Ranking the 5 Best Beatles Songs that Were Side Two, Track One

The Beatles did an amazing job with just about every aspect of their music. One area where they don’t get enough credit is the sequencing of their albums. They were one of the first artists to understand that an LP needed to flow just the right way from one song to the next, which is one of the reasons they were frustrated the U.S. versions of their albums diverged from what they intended.

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In an era where vinyl is making an incredible comeback, we thought it would be fun to talk about the best tracks that The Beatles placed at the start of Side Two of their albums. See if you agree with our choices.

5. “Eight Days a Week” from Beatles for Sale (1964)

Beatles for Sale doesn’t get enough credit in general when compared to other Fab Four albums. It was indeed a hastily assembled record with more than its share of covers. But the originals show the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership progressing in fascinating ways. And with “Eight Days a Week,” the band picked the ideal song to start off the second side. Why? The fade-up. By starting the song with the music gradually increasing in volume, the band brings the listeners along slowly into the track until they’re hit with the full blast of John Lennon’s lead vocal.

4. “Any Time at All” from A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

The second side of A Hard Day’s Night is reserved for songs that don’t appear in the film. Knowing that was the case, The Beatles used that second side as a way to explore different musical areas, as most of those songs are reserved and introspective. But they also knew that a jolt of energy is a great way to start a side, and “Any Time at All” certainly provides that. It’s one of those album tracks that easily could have been a hit had the group decided to release it as a single. The highlight feature of the track is the contrast between the urgent choruses and the somewhat somber verses.

3. “Within You Without You” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Not only is this track an ideal Side Two starter, but it’s hard to imagine Sgt. Pepper’s being quite as entrancing without it. Many of the Lennon-McCartney songs on the record are what you might call slice of life, ordinary people dealing with the everyday joys and sorrows of their existence. But “Within You Without You” takes the time to ponder what it all means. Leave it to the ever-questing George Harrison to do that, and credit him as well for taking his Eastern music influences and marrying them seamlessly to classical music touches on this incredible track.

2. “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Let It Be (1970)

It’s hard to judge the Let It Be album fairly when you consider the chaos that surrounded its completion somewhat marred the finished product. But the album certainly rises to the occasion when it comes to its Side Two leadoff track. The first thing you hear is that churning guitar riff, which sets the tone for Paul McCartney to come blasting away with his husky lead vocals as the other instrumentalists join in one by one. McCartney’s screaming middle eight is a kick, and John Lennon adds just the right acidic touch when he adds his vocal countermelody.

1. “Here Comes the Sun” from Abbey Road (1969)

Most of the second side of Abbey Road consists of one giant run-on sentence of a medley, as The Beatles threw together a crazy quilt of snippets and somehow made it all work. But they were wise to let Harrison come clear the air with a complete track before all that got started. And what a track it is. The music in “Here Comes the Sun” is the ideal aural representation of what’s going in the lyrics. Think of it: That opening lick, first on Harrison’s acoustic guitar by itself and then with the synth joining in, somehow sounds like a ray of sunshine peeking through a crack in window blinds.

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Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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