The 10 Best Beatles Deep Cuts [Deep Cuts Week]

Recently, I participated in a highly dope email thread with my associates DJ Walls of Sound and Business Casual. They are known geniuses and highly competent human encyclopedias of great tunes.

We took turns diving into the Beatles’ discography and pulling out deep cuts — those great tracks that never get play on rock radio or greatest hits’ albums, but are somehow sweeter for it. There’s nothing more delightful than hearing an awesome song that you’ve never encountered before from a band whose oeuvre you thought you’d completely devoured.

The fruits of this email thread not only inspired this post, but inspired Deep Cuts Week, in which ROTI will explore the great forgotten tracks from several classic musical artists.

But first, the Beatles — a perfect choice for this exercise, because everyone on Earth is familiar with their 40 most popular tunes. But the fact is, the greatest of all bands was hard pressed to write a single crap song, and even many of their throwaways are awesome.

Digging into the Beatles’ deep cuts turns up some tremendous results, especially from what DJ Walls of Sound calls the “pre-sweet drugs era.”

Beatles experts may not consider these songs to be lost gems, but I’m guessing most of you will find a few surprises here…

We Assume You’ve Already Heard: Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, Abbey Road, and all the “greatest hits” contained on 1962-1966 (The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (The Blue Album). I’m also guessing that you have heard the more popular tracks on Rubber Soul. If not — you have some serious catching up to do!

#10. “Another Girl” from Help!

This choice McCartney “Eff You” song informs his ex-lady that he has found a new slimmy. Some dank blues changes combine with an up tempo swing beat (or so Wikipedia tells me) to produce superb results. Macca is a melodic master, even his haters have to admit it.

This video (from the “Help!” movie) is particularly enjoyable, especially the part where McCartney plays a sexy lady like a bass.

#9. “Chains” from Please Please Me

The only cover in our list, this is a Gerry Goffin/Carole King tune originally written for Little Eva’s backup singers, The Cookies. This early Beatles cut sees George taking the mic with John and Paul providing backup, combining on some kick ass harmonies.

All credit to Business Casual on this one — I’d never even heard this song before.

#8. “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” from Beatles for Sale

Poor John Lennon is waiting at a soiree for his lady to show up, but she’s apparently not coming. Instead of bumming everyone out, he’s going to leave — of course, by announcing this, he’s probably bumming everyone out anyway. It’s forgivable, because the song is awesome.

I liked this comment from Youtube user truculantmuse: “Paul sings the high part on the refrain, but I think it’s interesting that John chose to sing both parts on the verse. Makes me think he really dug this song…and wanted all of it.”

#7. “Girl” from Rubber Soul

This one might be a little more well-known than the others, perhaps more of a greatest hit than a deep cut, but when DJ Walls of Sound suggested it, I readily agreed. If you remember this as a cheesy tune, listen to it again. This song captures the Beatles as they begin to anarchically mess around with the conventions of 60s society. A seemingly simple pop song about a haughty babe who spurns Lennon’s advances, it also contains some subtle disses on the Catholic Church, the unmistakable sound of someone taking a hit on a fat doobie, and the risque background lyrics “tit tit tit.”

I love this song because you can hear the band testing the boundaries to see what they can get away with, and finding that nobody is really pushing back. Not to mention that the lyrics are typical Lennon brilliance.

#6. “The Night Before” from Help!

Another great McCartney number made even better with visuals from the movie “Help!”

I love watching the rest of the band perform while Macca takes the spotlight. George lays down some sweet guitar while John bangs away on the electric ivories. Ringo’s drumming on the chorus is insanely tasty. They’re utterly locked in at this point in their careers.

#5. “Only a Northern Song” from Yellow Submarine

Yellow Submarine has long been one of my favorite sources of sweet Beatles deep cuts, and “Only a Northern Song” is one of the best. It’s a pissed off ditty from George, who slyly messes with the tune to get his point across.

From what I’ve read, the Beatles’ music publishing arrangement through Northern Songs was a real raw deal for George — Paul and John had a much larger stake in the company and thus made more money off of his songs than he did. The whole band ended up getting screwed later on when the publishing rights to their music were sold without their knowledge. This song is George’s middle finger to the whole situation.

#4. “Not A Second Time” from With The Beatles

This song is so G.D. tasty. With George Martin laying down some sweet piano, Lennon takes his best crack at a Smokey Robinson style number. The refrain is absolutely delightful and I, for one, really appreciate that the entire thing descends as it goes along. Too many pop songs ascend to a crazy high note at the end, Journey-style.

So, apparently this song is written in an Aolean cadence reminiscent of that used in the compositions of classical giant Gustav Mahler. When informed of this delightful similarity, Lennon was baffled. He didn’t base this song on any highfalutin’ musical theory, he just kind of came up with it. The pure genius of these guys is just astonishing when you think about it.

#3. “Yes It Is” B-side of “Ticket to Ride”

This one ascends the rankings on account of its total obscurity, never having been released on an album proper. John Lennon apparently did not like this song very much, but I think it’s freakin’ awesome…he also somehow decided that “Dig a Pony” sucked, so what did he know, anyway.

Three-part Lennon/McCartney/Harrison vocals and some sweet volume pedal work from George make this a keeper that has been missing from far too many Beatles collections over the years.

All props to the Aol Spinner blog post that tipped me off to this number. Allow me to quote: “With a striking vocal arrangement, unforgettable melody and simple-but-moving lyrics, the song is a work of pure pop perfection. It’s also devastatingly sad.” And devastatingly great.

#2. “Think For Yourself” from Rubber Soul

So much badassness here, it’s difficult to know where to start. George Harrison absolutely crushes it with this song that punches lying liars straight in the dome…I guess he was pissed at the government or something. The awesomely harmonic background vocals melted my face off the first time I heard them and continue to do so…it’s a recurring problem for me, so I have a specially-designed walk-in freezer in my home just so I can listen to this song.

My favorite part of this number, though, is the fuzzbox bass playing of Paul McCartney. If you even try to tell me he’s a lame cheeseball after listening to him shred this bassline, then you know nothing about music.

#1. “Hey Bulldog” from Yellow Submarine

This is the Big Kahuna of Beatles deep cuts — the scene featuring “Hey Bulldog” was trimmed from the movie, so it’s even more obscure than the rest of the original songs on the soundtrack. It’s a terrific John Lennon composition with superb contributions from the rest of the band.

I’m going to turn to longtime Beatles sound engineer Geoff Emerick to explain why this song is so kickass: “Paul’s bass line was probably the most inventive of any he’d done since Pepper, and it was really well played. Harrison’s solo was sparkling, too–one of the few times that he nailed it right away. His amp was turned up really loud, and he used one of his new fuzz boxes, which made his guitar absolutely scream.”

According to Emerick, this was the last song the Beatles recorded with every member 100% on board and working hard in unison to make it awesome. And thus, it is a fitting conclusion to our countdown.

You know what else is awesome? The Roots’ take on “Hey Bulldog.” Thought at work indeed!

BONUS CUTS

As I assembled this list, I felt that it was a little light on McCartney compositions. By virtue of not dying young and being a little more pop-oriented than his bros in the band, Macca has become considered less-than-hip in recent years and I have gotten into some pretty fierce arguments with those who do not appreciate his genius, because they are fools.

So I turned to DJ Walls of Sound, who recently obtained a master’s degree in Wingsology, for some choice selections from McCartney’s post-Beatles career. Here are two that blew my mind:

DEEP CUTS INDEX

Al Green
The Beatles
Blur
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Danger Mouse
Fleetwood Mac
R.E.M.
Talking Heads
Ween
Wu-Tang Clan

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

One Response to The 10 Best Beatles Deep Cuts [Deep Cuts Week]

  1. Max says:

    Paul’s “pop sensibilities” are the fodder for mockery today but without those sensibilities the Beatles would have been obscure and forgotten. Musical genius without popularity is all fine and good, but the pop is the difference between the Beatles and the Kinks.

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