You could argue that there isn’t a bad Beatles song out there, since even their silliest songs make for a great listen. Four unrefined young men from Liverpool, with not a musical qualification between them, showcased their raw talent as they pumped out incredible melodies, bizarre chord progressions and creative songs in astonishingly quick progression: 12 studio albums, 13 EPs, and 22 singles in just eight years. Find me a contemporary band that even comes close to that.
If you’re feeling mean, you could also argue that there’s no such thing as a brilliant Beatles album, because each album is brought down by at least one Ringo song (sorry Ringo). But one thing that’s undisputed is that there are some Fab Four songs that really deserve more recognition – for #BeatlesWeek, Brandish has compiled a list of 10 such songs.
1. Baby You’re a Rich Man (B-side, All You Need is Love, 1967)
This Lennon-McCartney amalgamation was constructed like so many of their songs, formed of two separate song fragments – and the result is fabulous. The bass line is truly excellent. Baby You’re a Rich Man was used at the end of the acclaimed film The Social Network.
2. I’ve Just Seen a Face (Help!, 1965)
One of the only Beatles songs not to contain a bass track, I’ve Just Seen a Face features exquisitely underrated acoustic guitar and has an upbeat country-and-western vibe (without the cheese). The song’s cascading rhymes are satisfyingly simple and perfectly demonstrate McCartney’s effortless song writing skill.
3. Piggies (The White Album, 1968)
A double album from which they released no singles, there are in fact many songs on the blandly-decorated follow-up to the colourful Sgt Pepper that could have qualified as singles. While Piggies is not necessarily single material, George Harrison’s ostensibly nonsensical song contains an eerie cynicism of society reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm.
4. Polythene Pam (Abbey Road, 1969)
John Lennon’s scouse accent really comes through in this short song, showing that the Beatles did not disown their roots. Polythene Pam is a witty, snarky song with power chords and great drums – probably something John just threw together during the tense studio sessions of Abbey Road, but still brilliant. It’s best listened to as it appears on the album: sandwiched between Mean Mr. Mustard and She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.
5. Hey Bulldog (Yellow Submarine, 1969)
Another example of a frivolous song concocted in mere minutes, recorded during the filming of the Lady Madonna promo video. Like Lady Madonna, it revolves around an energetic piano riff (despite being primarily written by John Lennon), and the video for it is also brilliant – why so serious, George?! The lads just look like they’re having a lot of fun. The sudden change in chord progression at 2:40 is genius.
6. Two of Us (Let it Be, 1970)
Dedicated to Paul’s wife-to-be Linda Eastman, Two of Us sounds as though it could be addressing John Lennon. The harmonies are flawless, and demonstrate just how good the Lennon-McCartney vocal partnership was.
7. Long, Long, Long (The White Album, 1968)
Another George Harrison number, Long, Long, Long needs recognition for its interesting blend of folk, psychedelic and jazz-waltz genres – it’s possibly George’s finest musical moment as a Beatle (although Taxman and Don’t Bother Me are also up there).
8. Come and Get It (Beatles Anthology 3, 1996 – recorded in 1969)
Somehow, this song didn’t make it onto Abbey Road – instead going on to be made famous by Badfinger. Paul wrote it one morning when he arrived early for a recording session, playing every instrument on the track.
9. It’s Only Love (Help!, 1965)
Although John’s lack of enthusiasm for his song is apparent (for example in the mocking way he sings the word ‘bright’ in verse two), it’s got a very beautiful melody with that alluringly weary, downbeat tone typical of its writer, and should not be cast aside.
10. Got to Get You Into My Life (Revolver, 1966)
Got to Get You into My Life is a brassy track which leads up to a fantastic few seconds of growling electric guitar (at 1:48). An oft-overlooked gem of Revolver, Paul’s vocals are extremely powerful here.