1. The Jesus And Mary Chain, “Psycho Candy”

Between November of 1984 and November of 1985, Scottish indie-pop act The Jesus And Mary Chain blended pretty melodies and abrasive noise across four singles and a debut LP, Psychocandy. In that first flourish of activity, the JAMC churned out more songs than it could use, including the fan-favorite “Some Candy Talking,” which was released in 1986 on an EP that included what should’ve been Psychocandy’s title track. Instead, the song “Psycho Candy” ended up bridging the gap between the group’s first two albums, introducing some of the gentle sweetness of 1987’s Darklands to the deep, all-consuming echo of the debut’s biggest hit, “Just Like Honey.” That may be why “Psycho Candy” didn’t make it onto the first record: because it would’ve stolen some thunder from Psychocandy’s most popular song. But it’s terrific nonetheless, haunting and catchy, and proves that the band didn’t need to push needles into the red to be effective. [Noel Murray]

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2. Superchunk, “On The Mouth”

Superchunk’s last gasp of furiousness before settling down a bit, 1993’s On The Mouth, is a fan favorite that includes a passel of classics like “Precision Auto,” “The Question Is How Fast,” “Package Thief,” and “Mower.” What it doesn’t include is “On The Mouth,” one of the finest, rockingest songs in the band’s discography, and sort of a shocking omission from the album, considering its quality. Maybe the band felt the record had enough rockers already, or maybe it just wanted to give the other songs on On The Mouth a fighting chance. [Josh Modell]

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3. Ride, “Going Blank Again”

Following the breakthrough success of its 1990 debut, Ride wanted to go big and make its 1992 follow-up, Going Blank Again, a double album. The band’s American label, Sire, suggested the band rethink that idea, and Ride agreed—and in the process, demoted the album’s title track to a B-side. The chiming guitars and “ah ah ah” vocal harmonies put “Going Blank Again” in line with the generally lighter sound of the album, and it’s easy to imagine it replacing the two and a half minute Britpop trifle “Making Judy Smile,” which made the final cut. But “Going Blank Again” eventually returned to the album named after it, on a 2012 reissue. [Kyle Ryan]

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4. Neil Young, “Journey Through The Past”

Journey Through The Past—the 1972 movie and its soundtrack—are strictly fans-only affairs; both are experimental, kinda messy, and hardly representative of Neil Young’s career at that point. (He’s always been vexing that way.) But the song is classic-sounding Young of that era, all longing and sweetness. It would appear later on 1973’s Time Fades Away, but a better place to experience it might be the incredible Live At Massey Hall, a long-bootlegged set that eventually saw an official release in 2007. [Josh Modell]

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5. Julian Cope, “World Shut Your Mouth”

When The Teardrop Explodes broke up in 1982, lead singer Julian Cope took a bit of time off to find himself. While he was ensconced in the village of Drayton Bassett, he followed his muse and composed enough tracks to put together his debut solo album, 1984’s World Shut Your Mouth. Sadly, psychedelia was out of vogue on the pop charts at the time, resulting in limited commercial returns, and Cope’s sophomore effort, Fried, earned him even less impressive sales figures. In 1986, however, Cope secured a new manager and changed both his image and his sound, moving in more of a traditional rock direction. In the process, he borrowed the title from his first album to use as the title of his first single since his musical reinvention. The end result: the first—and only—top-20 U.K. single of his solo career. [Will Harris]

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6. Led Zeppelin, “Houses Of The Holy”

The recent spate of Led Zeppelin reissues has made it clear how few real “bonus tracks” the group left behind—in part because most of its leftover songs either ended up on the posthumous collection Coda or on the 1975 album Physical Graffiti. In the latter case, when Led Zeppelin realized it’d recorded too much good music for a single LP but not enough for a double, the band filled out the record’s running-time with some of its choicest outtakes. One of those was the heavy funk-boogie number “Houses Of The Holy,” which by title should’ve been on the 1973 record of the same name, and by sound would’ve fit nicely alongside the likes of “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Rock And Roll” on 1972’s Led Zeppelin IV. Whatever its origin, the song became a Physical Graffiti highlight, joining “Trampled Under Foot” and “Kashmir” to comprise Zeppelin’s mightiest album-side. [Noel Murray]

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7. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson, “Winter In America”

Gil Scott-Heron titled his 1974 jazz/R&B collaboration with Brian Jackson Winter In America because the name described his sense of where the country was headed in the Watergate era. But he didn’t record a song called “Winter In America” until his and Jackson’s next album, The First Minute Of A New Day—and reportedly only did so then because some of his friends and collaborators wanted him to follow through on that original idea of a nation on the wane. Waiting a year turned out to be the right idea. Since First Minute was both Heron’s major label debut and the first he recorded with a full band, its version of “Winter In America” is richer and sadder than what he and Jackson might’ve come up with for the album of the same name. The song’s martial drums and melancholy woodwinds and brass provide an ideal backdrop for Heron to softly and deeply wail about the hard times and broken promises threatening to freeze American progress. [Noel Murray]

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8. Elvis Costello And The Attractions, “Almost Blue”

Of all the songs on this list, “Almost Blue” had the best excuse for not turning up on the album that bore its title: Elvis Costello And The Attractions delivered a dozen country covers on 1981’s Almost Blue, with no original material anywhere in the mix. The song in question, which found its way onto Costello’s next album, Imperial Bedroom, is most decidedly not country-influenced, having reportedly been inspired by Chet Baker’s cover of “The Thrill Is Gone,” but Baker clearly approved of the tribute: He repaid it by tackling Costello’s composition for the documentary Let’s Get Lost; his version of the song was also released on the 1988 album Chet Baker In Tokyo. [Will Harris]

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9. Big Country, “The Crossing”

The seven-minute “The Crossing” was likely left off of Big Country’s 1983 debut because of its length, but it remains one of the band’s best songs—as are “Wonderland” and “Angle Park,” which like “The Crossing” also popped up on the 1984 Wonderland EP. A lot of Big Country’s early work is best described as “stirring,” and that’s definitely the case with this track, which shares the ringing guitars and spry rhythms of the hit “In A Big Country,” but with more structural complexity. “The Crossing” works in frequent instrumental breaks, before building to an extended coda that slows the tempo just a bit, as though the first four minutes of the song were all about chugging ahead to a destination and the last three were about arriving and taking in the view. That feeling of effort and triumph is a fine encapsulation of the entire Big Country aesthetic. [Noel Murray]

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10. The Smithereens, “Especially For You”

After having battled its way up the rock ’n’ roll food chain since the band’s inception in 1980, The Smithereens finally began earning mainstream acceptance with the release of the 1986 album Especially For You, featuring the college-radio hits “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” and “Blood And Roses.” Making the best possible use of that forward momentum, Pat DiNizio, the band’s lead singer and predominant songwriter, rapidly but confidently composed the material that would feature on the follow-up effort, Green Thoughts, over the course of only a few weeks. He borrowed the title from the band’s breakthrough album for a moody track that featured haunting saxophone work from Los Lobos mainstay Steve Berlin. [Will Harris]

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11. Public Image Ltd., “Happy?”

When Public Image Ltd. toured behind the 1986 album Album (or Compact Disc or Cassette, depending on which edition you own), the members forged a bond on the road that led to songwriting sessions so successful that they even surprised John Lydon, hence the title of the resulting album, Happy? Lydon retained his good mood into PIL’s next record 9, composing a song that he viewed as an answer to the question posed by the previous album’s title. He described the track in his recent memoir Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored as “reflective,” explaining that “it’s a look back, it’s a self-analysis—the upshot being, yes, I’m happy—God, it is possible!” [Will Harris]

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12. Robyn Hitchcock, “Queen Elvis”

In the midst of his contract with A&M Records in the late ’80s, Robyn Hitchcock briefly decided to go indie, teaming with Replacements home Twin/Tone Records to deliver the sans-Egyptians effort Eye, featuring a song bearing the title of the Egyptians’ most recent major-label album. It’s been said that Hitchcock chose to hold onto the song for Eye because it matched neither the mood nor the tempo of the other material on the Queen Elvis album. But given his comments in a 2011 A.V. Club interview about how his major-label songs were “still mine, but I had less control over how they turned out and what happened to them,” it’s likely that saving the song and doing it by himself in the way that he—and only he—wanted gave him a certain degree of satisfaction. [Will Harris]

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13. Jason Falkner, “Author Unknown”

After earning major power-pop street cred with his work as a member of Jellyfish and The Grays, Jason Falkner signed a deal with Elektra Records and released his debut solo album, Presents Author Unknown, a title that works much better when his name is sitting directly in front of it. Falkner’s sophomore effort, Can You Still Feel?, a co-production with Radiohead’s go-to knob-twiddler, Nigel Godrich, found Falkner expanding his sonic palate. That may explain why the song “Author Unknown,” which sounded very much like a leftover from the last album, kicked things off and felt like the last gasp of his previous sound. [Will Harris]

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14. Elliott Smith, “Either/Or”

Sometimes naming an album after a song puts too much weight on the song itself, and sometimes the left-off song doesn’t fit in musically with its potential brethren. Both are true for Elliott Smith’s “Either/Or,” which he originally recorded along with the rest of the album that bears its name. But the song itself might not have worked with the desperate starkness of the others; its keyboard bed is almost a little too cheery. (Not the lyrics, of course; those were rarely cheery at all.) The song would eventually show up on the odds-and-ends collection New Moon. [Josh Modell]

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15. Face To Face, “Don’t Turn Away”

There’s no real reason the title track to Face To Face’s 1992 debut doesn’t actually appear on Don’t Turn Away. Frontman Trever Keith has said the band more or less did it to be mysterious, though the mystery didn’t last long: “Don’t Turn Away” appeared as a B-side on Face To Face’s “No Authority” single, also released in 1992. The arbitrariness of relegating “Don’t Turn Away” to a B-side comes through on the song itself, as it would’ve fit in perfectly with the other songs on Don’t Turn Away—and been one of the album’s better songs. Face To Face released a different version of it and six other previously released songs on the Over It EP in 1994. [Kyle Ryan]

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16. They Might Be Giants, “They Might Be Giants”

The song “They Might Be Giants” isn’t quite as old as the band They Might Be Giants, but it does pre-date the band’s self-titled debut. It was demoed while John Flansburgh and John Linnell were working on that record and then again during the sessions for second album, Lincoln, before finally finding a home on third album Flood, released on Elektra in 1990. “They Might Be Giants” owes more to The Monkees than Black Sabbath as band theme songs go. Flansburgh reflected on the track in a Rolling Stone interview tied to Flood’s 20th anniversary and acknowledged that including it on the band’s major-label debut “was a way to telegraph to all who might care that we were very much going to carry on as we had started—which is to say complicated and impossible to pigeonhole.” [Will Harris]

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17. Jets To Brazil, “Orange Rhyming Dictionary”

It took fans of Blake Schwarzenbach’s a while to grasp his wry sense of humor. Jawbreaker only offered peeks at his playfulness, with both “Boxcar” and “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault” allowing him to lob punchlines at the punk scene (and himself). Though his next band Jets To Brazil wasn’t any more joke-heavy, it did elect to put its sense of humor a little more front and center, naming its debut Orange Rhyming Dictionary. A play on the fact that no syllabic combination can offer a rhyme for the citrus fruit, the gag came to fruition when the long-lost title track re-appeared as a song on 2000’s Four Cornered Night. “Orange Rhyming Dictionary” may be far from lighthearted, what with Schwarzenbach singing about being killed off by loneliness, but it shows he’s not immune to playing the long game on his wordplay. [David Anthony]

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18. PJ Harvey, “Dry”

PJ Harvey, though named for Polly Jean Harvey, was originally a trio, and that trio recorded a pair of albums—Dry and Rid Of Me. Rid Of Me features both the song “Rid Of Me” and the song “Dry,” which, fittingly, feels more like some of the rawer material on Dry. Never one to dance around meaning in her songs, Harvey sings, “You leave me dry” over and over, which may lead casual listeners to wonder whether they’ve chosen the right album. Doesn’t matter—both are incredible. [Josh Modell]

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19. Gomez, “Bring It On”

Gomez’s Bring It On album was an excellent debut, showcasing the British band’s bluesy style with tracks like “Whippin’ Piccadilly” and “Get Myself Arrested.” What it didn’t include, though, was a song called “Bring It On,” which didn’t pop up until the group’s second album, Liquid Skin, was released about 18 months later. It’s unclear how “Bring It On” (the song) emerged, whether it’s at all related to Bring It On (the album). One thing it can’t be attributed to is the group’s theoretical fandom of the Kirsten Dunst movie of the same name: That cheery film didn’t come out until 2000. [Marah Eakin]

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20. Crooked Fingers, “Red Devil Dawn”

During the earliest Crooked Fingers tours, ex-Archers Of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann would nearly always play the bluesy, angry, funny “Red Devil Dawn,” which was also the B-side of his first single under the name. But the first two Crooked Fingers album came and went, and the song remained a B-side. Eventually, Bachmann released the album Red Devil Dawn—which did not, alas, feature the song either. It wasn’t until a Merge Records compilation called Survive And Advance Vol. 2 came out that the spectacularly weird song—about devils and blood and a “slick, big city homicide investigator”—was available digitally (and in a slicker sounding recording). [Josh Modell]

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