Throughout the entirety of the Fab Four’s amazing run of perfectly crafted diamond albums, The Beatles were the kings of the world. Obvious great claims aside, is it necessary to even review a record by The Beatles… let alone Rubber Soul? Given the Liverpool legends’ frenetic timeline from early 1960 to the end in early 1970, The Beatles did in ten years what most bands cannot do in three lifetimes. Going from a lovable pop band writing their own songs and crooning lovely romance, to setting the world on fire with each blazing record chock full of psychedelia and rock and roll spirit, The Beatles conquered it all. However, 1965’s Rubber Soul proved to be the catalyst that tipped the scales in the band’s direction away from traditional pop tunes, to much more complex and sophisticated arrangements.
In regards to the original mono LP, the sound quality at the time was considered revolutionary. With the remasters in effect on this specific record, the spirit of the original remains, but I’ll be damned if the overall quality doesn’t sound crispy, clean, and creamy as hell. From the very beginning when the Fab Four kick into “Drive My Car”, Sir Paul McCartney’s bass literally drives this song up the wall. Lennon and Harrison’s guitars sound twangy and jagged but with much more fullness to them. Also in regards to the overall sound, Starr’s drums sound much more rounded out, and feel much more out front than they did 44 years ago. Overall, “Drive My Car” still carries its silly and offbeat vibe, but with the remastered edition The Beatles, as cliche as it sounds, still sound relevant to this day. In fact, they sound even more relevant than they did just over ten years ago.
The remastered version also takes great liberties to heighten the more somber sides of the group, especially on the Lennon penned “Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown)”. With Lennon’s delicate and savvy vocals standing out in the mix, both the treatment of his acoustic guitar tracks and Harrison’s sitar are done incredibly well. While keeping the magic and bittersweet mood of the original song, the remasters take great liberty in adding just a bit more to the band without overcompensating at all. No slick productions exist here.
By the end of “Norwegian Wood”, visually speaking, The Beatles’ music when heard on the right stereo resembles an in-depth pyramid of sound, complete with the remasters creating the peak at the top. This continues onward with some of the album’s much more complex arrangements such as “You Won’t See Me”, “Nowhere Man” (the vocal tracks sound beyond amazing), the elegant and creamy fuzz bass on Harrison’s “Think For Yourself”, and the R&B classic, “The Word” (chock full of great guitar riffs). To say the least, the engineers at Abbey Road painstakingly put eons of excellent effort into giving this classic pop record an incredible makeover.
Going back to the overall sound of this record, The Beatles shifted from the traditional pop and R&B roots into much more psychedelic territory. The band shifts from classic, lovey-dovey love songs to much harsher territory. One example is the commentary on extramaritial affairs, as seen in “Norwegian Wood”, as well as more downtrodden outlooks on life in the aptly titled, “In My Life”. Musically speaking, Lennon and McCartney both began to come into their own and their blends of songwriting worked to its best. Lennon’s dry, sarcastic wit combined with McCartney’s neverending optimism shines brilliantly, and on Rubber Soul The Beatles showed the world true merits, which only sparked the excellent session of records that were to follow.
To review this record’s brilliance is like telling someone how awesome the Grand Canyon is. It’s there for all to see and you can’t help but marvel at its brilliance. No words can describe it, and certainly no review can pay justice to it. The Beatles haven’t sounded better, and Rubber Soul on any part of the day is certainly a great piece of pop music that makes the soul happier with each passing year.