It has been over half a century since The Beatles changed the world in a flash of colour-giving brilliance. As Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself once explained: “Imagine you go to bed today and the world is black and white and then you wake up, and everything’s in colour. That’s what it was like! That’s the profound effect it had.” Looking back at the fevered excitement that their seismic impact caused, it is hard to comprehend the masses of devotees screaming as though they’ve just witnessed a miracle, but in truth, Beatlemania has hardly abated over the years, it has simply mutated.
The transmuted form of manic adulation that has continued since the bands split has entailed a studious analysis of the Fab Four’s every move. This fine-tooth comb analysis continues to pull up various new finds. The greatest of those finds is when a new song is unearthed. For fans, that is like plunging a hand into the flowing river of the past and emerging with a golden nugget clenched in a victorious fist.
Below, we’re taking a look at these glorious finds. From the officially unreleased to deep-cuts and outtakes, let’s dive into the ten greatest treasures mined from the cave of nearly forgotten history.
Let’s get to it.
The ten greatest unreleased Beatles songs:
10. ‘A Case of the Blues’ (1968)
This scratchy John Lennon home recording might not be the highest fidelity pressing that there has ever been, but in some ways, that permeates the track with a touch of vintage blues.
The recording also doubles up as an example of how these rarities fit into the evolution of the group. In ‘A Case of the Blues’ there is evidently an undertone of other Lennon tracks like ‘I’m So Tired’ and ‘Cry Baby Cry’.
9. ‘Love of the Loved’ (1962)
Auditioning The Beatles and passing on the chance to sign them is a business move that can be equated to Blockbuster Video snubbing the partnership request of a budding service called Netflix. ‘Love of the Loved’ is one of the tracks that the band put forward for the careless consideration of Decca Records.
The song is skiffle-esque number that clearly betrays the band’s early inspirations. Even McCartney’s vocals are an Americanised imitation of Roy Orbison and Elvis’ lovechild. Aside from the benefit of hindsight, this little pop ditty could surely have been a hit back in ’62?
8. ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ (1961)
‘Ain’t She Sweet’ is a track that delves right back into the mythical depths of the group’s formation. This cover was cut when they were Tony Sheridan’s backing band (The Beat Brothers) in the Hamburg days of 1961, whilst the soon-to-be-replaced drummer Pete Best was behind the kit.
Lennon dishes out a rockabilly interpretation of Milton Ager and Jack Yellen’s lyrical oldie. The song offers a tender insight into a period when the band were still searching out a creative identity of their own.
7. ‘The Maharishi Song’ (1968)
This song is absolutely terrible, an abomination within The Beatles back catalogue, rarity or otherwise. And yet somehow, absolutely inexplicably, it remains listenable to the nth degree. There is just something implacably fascinating about Lennon’s rambling madness.
It is in many ways a comedy track that satirises Lennon’s disappointing experience with the meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Sadly, he didn’t get his disdainful wit together to form a coherent takedown, but there’s certainly something weirdly interesting about the insight that it offers.
6. ‘What’s New Mary Jane’ (1968)
Bob Dylan might loath the token title of being the man who turned The Beatles onto drugs, but his simple offering of a toke drove them into creatively munificent terrain. This White Album leftover is a stirring example of the band’s daring exploration into the twisted realms of sound.
What starts off simple winds up in a cacophonous melee of mayhem that rides along on a pop melody strong enough to just about hold it together.
The enduring legacy of The Beatles has a lot to do with the fact that in their short lifespan as a band they never once stagnated and as such covered more creative ground in a sprint than many others manage in a sauntering lifetime.
5. ‘You Know What To Do’ (1964)
If there is one thing to lament about the make-up of The Beatles’ it is the lack of limelight that George Harrison was given as a songwriter in the early days. This little gem stands as a testimony to that.
This perfectly fine Beatles number was discarded onto the ash heap of history until it rose from the ashes like a benevolent phoenix on Anthology 1. The track is a sweet and simple pleasure, like a beer in the back garden on a summer’s day.
4. ‘Circles’ (1968)
Harrison dove headfirst into the spiritual realm of reincarnation and metaphysics. It spawned a slew of glorious solo hits and bled into the back end of The Beatles with a spiritual introspection to go with the raucous thrills that they always offered.
On this old Esher Demo, Harrison takes on reincarnation in a rather literal sense and in the process, he captures something quite haunting, but in a Casper-Esque friendly way. ‘Circles’ is the sort of track that deep cuts were made for and the fact that Harrison retreated to an organ for a song that he probably knew would never make it on to an album gives the track an aura of indefinable mystique.
3. ‘One and One is Two’ (1964)
Unfortunately, any high-ends on this track have all but faded in obsolescence leaving behind a scratchy recording that sounds like it might have been recorded in Akbar’s Tomb during the days of construction. But what remains is a toe-tapping folk melody and the craftsmanship of McCartney’s ear-worming lyrics.
The South African group Strangers might have had a hit with an accelerated version, but this McCartney take is actually quite beautiful behind all the scratching sound quality.
2. ‘Watching Rainbows’ (1969)
Part of the reason that there are so many rarities of note floating around The Beatles back catalogue is not just because of tireless research into the band, but because they were so prolifically brilliant that at the peak of their powers. In fact, they probably could have turned a gust of wind into a tuneful horn section.
‘Watching Rainbows’ is also taken from the Let It Be sessions and flowing thing of beauty. Once again the recording quality is not what you would consider high-end, but the meddling guitars and Lennon’s impassioned hollering and possibly improvised lyrics make for a ditty that offers a fascinating insight into their creative process.
1. ‘The Palace of the King of the Birds’ (1969)
In the early 1970s, a band called Klaatu caused quite an underground stir as many devoted Beatles fans thought they had uncovered the latest psychedelic guise of their recently split favourites. Of course, it turned out to be a red herring, but what added creditability to the initial claim was how truly chameleonic The Beatles could be.
This psychedelic jam sees them float into trippy terrain on a spring breeze of mellowed-out instrumentation. There is an awful lot of joy to sponged from this gentle shimmering Let It Be session track. It’s the sort of effervescing melody that you could listen to all day.