My two favorite Beatles albums came out in successive years, and are successive albums, at least in the United Kingdom and the rest of civilised world. In North America, the record executives managed to squeeze out another album in between. George Harrison once said, “I don’t see too much difference between Revolver and Rubber Soul. To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two.” Paul McCartney has also blended the albums together in interviews. Here are the listings; there are also links to every song.
The title Rubber Soul is a variation on the term plastic soul, a term referring to white musicians singing soul music. Paul McCartney, in a studio conversation recorded in June 1965 after recording a take of “I’m Down”, the B-side of the single “Help!”, said “Plastic soul, man. Plastic soul.”
The italicized songs are those from the second half of the UK Help! album that show up on the US RS album. The songs marked in red were removed from the UK versions and put on the US-only album, Yesterday…and Today.
1 UK Drive My Car
1 US I’ve Just Seen a Face
2 UK & US Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3 UK & US You Won’t See Me
4 UK Nowhere Man
5 UK, 4 US Think for Yourself
6 UK, 5 US The Word
7 UK, 6 US Michelle
At least they added a Lennon and a McCartney song (It’s Only Love, I’ve Just Seen a Face) as they dropped songs by John (Nowhere Man), Paul (Drive My Car), George (If I Needed Someone) and Ringo (What Goes On).
The cover illustration for Revolver was created by bassist and artist Klaus Voormann, an old Beatles’ friend from their days at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Voorman played on albums for each of the Beatles on their solo albums, save for Paul.
When it came to Revolver, the music, it was quite the lopsided edit:
John’s only represented twice on the US version, because three of his songs on the UK version also were dropped. Robert Rodriguez, who wrote a 2012 book on Revolver explains: “Capitol needed three more songs to flesh out Yesterday and Today, and he had the most songs finished by then.” George had three songs (Taxman, Love You To, I Want To Tell You) on both versions of Revolver.
The GOOD news is that, from this point, the albums released in UK were the same in the US, starting with Sgt. Pepper. Not incidentally, on the Rolling Stone magazine list of the 500 greatest albums, Sgt. Pepper was #1, with Revolver at #3 and Rubber Soul at #5. I tend to disagree. While Sgt. Pepper was clearly a breakthrough album, it sounds more dated, of its time, to me, than either Revolver or Rubber Soul.