So of all the things that could be said about the Beatles, “underrated” or “underexposed” really isn’t on the list. Every all-time best list (band, song, album, whatever) will almost always include The Beatles in some capacity at the top. This of course leads to a common backlash. “They aren’t that good. ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’? What’s the big deal?” The biggest problem with The Beatles is that they are really well known for the wrong songs. If you were to buy The Beatles One, you would get 27 songs, all of which were number 1, all of which are very good. But these songs are not the reason I love The Beatles. It is their B sides and obscure gems that really demonstrate that they are more than just a hit machine of the mid / late 60’s.
They recorded the equivalent of 15 albums in the six year span from 1963 to 1969. That’s two and a half albums a year. That includes a total of 219 songs, of which there are only about 4 that just suck. Off the top of my head I would say those songs are ‘A Taste of Honey’ (a cover they didn’t write), ‘Mr Moonlight’ (ditto), ‘Revolution 9’ (it’s a pile of crap) and Old Brown Shoe (sorry George). That’s a 97.7% success rate. And of those songs, I would guess that 150 of them could be rated anywhere from ‘very good’ to ‘mindblowingly amazing’. 150 great songs. And that’s being conservative. How many great songs does Dashboard Confessional have? They’ve been around for six years. How many legendary albums have they released? Not to pick on Dashboard Confessional. I’m sure they’re a fine band. I’m just illustrating that the volume of brilliance of The Beatles is very unique.
I would compare it quickly to the new Batman Movie. It really is that good. All the reviews, all the record box office totals, it’s all totally deserved. That’s usually not the case. If something is really popular, it seems to suck. Titanic, American Idol, the Macarena. Meanwhile, things that are unique and brilliant seem to go unnoticed by the masses. Arrested Development, Waiting For Guffman. The Beatles are one of those rare phenomenons (phenomenai?) that are both. They really deserve all the hype, all the praise.
So, with that out of the way, I give you “5 of the more obscure Beatles songs you may not have ever heard, but should love unless you have no taste at all.”
Hey Bulldog 1968 – Yellow Submarine.
From the opening piano rif to the closing dog barking of Paul, this song has all the funk of Bootsy Collins. A great example of how tight they were as a band.
Rain 1966 - B side to the Paperback Writer single.
Ringo for some reason gets a lot of crap for being the talentless member of the band. This is false. As evidenced in this song, Ringo knows how to drum. It’s just that a lot of the McCartney written songs didn’t have much of a backbeat. But when they took him off the leash, Ringo would go crazy with an exceptional rhythm. Paul's bass work is also amazing in this song.
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey 1968 – The White Album.
Quite possibly the greatest title to any song ever. Of course monkey in this context refers to Lennon’s pet name for Yoko. I guess “everybody’s got something to hide except me and my repulsive, ass-faced, fraud of an artist, band destroying, testicle removing harpy of a girlfriend.” didn’t have the same ring. By the way that last link is hilarious. Stick with it through the first minute. It gets really good at 2:12. Back to “Monkey”. This song illustrates that for all the high aspirations, concept albums, psychedelic lyrics, sitar solos and full orchestral arrangements that they indulged in (all of which was pitch perfect and done as well as any band ever has), they are ultimately just a Rock and Roll band that knows how to kick ass.
For You Blue 1970 – Let It Be
George really is the overlooked element of the Band. He also had the most impressive solo album. This is a tribute to the 12 bar blues that they all loved so much.
Rocky Raccoon 1968 – The White Album
So when I was junior in High School, I plagiarized this song for my English class. Mrs Southam gave me an A++ with the comment ‘profound and heart breaking’ in red pen. Thanks, Sue. I’m sure Paul would be flattered.