The Beatles…Singles Left Off Albums

The Beatles were different than other groups.  They didn’t include many of their singles on their albums, even when they came from the same recording sessions.  In fact, there were 32 songs The Beatles released on singles in England that were not originally placed on their albums.  That includes eleven #1 hits.  It’s absolutely unthinkable that any other group or artist could or would do that.

The reason given by The Beatles and producer George Martin was that they didn’t want fans who bought the single to have to pay for those songs again on an album.  Normally, during each album’s recording sessions, they recorded about 14 songs for an album, and two songs for a single.  The Beatles treated singles and albums as separate ways to present their music, while most artists hoped popular singles would help sell their albums.

That policy on singles didn’t hold in America, and there were major differences between British and American albums.  Despite all the criticism Capitol Records has received over how they put the albums together, sometimes their choices were good.

The British version of America’s first Capitol album, Meet The Beatles, is called With The Beatles.  The American version is far superior, because it has three excellent songs that were not on the British album…”I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, and “This Boy”.  Those three important songs lead off the American album, which was The Beatles’ introduction to most Americans.  Good move Capitol.

Other major early singles that were not on British Beatles albums, but were on American versions include…“She Loves You” (on The Beatles’ Second Album), “I Feel Fine” and “She’s A Woman” (both on Beatles ’65).  The single “From Me To You” didn’t appear on a British or American album until later collections, but would have fit nicely on The Early Beatles.

Above are the two sides of my CD’s (with cardboard sleeves) of the American releases by Capitol records (click to enlarge).  These 1964 & 1965 albums were made available in this form in 2004 & 2006.  It didn’t simply give American fans a chance to enjoy the albums as we knew them, but for the first time it gave us remastered STEREO versions.  When the first four Beatles albums were released on CD, they were in mono only, so having stereo versions was the real draw.

British albums normally had 14 songs, and U.S. albums usually only had 11 or 12.  Capitol used this as an opportunity to “save” some album tracks, and then make new albums by combining them with singles that hadn’t been placed on previous albums.  That’s how we got American albums that didn’t even exist in England, especially…The Beatles’ Second AlbumSomething New and Beatles VI.

Then in 1966 came “Yesterday”…and Today.  Above is my 1995 promo CD that actually features a version of the infamous “butcher cover”, which was the original cover for the album.  Negative reaction to it from radio stations and reviewers caused Capitol to recall the album and change the cover to a harmless photo of The Beatles and a steamer trunk.  Musically, the album has a lot of good songs, but it’s a real Frankenstein’s monster, pieced together from many parts.  It has the singles “We Can Work It Out” & “Day Tripper”.  Three songs from the yet-to-be-released Revolver…”I’m Only Sleeping”, “Doctor Robert”, & “And Your Bird Can Sing”.  Two songs from Help…”Yesterday” & “Act Naturally”.   Plus, there are four songs from Rubber Soul…”Drive My Car”, “Nowhere Man”, “If I Needed Someone”, and “What Goes On”.

The Beatles decided that beginning with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, British and American albums would contain exactly the same songs.  But, let’s take a look at some of the albums that were missing singles, before and after Sgt. Pepper.  These were songs intentionally left off…by The Beatles.

The Rubber Soul recording sessions included “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper”, which were released as a double A-side single on the same day as the album.  The Revolver sessions included “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”.  The Sgt. Pepper sessions included “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.  The White Album sessions included “Hey Jude” and “Revolution”.  And, the Let It Be sessions included “Don’t Let Me Down”.

As great as those five albums are, wouldn’t they have been even more amazing if those singles could have been included?  Of course we can include them with our playlists.

For Rubber SoulRevolver… and Sgt. Pepper, I drop the missing singles between the original sides of the albums.  Rubber Soul gets “We Can Work It Out” & “Day Tripper”.  “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” sound like they belong on Revolver, and that even places “Rain” just before “Good Day Sunshine”.  In Sgt. Pepper, “Penny Lane” sounds great after “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”, and the ending of “Strawberry Fields Forever” transitions nicely into “Within You Without You”.  Producer George Martin would be pleased to finally have those two songs on the album.

Although all the albums were the same starting in 1967, The Beatles still released singles, plus a six song EP (extended play) collection in England to go with their film Magical Mystery Tour.  Capitol had a better idea.  Take those non-album singles…”Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, “Hello Goodbye”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, and “All You Need Is Love”, combine them with the six songs from the film, and you’ve got a really good album, Magical Mystery Tour.  This was such a good idea by Capitol, that when the other Beatles albums were released on CD, the American version of Magical Mystery Tour also became the official British version.

The most “lost” single by The Beatles is probably “Lady Madonna”.  It was released in early 1968, after Magical Mystery Tour, but well before The White Album.  It was a song without a home, although Capitol later put it on a compilation album made up of old singles…Hey Jude.  “Lady Madonna” is on my Magical Mystery Tour playlist.

Singles Chart:  (click to enlarge, save with screenshot)

To find which songs & single versions were not included on British Beatles albums, you can simply look at the Past Masters discs that collected them.

“Love Me Do”, “Get Back” “Across The Universe” & “Let It Be” were on British albums, but in different versions.  In addition, the singles that ended up on the Magical Mystery Tour CD were not originally on UK albums.

So, which is the best Beatles album when you add in the appropriate singles?  No matter which one you choose, you’re right, because there is no one “correct” answer.

Rubber SoulRevolver…and Sgt. Pepper represent three of the best albums ever recorded.  With the addition of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, Sgt. Pepper is really strong…but it would be easy to justify choosing any of these albums as the best.

And here’s another thought.  Imagine how good The White Album would be if it started off with “Revolution”, ended with “Hey Jude”, and you could fill it in with the 12 best songs off the original double album to make a single album.  That leaves Abbey Road (no singles added), and some people already think it’s the best.

Choosing the best Beatles album?  I should have known better, you can’t do that.  But, it’s fun trying…especially if you listen to all the albums again.

10 Replies to “The Beatles…Singles Left Off Albums”

  1. WITH THE BEATLES would also have been so much stronger if the singles recorded during the sessions (July-October 1963) SHE LOVES YOU/ILL GET YOU and I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND/THIS BOY had been included. The Same goes for BEATLES FOR SALE and to a lesser extent HELP! (b-side singles I’M DOWN and YES IT IS)

  2. I can’t imagine how much better each Beatles album would have been if they added all the good singles – She Loves you, I Want to Hold Your Hand, We can Work it Out, Rain, Hey Jude

  3. Phil – From me to you is not on any of the 18 US LP’s – I have the 45. Also, The bside of Lady Madonna, The Inner Light is not on any LP – should have been on the Hey Jude LP. Also You Know My Name… not on a US LP Trivia Q – What 5 Beatle songs are 1 word- 1 syllable -4 letters ea?

    Editor: Good observations Rick! I bought the “From Me To You” single in 1964 with “Please Please Me” on the other side. It’s on Vee Jay Records, and like you, I still have it. You’re right, “From Me To You” didn’t appear until the Red collection album. For your trivia question, I came up with “Rain”, “Girl”, “Wait”, “Help”, and “Boys”…hopefully the ones you meant. Thanks for your contributions! I adjusted the copy a bit, and then added the singles chart.

  4. One thing to try:
    Remove all the cover songs from Please Please Me and With The Beatles. The rest, plus the missing singles, would make a pretty amazing record of originals.

    Editor: Yes, amazing!

  5. Let it be album would be so much better with Don’t Let Me Down.

    Editor: Yes, can’t believe it was left off!

  6. Rubber Soul with Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out, its still incredible but wow! Hey Jude and Revolution on the White Album would have worked for me. I hate the album and these two tunes would have changed that. Magical Mystery Tour is my second best. Paperback Writer on Revolver, wow its clearly how it should have been done! Great job!!
    Thank you
    1) Rubber Soul
    2) Magical Mystery Tour
    3) Revolver

  7. Isn’t it wonderful, 60 years later the Beatles are still the biggest band in the world. Comparing the B side single that didn’t make the album , winds up being a favorite song to so many is a gift only The Beatles are capable of. As great as the songs and albums were and are, they have a greater attribute. That would be their timing. They didn’t have anything to do with that however, see, God’s a Big Beatles fan too.

  8. If they had released any song off of sgt pepper as a single, how many more no. 1 songs would they have? Sgt. P was a concept album and the Beatles didn’t want to diminish it by releasing singles off of it.

    Editor: Yes. If there had been streaming when Sgt. Pepper was released, they would have owned the whole Top-10, like Taylor Swift did with Midnights. Sgt. Pepper was being played everywhere.

  9. The fact remains that on more than half the UK albums singles were put on! i.e. PPM , AHDN , HELP! , REVOLVER , MMT , YS , AR & LIB ALL HAD SINGLES ON THEM AND BFS USA HAD 1 TOO!

    Editor: Of course there were singles on some of their albums in the U.K., and more of their singles were on U.S. albums. The Beatles’ movie albums particularly used singles to help promote their films. The article is meant to highlight which singles were not on albums, and where they ended up.

  10. I am having a hard time finding anything online that simply says whether all original UK singles have been compiled on a single CD. All I find are compilations of all US singles. Is there such a thing?

    Editor: Scott, I don’t think the British singles are collected on CDs (it would take two). If you own all the songs, you could burn your own CD’s, or if you subscribe to a music service, you could make your own playlist. Also, the British singles are all available on a collection of vinyl 45’s with cover art from various countries.

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