On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 – “Rubber Soul”, the sixth album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on December 8, 1965). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from June 17, October 12 – November 11, 1965. Recorded in just four weeks following their second world tour, the album is a major artistic milestone in The Beatles’ career, demonstrating yet another great leap forward in the bands’ material both musically and lyrically. The influence folk rock (particularly Bob Dylan and The Byrds) is apparent on several tracks. No singles are released from the album, but nearly every track becomes an airplay staple over the years including “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “Michelle”, “Drive My Car”, “In My Life” and “If I Needed Someone”. Needing additional material for the album, initially they intent to record a song that their recording engineer Norman Smith has written. Though it doesn’t come to pass, and they instead include the song “Wait”, originally recorded for the “Help!” soundtrack but left off of that album. The title “Rubber Soul” is a play on the term “plastic soul”, used by African-American musicians to describe Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger, or white musicians playing R&B and blues music. At the end of the first take of “I’m Down” on “The Beatles Anthology 2”, Paul McCartney is heard coining the phrase at its conclusion. The US version features a slightly altered track listing, removing the songs “Nowhere Man”, “What Goes On” (the first two are held back for single release in February of 1966), “Drive My Car”, and “If I Needed Someone” (first issued in the US on “Yesterday And Today” in June of 1966), with “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “It’s Only Love” (from the non-soundtrack side of “Help!”) being added. The albums’ iconic cover shot is taken by photographer Robert Freeman. He changes the original picture to its distinctive altered state after showing the band slides of the photo session projected on an LP sized piece of cardboard. When the cardboard falls backward it slightly distorts their faces into the now familiar image. After this happens, The Beatles all jump up enthusiastically and ask Freeman, “can we have it like that?”, and the photographer replies “yes, I can print it like that.”, thus creating one of the band’s most immediately recognizable and famous album covers. The stereo and mono versions of the album are remastered and reissued on CD in 2009, with the original UK releases being reissued on vinyl in 2012 (stereo) and 2014 (mono) respectively.
Regarded as a crowning achievement and major turning point in The Beatles’ career, the album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.
“Rubber Soul” tops the UK album chart, spending eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.