If there’s one thing about contemporary music that irks us (well, there’s many things that irk us, but this is the one that irks us most), it’s the overreliance on singles rather than albums. We here at Goliath often find ourselves unsatisfied by the “one track” mentality of bands nowadays, instead yearning for the good ol’ days when bands would dedicate a significant amount of time to crafting an album, not just as a collection of songs that could be played independently on the radio, but rather as a singular entity meant to be experienced all at once. And with people spending so much time focusing on singles rather than entire albums, you tend to miss some really great tracks, which is why we’ve taken the time to compile 10 amazing songs from famous bands (that you haven’t heard on the radio). None of the following songs were ever released as singles, but they’re all incredible songs that most every music listener should be familiar with.
10. “Mad Sounds” – Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys have a ton of really great deep cuts, but we think that “Mad Sounds,” which is the seventh song off their most recent album AM, is a tune that deserves a little love. A change of pace song (it’s slow, rather than fast) on an otherwise fairly rocking album, “Mad Sounds” abandons the grungy overtones the Arctic Monkeys adopted for most of AM and instead offers viewers a soft, lush campfire-sounding song that comes complete with an echo-y, reverb-filled introduction and a chorus smoother than butter that’s been left out on the counter. Special love goes out to the beginning of the second chorus, where front man Alex Turner wows while singing “Somebody up and hit you with an Ooh La La La/Ooh La La La”…you get the point. AM is actually one of the few recent albums which eschews the singles only formula and plays well as an experience, so be sure to check it out in its entirety.
9. “Have Love, Will Travel” – The Black Keys
It seems an impossible task to turn on the radio these days without hearing something from The Black Keys, the dynamic rock duo from Akron, Ohio. While we weren’t huge fans of their most recent musical endeavor, Fever, we do love most all of the duo’s older work, especially the insanely bluesy Thickfreakness, which was released in 2003. Thickfreakness, which featured covers of Junior Kimbraugh and Richard Berry, was also home to the album’s titular track, “Thickfreakness,” which happens to be one of the finest tunes ever penned by The Black Keys. Featuring their signature electric blues kicked up to level 11, “Thickfreakness” also features unintelligible lyrics that singer Dan Auerbach howls with a disturbing sense of urgency, just what we like in our blues tunes. The rest of the album is rock solid as well, with the Berry cover of “Have Love Will Travel” deserving special praise.
8. “Hey” – The Pixies
Doolittle is the second album released by The Pixies, the proto-grunge/alternative rock band from Boston, and it’s quite possibly the best album most of the population has never heard. While they may’ve been exposed to its singles at some point (the band released “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” off this record), it’s a solid bet that most of the music fans you know have never sat down and listened to Doolittle in all of its glory. If that’s the case, do your best to expose them to it immediately, and draw their attention to “Hey,” which is the thirteenth track off the album. “Hey,” which features a curious mix of off-tune guitars and Black Francis’s howling vocals, is in keeping with the tone of the remainder of the album; the record’s lyrics address themes as varied as death, violence, torture and the surreal, yet the whole thing rarely feels like a dour experience. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
7. “Up in Arms” – Foo Fighters
A rock band as talented and prolific as the Foo Fighters ought to have a couple of really great deep cuts hidden amongst all those stellar albums they’ve released. As it just so happens, that’s exactly the case, and we’ve listened to ’em all and chosen “Up in Arms,” which is the sixth track on 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, to represent the Dave Grohl-fronted rock band on this list. “Up in Arms,” which features a particularly unique arrangement and is essentially the same verse and chorus played through twice (once very slow and quiet, once very fast and loud), was never released as a single, despite its status as one of the stronger tracks on an extremely strong album (some might argue it’s the best the band has ever released). Now, we’re hardly the type of folks to go around questioning how Dave Grohl, a contributor to both Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, goes about his business, but we can’t help but feel like “Up in Arms” would have made a great single.
6. “Poles Apart” – Pink Floyd
There’s nary a Pink Floyd fan out there who will tell you that The Division Bell, a Roger Waters-less album released late in the band’s career, is their finest musical endeavor; rather, most folks agree that it’s far from their strongest effort, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its merit. Some of that merit can be found in the album’s third track, “Poles Apart,” a soaring tune that features some of lead guitarist David Gilmour’s finest soloing, with several instances of it being spread throughout the course of the seven minute song. “Poles Apart,” which also features some impressive lyrics (the next in a long, long line of them from the artsy and psychedelic band), is played in a non-standard tuning on the guitar (D-A-D-G-A-D rather than the traditional E-A-D-G-B-E), further adding to the intrigue of this track, one not commonly listed among Pink Floyd’s greatest accomplishments, but one well worth listening to if you’re a fan of the band.
5. “Homecoming” – Green Day
We’ve gone on record before stating how fond we are of Green Day’s American Idiot, even going so far as to suggest that criticisms of the band “selling out” to appeal to a more widestream audience are heavily overblown (rather, the band had paid their dues in the independent circuit and, as with most other revolutionaries, eventually found their way into some much deserved spotlight). And while “Jesus of Suburbia” often gets a ton of credit for being the most impressive track on American Idiot (something we’re not going to argue here), we’re going to offer up a slightly less popular, but nonetheless impressive track as some food for thought; the album’s twelfth track, “Homecoming,” features a similar structure to “Jesus of Suburbia,” progressing through several styles, time signatures and keys over the course of its nearly 10 minute running time.
4. “Haiti” – Arcade Fire
It’s always a strange thing when one of a band’s most iconic tracks was never released as a single. How did the track get so popular without airtime, you might ask? By being damn good, that’s how. That’s the case with “Haiti,” the eighth track off of Arcade Fire’s debut album Funeral, released in 2004. Funeral, which holds the distinction of being one of the most critically acclaimed albums of its generation, featured singles like “Wake Up” and “Rebellion (Lies),” but it’s “Haiti” that is most often remembered from this album, and rightfully so. An artful mix of upbeat Caribbean tempos and languid, soulful singing, “Haiti” represents the best of what Arcade Fire offer as a band, and its place among their musical canon speaks to the strength of a track that was never (perhaps in ill-advised fashion) released as a single.
3. “Jimmy Jazz” – The Clash
On an album as iconic and thoroughly encompassing as London Calling, the landmark punk rock album released by the Clash in 1979, it’s tough to pick out which songs to release as singles and which ones not to. For their part, the Clash did an excellent job releasing “London Calling,” “Clampdown” and “Train in Vain” as singles during the album’s tenure on the charts. That said, there’s a litany of amazing tracks on the album which could’ve easily found their way onto the radio waves way back in 1979. Of those tracks, which include the likes of “Rudie Can’t Fail” and “Lovers Rock,” we like to think that “Jimmy Jazz” is both the best and the most radio-friendly. Joe Strummer’s tale of a rough-around-the-edges criminal nobody can find is one of the Clash’s strongest efforts, and has since risen to occupy one of the top spots in the band’s catalog.
2. “Five Years” – David Bowie
Widely regarded as one of the finest opening tracks in the history of music, it’s pretty astounding to think that “Five Years,” which kicks off David Bowie’s iconic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (often abbreviated to simply Ziggy Stardust, for obvious reasons), was never released as a single. The track, which is consistently cited as one of the finest on an album filled with unbelievably good music, features a rousing acoustic overture and some moving lyrical work from Bowie, who’s one of the best in the business when it comes to spitting out affective lyrics. “Five Years” also fits into the whole of the album, which is renowned for being a concept album that plays from one end to the other in a seamless fashion.
1. “Ball & Biscuit” – The White Stripes
There’s really nothing we can say about “Ball & Biscuit,” the seventh track off The White Stripes’ 2003 album Elephant, that Jack White’s screaming, overdriven blues can’t say themselves. Just listen to the searing solos that are interspersed throughout the song in lieu of choruses, and you’ll understand why this seven and a half minute song is most often cited as White’s finest guitar work. A simple blues shuffle in E, “Ball & Biscuit” is notorious for being most improvised by White during recording, a feat which makes the incredible work here all the more impressive. But don’t take our word for it…just listen.