By “underrated” I mean they should be considered along with the more famous classics, and I think if any of these had been released as singles, they would be.
I didn’t count any song that had been on a Greatest Hits collection, although two of these songs were featured in the background of other songs on the Love album remix.
Final disclaimer: Like all art, music is subjective. One person’s masterpiece is another person’s trash. Your mileage may vary.
In no particular order:
This was recorded around the same time as “Lady Madonna” and I think is far superior. John threw this together in the studio and everyone pitched in ideas as a video crew filmed. It was one of the last true group efforts, and George does one of his best solos and Paul’s bass really pushes the song forward. After it was done, they gave it to the Yellow Submarine filmmakers who put it into the movie and then the song was cut for the American release of the film. The only way you would have known this song existed is if you bought the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, which few people did since it only had four new songs on it. (The scene has been restored to the latest DVD releases of the film!)
AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING
This is another one of John’s and was on the excellent Revolver album, which has no bad songs whatsoever. Engineer Geoff Emerick had developed their distinctive guitar style by that album (copied many times since by other bands) and it really shines on this classic. Imagine how much John and George had to practice to get those parts done!
YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY
Paul, apparently inspired by John’s work on “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, decided to write his own song like that, with many different parts that all flow together into one. I mean, you don’t really realize it while you’re listening, but the first bit (“you never give me your money”) is never repeated after two consecutive runs-through. And we go right along, because it all fits so well. Paul, of course, felt that he really should do another verse of “you never give me your money” so he stuck it in “Carry that Weight” near the end of the album instead. Cheeky lad. (Note that he continued to do these kinds of songs in his solo career, notably with “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.”)
This began as John’s comments on the Maharishi and that is what it was originally called. He then just replaced “Maharishi” with “Sexy Sadie.” I love the feel of this song, from the spooky piano to the fade out with the solo that goes on and on, which is perfect. (Not too short, not too long.)
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
Try to imagine what it was like in the music world in 1966 before the Beatles released “Revolver” with this song as the closer. The top songs that week included “Wild Thing” by the Troggs; “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs; “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful; and “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells. And then this comes over the loudspeakers.
The Beatles were once more pushing every envelope possible, experimenting in the studio in the way no one had done before, and, with this song, pretty handily creating what is still today known as “psychedelic music.” And more importantly, underneath of that is a really catchy tune. John wasn’t about to give up hooks for his experimentation. (Well, not until “Revolution 9” a few years later, anyway.)
So happy 50th anniversary, everyone. Now to go watch Paul and Ringo perform at the Ed Sullivan theater again…