Here are a trio of The Beatles albums from the 1964-65 era reviewed together, ‘Beatles For Sale’, ‘Help!’ and ‘Rubber Soul’.
Written by: Explorer
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A quick note to say that these reviews are based on the UK versions of the albums, which in the early days varied considerably between different countries.
The Beatles – 1964 Beatles For Sale
An album that sees the band returning to including cover versions as well as a plethora of their own wonderful original material but I believe overall suffers somewhat from the choices of covers which gives the album a ‘Stop/Start’ sort of feeling.
There are of course some classics here, there’s ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’, which shows McCartney off in all his glory, and the sublime ‘Eight Days A Week’ with its hand firmly on the Power Pop driving wheel. This was the band’s fourth album release in just 21 months and coupled with the intensive touring schedule they were undertaking as well, it’s hardly surprising that the quality would at times suffer slightly.
It’s also generally seen as a more downbeat release as opposed to the happy, upbeat releases prior to this, which could have been down to them feeling jaded, but it’s also worth noting that this is the first sign of a more introspective, personal approach from the band, notably in Lennon’s ‘I’m A Loser’ and ‘No Reply’.
I see this as an album of the band treading water somewhat, not a bad album in any way, but I find it a more difficult listen due to, as I said previously the choice of cover versions.
The Beatles – 1965 Help!
The soundtrack (of sorts) to the Beatles second film was released in August 1965, and sees them getting back on track. Aside from covers of ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ and ‘Act Naturally’ it’s all original compositions again. The title song is, after all these years still an absolute joy, and ‘Ticket To Ride’ displays a more mature approach that was starting to develop within their songwriting.
I can’t review this album without mentioning McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’, which came to him in a dream of all things, and is I believe still the most covered song of all time and love it or loath it, has stood the test of time. Again with most (if not) all of their albums there are still some classics that I’ve not even mentioned yet. Just thinking of the likes of ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and ‘You’re Going To Lose That Girl’ both songs that are so simple in their execution, yet so devastatingly brilliant.
The film itself was another joyous romp, and for a lot of people, myself included getting to see the band in glorious colour for the first time, back then it was Black and White TV’s folks, so the chance to see them on the big screen and in colour was breathtaking, and it’s hard to get across to people who weren’t around at the time the impact that The Beatles had on society as a whole.
The Beatles – 1965 Rubber Soul
This album sees the band, quite incredibly move up yet another few gears. The sophistication that had started to develop on ‘Help!’ really began to blossom. With the likes of ‘Norwegian Wood’ and the first appearance of the Sitar as an instrument within it raising some eyebrows, the introspectiveness of ‘Nowhere Man’ the gorgeous ‘Michelle’, and one of my all-time favourite Beatles songs, the reflective ‘In My Life’ which were all hints of what was to come.
There are of course, still lingering signs of the loveable Mop tops of the earlier albums, there’s ‘You Won’t See Me’ and the country-tinged ‘What Goes On’ which sees Ringo getting a rare co-writing credit as well as performing lead vocals. ‘Rubber Soul’ was seen, particularly in America as the start of the bands psychedelic period, with The Beach Boys Brian Wilson so taken with the album he decided he was going to try and outdo it with his own ‘Pet Sounds’ opus.
Suffice to say though that ‘Rubber Soul’ was the first album that the band really started to experiment with different sounds and with a more nuanced approach when in the studio. Their touring days were coming to an end, with the band tiring of it all and the feeling that the music was getting lost amidst all the screaming. In retrospect, this album can be seen as their transitional record, leaving behind the innocence of their early works and embracing, although not fully just yet the more adult themes within their music.