A Beatles Engineer Said There Was ‘Almost No Buzz’ About ‘Rubber Soul’ at Abbey Road Studios: ‘Not Particularly Noteworthy’

According to a Beatles engineer, nobody in the studio was all that excited about “Rubber Soul.” Here’s why they didn’t think it was noteworthy.

album, Rubber Soul, in 1965. It was a more mature album that showcased their improving lyricism. Despite this, few people who worked on the album had high hopes for it. According to Beatles audio engineer Geoff Emerick, there was very little excitement around the studio when they were recording it.

An engineer for The Beatles said no one seemed to like ‘Rubber Soul’ very much

Emerick worked closely with The Beatles for years, but he had little to do with Help! or Rubber Soul. Still, he heard all the studio gossip about both albums. He said people excitedly discussed Help! but didn’t share the same enthusiasm for Rubber Soul.

“I didn’t hear the Help! album in its entirety until after going to see the film, though I do remember Norman [Smith] talking about it enthusiastically in the canteen, especially Paul’s ballad ‘Yesterday,’ which he raved about,” Emerick wrote in his book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. “In contrast, there was almost no buzz in the Abbey Road corridors about Rubber Soul.”

Emerick noted that nobody hated the album, they just didn’t think it was The Beatles at their best.

“Though everyone agreed it had quite a few good songs and a crisp, clean sound, the general feeling among some of the staff that were working on it was that it was a pleasant diversion into the realm of folk and country music (Lennon and Harrison especially were heavily into Bob Dylan at this time) but not particularly noteworthy.”

John Lennon thought ‘Rubber Soul’ was a transformative album for The Beatles

Despite what people might have whispered at the canteen, The Beatles themselves thought Rubber Soul was a good album. John Lennon believed it was an important step forward for the band. They were beginning to take their lyrics more seriously and experiment with style.

“We were getting better, technically and musically,” he said, per The Beatles Anthology. “We finally took over the studio. In the early days, we had to take what we were given; we had to make it in two hours, and one or three takes was enough and we didn’t know how you could get more bass — we were learning the techniques. Then we got contemporary. I think Rubber Soul was about when it started happening.”

He believed the album represented the band coming into their own as musicians.

“Everything I, any of us, do is influenced, but it began to take its own form,” he said. “Rubber Soul was a matter of having all experienced the recording studio; having grown musically as well, but [getting] the knowledge of the place, of the studio. We were more precise about making the album, that’s all, and we took over the cover and everything.”

George Harrison was a big fan of ‘Rubber Soul’

George Harrison also enjoyed the band’s work on Rubber Soul. For him, perhaps more than any of the others, it showcased his artistic growth. Harrison began writing songs in earnest for the album; on previous albums, Lennon and Paul McCartney were the primary songwriters. Harrison contributed “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone.”

He also began playing the sitar on the album, adding more of his flair to their songs. When reflecting on Rubber Soul, Harrison ranked it as his favorite Beatles album.

“Rubber Soul was my favorite album, even at that time,” Harrison said in the 1990s, per American Songwriter. “I think that it was the best one we made; we certainly knew we were making a good album. We did spend a bit more time on it and tried new things.”

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