100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'The Night Before'
Fiona Adams/Redferns49/100

49. 'The Night Before'

Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: February 17, 1965
Released: August 13, 1965
Not released as a single

For any other band, a pop gem as magnificent as "The Night Before" would have turned into a career-making hit single, if not the foundation of a legend. But for the Beatles, it was just another great album track, slipping through the cracks as they sped from A Hard Day's Night through Help! on their way to Rubber Soul. The band was writing and cutting masterpieces faster than fans could even absorb them.

The band's love of Motown was never more apparent, resulting in a hard-driving twist number that could have passed for prime Marvin Gaye at his most uptempo. In his double-tracked lead vocal, McCartney yowls about a lover's betrayal, while Lennon plays a rollicking electric-piano riff. "That sound was one of the best [we] had got on record," said McCartney.

In the movie Help!, the Beatles perform the song on England's Salisbury Plain, in the shadow of Stonehenge. Harrison mimes the terse, stabbing guitar solo — but it was McCartney who played it on the record.

Appears On: Help!

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