Yes, even The Beatles had songs that did not fully register at the time. Great songs overlooked, edged-out by more popular or promoted songs.
A dozen (there are many more), but here are 12 that quickly come to mind.
“No Reply” – From Beatles for Sale (1964), written most by Lennon while on holiday. Offered to another artist, but instead recorded for their upcoming album. Almost a single, but we got “I Feel Fine” instead. The Beatles had moved on from traditional boy-girl songs. Lennon in particular wrote songs of loss and reflection, the introspective Beatle. Not a traditional ballad, it’s got more power and a quite remarkable melody line. Again Lennon double-tracks his vocals which gives the story-song a dreamy quality. The Beatles were into their rhythm acoustic guitars and efficient electric guitar fills period.
“I Should Have Known Better” – From the film soundtrack of Help! (1964) and the B-side of the title song. An uptempo, rocking Sind featuring Lennon’s harmonic and silky lead, double-tracked vocals. George Harrison contributed electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar.
“You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” – From Help!, written mostly by Lennon, and recorded just before the boys left for filming. The song is giving advice to another male about a relationship, Lennon on double-tracked lead vocals. McCartney and Harrison provide response vocals. It’s a mainly acoustic sounding song with Harrison providing efficient electric guitar leads with his new Fender Stratocaster. I like the song because of the gentle folk type arrangement and the delicious vocals.
“I’m Looking Through You” – From Rubber Soul (1965), written by McCartney about his relationship with actress Jane Asher. This time it’s McCartney singing about the complexity of changing love. An uptempo, acoustic rocker that the Beatles excelled. Taking a lesson from Lennon, McCartney double-tracks his voice giving it depth and like he’s singing along with himself.
“Got to Get You Into My Life” – McCartney at his best. The Beatles were not a horn band, but they did dig R&B. This is a very mature song for young McCartney to write. Released on Revolver (1966), the song has a very contemporary arrangement, borrowing from the American Stax Record sound. McCartney later said the song was about pot. Great solos by George Harrison.
“Getting Better” – From Sgt. Pepper, a song mostly written by McCartney, with lyrical help from Lennon. The song is driven by an electric guitar riff (provided by Lennon), but the soaring bass follows the melody. The song is much more just a crunchy guitar riff. It includes McCartney’s airy lead vocals with supporting vocals by Lennon.
“Rain” – The B-side to the single “Paperback Writer” (1966). While I like the A-side, I love the B-side. “Rain” is a trippy, psychedelic song, full of heady lyrics and Pink Floyd type guitar work. McCartney wrote the A-side and Lennon the B-side. Recorded at the same time as songs for Revolver, “Rain” features some of the creative sound processes used on that album like reversing or backwards sounds to give it a weird, spacey effect.
“Julia” – From The White Album (1968), a Lennon song written about his mother, who died when he was young. Very introspective, a soft acoustic ballad, but not maudlin. It’s beautifully played and sung. The imagery is Lennon at his best. It is just Lennon on guitar, but his vocals and guitar are double-tracked for more sound and texture. The song was written in India during their visit. Lennon said he asked Donovan for advice in writing and the fingerpicking style of playing. The song ends side two of the album, I always felt this was a somber conclusion to the first record.
“Martha My Dear” From the White Album, written by McCartney about his English sheepdog. Martha. The song, predominantly a piano song, has an upbeat, jazzy feel, although it undergoes several key and time signature changes. It was a very distinctive melody and rhythm. McCartney plays piano, bass, guitar and drums. George Martin arranged and conducted the brass.
“Two of Us” – Jointly written by Lennon-McCartney, used in the film Let It Be and album. The lyric seem to draw on the pressures the Beatles were under at the time within the group and from lawyers. I like the imagery and the reflection on their relationship. A driving acoustic song that has a very chummy vibe. The Let It Be album was criticized as not having much original, strong music. This is one of the best.
“Because” – From the second side of Abbey Road (1969),written by Lennon, inspired by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with Lennon on guitar and George Martin on electric harpsichord playing the same opening melody. The song features Lennon, McCartney and Harrison on vocals recorded three times to give it a choir of nine voice. Maybe the most beautiful vocal work of the Beatles. Harrison introduces the Moog synthesizer on the song.
“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” – Part of the Abbey Road medley. A very upbeat two minutes pop delight. Soaring background vocals, electric guitar upfront in the mix, nicely played by Harrison. It is difficult to pick just one piece of this famous musical suite.
Bonus: It wouldn’t be complete without a George Harrison song.
“It’s All Too Much” – Written by George Harrison in 1967, during his LSD experience, the song was left off of several albums, but included in the film, Yellow Submarine, and released on the soundtrack album (1969). It’s the most psychedelic of the Beatle’ music, full of feedback, trippy lyrics, drone-like sounds and backward effects. Harrison wrote it in the Hammond organ and played it in the recording, rather than the lead guitar which was handled by Lennon. The Beatles produced the sessions.