Monday, 22 December 2014

Album covers: Rubber Soul


Rubber Soul - Robert Freeman
Robert Freeman wanted a picture from a different angle and with a new colour tonality. He searched for a combination of brown, black and green, to get a monochrome effect. To that end, the four guys, wearing suede jackets, were placed in front of a rhododendron bush. Freeman remembers that the photograph was taken in the garden of John’s ‘Kenwood’ house in Weybridge. Mark Lewisohn and Piet Schreuder state that, it happened in deep in the woods beyond Bolder Mere Lakle, near the disused Wisley Airfield, in Old Lane, Hatchford End near Cobham. In that case, John’s house might have been the meeting point that autumn afternoon, because it was, as Freeman remembers, "a central point for three of them. Paul drove from London".

Uncropped photo
A few days later, the Beatles came together in the apartment of a friend, to chose the right picture. Robert Freeman projected a couple of slides on a album-sized piece of white cardboard. Suddenly the carton started to slide away and the distorted projection showed elongated faces. They liked the result and asked Robert if it was possible to print the photo in that way. Which he could.

Freeman himself is not really satisfied with the result. He thinks that the budget EMI gave him, was insufficient. In one of his picture books he later printed the same picture in sepia-tones. (See also p. 196 of The Beatles Anthology book). That’s more like the result he was looking after. It mirrored the changing shapes in their lives.

This is how Rubber Soul was presented in one of Robert Freeman's books.
The title is a wordplay on "Plastic Soul". It was the expression that black musicians were using to describe The Rolling Stones. On Anthology 2, you can hear Paul shout: "Plastic soul, man, plastic soul." after the recording of take 1 of ‘I'm Down’.

The four faces on the cover are recognizable enough not to need a groups name on the album. Another first.

The Italian LP changed the "Rubber Soul" letters.
For the back sleeve, eight more rectangular black-and-white pictures by Robert Freeman are used. Two of every Beatle.

Rubber Soul back cover - Robert Freeman
This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer and you can find it in it's older incarnation here.

Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.


Mr. Paul said...

Fantastic series Roger!

Anonymous said...

No name on the album cover. Once again a Beatle first that has gone down in history among our hard-working friends in music journalism and their readers.

Except that The Rolling Stones and their manager successfully persuaded their record company that such had been the success of their introductory press hype that nobody of newspaper-reading age could fail to recognise their image.

Thus their 1964 eponymous debut features only the name of their record company.

Now that wasn't too difficult a research task, was it Philip Norman, Paul Du Noyer, Q, Mojo, Uncut, NME et al?

Andrew Roodgers said...

Were there any other outtakes published from the front cover session (other than the cropped one which isn't really as such). Surely there must be lots of alternate shots around somewhere... Never seen any myself. It just appears to be the only Beatles cover with no outtakes that have surfaced

Jon Oye said...

Actually, Bing Crosby was the first artist to release an LP that did not have his name on the front cover, back in 1956: Songs I Wish I Had Sung... the First Time Around.