Thursday, 3 December 2015

Happy 50th Birthday Rubber Soul and My Generation

Happy 50th Birthday Rubber Soul and My Generation

Two great albums released on this day in 1965, it must have been a great time to be a teenager.
Listening to the Rubber Soul’s original mono mix on the 2014 reissue is a real treat, if you’ve only heard the 87 mix (from which all stereo CD’s & vinyl are sourced from) you are missing out. 

Over the past several years I’ve heard people remark that the US Rubber Soul is better than the UK version. Due to the fact that Capitol were late to the Beatles party and to wring some extra cash from the US fans by putting 12 tracks on a LP (rather than 14), the US Rubber Soul had four tracks removed and replaced by two from Help (I’ve Just Seen A Face & It’s Only Love) each one respectively opening side 1 & 2. Sonics, different mixes and false starts aside (all peculiarities of the US Stereo version) this sets a very different tone for the whole album that could be appealing to the folk rock crowd. 
Here’s someone making the case for the US version

 Whilst I respect his opinion, he is completely and utterly wrong.
The loss of “What Goes On” isn’t a deal breaker, however without “Drive My Car”, “If I Needed Someone” and “Nowhere Man” this album stops sounding like one of the greatest albums of all time and might even be considered a stop gap. Whilst the US version does tick all the boxes of “folk rock” and I’m sure it’s a great stoners album, without those three key tracks it begins to sound bland. That’s not to say it still contains some of the finest Beatles songs ever written, but the strength and legacy of the Fabs albums was always their diversity and contrast. Whilst it’s fun and often educational to hear tracks out of sequence, part of the genius of these albums is the way tracks set up the next one. I would argue “I’ve just seen a face” undermines “Norwegian Wood” rather than setting it up. 

A similar though less dramatic fate occurred with the US version of My Generation, renamed “The Who sings My Generation” released by US Decca in Stereo & Mono  (and on 8 track cartridge too) with the omission of “I’m A Man” (apparently considered to risqué for the American audience), swapping “The Ox” with “Legal Matter” and closing side two with “Instant Party”. Whilst it’s difficult to make a case for what is a fine cover against a stonking good Townshend original, the UK sequencing makes it sound like a far superior album. 

Both Rubber Soul & My Generation are currently available in mono on vinyl and both these reissues are highly recommended. 

For downloaders My Generation is available in mono, there is also a stereo version that whilst is not as kick ass, it is superior to the 2002 CD reissue in that it has all the overdub parts that were on the original ( for more on this see )

Sadly digital listeners have a tougher ride with Rubber Soul, all of the CD’s & downloads are sourced from the 87 remix, which whilst it’s better than the Help remix of the same time, it’s still a pale version of the originals. The only option are the 2009 mono CD boxset (but beware as there are quite a few fakes of this about) which contains the original Mono & Stereo mixes. Although there is a rare Canadian CD issue that contains the original stereo mix.

If you want to hear the original Capitol versions on CD then you need the original Capitol Boxsets (2004 & 2006) as the current US re-issues are sourced from the 2009 re-masters so you would be better off re-sequencing  your own tracks from the comfort of a warm playlist. 

1965, what a year, I wish I’d been there.

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