Rubber Soul

The cover artwork

I liked the way we got our faces to be longer on the album cover. We lost the ‘little innocents’ tag, the naivety, and Rubber Soul was the first one where we were fully-fledged potheads.
George Harrison
Anthology
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The cover photograph for Rubber Soul was taken by Robert Freeman, who had first worked with The Beatles on the cover of With The Beatles in August 1963.

The album cover is another example of our branching out: the stretched photo. That was actually one of those little exciting random things that happen. The photographer Robert Freeman had taken some pictures round at John‘s house in Weybridge. We had our new gear on – the polo necks – and we were doing straight mug shots; the four of us all posing. Back in London Robert was showing us the slides; he had a piece of cardboard that was the album-cover size and he was projecting the photographs exactly onto it so we could see how it would look as an album cover. We had just chosen the photograph when the card that the picture was projected onto fell backwards a little, elongating the photograph. It was stretched and we went, ‘That’s it, Rubber So-o-oul, hey hey! Can you do it like that?’ And he said, ‘well, yeah. I can print it that way.’ And that was it.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

Uncropped, undistorted Rubber Soul cover photograph by Robert Freeman

Uncropped, undistorted Rubber Soul cover photograph by Robert Freeman

The distinctive lettering, meanwhile, was designed and drawn by Charles Front, a London-based art director who was approached to work on the album by Robert Freeman. It became much-imitated by other artists in the flower power era, although Front was never credited for his contribution.

Whether the Beatles were into LSD or not I don’t know but I certainly wasn’t. It was all about the name of the album. If you tap into a rubber tree then you get a sort of globule, so I started thinking of creating a shape that represented that, starting narrow and filling out. I was paid 26 guineas and five shillings.
Charles Front

In 2007 the lettering was auctioned by Bonhams, with a guide price of £10,000, after lying in a drawer for 42 years in Front’s attic.

To me it was just another piece I’d done and I had put it away and forgotten about it. When I took it down to Bonhams I went on the underground with it in a carrier bag. When I came back after discovering its value I was absolutely clutching it in a case.
Charles Front

A different colour saturation was used by Capitol Records for Rubber Soul’s US version, which made the red logo look brown or green, depending on the pressing.

Rubber Soul was the first album by The Beatles not to feature the group’s name on the cover. By late 1965 they were famous enough not to need to announce themselves, and the likenesses of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were famous the world over.

The release

Rubber Soul was released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1965, and three days later in the United States.

The album entered the UK charts on 11 December, and from 25 December replaced Help! at the top of the charts. It spent nine weeks at number one, and remained in the charts for a total of 42 weeks.

Rubber Soul began a 59-week run in the US charts on Christmas Day, and from 8 January 1966 spent six weeks at number one. It sold 1.2 million copies within nine days of its release.

The UK and US tracklistings varied significantly. The Beatles intended it to contain 14 songs; however, Capitol Records in the US reduced the number to 12, omitted the upbeat Drive My Car, Nowhere Man, What Goes On and If I Needed Someone. In their place they substituted two songs not used on the American version of Help!: I’ve Just Seen A Face, which opened the album, and It’s Only Love.

The result was a more acoustic collection, hailed as a folk-rock triumph in the vein of The Byrds and Bob Dylan. The leftover tracks, meanwhile, were later issued in the US on Yesterday… And Today.

Two different stereo versions were issued on vinyl in America: a standard stereo mix and the ‘Dexter stereo’ version – also known as the ‘East Coast’ version – which added a layer of reverb to the entire album. The standard stereo and mono mixes were re-released on compact disc in the Capitol Albums Vol 2 box set in 2006.

The US version contained double-tracked vocals by John Lennon on The Word, along with falsetto harmony vocals and a longer fade-out. Additionally, due to an error when the stereo mixes were sent from the UK to the US, two false starts were included at the beginning of I’m Looking Through You. This can also be heard on the Canadian version.

As with previous albums With The Beatles and Beatles For Sale, no songs from Rubber Soul were issued as singles in the United Kingdom. They did, however, record the double a-side We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper during the sessions, and the single was issued on the same day as the album in both the UK and US.

32 responses on “Rubber Soul

    1. bruce

      Yeah. Their first collection of songs that seem to work together on the album somehow, they make the album seem to have a concept or something
      Their first albums were AMAZING too but they put fill-in songs, which they stopped doing after Rubber Soul, or Revolver
      Its incredible the way they progressed so fast, in every aspect a musician could

  1. Von Bontee

    Could’ve conceivably been my favourite album if it didn’t noticably fizzle out near the end with a couple of middling songs. They were new to the art of constructing capital-”A” Albums, and consequently hadn’t thought to create a super-spectacular mindblower of a closing track along the lines of “Tomorrow Never Knows” or “A Day In The Life”.

      1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

        Quite right Lukey, but it’s definitely in another (inferior) league with respect to the two ones mentioned by our friend Von Bontee!

  2. BeatleMark

    We here in the U.S. really like the Capitol release on vinyl. Especially the “East Coast/Dexterized” version with the added reverb. This variation of the album is rare and is not included on the Capitol albums box set.

    You can spot this particular version of the album by looking in the “dead wax” on the record. If it has IAM in a triangle following the matrix # and “The Beatles” listed on the label (the first edition has the Beatles individual names only), it’s a Dexterized version.

  3. graham

    You can almost smell the pot on this album! I’ve heard on the Anthology DVDs that this was probably one of there most favorite albums. A great collection of songs, front to back. I think after this one and Revolver their albums seemed a bit patchy, they still had great songs on them but it became more individual. They didn’t seem to work together as much. Really either the end of an era or the beginning.

  4. robert

    This was the first Beatles album I ever bought. It had just come out and I bought with my 9th birthday money.

    I bought Rubber Soul and Help that day. I remember being amazed (even as a 9 year old) at the incredible musical differences between the two albums.

    Plus the Rubber Soul cover – didn’t even have their names on it – just those incredible four faces! it was all you needed.

  5. GniknuS

    Their best album in terms of song quality, the problem, maybe, is that there’s no remarkable end that the next two albums offered. But that’s also why I love this album, you can start it anywhere and end everywhere. It just flows really well.

  6. David

    I was nine when this came out, and it was my second LP (my first was With The Beatles). I played them both morning, noon and night!

    Rubber Soul was the first time I realised that The Beatles had an appeal beyond kids and teenagers. I was dragged along to visit some of my mother’s friends – they were school teachers – and to my amazement THEY had Rubber Soul!

  7. M. Whitener

    Rubber Soul features such a great collection of songs, it’s hard to separate it sometimes. It’s my second fav behind “Pepper”. They never had better harmonies than on this album. “In My Life” was Lennon’s greatest majority work in my opinion & “Norweigan Wood” isn’t far behind. It was a revolutionary sound for them with the sitar, at the time & it really stands out still even after their studio years. It does kind of just flow along, but I think that some of their most underrated songs are on this album, like “You Won’t See Me”, “Wait” & “You Won’t See Me”. Love this album.

      1. M. Whitener

        I really do. I think it was the best usage of Paul’s double tracking of his voice until he did “Penny Lane”. Also, John & George were great in accenting background vocals. It was their most complex instrumental song, but vocally it stands up with anything of that period.

        1. Von Bontee

          Well, my point was that you mentioned it twice in that one sentence! (Or was that intentional?…)

          (Anyway, don’t worry, I think it’s good enough to be listed twice, too.)

  8. Bob Ryan

    This is another where I think Capitols bastardizing of the albums worked in the Beatles favor. I’m sure I would have loved either tracklist. But having grown up with the leather-and-suede acoustic feel of the American Rubber Soul it is downright DIFFICULT for me to play the british version all the way through. What Goes On is, to me, simply a travesty in the world of Rubber Soul. Drive My Car and Nowhere Man are good tracks — Nowhere Man a great one — but the Capitol album is just so much more COHERENT a collection of songs.

    1. julio

      It is interesting that UK versions have now taken over because when a lot of people refer to Rubber Soul historically they are talking about the U.S. Capitol version. That is the collection of songs that inspired Brian Wilson not the Uk one. I remember listening to the warm “I’ve just seen a face” a staring at the pictures on the back of Rubber Soul and my mind just being blown. Opening track on the uk version is “Drive my car”, it just doesn’t work for me as the Rubber Soul feel. Should have been strictly a single.

      1. julio

        It is amazing how John dominates 1965 with major achievements like Help, Ticket to Ride, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Norwegian Wood, Girl, In My Life, Nowhere Man (I know Paul helped with some of these but they are definitely John songs). Paul taking a back seat with exception of Yesterday writing filler tracks like The Night Before, Another Girl, You Won’t See Me etc. But I feel John takes a back seat to Paul in 1966 (I think Paul’s years are 1966 and 1968).

    2. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

      Yeah, the yanks are always there with their attempts at oneupmanship. They cracked the Enigma code (so would one of their trash films have us believe), then TAUGHT the Beatles (who were of course yanks anyway, as everybody knows) how to put albums together. Talk about “bastardising” and “travesties”!

    3. Lukey Boy

      OK, maybe you could lose What Goes On, but Drive My Car, Nowhere Man and If I Needed Someone are among The Beatles’ finest songs. I wonder if Capitol really ‘got’ The Beatles. Bad enough they ignored the early songs, but the butchering (or bastardizing!) was uncalled for here. I wonder how The Beatles themselves felt about it. Joe?

  9. Jammy_jim

    John’s output in 66 & 68, while not as catchy or single-worthy as Paul’s, was awesome and inspiring nonetheless:
    I’m only sleeping, Tomorrow never knows, Dr. Robert, She said she said, And your bird can sing, Happiness is a warm gun, I’m so tired, Revolution, Glass Onion, Dear Prudence, The continuing story of Bungalow Bill, Julia, Yer blues, Everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey, Sexie Sadie, Cry Baby Cry, Goodnight.

    1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

      There, Jammy. I think that, given the impossibility of picking the best Beatle song, I can’t squeeze the shortlist any tighter than four “best songs”, to wit: Dear Prudence, Happiness is a warm gun, Yer blues and Oh! Darling. Three of these are Lennon’s, and from the period you mention. John was an extreme talent, but his disorganisation and tendency to laziness dragged his career down when he lost (dumped) his three wonderful colleagues. And yet, he somehow managed to turn in gems like Woman is the nigger of the world and Steel and glass. If only he could have kept Paul’s coherence, attention to detail and dutifulness (virtues he once had had, for example by the time of A hard day’s night), John would have cut a really amazing solo career. And, if only he had stayed away from Phil Spector…..

  10. william

    You Won’t See Me is a hidden classic. Harrison has two gems here. About the only thing off-putting are the lyrics on the last song on side two, but the playing on that song and the melody are quite good.

  11. BeatleFreak2

    The “Rubber Soul” album released in the United States did not have “If I needed Someone” on it, nor “Drive My Car.” “If I needed Someone” was the song right after “And Your Bird Can Sing” (my FAV on the album) on “Yesterday and Today,” the butchered babies album that got covered up with a more “respectable” cover. I have one of the butchered babies albums but alas, I was just a kid and it looks like a kid tried to get the cover-up off by herself. In other words, it is a mess. “Drive my Car” was also on the US release album “Yesterday and Today.” “I’m only sleeping” was the second song after it. I wish we could buy CDs with the same songs on the original US release albums, but I’ll be thankful for what we can get.

    1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

      What d’you mean “the original US release albums”, Freak? The original Beatles albums are those issued in the UK. Calling a mish-mash including “Drive my Car” followed by “I’m only sleeping” (separated in fact by a full EIGHT MONTHS) an “original” is only a token of how deluded and wide-of-the-mark of reality yanks are!!!

  12. Lukey Boy

    I truly love this album. Every song is perfect, and that is very rare. I like Abbey Road and Revolver, but I’d say this was their masterpiece. Album openers don’t get much better than ‘Drive My Car,’ one of the funkiest things they ever recorded. Four white guys from Liverpool sounding like four black guys from Detroit!

  13. James Ferrell

    This has always been one of my top 10 albums of all time in either the UK or folkier US incarnation. The songs are superb. I love the variety of sounds and the economical arrangements. And the performances have a relaxed confidence. The one thing I don’t really like is George Martin’s famous ersatz baroque solo in “In My Life”, especially the end of it when it smashes into the middle eight. But that’s a small thing. Wall to wall this is a truly great album.

  14. Hollywood Joe

    The songs on this album – RUBBER SOUL – by The BEATLES -In MY opinion is the most QUANTUM – LEAP in the history of POP MUSIC – To me I feel that here the Beatles were totally ahead of any one on the EARTH that was writing songs – This RUBBER SOUL album is the TURNING POINT in Pop Music HISTORY – all 12 songs on the U.S. album and 14 on their U.K. release show how their minds(the Beatels’) were so far advanced from anyone on Earth – Joe Nania A.K.A. Hollywood Joe

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