The very ubiquitousness of the Beatles can make for difficult wading when you’re trying to remember what made them great in the first place. Well, the movement you need is tucked away inside the Fab catalog. In Vol. 2 of a series from, here is another handful of deeper cuts that we’re not sick of yet …


One of the earliest Beatles songs with a complete story, inventive in that it has no chorus as such, and notable for the low rumbling tone of John Lennon‘s voice — since it so completely captures the mood of a scorned lover. He builds to an anguished cry (“I saw the light” becomes “I nearly DIED”) in an early glimpse of the pain that, up until this point, had been largely obscured by first-blush imagery involving hairstyle and yeah-yeah-yeahs. Originally part of Beatles for Sale, and issued on the U.S. edit Beatles ’65, “No Reply” was an initial step down a path of personal revelation and unbridled honesty that would find its creative and artistic peak in Lennon’s first solo release five years later. John reportedly wanted to sing the high harmony, handled here by Paul McCartney, but couldn’t coax his voice there because of wear and tear from the band’s then-excessive touring schedule. “No Reply,” a dark and special triumph, was better for it. —Nick DeRiso

John had one of the best singing voices in all of rock ‘n’ roll. And I think it’s mainly due to his unmatched ability to naturally project scorn, frustration, anger and pessimism. Real rock ‘n’ roll often has those qualities, after all. That wonderfully ragged throat is on full display on “No Reply.” Lennon’s attitude comes across so effectively, you’d hardly notice that it’s a rock ‘n’ roll song played with acoustic guitars, an acoustic piano and a slightly Latin beat. — S. Victor Aaron


A taut, unjustly forgotten gem — and special in that it’s one of the few songs Phil Spector didn’t muck up on the original Get Back project. Here, his swirling strings add the perfect portent as George Harrison delves into a favorite subject: How we’re all really bastards, deep down. — DeRiso

Phil also gets props for picking out the best take, which was only a minute and a half long, and deftly stretching it to full-song length. Even this song-lengthening edit survived the de-Spectorization that occurred for Let It Be…Naked. George lashes out at the mighty human ego on “Mine,” which is in a way an ironic counterpoint to his earlier Fab tune “Taxman.” This is also the last song the Beatles recorded prior to their breakup, and in the same configuration as their mid-1990s “reunion” — without John. — Aaron


A shimmering, head-wagging explosion of power pop that has never, and can never, get old — because it’s as deep as it is joyful. There’s the rolling piano signature, that gauntlet-tossing finish (match that, Beach Boys!), and a lyric made for days when the weather is nice enough to roll down your windows and drive a bit. — DeRiso

The harmonies belting out the title really make this standout track from 1966’s Revolver so special. Paul goes high while John handles the low notes. This unabashedly happy-go-lucky tune is one of the earlier instances where McCartney draws more from the music of his parents’ generation than his own for inspiration. He would go overboard with that later but for now, his mojo is working. — Aaron


Consistent with the relaxed mood prevalent during these February 1968 mini-sessions, George Harrison reels off a loose, jangly solo characteristic of his knack for providing not the most flashy guitar work, but the one that fits the song just right. He was like having a crack session guitarist inside the band. — Aaron

This has the fun, collaborative feel of the best of the group’s early work, notable since by this point “The Beatles,” in the years immediately preceding their nasty 1970 breakup, were really just a backing group for whoever composed any particular track. As they howl, moan and bark their way through a rollicking little aside, you remember not just what made these two remarkably listenable rock composers — but also what made Lennon and McCartney friends. — DeRiso


This is a very simply constructed; as a teenager playing mediocre guitar, I was able to self teach myself the song rather easily. But Paul McCartney‘s straightforward folk hymn had simple beauty to match; it flowed out naturally and George Martin’s orchestral arrangements that gently nudge their way into the song on the second verse provide just the right amount of heft without needlessly weighing it down. — Aaron

Think about what follows on The White Album: a song about a monkey, a song about a roller coaster (or, the clarion call of end times; who knew?), the oh-so-appropriately titled “Long, Long, Long,” a vaudeville tune, a song about a dessert treat, several minutes of noise loops and a nighty-night lullaby, among others. On a hodge-podge compilation where everybody goes all over the map, McCartney often provided the centering point — and never better than on this one. —DeRiso

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Something Else! Reviews

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