The Best Hidden Gems in The Beatles’ “Anthology” Albums
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The Best Hidden Gems in The Beatles’ 'Anthology' Albums

It is the midst of creation that the Beatles’ talent shines, and the Anthology albums capture such creation in jaw-dropping detail.

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The Best Hidden Gems in The Beatles’ 'Anthology' Albums

The Beatles were original from the start, writing their own songs and singing as a group, not a leader and his sidemen. They reveled in their rebellion, using it to fuel their intense ambition. Everything they did was singular, from their outfits (usually led by the fashion-forward George) to their hair (adapted from their German friends) to the dichotomy between their nonchalant stage presence and the raw passion they poured into their songs. This then evolved to revolutionary recording experiments in the studio, where they continued to buck tradition while acknowledging their precedents.

As such, is it when they are in the midst of such creation that their talent and personalities shine, and the Anthology albums capture such creation in insane, beautiful, jaw-dropping detail. Here a few hidden gems in a band that specializes in quirk.

1. Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 1)

This song is a masterpiece. Full-stop. It manages to get a new angle on a song that has become the Mona Lisa of rock music. The guitar seems to drop into a new dimension, and John's voice has a distinct nakedness; there is a chilling yet thrilling contrast between the simplicity of the music and the psychedelic images it projects. Not to overstate how insane this song is but one listen to the guitars on this song and you'll be a changed person.

2. Let It Be

Paul sets the mood here with his aside to John: This'll knock you out, boy. And indeed it does. The piano and Paul's voice are as powerful in this demo as they are in the album version, and Paul's excitement with this new, astounding creation is visceral. John and George lend their iconic and winsome backing vocals, proving that even in their demos the Beatles still can astound. John sums it up nicely at the end by saying "I think that was rather grand. I'd take one home with me."

3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This song, man. This song. If a song could ever physically touch your soul, this would be the one. George's vocals and delicate guitar are other-worldly and evoke a spirituality and reflection unknown to popular music at the time.

4. Come and Get It

Paul, ever the workaholic, came up with this demo before giving it the band Badfinger, who the Beatles signed to their Apple label. Paul had such faith in the song that he told Badfinger they had to play exactly as he did in the demo, but such advice is well-intentioned, as the song's demo is incredible. Though rollicking, it has a unique feel to it, characteristic of McCartney with a memorable beat and nice vocals.

5. Real Love

Completed by the surviving Beatles in the '90s during the Anthology project, it features, touchingly, John's vocals and has a sweet feel to it characteristic of Lennon's later years, with just enough edge and Beatle influence to make it one of their greatest hits, even after their disbanding.

Honorable Mentions

  • All the takes of No Reply are funny in the way the Beatles screw up
  • This Boy is absolutely hilarious, with John and Paul at the peak of their humor
  • Cry for a Shadow is an incredible and memorable instrumental from, amazingly, early in their careers
  • Not Guilty is a nice reminder of just how astonishing George could be, even as the quiet one.

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