Rediscovering Gems: 10 Underrated Songs Not Penned by Bands’ Primary Songwriters

In the intricate tapestry of band dynamics, songwriting often emerges as a collaborative effort or falls under the domain of a select few members. While renowned bands typically attribute their hits to primary songwriters, lesser-known gems often arise from unexpected sources within the group. This list delves into 10 underrated songs that defy the conventional narrative by showcasing the talents of band members beyond the primary songwriters.

1. The Who – ‘I Need You’ (Keith Moon, 1966):
Despite Pete Townshend’s dominance as The Who’s primary songwriter, drummer Keith Moon showcased his songcrafting prowess with “I Need You” from “A Quick One.” Moon’s psychedelic-infused pop rock masterpiece underscores his multifaceted talents, with energetic fills complementing the tune’s laidback vibe.

2. The Beatles – ‘Savoy Truffle’ (George Harrison, 1968):
While John Lennon and Paul McCartney often overshadowed George Harrison’s contributions, “Savoy Truffle” stands out as a playful gem from the “White Album.” Inspired by Eric Clapton’s love for chocolate, Harrison’s blues-leaning composition exudes maturity and confidence, offering a delightful departure from the band’s emotional landscape.

3. The Rolling Stones – ‘No Use in Crying’ (Ronnie Wood, 1981):
Amidst Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ legendary partnership, guitarist Ronnie Wood’s “No Use in Crying” from “Tattoo You” emerges as a slow-burning RnB-infused track. Originally an outtake from “Emotional Rescue,” Wood’s intricate instrumentation and emotive vocals elevate this hidden gem to timeless heights.

4. The Police – ‘Omega Man’ (Andy Summers, 1981):
Guitarist Andy Summers takes the reins of songwriting with “Omega Man” from “Ghost in the Machine,” showcasing his unconventional style amidst the trio’s gloomier new wave sound. Despite being overshadowed by Sting’s compositions, Summers’ prominent hooks and distinct flair render “Omega Man” a standout track.

5. Nirvana – ‘Marigold’ (Dave Grohl, 1993):
Drummer Dave Grohl’s sole original contribution to Nirvana, “Marigold,” reveals a gentler side amidst the band’s abrasive angst. Serving as the B-side to “Heart Shaped Box,” Grohl’s delicate composition, coupled with his vocal and instrumental prowess, foreshadows his future songwriting endeavors.

6. Alice in Chains – ‘Head Creeps’ (Layne Staley, 1995):
Frontman Layne Staley’s rare solo endeavor, “Head Creeps,” showcases his songwriting finesse within Alice in Chains’ signature style. From haunting vocals to sludgy riffs, Staley’s seamless composition captures the essence of the band’s dark allure, leaving an indelible mark on their self-titled record.

7. Stone Temple Pilots – ‘Tumble in the Rough’ (Scott Weiland, 1996):
Frontman Scott Weiland’s “Tumble in the Rough” from “Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” melds glam and grunge, epitomizing the album’s fusion. Despite being overshadowed by the DeLeo brothers’ contributions, Weiland’s raw vocals and Dean DeLeo’s guitar work elevate this track to timeless status.

8. The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Go’ (James Iha, 2000):
Guitarist James Iha’s “Go” from “Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music” marks a departure from his dreamy musings, showcasing a more full-bodied sound. Led by Iha’s vocals, this Sonic Youth and R.E.M.-inspired track stands out amidst the album’s ambitious yet disjointed narrative.

9. Oasis – ‘Born on a Different Cloud’ (Liam Gallagher, 2002):
Frontman Liam Gallagher’s emotional ballad “Born on a Different Cloud” from “Heathen Chemistry” reflects Oasis’ evolving identity during the early 2000s. Despite Noel Gallagher’s songwriting dominance, Liam’s intimate composition builds to a cathartic climax, exemplifying his growth as a songwriter.

10. Depeche Mode – ‘Miles Away/The Truth Is’ (Dave Gahan/Christian Eigner/Andrew Phillpott, 2009):
Dave Gahan’s collaborative effort with Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott in “Miles Away/The Truth Is” from “Sounds of the Universe” captures Depeche Mode’s synthesis of rock and synth-pop influences. Amidst Martin Gore’s songwriting legacy, Gahan’s anthemic chorus and reflective lyrics offer a compelling exploration of the band’s evolution.

These underrated songs serve as testaments to the multifaceted talents lurking within bands, offering listeners a glimpse into the diverse creative reservoirs that shape musical legacies.

Related Articles

The Day the Music Burned

It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business β€” and almost nobody knew. This is the story of the 2008 Universal fire.
Chuck Berry, 1958.CreditCreditPhoto Illustration by Sean Freeman & Eve Steben for The New York Times. Source Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.