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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nowhere Man

Parlophone continued its practice of releasing tracks that were seven months old with the arrival of this collection on July 8th, 1966.  The difference this time was that the Beatles were now developing rapidly in their songwriting and their use of the studio, making these songs sound almost out of date when compared to the previous month's single Paperback Writer b/w Rain.

SIDE ONE

Nowhere Man
Drive My Car

SIDE TWO

Michelle
You Won't See Me

The photograph on the front cover was relatively new, having been taken during the making of a promotional film for Rain.  The back cover gave the same details about the songs that had originally appeared on the Rubber Soul LP.  In addition, it listed some "swinging" EPs by the group that fans might also enjoy, but only the six most recent ones.  Even record company executives seemed to be sensing that the older material was already being regarded as quaint as the Beatles and their fans started to mature.

Lennon's Nowhere Man had recently been a single in the US and peaked at number three on the Billboard chart.  Though buoyed by some beautiful three-part harmonies from John, Paul and George and a chiming guitar solo by George, the song still comes across as a bit depressing due to its subject matter and the downward spiral of its melodic line.  Only in the bridges does the tune manage to soar.  McCartney's ultra cool Drive My Car perks up the proceedings.  Paul and John share the lead vocal as Paul's bass and George's lead guitar drive the song forward relentlessly.

Both songs on side two are McCartney compositions, beginning with the sentimental ballad Michelle.  Though this was one of those love-it-or-hate-it numbers for some fans, its overall popularity could not be denied.  The disc ends with You Won't See Me, a lesser-known tune which I have always loved.  It was a last-minute effort for Rubber Soul, though it is done with such superb craftsmanship that one would never suspect that to be the case.

The US chart performance of the title track was apparently no fluke, as this EP only managed to hit number four on the Record Retailer chart.  Whether that played a part in the decision or not, Parlophone discontinued issuing EPs by the group following this release.  It took the Beatles themselves to revive the format for their double EP Magical Mystery Tour (which I have already covered in an earlier entry) at the end of 1967.

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