For the first time in their career, The Beatles had a focused period simply for creating an album; a month of dedicated recording. The resulting Rubber Soul is subtly more expansive and more sophisticated – the prominent piano solo of ‘In My Life’ and the sitar in ‘Norwegian Wood’ are indicative of more attention to sonic detailing as the group break away from the four piece arrangements of their early albums. The lyrics are also more nuanced and sophisticated, influenced by contemporary songwriters like Bob Dylan and Gene Clark.
The Beatles’ quality control keeps getting better as well; this is the first Beatles’ album where every song is thought out and memorable – as much as I don’t like McCartney’s saccharine ‘Michelle’, it’s still a fully fledged song. McCartney provides the propulsive opener ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘I’m Looking Through You’, ‘If You Needed Someone’ is an excellent Harrison contribution, while Lennon’s efforts include the cryptic ‘Norwegian Wood’ and the beautiful ‘In My Life’.
Rubber Soul was an epochal album, inspiring the other leading acts of the mid 1960s like The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan to aim for album long masterpieces.