Rubber Soul

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Rubber Soul
A photo of the Beatles – George, John, Ringo, and Paul
Studio album by the Beatles
Released 3 December 1965
Recorded 12 October–15 November 1965 (except 17 June 1965 for "Wait")
Studio EMI Studios, London
Length 35:50
Label Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US)
Producer George Martin
The Beatles chronology
(1965) Help!1965
Rubber Soul
(1965) Rubber Soul1965
(1966) Revolver1966
The Beatles North American chronology
(1965) Help!1965
Rubber Soul
(1965) Rubber Soul1965
Yesterday and Today
(1966) Yesterday and Today1966

Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 3 December 1965 in the United Kingdom, on EMI's Parlophone label, accompanied by the non-album double A-side single "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out". The original North American version of the album was altered by Capitol Records to include a different selection of tracks. Rubber Soul met with a highly favourable critical response and topped record charts in Britain and the United States for several weeks.

Often referred to as a folk rock album, Rubber Soul incorporates a mix of pop, soul and folk musical styles. The title derives from the colloquialism "plastic soul", which referred to soul played by English musicians. After the British version of A Hard Day's Night, it was the second Beatles LP to contain only original material. For the first time in their career, the band were able to record the album over a continuous period, uninterrupted by touring commitments. The songs demonstrate the Beatles' increasing maturity as lyricists and, in their incorporation of brighter guitar tones and new instrumentation such as harmonium, sitar and fuzz bass, the group striving for more expressive sounds and arrangements for their music. The project marked a progression in the band's treatment of the album format as an artistic platform, an approach they continued to develop with Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The North American version of Rubber Soul contained ten of the fourteen new songs, supplemented by two tracks withheld from the band's Help! album. The four songs omitted by Capitol, including the February 1966 single "Nowhere Man", instead appeared on the North American-only release Yesterday and Today.

Rubber Soul was highly influential on the Beatles' peers, leading to a widespread focus away from singles and onto creating albums of consistently high-quality songs. It has been recognised by music critics as an album that opened up the possibilities of pop music in terms of lyrical and musical scope, and as a key work in the development of styles such as psychedelia and progressive rock. Among its many appearances on critics' best-album lists, Rolling Stone ranked it fifth on the magazine's 2012 list "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The album was certified 6× platinum by the RIAA in 1997, indicating shipments of at least six million copies in the US. In 2013, after the British Phonographic Industry changed its sales award rules, the album was certified platinum.



The Beatles at a press conference during their August 1965 North American tour, two months before the start of the Rubber Soul sessions

Most of the album's songs were composed soon after the Beatles' return to London after their North American tour.[4] The Beatles expanded their sound on the album, with influences drawn from African-American soul music, the contemporary folk rock of Bob Dylan and the Byrds,[5] and the Who.[6][nb 1] Rubber Soul also saw the band expanding rock and roll's instrumental resources, most notably on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" through George Harrison's use of the Indian sitar. Having been introduced to the instrument on the set of the band's 1965 film Help!, Harrison's interest was fuelled by fellow Indian music fans Roger McGuinn and David Crosby of the Byrds, partway through the Beatles' August 1965 US tour.[8]

Taking support from French and Greek-influenced modalities for guitar lines on "Michelle" and "Girl", using fuzz bass on "Think for Yourself", and employing a piano made to sound like a baroque harpsichord on the instrumental bridge of "In My Life" added to the exotic brushstrokes on the album.[1] During the sessions, the Beatles also made use of harmonium,[9][10] marking that instrument's introduction into rock music.[11] Lennon, McCartney and Harrison's three-part harmony singing was another musical detail that came to typify the Rubber Soul sound.[9][12] Author Andrew Grant Jackson describes Rubber Soul as a "synthesis of folk, rock, soul, baroque, proto-psychedelia, and the sitar".[13] According to The Encyclopedia of Country Music, building on the band's 1964 track "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", the album can be seen in retrospect as an early example of country rock, anticipating the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album.[14]

Ringo Starr had frequently augmented Beatles tracks with percussion instruments such as maracas or tambourine, but on "I'm Looking Through You" he unusually used taps on a box of matches, perhaps influenced by a similar trick accomplished by Gene Krupa in the 1941 film Ball of Fire.[citation needed] In the main guitar riff to "If I Needed Someone", the Beatles returned the compliment paid to them earlier in 1965 by the Byrds, whose jangly guitar-based sound McGuinn had sourced from Harrison's playing the previous year.[15] For the country-styled "What Goes On", Starr received his first songwriting credit (as Richard Starkey), as a co-composer with Lennon and McCartney.[16]


Lyrically, the album represents a major progression in the Beatles' work. Although a smattering of earlier Beatles songs had expressed romantic doubt and negativity, the songs on Rubber Soul represent a pronounced development in sophistication, thoughtfulness and ambiguity.[1] Author James Decker considers it significant that Rubber Soul "took its narrative cues more from folk crossovers such as Bob Dylan and the Byrds than from the Beatles' pop cohorts".[17] John Lennon was encouraged to address wider-ranging issues than before through Dylan's influence, and also after a discussion with BBC journalist Kenneth Allsop about whether, as in Lennon's 1965 book A Spaniard in the Works, his lyrics were conceived as merely "another form of nonsense rhyming".[18]

In particular, the relationships between the sexes moved from simpler boy-girl love songs to more nuanced and negative portrayals. "Norwegian Wood" sketches a failed relationship between the singer and a mysterious girl, where she goes to bed and he sleeps in the bath,[19] and songs like "I'm Looking Through You", "You Won't See Me" and "Girl" express more emotionally complex, bitter and downbeat portrayals of romance. Lennon's "In My Life" depicts nostalgic reverie for younger days, while "The Word" looks at love as an abstract term, arguably the first time a Lennon–McCartney song strayed from their usual 'boy/girl' notion of romantic love. Songs such as "Nowhere Man" and Harrison's "Think for Yourself" explored subject matter that had nothing to do with romance at all.[20]


Rubber Soul was a matter of having all experienced the recording studio, having grown musically as well, but [getting] the knowledge of the place, of the studio. We were more precise about making the album, that's all, and we took over the cover and everything.[21]

– John Lennon

Recording for Rubber Soul began on 12 October 1965, at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, with final production and mix down taking place on 15 November.[22] During the sessions, the Beatles typically focused on fine-tuning the musical arrangement for each song – an approach that reflected the growing division between the band as a live act and their ambitions as recording artists.[23] Produced by George Martin, the album was one of the first projects he undertook after leaving EMI's staff and co-founding Associated Independent Recording (AIR).[24] Martin later described Rubber Soul as "the first album to present a new, growing Beatles to the world",[25] adding: "For the first time we began to think of albums as art on their own, as complete entities."[26] This was the final Beatle album that recording engineer Norman Smith worked on before he was promoted by EMI to record producer.[27]

A Mason & Hamlin pump organ or harmonium. Along with sitar, fuzz bass and varispeed-treated piano, harmonium was one of the unusual sounds the band used for the first time during the Rubber Soul sessions.

While the band were forced to work to a tight deadline to ensure the album was completed in time for a pre-Christmas release,[28] they were also in the unfamiliar position of being able to dedicate themselves solely to a recording project, without the interruption of any touring, filming or radio engagements.[4] Lennon recalled that Rubber Soul was the first album on which the Beatles were in complete creative control, with enough studio time to develop and refine new sound ideas. Before the recording sessions, McCartney was given a new bass guitar, a solid-body Rickenbacker 4001, which produced a fuller sound than his hollow-body Hofner.[29] Harrison used a Fender Stratocaster for the first time, most notably in his lead guitar part on "Nowhere Man".[30] The variety in guitar tones throughout the album was also aided by Harrison and Lennon's use of capos, particularly in the high-register parts on "If I Needed Someone" and "Girl".[29]

The Beatles completed "Wait" for the album, having taped the song's rhythm track during the sessions for Help! in June 1965.[31] "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out" were also recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions, but issued separately on a non-album single.[32] To mimic the sound of a harpsichord on "In My Life", after Lennon had suggested he play something "like Bach", Martin recorded the piano solo with the tape running at half-speed. When played back at normal speed during the mixdown, the sped-up sound gave the illusion of a harpsichord.[33][34]

In 1995, Harrison said that Rubber Soul was his favourite Beatles album, adding: "we certainly knew we were making a good album. We did spend more time on it and tried new things. But the most important thing about it was that we were suddenly hearing sounds that we weren't able to hear before." Starr described it as "the departure record" and said that the music was informed by the band members "expanding in all areas of our lives, opening up to a lot of different attitudes".[28][35] While Martin recalled it as having been "a very joyful time",[36] Smith said the sessions revealed the first signs of artistic conflict between Lennon and McCartney.[37][nb 2]

Until very late in their career, the "primary" version of the Beatles' albums was always the monophonic mix. According to Beatles historian Bruce Spizer, Martin and the EMI engineers devoted most of their time and attention to the mono mixdowns, and generally regarded stereo as a gimmick. The band were not usually present for the stereo mixing sessions.[39]

North American format

In the United States, Capitol Records removed four tracks from the British LP's running order and set them aside for the Beatles' next North American album, Yesterday and Today. The four songs – "Drive My Car", "Nowhere Man", "What Goes On" and "If I Needed Someone" – were replaced with two tracks that had appeared on the UK Help! album, but not its US counterpart: "I've Just Seen a Face" and "It's Only Love".[40] The total time was 28:55, nearly seven minutes shorter than the British version.

Through the mix of predominantly acoustic-based songs from the two releases, according to author Kenneth Womack, Capitol's Rubber Soul "takes on a decidedly folk-ish orientation".[41] Capitol sequenced "I've Just Seen a Face" as the opening track, an act that Ian MacDonald cites as the record company "conspiring" to present Rubber Soul as a folk-rock album.[42][nb 3] Author Jonathan Gould writes that the omission of songs such as "Drive My Car" provided a "misleading idea" of the Beatles' musical direction and "turned the album title into an even more obscure joke", since the result was the band's least soul- or R&B-influenced album up to this point.[44] The stereo mixes used by Capitol contained two false starts at the beginning of "I'm Looking Through You",[41] while "The Word" also differed from the UK version due to the double-tracking of Lennon's lead vocal, the addition of an extra falsetto harmony and the panning treatment given to one of the percussion parts over the song's instrumental break.[nb 4]

Packaging and artwork

Rubber Soul was the group's first release not to feature their name on the cover,[45] an uncommon tactic in 1965. The "stretched" effect of the cover photo came about after photographer Bob Freeman had taken some pictures of the group wearing suede leather jackets at Lennon's house. Freeman showed the photos by projecting them onto an album-sized piece of cardboard to simulate how they would appear on an album cover. The unusual Rubber Soul album cover came to be when the slide card fell slightly backwards, elongating the projected image of the photograph and stretching it. Excited by the effect, they shouted, "Ah! Can we have that? Can you do it like that?", to which Freeman said he could.[46] The distinctive lettering was created by photographer Charles Front,[47] who recalled that his inspiration was the album's title: "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."[48] The rounded letters used on the sleeve established a style that became ubiquitous in psychedelic designs[47] and, according to The Guardian, "a staple of poster art for the flower power generation".[48]

McCartney conceived the album's title after overhearing a musician's description of Mick Jagger's singing style as "plastic soul". Lennon confirmed this in a 1970 interview, stating: "That was Paul's title ... meaning English soul. Just a pun."[49][21][nb 5]


People always wanted us to stay the same, but we can't stay in a rut. No one else expects to hit a peak at twenty-three, so why should we? Rubber Soul for me is the beginning of my adult life.[51]

– Paul McCartney

You don’t know us if you don’t know Rubber Soul.[51]

– John Lennon

Rubber Soul was issued on EMI's Parlophone label on 3 December 1965.[52] The "Day Tripper"/"We Can Work It Out" single was also released that day,[53] as the band's first double A-side single.[54] EMI announced that it had pressed 750,000 copies of the LP to cater to local demand.[55] Its advance orders of 500,000 almost equalled the total sales for the new single and were announced by the Daily Mirror's show business reporter as marking a new record for pre-release orders for an LP.[56] In the United States, Rubber Soul was the group's tenth album[57] and their first to consist entirely of original songs.[58] The release took place there on 6 December.[59]

On the day of the album's release, the Beatles performed at the Odeon Cinema in Glasgow,[55] marking the start of what would be their final UK tour.[60] In addition to the two songs from the new single, the group played the Rubber Soul tracks "If I Needed Someone" and "Nowhere Man" throughout the tour.[61] Exhausted from five years of almost non-stop touring, recording and film work, the band members subsequently took a three-month break during the first part of 1966, using this time to explore new directions that would inform their subsequent work, beginning with the album Revolver.

The Beatles performed at the Liverpool Empire during their UK tour in support of Rubber Soul. The shows there marked the group's final concerts in their hometown.

Rubber Soul was commercially successful, beginning a 42-week run on the UK albums chart on 12 December 1965.[62] The following week it replaced the Sound of Music soundtrack at the top of the chart,[63] where it remained for eight weeks in total.[62] On the national chart compiled by Melody Maker, Rubber Soul entered at number 1 and held the position for thirteen weeks; it remained in the top ten until mid July 1966.[64][nb 6]

In the United States, Rubber Soul topped the Billboard Top LP's chart on 8 January 1966,[66] having sold 1.2 million copies there within nine days of release.[67] These initial sales were unprecedented for an LP[68] and were cited by Billboard magazine as evidence of a new market trend in the US, whereby pop albums started to match the numbers of singles sold.[69] The album was number 1 for six weeks in total; it remained in the top twenty until the start of July, before leaving the top-200 listings in mid December.[70]

In America, Rubber Soul sold 1,800,376 copies by the end of 1965 and 2,766,862 by the close of the decade.[67] As of 1997, it had shipped over 6 million copies there.[71] In 2013, after the British Phonographic Industry altered its sales award protocol, the album was certified Platinum based on UK sales since 1994.[72]

Critical reception

Contemporary reviews

Critical response to Rubber Soul was highly favourable.[73] Allen Evans of the NME wrote that the band were "still finding different ways to make us enjoy listening to them" and described the LP as "a fine piece of recording artistry and adventure in group sound".[74][75] While outlining to American readers the differences in the UK-format release, KRLA Beat said Rubber Soul was an "unbelievably sensational" work on which the Beatles were "once again ... setting trends in this world of pop".[76] Newsweek's reviewer lauded the Beatles as "the Bards of Pop",[77] saying that the album's combination of "gospel, country, baroque counterpoint and even French popular ballads" lent the band a unique style in which their songs were "as brilliantly original as any written today".[78] Like Newsweek, The New York Times had belittled the group when they first performed in America in February 1964, but following the release of Rubber Soul, according to author Bob Spitz, entertainment critic Jack Gould offered a "glowing tribute" in the newspaper's Sunday magazine.[79][nb 7]

The writer of Record Mirror's initial review found the album lacking some of the variety of the group's previous releases but also said: "one marvels and wonders at the constant stream of melodic ingenuity stemming from the boys, both as performers and composers. Keeping up their pace of creativeness is quite fantastic."[82] By contrast, a week later, Richard Green wrote in the same magazine that most of the album "if recorded by anyone but the Beatles, would not be worthy of release", with many of the tracks devoid of "the old Beatles excitement and compulsiveness". Green acknowledged that his was an unpopular opinion, before concluding: "Judging LPs strictly on their merits, recent albums from Manfred Mann, the Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis rank high above Rubber Soul."[83]

In another review that Richard Williams later cited as an example of the British pop press not being "quite ready" for the album, Melody Maker found the Beatles' new sound "a little subdued" and said that tracks such as "You Won't See Me" and "Nowhere Man" "almost get monotonous – an un-Beatle-like feature if ever there was one".[84] Author Steve Turner also highlights the comments made by the Melody Maker and Record Mirror reviewers, who were typically aged over 30, as indicative of how UK pop journalists lacked "the critical vocabulary" and "the broad musical perspective" to recognise or engage with progressive music.[85] Turner adds that Rubber Soul "may have perplexed the old guard of entertainment correspondents, but it was a beacon for fledgling rock critics (as they would soon be called)".[68]

In a September 1966 review of Revolver, KRLA Beat said that the title of Rubber Soul had "become a standard phrase used to describe a creation of exceptional excellence in the field of music", such that several highly regarded releases had since earned the description "a 'Rubber Soul in its field'".[86] Writing in Esquire in 1967, Robert Christgau called it "an album that for innovation, tightness, and lyrical intelligence was about twice as good as anything they or anyone else (except maybe the Stones) had done previously".[87] He later wrote: "Rubber Soul smashed a lot of alienation. Without reneging on the group's masscult appeal, it reached into private lives and made hundreds of thousands of secretly lonely people feel as if someone out there shared their brightest insights and most depressing discoveries … Psychedelia starts here."[88]

Retrospective assessment

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
The A.V. Club A–[89]
Blender 5/5 stars[90]
Consequence of Sound A+[91]
The Daily Telegraph 5/5 stars[92]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[93]
MusicHound Rock 4/5[94]
Pitchfork 10/10[95]
Q 5/5 stars[96]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[97]

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph wrote in 2009: "this is where things start to get very interesting ... Rubber Soul is the result of their first extended period in the studio. The production is open and spacious, adorned but not yet overcrowded with new instruments and ideas. The songs themselves are like little Pop Art vignettes, where the lyrics are starting to match the quality of the melodies and arrangements."[98] Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork Media describes the album as "the most important artistic leap in the Beatles' career – the signpost that signaled a shift away from Beatlemania and the heavy demands of teen pop, toward more introspective, adult subject matter".[95] Writing in Paste, Mark Kemp says that the influence of Dylan and the Byrds seems overt at times but the album marks the start of the Beatles' peak in creativity and, in the context of 1965, presented "an unprecedented synthesis of elements from folk-rock and beyond".[99]

In an article coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the album's release, for The Guardian, author and musician Bob Stanley lamented that Rubber Soul was often overlooked in appraisals of the Beatles' recording career, whereas Revolver and The Beatles had each gained in stature. Stanley highlighted Rubber Soul as having been "a good 18 months ahead of its time" and "the first album of the rock era that sounded like an album".[100] Also writing in December 2015, in Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield especially admired the singing and the modern qualities of the female characters depicted in the lyrics. He said that the album was "way ahead of what anyone had done before" and, given the short period in which they had to record, he called it the Beatles' "accidental masterpiece".[101] Conversely, Jon Friedman of Esquire finds the work vastly overrated, with only the Lennon-dominated songs "Norwegian Wood", "Nowhere Man", "In My Life" and "Girl" worthy of praise, and he dismisses it as "dull" and "the Beatles' most inconsequential album".[102] Although he considers that McCartney "comes off third-string" to Lennon and Harrison, Plagenhoef defends the album's subtle mood; highlighting the influence of cannabis on the Beatles throughout 1965, he writes: "With its patient pace and languid tones, Rubber Soul is an altogether much more mellow record than anything the Beatles had done before, or would do again. It's a fitting product from a quartet just beginning to explore their inner selves on record."[95] In his review for Rough Guides, Chris Ingham highlights the musical arrangements, three-part harmonies and judicious use of new sounds, in addition to the band's improved musicianship and songwriting. He says that Rubber Soul usually trails the Beatles' next four albums in critics' assessments of their work, yet "it's undoubtedly their pre-acid, pre-antagonism masterpiece: beat music as high art".[103]

Influence and legacy

Development of popular music

According to David Howard, writing in his book Sonic Alchemy, "pop's stakes had been raised into the stratosphere" by Rubber Soul, resulting in a shift in focus from singles to creating albums without the usual filler tracks.[104] Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys described it as "the first album I listened to where every song was a gas" and planned his band's next project, Pet Sounds, as an attempt to surpass it.[105] The album similarly inspired Pete Townshend of the Who and the Kinks' Ray Davies,[106] as well as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who issued their first album of all-original material, Aftermath, in April 1966.[107] In addition to citing it as the precedent for early experimental works by bands including Love and Jefferson Airplane, James Decker writes that Rubber Soul presented "a variety of techniques hitherto unexplored in popular music" while encouraging listeners "to be cognizant of more flexible dimensions of pop music and to desire and expect them as well".[108][nb 8] Writing in 1968, Gene Sculatti of Jazz & Pop described it as "the necessary prototype that no major rock group has been able to ignore", as well as "the definitive 'rock as art' album, revolutionary in that it was a completely successful creative endeavor integrating with precision all aspects of the creative (rock) process".[112]

It was the most out-there music they'd ever made, but also their warmest, friendliest and most emotionally direct. As soon as it dropped in December 1965, Rubber Soul cut the story of pop music in half – we're all living in the future this album invented. Now as then, every pop artist wants to make a Rubber Soul of their own.[101]

Rob Sheffield, December 2015

Author and musicologist Walter Everett sees the album as a successful combination of "rich multipart vocals brimming with expressive dissonance treatment, a deep exploration of different guitars and the capos that produced different colors from familiar finger patterns, surprising new timbres and electronic effects, a more soulful pentatonic approach to vocal and instrumental melody tinged by frequent twelve-bar jams that accompanied the more serious recording, and a fairly consistent search for meaningful ideas in lyrics".[113] Everett credits several of these qualities, as on Revolver, as the inspiration for many progressive rock bands of the early 1970s.[114] Citing a quantitative study of tempos in music from the era, he also identifies Rubber Soul as a work that was "made more to be thought about than danced to", and an album that "began a far-reaching trend" in its slowing-down of the tempos typically used in pop and rock music.[115]

According to Jonathan Gould, Rubber Soul was the release that encouraged "legions of folk-music enthusiasts" to embrace pop,[44] while music journalist Mark Ellen credits it with having "sow[ed] the seeds of psychedelia".[116] Stevie Winwood, who formed the psychedelic rock band Traffic in 1967, sees Rubber Soul as the LP that "broke everything open", in that "It crossed music into a whole new dimension and was responsible for kicking off the sixties rock era."[117] Andrew Loog Oldham has described it as "the album that changed the musical world we lived in then to the one we still live in today".[116] While recognising the album as a key work in the development of pop music towards progressive rock, author Bill Martin said its release was a "turning point", in that for the first time "the album rather than the song became the basic unit of artistic production."[118]

Appearances on best-album lists and further recognition

Rubber Soul was voted fifth in Paul Gambaccini's 1978 book Critics' Choice: Top 200 Albums,[119] based on submissions from a panel of critics and broadcasters including Christgau, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh and Ed Ward.[120] In 1997 it was named the 39th greatest album of all time in the BBC's "Music of the Millennium" poll.[98][121] Since 2001, it has appeared in critics' best-album lists compiled by VH-1 (at number 6), Mojo (number 27) and Rolling Stone (number 5),[41] was among Time magazine's selection of the "All-Time 100 Albums",[122] and was favoured over Revolver in Chris Smith's book 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music.[123][124] In 2012, Rolling Stone again placed Rubber Soul at number 5 on the magazine's revised list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[5] It also appeared in the same publication's 2014 list of the "40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time", where the editors concluded: "You can say this represents 'maturity,' call it 'art' or credit it for moving rock away from singles to album-length statements – but regardless Rubber Soul accelerated popular music's creative arms race, driving competitors like the Stones, the Beach Boys and Dylan to dismantle expectations and create new ones."[125]

In 2000, Rubber Soul was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame,[126] an award bestowed by the American Recording Academy "to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old".[127] The album has been the subject of multi-artist tribute albums such as This Bird Has Flown and Rubber Folk.[41]

Compact disc reissues

Rubber Soul was released on compact disc on 30 April 1987, with the 14-song UK track line-up now the international standard. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the 14-track UK version of the album was issued on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. As with the Help! album, Rubber Soul featured a contemporary stereo digital remix of the album prepared by George Martin. Martin expressed concern to EMI over the original 1965 stereo remix, claiming it sounded "very woolly, and not at all what I thought should be a good issue". He went back to the original four-tracks tapes and remixed them for stereo.[128]

When the album was originally released on CD in Canada, pressings were imported from other countries and used the 1987 remix. However, when the Disque Améric and Cinram plants in Canada started pressing the album, the original 1965 stereo mix was used by mistake. This was the only source for the 1965 stereo mix in its entirety until the release of the Beatles mono box set in 2009.[129]

A newly remastered version of the album, again using the 1987 George Martin remix, was released worldwide with the reissue of the entire catalogue on 9 September 2009. The original 1965 stereo and mono mixes were reissued on that date as part of the mono box set.[130]

The Capitol version was relaunched twice, first in 2006, for the Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set, using original mixes of the Capitol 60's album, and in 2014, individually and on the box The U.S. Albums. This last release used mixes from 2009 remasters, except on "Michelle" (mono), "The Word" (stereo) and "I'm Looking Through You" (stereo), both using the original mix from the original Capitol album, because these mixes are different from the UK versions.

Track listing

Original UK release

All tracks written by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Drive My Car" McCartney with Lennon 2:25
2. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" Lennon 2:01
3. "You Won't See Me" McCartney 3:18
4. "Nowhere Man" Lennon 2:40
5. "Think for Yourself" (George Harrison) Harrison 2:16
6. "The Word" Lennon 2:41
7. "Michelle" McCartney 2:40
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "What Goes On" (Lennon–McCartney–Richard Starkey) Starr 2:47
2. "Girl" Lennon 2:30
3. "I'm Looking Through You" McCartney 2:23
4. "In My Life" Lennon 2:24
5. "Wait" Lennon and McCartney 2:12
6. "If I Needed Someone" (Harrison) Harrison 2:20
7. "Run for Your Life" Lennon 2:18

Original North American release

All tracks written by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "I've Just Seen a Face" McCartney 2:04
2. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" Lennon with McCartney 2:05
3. "You Won't See Me" McCartney 3:19
4. "Think for Yourself" (Harrison) Harrison 2:19
5. "The Word" Lennon 2:42
6. "Michelle" McCartney 2:42
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "It's Only Love" Lennon 1:53
2. "Girl" Lennon 2:33
3. "I'm Looking Through You" McCartney 2:24
4. "In My Life" Lennon 2:24
5. "Wait" Lennon and McCartney 2:15
6. "Run for Your Life" Lennon 2:15


According to Mark Lewisohn[131] and Ian MacDonald:[132]

The Beatles

Production and additional personnel


Chart (1965–66) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[133] 1
UK Record Retailer LPs Chart[134] 1
US Billboard Top LPs[135] 1
West German Musikmarkt LP Hit-Parade[136] 1
1987 reissue
Chart Position
Dutch MegaChart Albums[137] 53
UK Albums Chart[138] 60
2009 reissue
Chart Position
Australian ARIA Albums[139] 41
Austrian Ö3 Top 40 Longplay (Albums)[140] 53
Belgian Ultratop 200 Albums (Flanders)[141] 26
Belgian Ultratop 200 Albums (Walloonia)[142] 49
Danish Tracklisten Album Top-40[143] 31
Dutch MegaChart Albums[144] 87
Finnish Official Albums Chart[145] 17
Italian FIMI Albums Chart[146] 36
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart[147] 24
New Zealand RIANZ Albums[148] 25
Portuguese AFP Top 50 Albums[149] 14
Spanish PROMUSICAE Top 100 Albums[150] 59
Swedish Sverigetopplistan Albums Top 60[151] 17
Swiss Hitparade Albums Top 100[152] 51
UK Albums Chart[138] 10


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[153] 2× Platinum 120,000^
Australia (ARIA)[154] Platinum 70,000^
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[155] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[156] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Germany (BVMI)[157] Gold 250,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[158] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[159] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[71] 6× Platinum 6,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[72]


  1. ^ According to the book The 100 Greatest Bands of All Time, the Beatles were also inspired in part by the Beach Boys' album Today!, which was an early example of the album format being used to make a cohesive artistic statement.[7]
  2. ^ Smith also said that McCartney was frequently critical of Harrison's playing, foreshadowing a condescending attitude on McCartney's part that would lead to Starr temporarily leaving the band three years later.[38]
  3. ^ Rolling Stone magazine describes the Capitol version as "a folk-rock album more conceptually unified than the U.K. original – though shorter, and not as good".[43]
  4. ^ These anomalies appeared on every American stereo copy of the album until 1987. The 1965 American stereo and mono mixes were issued on compact disc in 2006 as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set.[41] In 2014, the Capitol edition of Rubber Soul was released on CD again, individually and included in the Beatles box set The U.S. Albums.
  5. ^ McCartney used a similar phrase – "Plastic soul, man, plastic soul ..." – after the Beatles had completed the first take of "I'm Down", as released on the 1996 compilation Anthology 2.[50]
  6. ^ Rubber Soul returned to the UK listings in May 1987. Among several chart appearances since then, the album peaked at number 10 in September 2009.[65]
  7. ^ The belated acceptance of the Beatles by Newsweek and Time magazine was indicative of those publications' recognition of the band's popularity among American intellectuals and the cultural elite.[80] This in turn was reflected in The Village Voice's appointment of Richard Goldstein, a recent graduate and New Journalism writer, to the new position of rock critic, and the Beatles' central role in achieving cultural legitimisation for pop music over 1966–67.[81]
  8. ^ Recalling its popularity in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where Jefferson Airplane were based,[109] journalist Charles Perry said: "You could party hop all night and hear nothing but Rubber Soul."[110] Perry also wrote that "More than ever the Beatles were the soundtrack of the Haight-Ashbury, Berkeley and the whole circuit", where pre-hippie students suspected that the album was inspired by drugs.[111]


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External links

  • Rubber Soul (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
  • Rubber Soul at Discogs (list of releases)
  • Beatles comments on each song
  • Recording data and notes on mono/stereo mixes and remixes
  • Discussion of Canadian CD copies that contain original LP mixes
  • List of annual U.S. net album sales
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