A “double A-side” is a single where both sides are designated the A-side; there is no B-side on such a single.
The double A-sided single was invented in December 1965 by the Beatles for their single of “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out”, where both were designated A-sides. Other groups followed suit thereafter, notably the Rolling Stones in early 1967 with “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” as a double-A single.
In the UK, before the advent of digital downloads, both A-sides were accredited with the same chart position, as the singles chart was compiled entirely from physical sales. In the UK, the biggest-selling non-charity single of all time was a double A-side, Wings’ 1977 release “Mull of Kintyre”/”Girls’ School”, which sold over two million copies.
Occasionally double-A-sided singles were released with each side targeting a different market. During the late 1970s, for example, Dolly Parton released a number of double-A-sided singles, in which one side was released to pop radio, and the other side to country, including “Two Doors Down”/”It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” and “Baby I’m Burning”/”I Really Got the Feeling”. In 1978, the Bee Gees also used this method when they released “Too Much Heaven” for the pop market and the flip side, “Rest Your Love on Me”, which was aimed toward country stations.
Many artists continue to release double A-side singles outside of the US where it is seen as more popular. Examples of this include Oasis’s “Little by Little”/”She Is Love” (2002), Bloc Party’s “So Here We Are”/”Positive Tension” (2005) and Gorillaz’s “El Mañana”/”Kids with Guns” (2006).
Probably the best example of a double-A-side single that I can think of is Going Underground/Dreams of Children by The Jam back in 1980, although I can’t ever recall hearing any DJ playing the lesser known of the songs.
And here’s another very example of the genre I have in my collection from 1992:-
mp3 : St Etienne – Join Our Club
mp3 : St Etienne – People Get Real
The story goes that St Etienne wrote Join Our Club after Heavenly Records refused to release People Get Real as a single and so this was the compromise. The band seemingly went down the road of making as poppy and commercial a song as they thought they could get away with, without alienating their hip and trendy dance music fans. The unexpected and welcome outcome however, was that the song brought them a whole new audience in love with disposable pop that merged seamlessly with a catchy dance beat and rhythm. This was a bigger audience than hardcore dance fans and St Etienne now had a fantastic new template which would dominate future releases and in doing so they would become a very welcome mainstay of the singles charts in the early-mid 90s.