Thursday, August 16, 2018

B-Sides, The Point

There is no need to complicate this or turn it into something other than what it is.

What are your favorite b-sides?

I thought about this while listening to a homemade Dion playlist, which included "Daddy Rollin'," the b-side of "Abraham, Martin & John." That track is an absolute killer! Another that came to mind was "Skyline Pigeon" by Elton. As an album track, "Skyline Pigeon" was a solo piano ballad found on "Empty Sky," but for the b-side of "Daniel," it was re-recorded with the classic Elton band and it suddenly felt like the Elton I had been listening to.

This also got me thinking about a week in 1982 when I tortured WNEW-FM DJ, Dan Neer.

Marshall Crenshaw's debut had been released and it was a favorite of the station. Of course, the single "Someday, Someway" was in heavy rotation, as well as a few others. I was working for my uncle at the time and business was non-existent. I sat at a desk with a radio and a phone that never rang. One morning I called into Dano's show and got him. I told him how much I loved the Crenshaw record and thought the best track was left off the album. He said, "Yes! Something's Gonna Happen is my fave, too! Gotta go." If you didn't know, "Something's Gonna Happen" was Marshall's first single for the indie label, Shake Records, also not on the debut.

He hung up before I could say that wasn't it. I was thinking of the b-side to "Someday, Someway,"  which was "You're My Favorite Waste Of Time." I called him the next morning, reminded him of yesterday's call, and requested my song. "I'll see what I could do." He played something from the album.

I called the next day. And the next. Finally, on Friday, last song of his set, he played "Favorite Waste Of Time" for my "new friend who will now kindly leave me alone."

That was fun, and years later when I was supplying CDs for Little Steven's Underground Garage, Dan Neer was my go-to guy, or more accurately, I was his. I told him the story. He did not remember, of course. I loved that Crenshaw b-side so much, my band at the time covered it and I sang it.

I guess I have no rules for this, other than trying not to choose something like "Rain" by The Beatles, or anything too obvious.


Troy said...

"Agnes" by Donnie Iris. Was the B-Side of "Love is Like a Rock". I actually like it better than the A-Side.

"Full Moon Turn My Head Around" by Off Broadway. Was the B-Side of "Stay in Time". Very fun tune, was a blast when they used to play it live.

Sal Nunziato said...

I lurve "Agnes!" That whole first album was great. 'You're Only Dreaming!"

Shriner said...

I never bought a lot of singles -- except when Singles started to be repackaged as "hits on both sides" (or the bunch of actual singles my dad had -- which would rule out all the Beatles stuff). I have two that stick out from what I consider B-Sides:

"Mediocre" -- the actual B-side to "Alvin's Harmonica" by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Just for the punchline at the end.

And I had bought a single of "Cover of the Rolling Stone" back in the day where the B-side was "Life Ain't Easy" -- where I found I loved that song even more than the A side. It wasn't until decades later that I found that was just another single that never went anywhere and was packaged on the flip side that way by Columbia, but -- at the time -- it was my favorite B-side of all time and I thought I'd found a real treasure there.

And, I guess I'd stretch things a bit to consider "Cuban Slide" and "Porcelain" by the Pretenders as "B-Sides" -- in which case those are my two favorites of all time. Of. All. Time.

Anonymous said...

The "B" side of The Kinks "Dead End Street" is to this day the shining example of the joys of a magical "B" side - "Big Black Smoke"!

The Kinks had many amazing "b" sides that were not on albums at the time of the singles release, they were like secret messages from The UK!

Captain Al

Sal Nunziato said...

"Big Black Smoke!" Yes! Nice pick, Captain.

itsok2beright said...

While not a big fan of 45's, the obvious one that comes to mind for me is "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do".

But, there was one real 'B' Side in the 80's that got me listening to a band that I wasn't familiar with at the time. This song received a bunch of airplay, and I was surprised that it was the 'B' Side, since I never heard the 'A' Side up until then, and didn't like it when I did; 'Dear God' by XTC.

I know there are a lot of haters for this song, but I look at it as a guilty pleasure.

snakeboy said...

Believe it or don't but the flip of the Climax single "Precious and Few" is a 1971 version of garage rock. Heavy stuff. "Park Preserve " is the tune.

Sal Nunziato said...

Just checked out Park Preserve! Wow! Would never had suspected the band who recorded Precious & Few had this in them.

Anonymous said...

The B-Side of "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop is just as good, but worlds apart from the A-Side.

It's an organ-fueled tribute to groupies called: "Slick Titty Boom" and it's on the album as well.

"She's yours, she's mine, she's someone else's too!"

- Stinky

itsok2beright said...

+1 on "Park Preserve". Awesome.

Honest Ed said...

Funnily enough, over here in the UK, Favourite Waste Of Time is Crenshaw's only well known song. Largely because of an incredibly irritating cover by a guy called Owen Paul which was a big hit here in the mid 80's.

Of the top of my head, my favourite B-Sides are mostly Springsteen's.

Held Up Without A Gun

And Shut Out The Light, which worked smartly as a B-Side to BITUSA!

And of course Pink Cadillac.

I'm also a huge fan of The Pogues' Body Of An American and Rainy Night In Soho. But they were on The Poguetry In Motion EP (though London Girl was played as the A side) so I'm not sure they really count as B-Sides.

And a couple of Billy Bragg';s UK B sides - World Turned Upside Down and his errrr... version of Walk Away Renee with Johnny Marr.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Beatles "b" sides "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)", and "Revolution".
Sex Pistols "Did You Know Wrong", B side of "God Save the Queen".
David Bowie "John I'm Only Dancing" (sax version) import B side of "Hang On To Yourself".
Paul McCartney "Oh Woman Oh Why", B side of "Just Another Day".

Anonymous said...

A very obscure Roy Harper b-side, Goodbye Ladybird, the flip of I Still Care from his 1982 release Work Of Heart.


Dave F said...

“Signifying Blues,”the B-side of “Gunslinger,” might be my favorite Bo Diddley song.

Dave F

M_Sharp said...

The flip side of "Bad Word For A Good Thing" by The Friggs is an instrumental "We're The Friggs". Sounds good at 45, but I accidentally played it at 33 and it's a great sludge rocker. The picture sleeve is great too. How's that for obscure?

Anonymous said...

Shut Out The Light by Springsteen, as it is not only my favorite BS tune, but one of my all-time favorite songs to boot. Another close contender, because these two songs are among my all-time faves also, is a double-sided (I think; I've never looked to see if either was the official A-side) single I picked up used at a swap meet years ago of Gram Parsons' In My Hour Of Darkness and Love Hurts. Both songs are so sublimely gorgeous, and I was so used to hearing them on this well-worn scratchy 45, that even after getting them years later on CD, I've kept and played the 45. All 3 of the songs I list here are quiet and powerful evocations of the weight life sometimes throws over our shoulders, but in their beauty they offer the respite to transcend it.
C in California

Squints said...

Top of the head: "C Moon," the flip of "Hi Hi Hi." Another may come to me but that one sprung to mind.


The B-side of "Stay In Time" was better? I'ma have to hunt that down.


My fave version of YMFWOT was Crenshaw's 1991 Mountain Stage performance with Mitch Easter in the band where they Merseybeated the heck out of it. Oh. My. Goodness.

kevin m said...

It's been so long since I bought a vinly 45 that I can't really name a favorite B-side.

That being said, YMFWOT is one of my top 5 songs by Marshall Crenshaw.

Robin said...

When I was a very young kid my mother brought home some used 45s for me-and one of them was "Happy Together" by the Turtles, which I played endlessly until the neighbors downstairs complained- it was backed with "Like the Seasons", which I adored too. Right now that is what comes to me- I know they didn't write it but it stands out, I can't think of later music I actually bought myself right now where I was enamored with a b side. Later on in the late 70s I became quite taken by a man named Warren Zevon...obviously "Like the Seasons" was a portent of good since he wrote it, which I wouldn't have realized. Apparently The Turtles were big fans of the young Zevon and wanted to help really launch his career they put "...Seasons" on the back of two songs, the first one flopped the second one, "HT" knocked "Penny Lane" out of the top of the charts. I still love "Like the Seasons" beyond reason.

Sal Nunziato said...

This is crazy! I just started reading Crystal Zevon’s book and only read Howard Kaylan’s piece about the song, like an hour ago!

Troy said...

@ Squints:

It was a blast live when we used to see them back in the day.

John Lewitt said...

The first 45 I ever bought was Dancing In The Dark. I flipped it over and got Pink Cadillac. It was worth whatever this kid paid for it at the time!

vanwoert said...

I absolutely love "Through the Lonely Nights" the B side to "It's Only Rock and Roll"

A walk in the woods said...

"Think I'm Going Mad," b-side to "She Was Hot" by the Stones, is a big one for me.

One would be the alternate version of "George Jackson" by Dylan that's only available as the b-side to that single; I'm almost certain that particular version was never reproduced anywhere, ever, on other vinyl or CD.

I love the instrumental version of "FM" that's the b-side to the well-known Steely Dan single.

I always liked the Morrissey b-side, "Hairdresser On Fire"... how could I not have guessed at that time that he's gay? Didn't matter then, didn't matter now, but it's funny I never even thought about it...

I love pretty muchly all the Elvis Costello b-sides (of which there are 10,000), but my favorite's probably "My Funny Valentine."

Keith35 said...

As I have told you, I never buy singles. In fact I don't think I have ever bought one, even as a kid. That being said I think one of the greatest B sides (and one of my favorite Beatles songs) is She's a Woman. At least I didn't say Rain

Anonymous said...

"Tear It Down," the b-side to Def Leppard's "Woman."

My 45 of Cream's "White Room" had "Crossroads" on the flip. Easily played that side the most.

Errol Morris has an entertaining documentary on Netflix called "The B-Side," about the photography of Elsa Dorfman. She explains near the end of the film that she calls the outtakes from photo sessions that no one wants the "B-Sides."

Dr Wu said...

‘Harold and Joe’,the B-Side to The Cure’s ‘Never Enough’ single from 1990 always brings a smile to my face.

Honest Ed said...

Another example of great B-Side which was better than the A-Side, by a distance on this case, is Oasis's Stay Young. The B-side to Do You Know What I Mean. In the UK it was a massive release, at the height of their UK popularity, when they were huge. The album pretty much blew much of that popularity, being bloated and lacking in tunes. Given that it was one fo the best things they ever recorded, it's inexplicable that they didn't get it on the album.

Unknown said...

Wasn't "Little Sister" the B side of Elvis' Marie's The Name? I had that single and always preferred it.

Anonymous said...

A couple hours after reading this post, I came across the following passage in the book "Feel Like Going Home" by Peter Guralnick (Chapter 11 about Chess):

“We thought ‘Maybellene’ was a joke,” Berry’s pianist, Johnny Johnson, told Michael Lydon. “People always liked it, but it was ‘Wee Wee Hours’ [the blues that was the flip side] that we was proud of, that was our music.”

I suppose if Wee Wee Hours had been the A-side, the history of rock n roll would've sounded very different.


Troy said...

Holy cow!! After my recent posts about Off Broadway, I just found out that the original lineup reunited for the first time in 37 years last month and I missed it. They are apparently doing one more show in September, opening for Pablo Cruise (side note...really??). The theater is about 30 min from my house. I already have plans that night, but I might have to make an exception. Wowza!

cmealha said...

I know I'm late top the party but I always loved the b-sides. There were a lot of great songs I discovered by flipping those 45's. The one that sticks out the most to me was the oddball "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" on the other side of The Beatles' "Let It Be". It was such an odd assortment of styles and moods that fascinated me and still does to this day. I couldn't have a discussion and tell you why I loved it. It was just one of those songs that I can't really defend but which took hold of me and never let go.