Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Beatles' Help! and Rubber Soul- 45 years later

The Beatles - Help!
The Beatles
Rating: ****

Note: My entry is late since this album was released on August 6, 1965. Still, I had to do this before I reviewed Rubber Soul.

By the end of 1964, the Beatles had achieved enormous success and were the most popular band in the world at that point in time. With four albums and a motion picture under their belts, the Beatles were on a roll. In 1965, the band were ready to go and film their second motion picture Eight Arms to Hold You. However, that title was quickly changed to Help! The movie featured seven new songs by the boys. The movie itself was wacky. In this movie, the Beatles are on the run from a religious cult who want one of Ringo's rings, which happens to be a sacrificial ring. The songs in the movie and on the album are wonderful. First off, you got the self-titled track which is very catchy. In the Anthology doc, all the surviving Beatles think that John wrote the songs out of paranoia. "The Night Before" is a nice song from Paul while "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is simply beautiful. John's voice blends in with the accoustic guitars nicely. George even gets to sing two songs, "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much". Of them, "I Need You" is the better one. "Another Girl" is a nice little song while "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" is just amazing. John's raspy and soulful vocals lead this song. Ringo's bongo playing makes the song even better. "Ticket to Ride" is another hit off the album, which is too catchy that it's infectious. Ringo takes vocals on the Buck Owens classic "Act Naturally". "Tell Me What You See" and "I've Just Seen A Face" are brilliant pop songs. Paul steals the show with the ballad "Yesterday". The album closes a bit weakly with a cover of "Dizzy Miss Lizzie". Overall, Help! is a wonderful album. Of my Top 200 albums, it ranks at #79.

The Beatles - Rubber Soul
The Beatles
Rubber Soul
Rating: **** 1/2

Released on December 3, 1965 Rubber Soul marks the beginning of the band's maturity in songwriting. While the songs were still pop and catchy, the songs have more meaning than the band's previous material and sounds as if the band were given a little artistic freedom. The album kicks off with "Drive My Car", a catchy Paul written song. "Norwegian Bird" is a major highlight on the album as it features George playing the sitar, which George had started getting into during the filming of Help! "You Won't See Me" feels like filler but is still great. John writes some of the album's strongest songs such as "Nowhere Man" and "Girl". The best of them, however, has to be "In My Life" which is a beautifully written song. The song is very moving and emotional: little did John know, he would be dead within the next 15 years. Paul writes some nice songs on here such as the ballad "Michelle". "I'm Looking Through You" is said to have been written about Paul's girlfriend Jane Asher. Paul showed his love for her in "And I Love Her". Some fans and critics believe in this song, Paul was wondering if Asher had changed from the person he loved (as fate had it, Paul and Jane split in 1968 and Paul ended up marrying Linda Eastman in 1969). George gets better with his song writing on two songs: "Think For Yourself" and "If I Need Someone". Ringo even gets some input on the album but instead of singing a Lennon/McCartney song or a cover, he sings "What Goes On" which is credited to Lennon/McCartney/Starkey. Overall, Rubber Soul is a pop-rock masterpiece. In my top 200, it ranks at #45.

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