Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Ten: The Beatles' Gems

With the release of Beatles Rockband* and a re-release of all 14 Beatles albums (with enhanced audio) coming tomorrow, I decided to do a different kind of Top Ten. I read an article in Entertainment Weekly about the "Top 50 Beatles songs of all time." While I liked many of their choices, the act of picking the Top 50 songs is pretty much an exercise in futility. You could ask 50 people what the best Beatles song of all time is get 50 different answers. Today we'll go a bit deeper into the Beatles' catalog. I'm going to pick out 10 of my favorite less recognized tracks by the Fab Four. Feel free to add any gems that I miss in the comments.

*As the Nintendo Wii was just purchased off the wedding registry, I will be looking into Beatles Rockband as well. Getting married is awesome!

10. Sexy Sadie - Seemingly lost on the second disc of "The Beatles" (White Album), just before Helter Skelter, this song uses an absolutely sick piano riff to drive it to the heights of songwriting. The backup vocals give this song quite a dreamy quality about it. One of my favorite John Lennon compositions.

9. You Can't Do That - From the "Hard Day's Night" album, this song could have easily been a single. As it stands, I've never seen it on a Greatest Hits record, or really ever seen it get the recognition it sorely deserves. In fact, I did see it get absolutely butchered on American Idol two season ago (by that woman with the man-voice.) Any other band would have taken this song to the top of the charts- the Beatles didn't need to because they were already there.

8. Think For Yourself - I had to put a George Harrison number on here because he is highly underappreciated when it comes to the Beatles' catalog. George was a key compenent to making the Beatles as great as they became. This song fits in perfectly with the vibe that the "Rubber Soul" album puts out there. The fuzz bass is quite a highlight for this tune.

7. Your Mother Should Know - Off of the "Magical Mystery Tour" album, this tune is somewhat cheesy, but I love the piano riff quite a bit and the three-part harmonies really soar. It perfectly sets up the next four songs (I Am The Walrus, Hello Goodbye, Strawberry Fields Forever, and Penny Lane- that's pretty strong stuff right there!) It's easy to see why Your Mother Should Know gets forgotten about!

6. Rain - The B-side to the Paperback Writer single, this song has a solid groove with amazing harmonies. I keep talking about the harmonies, and realistically, the three part harmonies is what set the Beatles apart from many of the other bands of their time. Either way, this song is a gem that rarely gets the credit it deserves.

5. I've Just Seen A Face - What a great ballad off the "Help!" record! This song has gotten a bit more of it's due since being featured on the "Across the Universe" trailer a few years ago, however, in no way would anyone classify this as a "Greatest Hit" of the Beatles, nor was it ever a single. Once again though, it probably could've been!

4. Two of Us - Off of the tumultuous "Let It Be" record, this song feels like an earlier Beatles song that happened to come near the band's end. It is one of my favorite songs that Paul wrote, and it also makes me feel like getting in a car and driving towards an adventure. It is amazing they were able to make songs this great while bickering and fighting the way they did. (Also, I highly recommend the version of this song that apprears on the Let It Be... Naked album. In fact, every song on the Naked version is better than the way it was originally released.)

3. I'm Looking Through You - Another gem from the "Rubber Soul" album, this song's guitar riff inbetween the verses and chorus is 100% catchy and aiming to please. Everything about this song screams "classic Beatles."

2. And Your Bird Can Sing - Revolver might be my favorite album by the Beatles, but even that is too difficult to really declare and stick to. I will say that this song has an amazing guitar hook, the descending minor chorus works in perfect correspondance with the poppy major verses. The harmony vocals at about 1:20 of the song sound like they were crafted in a blacksmith angel's shop in heaven. (Well, that is the weirdest similie I've ever written.)

1. Hey Bulldog - Apparently John was angry that this was not used as a single. Instead, they went with Lady Madonna. Ouch. I'm all for Lady Madonna, but this song is way better, rocks harder, and is absolutely buried on the "Yellow Submarine" soundtrack. That's like taking a superstar basketball player, sending him to the Sacramento Kings, and benching him. Dust this song off, you'll thank me later!

So there they are. Some of the lesser known Beatles tracks that deserve an extra listen. I'm excited to hear the improved audio on the re-released albums tomorrow. It's just another excuse to dive back into the phenomenal catalog of the Beatles.


GMoney said...

Jesus, Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. I'm sure it was always his dream to have his own "Rock Band". It was probably up there with being shot by a lunatic on his front steps.

Tony B. said...

Nah, Lennon's fine with it. Yoko Ono had tons of input in the game. As long as Yoko is in on it, I'm sure John is as well.

For the record, I was very against Rock Band when it first came out. Then I played it, and it is really fun- especially when 3-10 beers accompany it.

porklover said...

Been playing Beatles Rock Band and it is indeed a great experience. Its fun to place the Beatles songs in the context of history, hair, and hysteria. So many memories in those songs. You'll find yourself singing along even if you're not on the mic. You will definitely enjoy it.

Tony B. said...

Thanks for commenting Porklover! I am looking forward to playing it!