Top 5 Underrated Beatles Songs

So today, on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show — at the time, the largest TV audience ever — I’ll share my view on the top five underrated Beatles songs.beatles_12a

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:

HEY BULLDOG

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.”)

SEXY SADIE

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…

One thought on “Top 5 Underrated Beatles Songs

  1. Mike,

    Defining the term: By “underrated” (you) 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.

    Hmmm. Trouble here is that we’re dealing with THE BEATLES. And anything they released was destined for gold, a treasure sometimes IMHO not deserved. 2nd rate tunes such as “Hello, Goodbye” and “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” reached #1, for God’s sake! But I digress. Let me give you my take on the five you highlighted.

    By way of background, if I could only have 3 discs on the desert island, I’d choose A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Beatles For Sale.

    HEY BULLDOG

    This one belongs where it ended up, on an obscure album. Another of John’s “I’m the cleverest guy in the room” songs. Backing has a sloppy feel to it. Nice guitar riff but clearly stolen form The Animals. Thumbs down.

    AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING

    Revolver is finally getting the credit it always deserved, starting to edge out (with critics) Pepper as the best album by the Fabs. While Pepper was certainly – by far – the biggest cultural event disguised as a recording in history, with all the hoopla now fading from memory it’s not got much to offer. 3(!) dopey dance hall McCartney songs; Harrison’s awful sitar mélange; Lennon reading lyrics from a poster. Please. But aside from George’s non-Taxman contributions, there’s not a bad song on Revolver and Bird is no exception. Thumbs up.

    YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY

    While side 2 of Abbey Road’s production values are spectacular, these little songettes don’t stand up outside of the medley format. Thumbs down.

    SEXY SADIE

    Lennon at his grinding-my-axe best. Great lyric; superb backing vocals and harmonies; nice instruments. Thumbs up.

    TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

    Out of the 5 hours of music loaded in my iPhone, this is the only entry by The Beatles. Why? I hear them plenty on the CDs in my car, on Music Choice Golden Oldies (Verizon channel 1829) and on my Antique Apparatus Bubbler juke box. But Tomorrow is…simply wonderful. And in my mind, the real kickoff song of the vaunted Summer of Love (aka Summer of LSD) with its mind-blowing psychidelicness, outstanding production and Ringo’s incredible drumming. Big thumbs up!

    John

    Liked by 1 person

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