatest from Help! 'One way ticket, yeah!' Cool guitar riff of course. About a naughty lady. Another classic. Another favourite.

To sum up. The first in a string of classic Beatles albums and a classic double A-sided single! The only minor complaint must be the mixing of the stereo version. Mono still ruled at the time and what really counted. The stereo version, meant for a minority of contemporary hi-fi-freaks, sounds primitive today with tendencies towards one guitar and main vocals in the left channel and another guitar and backing vocals in the right, or vice versa. But, that was the rule of the day 50 years ago. And it still has its nostalgic charm.

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You may also want to check out our Beatles articles/reviews: Abbey Road, Let It Be... Naked, Love Me Do/PS I Love You, Love, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, She Loves You, Strawberry Fields Forever b/w Penny Lane, The Full Moon Recordings.

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