Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 50 Albums of All Time, #28 - "Rubber Soul"

No, I haven't forgotten this little project.

I was all set to bore you with my tale of how I came to get into the Beatles, but suffice to say it happened when I was in the 4th grade, and a lot of it had to do with the Beatles' cartoon show that used to be on TV.  Anyone else remember the skeletons dancing to "I'm Looking Through You?"

In the end, I thought it would be more interesting to write about why "Rubber Soul" has dropped in my estimation in the years that I've been listening to it.  Now, mind you - obviously I still think it is a great album, but for many years I would have said it was my favorite Beatles album.  As you'll find out as we wind our way through the remainder of the list, that is no longer the case.  So why would that be?

Well, it's simple - and this may be a confession, because I doubt there are many Beatles fans who feel this way - I actually prefer the American release of the album to the official, uncut version originally released in the U.K. (and released in the States when the albums were released on CD in 1987).

Let's compare the track listing:

American Release: I've Just Seen a Face/Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)/You Won't See Me/Think for Yourself/The Word/Michelle/It's Only Love/Girl/I'm Looking Through You/In My Life/Wait/Run For Your Life

U.K. Release: Drive My Car/Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)/You Won't See Me/Nowhere Man/Think for Yourself/The Word/Michelle/What Goes On/Girl/I'm Looking Through You/In My Life/Wait/If I Needed Someone/Run for Your Life

It would seem to stand to reason that more Beatles would translate into more greatness, right?  Well, not in this case, in my view.  Perhaps because I owned "Yesterday and Today," which I freely admit was a scam designed by Capitol Records to squeeze a few more dollars out of the pockets of American Beatles fans (but a great album in its own right, I would also argue), well before I owned "Rubber Soul," the songs "Nowhere Man," "Drive My Car," "What Goes On" and "If I Needed Someone" have always sounded way out of place on "Rubber Soul."  And when I first bought the UK version, some of my first questions were, "Where's "I've Just Seen A Face?"  Where's "It's Only Love?"

Hey, it is what it is - ripoff or not, I honestly think the American release of "Rubber Soul" is a better album than the original U.K. version, which means that this is a composite rating.  If we were talking only about the American version, it would be in the Top Ten.  U.K. version?  Probably in the low 40s.

But either way, one should not lose sight of the fact that during this period (roughly, the period between "A Hard Day's Night" and "Sgt. Pepper"), the Beatles were creating remarkable, historic work.  Quibbling about song sequencing may be overkill.  But this is my story, and I'm sticking to it.


le0pard13 said...
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le0pard13 said...

That's a great case for the American release, Jeff. I, at one time, had that "Yesterday and Today" album (no, not the 'butcher' cover). Wouldn't mind finding that LP again.

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

"Drive My Car" pushes the UK version over for me. But I can't be trusted ... I don't think they ever made a better album than Hard Day's Night, and think they went downhill after Rubber Soul. (Of course, Beatles going downhill is still better than most anyone else's mountaintop.)