Today I thought I’d do a bit of an essential post for a Beatles blog; my list of what I think are the most underrated Beatles songs! Many people who know me (either in real life or online) will know that my favourite Beatles songs are the slightly less known ones. (And yes, I do realise that’s a very hipster-ish thing to say. I don’t mean it that way.) And I chose the number nine ‘cos, well… And as with the post I did on my favourite Beatles songs nearly seven months ago, this is only a small selection of my opinion. And it’s only my opinion. But alas, here is the list, in no particular order!
‘I Call Your Name’ (Long Tall Sally/Past Masters — 1964)
This song was only released on a now relatively obscure EP, which saddens me. (Apparently it was kept from A Hard Day’s Night because it sounded too similar to ‘You Can’t Do That’. Which I also love.) It’s such a rockin’ little groover that’s too often not recognised. I especially love the rhythm guitar (it’s almost a kind of ska beat! John really was a genius…), that riff that kicks off the song and John’s vocals. I feel it kind of shows the direction in which The Beatles were headed (i.e. slightly harder rock than, say, the poppy Merseybeat of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’), and I find it a really good song to rock out to. Ahh, the joys of being a Beatles fanatic…you get to know really awesome songs like this! (The Mamas and Papas also did a fine cover of this song, which I really like.)
‘Yes It Is’ (B-side to ‘Ticket To Ride’/Past Masters — 1965)
Gosh, those harmonies! As much as I love the ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ B-side ‘This Boy’ which is somewhat similar (John claimed in 1980 that the former was meant to be a rewrite of the latter), I prefer ‘Yes It Is’. (And ‘This Boy’ isn’t actually all that underrated compared to other Beatles songs, which defeats the point of this list.) There are some quite interesting chord progressions (especially near the end), and I also especially love that volume pedal that George is using on his guitar — ‘Yes It Is’ (and ‘I Need You’, from Help!) were two of the first examples of pedal usage, in fact! But those gorgeous John/Paul/George harmonies always take the cake, for me — those three could sing like angels!
‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (The Beatles — a.k.a. The White Album — 1968)
Okay, so I admit this song is far from underrated within the Beatlemaniac community, but the general public are somewhat deprived of this masterpiece. As someone online once pointed out, it’s a cult classic. So we shall refer to it as that. But anyway, this song is an utter masterpiece. To quote some YouTube comment contributor, the structure covers the history of rock’n’roll, to an extent. John’s vocal range is on full show, here, with him reaching from a G2 to a C5. And we all know about my great love of the guitar solo at 0:44! The time signatures are absolutely incredible, also — especially for someone with no formal musical training. I got Hunter Davies’ new book for Christmas, and the manuscript of this song has the times written next to the appropriate lyrics; I found this particularly interesting. Something that makes this song even more interesting, though, is the rumour that Jim Morrison supposedly met John at Abbey Road during the recording of this song, and sang on the ‘Mother Superior jumped the gun…’ bit. I’m not sure as to whether there is any truth to this rumour, but it would be very cool if there was…
‘Long, Long, Long’ (see above)
Buried deep in The White Album — just after the cacophonic, proto-metal ‘Helter Skelter’ and ending Side 3, if you’re listening on vinyl — ‘Long, Long, Long’ isn’t all that well-known. I think it’s beautiful. From the gentle strum of the guitar to the slightly weird (in a very, very good way!) ending, I declare it one of my fave White Album tunes. I reckon George is one of the most underrated songwriters of all time.
‘Old Brown Shoe’ (B-side to ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’/Past Masters — 1969)
As with ‘I Call Your Name’, it almost seems that nearly nobody knows this song. Many fanatic Beatlemaniacs know it, but you really can’t have been a casual fan to have heard it. Or is that so? Whilst I was still being introduced to The Beatles via a friend way before I even owned an album, she discovered this song on The Blue Album, so I suspect it might have been one of the first Fab songs I heard. But then, I only listened to it properly in July and had basically no recollection of it, so… But anyway, this is another George composition. A flat out rocker. That bassline must be one of the best in rock history (George played it, believe it or not), and that solo is stellar. The lyrics are quite interesting as well.
‘For You Blue’ (Let It Be — 1969/1970)
A groovy twelve-bar originating from the ill-fated Get Back Sessions, and yes, it’s written by George. The lyrics aren’t mind blowing but George sings them really well (the switching between normal singing and falsetto!). And I really, really love that slide solo done by John. A fun one to strum out to on guitar (and to jam over, as well).
‘The Night Before’ (Help! — 1965)
I still remember the first time I heard this. November 2013, the night after receiving the Help! DVD my mum had ordered. I remember dancing rather madly to it whilst trying to watch the screen. (Help! is my favourite Beatles film, by the way.) A week or so later, we had a fair at my school with a karaoke station. Guess what song I did? And that night, we bought my first collection of vinyls — The Beatles Box. I listened to Disc 3, Side 2 as soon as we got home, just so I could hear this song. One of Paul’s fine compositions, I think. I especially love John’s rockin’ electric piano (which I can play!) and the vocals — from all parties. Not to mention that I love the Salisbury Plains scene in the film mentioned above…
‘She’s A Woman’ (B-side to ‘I Feel Fine’/Past Masters — 1964)
Another B-side. Another amazing song. Okay, the lyrics are rubbish, but check out that rhythm guitar! It’s almost overdriven…and that rhythm (x2x4) is seriously cool. Not to mention Paul’s “Little Richard” vocals…!
‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ (Abbey Road)
As with ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ is a cult classic in that it is not completely unknown but it’s popularity pales in comparison to that of, say, ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Let It Be’. (I will safely assume that this song would have been much like those mega-hit Beatles tunes if it had been released as a single.) ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ is could also be called Paul’s ‘Happiness Is…’ whilst referring to the fact that it, too, is made up of different sections (the almost-classical piano “concerto”, the boogie-woogie doo-wop, the heavier guitar solo/’one sweet dream’ and the ending guitar motif/’One, two, three, four, five, six, seven’). My favourite of these is definitely the guitar solo at 2:10, plus the ‘One sweet dream’ part it leads into. This song marks the beginning of the ‘Abbey Road Medley’ quite fittingly, as the song itself is almost a medley within itself.
And that’s my post for tonight! What do you think are The Beatles’ most underrated tunes? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments. Oh, and today is the last day of 2014 for me, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year and all the best for 2015. Good day sunshine for now! 🙂