Mirwood Records is remembered primarily as a soul label but it was launched as a full-scale record company that covered all the bases. Its founder, Randall Wood, had run Vee-Jay Records at the time when their deal to release the early Beatles Parlophone singles in the US has had hit gold in 1964. So it should really come as no surprise that he would use at least one of his fledgling label’s albums for a release dedicated to the Beatles’ latest LP. Mirwood didn’t skimp on quality when it came to this sort of release (check out our previous BGP Sound Library release by the James Bond Sextet’s “The James Bond Songbook” for some of the highest quality jazz) and RUBBER SOUL JAZZ is a fine album.
It’s worth noting at this point that the 12 tracks featured here are not quite what Beatles’ fans around the world would recognise as “Rubber Soul”. By the time the Beatles sixth studio album arrived in the UK in November 1965, through judicious use of slightly less tracks per album and non album single tracks the US public had been presented with ten Beatles albums (plus a variety of cash-ins such as Vee-Jay’s “Jolly What! The Beatles With Frank Ifield” and MGM’s issue of there pre-fame Hamburg recordings). So the US version of the album contains only twelve tracks as opposed to 14 and two of the tracks, I’ve Just Seen A Face and It’s Only Love, were from the UK album of “Help”. Omissions include such crucial Beatle moments as Nowhere Man and Drive My Car.
The session for “Rubber Soul Jazz” was presided over by Marshall Lieb, who was a member of the Teddy Bears, along with Carol Connors and Phil Spector, when they scored their number one single To Know Him Is To Love Him (incidentally Carol Connors was also signed to the Mirwood group of labels). His arranger for the session was pianist Don Randi, who would court controversy later in the 60s when his release of Lalo Schifrin’s Theme From Che was boycotted by Cuban Americans who threatened to picket the Capitol Tower in Hollywood.
David Hassinger manned the recording desk and got the incredibly good sound that is featured here. The musicians’ line-up is amazing, featuring, amongst others, Hal Blaine, Julius Wechtor, James Burton, Gary Coleman, Hal Gordon and Randi himself. Their reading of the material is a confident run-through some of the most familiar tunes of that time, but tunes that often fell flat when tackled without vocals. Randi’s clever arrangements manage to keep up a high level of interest from start to finish. The Music Company may have been invented just for this album, but all the same it worked a treat.