If there’s something I’ve realized about the music of the Beatles, it’s how every single one of their non-album tracks seems good enough to be a single. They were popular at a time when artists separated their singles from the album, thus the need for them to release all their singles in a separate album.
Anyways, here’s a short list of some of the best Beatles non-album tracks, taken from random albums I’ve currently had the opportunity to listen to.
1. Rock n’Roll Music (Beatles for Sale)
This skillfully done cover of a Chuck Berry masterpiece seems to receive less prominence compared to it’s more popular pseudo-counterpart ‘Twist and Shout’. It may’ve been released later, but released still at a time when the Beatles were slowly breaking into their own, relying on some classic standards as album fillers. Remember: this album was pre-pot album ak.a. Rubber Soul. Nevertheless it’s a cover punctuated by well-done lead guitar from George and a Lennon vocal that has every bit of Liverpudlian swag courtesy of John Winston, circa 1964.
2. For No One (Revolver)
Released barely a year after ‘Yesterday’, ‘For No One’ shows a more mature McCartney as a songwriter, beginning with the skillfully-woven lines ‘The day breaks/your mind aches/ You’ll find that all words of kindness linger on when she no longer needs you”. One could say this was the more mature brother of ‘Yesterday’, and in a way, it is.
3. Two of Us (Let It Be)
Paul says it was about him and Linda, and we’ll let him believe that. Yet one can’t help but wonder whether or not it was as much a letter to John as to Linda. “Two of us chasing paper/getting nowhere/on our way back home/we’re on our way home/on our way home/we’re going home..” “You and I have memories/longer than the road that stretches out ahead”. Beautiful song, and hands down it’s the song that beats out well-released vocal harmonies circa early Beatles. Nothing beats two voices blending into one, especially these voices. The ‘I Dig A Pygmy’ intro ain’t that bad as well.
4. Across the Universe (Let It Be)
Lennon personally considered it as his best work, and poetically, it is. Written at a time when recording sessions became torturous for a band that had condemned themselves to spend day and night there, shunning touring and stadium interaction with their fans, the lyrics to ‘Across the Universe’ could easily belong in some 18th century poem by a Briton of similar talents. Thankfully, it was written in the 60s, by a man that has inspired generations and generations of writers. It’s just perfect that the song is accompanied by nothing more nothing less than an acoustic guitar.
5. Doctor Robert (Revolver)
A catchy autobiographical tune post-Nowhere Man. An ode to the early days of carrying drugs on tour punctuated by a well-done guitar that gives the song life. It veers away from the deep desolation of the Rubber Soul track, beginning and ending with the Lennon swagger written all over it.
The song is perfect for Revolver, an album chock full of innovation that preceded the aegis that was Sgt. Pepper.
6. TIE! “Oh! Darling” and “I Want You (she’s so heavy)” (Abbey Road)
Oh Darling is Paul at his original best, bringing out a powerhouse vocal we thought only women could pull off. Nevertheless it’s classic rock at it’s finest, and sharing a place with all 7:07 minutes of Lennon’s I Want You (she’s so heavy) is just right. I Want You is a love song, a real one that goes beyond ‘oomph’ ‘poomph’, instead delivering a frank serenade any rock star would be proud to sing, complete with mean guitar solo.
7. Dear Prudence (White Album)
John shows his mellow and kind side, singing a sweet song to a sweet girl. Punctuated by sleek guitar and a pseudo-rock sound, it’s simply beauteous, an ode you’d wish John himself had written for you. Prudence, you lucky girl!