These album tracks should have been singles!

3 January 2021, 13:00

Arctic Monkeys performing in Birmingham in 2005
Arctic Monkeys performing in Birmingham in 2005. Picture: Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty Images

Let's take a look at some of those gems that lurk in the grooves of your favourite album...

Sometimes big tunes nestle within the grooves of an album, unobstrusively tucked away in the middle, minding their own business. There are many amazing songs that have never graced the singles charts - or if they have, it's years after the fact. Let's take a look at the album tracks that became classics.

  1. Arctic Monkeys - Mardy Bum

    Alex Turner seems a lot older than the 19 years he was when he wrote this track from the band's debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. A kitchen sink drama that uses the Yorkshire phrase for someone who's sulking for attention, it was never released as a single, but quickly became a favourite among Monkeys fans.

  2. The Stone Roses - I Am The Resurrection

    Originally the climax of the stunning 1989 self-titled debut album, The Stone Roses, this 8 minute epic achieved fame thanks to its cheeky quote from Jesus himself and a thrilling instrumental section that takes up half of the song’s running time. “I kept saying to them, ‘Look you’re great’,” singer Ian Brown later told MOJO magazine. “Let’s do a 10-minute song where you’re just playing and playing and playing.” And that’s what he got. Fans loved it so much, the song was released as a single three years after the album was originally put out.

  3. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows

    Inspired by John Lennon’s experiments with the hallucinogenic drug LSD, this is perhaps The Beatles’ most complex recording of all. Taking acid guru Timothy Leary’s book The Psychedelic Experience as a starting point (itself based on The Tibetan Book Of The Dead), Lennon used phrase that were intended to guide the curious adventurer through an LSD experience. The music reflected the psychedelic chaos - against a monumentally heavy drum track, various homemade tape loops or sped-up guitar and voices fly in and out, while Lennon intones the lyrics as if he were preaching from the top of a mountain. Tomorrow Never Knows still sounds like nothing on earth.

  4. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

    The title track of Pink Floyd's ninth album relates to the theme of absence and opens with the sound of a radio tuning away from the previous track, across a station playing Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and on to Dave Gilmour playing the delicate acoustic guitar intro. Floyd issued the ponderous Have A Cigar as a single instead - it failed to chart.

  5. The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

    An unlikely romantic sentiment as Morrissey pines for some special time with his beloved, claiming "And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side... what a heavenly way to die." A typical slice of dark humour from the lyricist is complemented beautifully by Johnny Marr's swooning music: lush strings, delicate guitar, the lot. Originally the penultimate track from The Queen Is Dead, the song was later released as a single after the band's demise - but Bigmouth Strikes Again and The Boy With The Thorn In His Side were the singles at the time.

  6. Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven

    Led Zep didn't go in for singles - you were going to buy the album anyway, so why bother? Mystical stuff from the British rock gods, taken from their untitled fourth album from 1971. also known as “Zoso” or “Four Symbols”. The stuff of rock ’n’ roll legend in so many ways, over the years there have been many, many theories about what the lyrics mean, plus what happens if you play the song backwards (it’s something Satanic, presumably).