If you're a fan of The Beatles, you may be aware that they've had a few compilation albums put out over the years. From A Collection of Beatles Oldies through the "Red" and "Blue" albums (1962-66 and 1967-70 respectively) of the '70s to the 21st Century with 1. And they're fun albums and mostly really good. The Red and Blue are particularly good career retrospectives. However, there's one major failing that all of these compilations have when taken as a whole: they focus almost exclusively on the "hits". 1 for example includes only their Number 1 songs. And even the really good compilations that pull album tracks often hit only the well-known songs that become popular.
This is all fine, of course and they make for good listening experiences, but I was feeling recently that it would serve a compilation well to highlight some "deeper cuts", beyond the "I Want to Hold Your Hand"s and "Yesterday"s and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"es (weepses?). The community would be served by a companion piece to the 1 album, a career retrospective that hits the lesser remembered highlights and B-sides of the Beatles career. So I've taken to putting one together myself, and I'm calling it The Beatles' Inner Grooves.
Due to runtimes of the songs and difficulty in selecting songs, this collection will be a double album. In choosing songs for this list, I looked at the entire official catalog and eliminated any song that appeared on 1 and numerous other collections. So none of the heavy hitters are on here. I then went on and, with two exceptions, eliminated all the other tracks from the Red and Blue albums. This helped narrow things down, but ultimately the final choices came down to my personal taste, a desire to be eclectic, and to showcase George and Ringo as much as John and Paul. I also tried to find songs that showed various sides of the members, so it wasn't all Paul ballads and John rockers, and so that Paul doesn't dominate the later material. I decided to sequence it roughly in chronological order. I imagine it being available for both CD and vinyl, so I will present it as I envision each vinyl side. So without further ado, here is my track list for the proposed Beatles Inner Grooves double album.
DISC 1 - side 1
1. Please Please Me -- The 1962-66 album is the only major compilation to include this, which is criminal.
2. Misery -- a great early Lennon-McCartney tune
3. Don't Bother Me -- Harrison's debut
4. This Boy -- B-side to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and showcasing their great 3-part harmonies
5. If I Fell -- a more mature Lennon ballad and one of the highlights of A Hard Day's Night
6. Any Time at All -- we shift out of the ballads with the snap of a rim shot
7. Every Little Thing -- a hidden gem from Beatles For Sale
8. Bad Boy -- Lennon's vocal is the best of the three Larry Williams covers and it's a shame this is a lost classic. It's the only cover on this collection but it was so good it needs more attention.
9. I Need You -- George breaks out the volume pedal and we move into the Help! era
10. I'm Down -- Paul rocks out his Little Richard voice and closes us out side one
DISC 1 - side 2
1. I've Just Seen a Face -- we'll open side two the way the US Rubber Soul opened.
2. You're Going to Lose That Girl -- a John classic from Help!
3. You Won't See Me -- for some reason this Rubber Soul track is a go-to song for me. When I was trying to pare the list down I seriously considered dropping it, but just couldn't.
4. What Goes On -- and Ringo makes an appareance!
5. Wait -- As long as this is a double-album, we'll keep this Rubber Soul favorite of mine
6. If I Needed Someone -- a George highlight just before he went full Indian in his influences
7. Rain -- John's rocking B-side to "Paperback Writer" with it's hard drums and backwards vocals is the perfect segue to the Revolver material
8. Here, There, and Everywhere -- a McCartney classic that's slowly becoming every bit as notable in the popular consciousness as "Yesterday"
9. And Your Bird Can Sing -- I just find this one lots of fun.
10. Getting Better -- And now we've reached a peak of the career, getting to 1967 and this peppy number from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to close out the first disc. But as the album is called Inner Grooves, side 2 will actually end with the inner groove nonsense that closes out Sgt. Pepper.
Sgt. Pepper inner groove
DISC 2 - side 3
1. Good Morning, Good Morning -- and the rooster wakens us up to the start of disc 2!
2. Baby, You're a Rich Man -- a 1967 B-side
3. Your Mother Should Know -- the highlight songs of Magical Mystery Tour are already known and elsewhere compiled. But we shouldn't abandon this jaunty McCartney number, chosen to showcase his music hall style.
4. It's All Too Much -- George Harrison's psychedelic masterpiece
has been too long overshadowed by his later material and the
Lennon/McCartney '67 stuff. If possible, I would include the longer
version with the extra verse.
5. Hey Bulldog -- I've placed the Yellow Submarine material here before we get to the other 1968 stuff because it makes more sense sonically; this is when these things were recorded. I almost didn't include "Hey Bulldog", because in recent years it's become almost too popular, but it's a Lennon highlight of the later era.
6. The Inner Light -- George at his most Indian, this is the B-side to "Lady Madonna"
7. I'm So Tired -- a Lennon classic from the double album that I would put right up there with "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
8. I Will -- Paul's simple solo groove will be a delightful palate cleanser as we shift gears.
9. Julia -- In my mind, "I Will" and "Julia" are always a pair. They close out the first disc of the White Album and it's hard to hear one without the other. We've got a lot of passionate, rocking, shouty John on this disc, so it made sense to highlight his music at some of its most beautiful and vulnerable. And just as it does on the White Album, it will close out this side of our compilation.
DISC 2 - side 4
1. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey -- we start the flipside with a rocker
2. Cry Baby Cry -- another deep hidden gem of the White Album. I'll include the linking Paul bit of "Can You Take Me Back?" which will transition us into...
3. Two of Us -- I've chosen for sequencing purposes to put the Let It Be material before Abbey Road. It's up to you which version of this you use, whether from the album or the Naked version. I think track transition works better in any case without the opening studio chatter, but if you can't think of the song without it, you can include it.
4. Let It Be (album version) -- All the compilations have it, but they all have the single version. I want to highlight the version from the album which is easily overlooked. It has a grungier guitar solo and slightly different feel.
5. Dig a Pony -- we'll leave Let It Be with this rooftop performance of a groovy John song. The words don't matter; it feels cool.
6. You Never Give Me Your Money -- I'm shaking up the Abbey Road tracks a tiny bit. Mostly this is being included so that the melody's reprise later feels more natural and not isolated. The one issue in this fantasy mix is that on the album this song fades into the atmospherics for "Sun King", so we would really want a clean fade for this compilation. But there's precedent for that. We fade out on the chanted nursery rhyme so we can get to our next track, a children's song...
7. Octopus's Garden -- Ringo's return! This one was included on the Blue album, but it's too much fun to leave off and Ringo deserves another song, especially one he wrote himself.
8. I Want You (She's So Heavy) -- John Lennon's bluesy hardcore 7-minute groove slots here. While the abrupt stop doesn't end a side on our compilation, it does allow the listener a sudden stop to take a breath before we tranistion to the final medley.
9. Golden Slumbers
10. Carry That Weight -- gotta get one more Ringo vocal
11. The End -- And we close out the record with each of the Beatles giving a solo and saying goodbye. I know the recent iTunes comp ended with this song too, but that was the Anthology edit, and this song is just the natural close.
Well, that's my playlist. Feel free to try it out on your own if you want to put it in Spotify or search for the playlist Beatles Inner Grooves on YouTube. I think it makes a solid listening experience and a good companion piece to other collections for new fans. And if anyone in the official Beatles camp happens to read this, please take notice!