An amazing picture of The Beatles has just surfaced which appears to be the photo taken by Robert Freeman that was used for the Rubber Soul album cover.
The picture is uncropped and undistorted, and has never been published. In the various books showcasing Freeman's photographs of the Beatles, there have never been any pictures showing any shots that were taken at John Lennon's home for the Rubber Soul cover, so most Beatles fans assumed the pictures had been forever lost since Freeman didn't seem to have them, or at least wasn't including them in any books. This picture, if it is the real thing and not a really good forgery, is a shot that many fans have always wanted to see. Its interesting to see that it must have been very cold that day as you see Paul's hands inside his shirt sleeves.
As for the cover, and why it was distorted, the story goes that the Beatles were reviewing some of the pictures Freeman had taken as slide projections on a piece of cardboard cut out to be the size of an album cover, when the piece of cardboard slipped slightly, and created a distorted and stretched image that the Beatles really liked. Presumably, it must have looking something like this:
The distorted image works well as it allows all 4 faces to fit very close together on the album cover:
One interesting thing to note about the Rubber Soul cover is that "Beatles" does not appear on the cover. This is likely one of the first times a record was released where the name of the group didn't even have to appear on the cover since the band was so immediately recognizable.
At this point, nobody seems to know the source of the photo, which is why there is a slight bit of question as to whether it is authentic, or whether it might be a really good forgery. Here's hoping whoever released this photo has a few other shots from that photo session!