This may be the single hardest Beatles song for me to rank, no joke. At its core, there is a great song here. A fantastic song in fact. But like much of the Sgt. Pepper album, that great song is buried among layers of production tricks and I have to be honest, I find it virtually unlistenable. If that were the only version available, “Good Morning, Good Morning” would have probably ended up closer to the back end of the top 200.
Also, any song based around having to get out of bed in the morning automatically loses points.
However…in the mid-90s, the Beatles issued six discs’ worth of rarities as part of the multi-faceted Anthology project. Among the featured tracks were two 1970s John Lennon demos revamped by the three surviving Beatles, various vintage pre-fame recordings, demos tracking the process of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and a handful of White Album cuts…and a basic studio take of “Good Morning, Good Morning” that eliminates some of the elements that make the Sgt. Pepper version so busy and showcases just how catchy this song actually is. It’s easily one of my personal Anthology highlights, and maybe the biggest argument for less being more in rock music history.
The Sgt. Pepper version boasts so much unnecessary…just, noise. The song opens with a rooster crowing–ok, fair enough given the title–and concludes with a literal stampede of animals that have nothing to do with a wake-up routine. In between, you’ll find an obnoxiously loud and unnecessary brass section, a guitar solo that prioritizes speed over anything else, and an annoying and repetitive chorus that feels absolutely shoehorned in (it’s not present on the Anthology version).
The worst thing about this cacophony of sound? It masks Ringo Starr’s best drumming on record. Seriously. Of course his solo during “The End” is legendary, and he considers his work on “Rain” his greatest accomplishment, but don’t sleep on the “Good Morning, Good Morning” percussion. I’m well-known for my incredible air drumming skillz, and this song is so much fun to play along to. The Anthology version, of course.
That simpler rendition is truly excellent and deserved better than to be buried on an archives collection three decades after the fact. And if you want a deeper dive, the same version you’ll find on Anthology 2 appeared on last year’s deluxe reissue of Sgt. Pepper in a different, purer mix with a completely unfiltered John Lennon vocal.