It was back in February 2015 that I penned/lifted these words.
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).
I went on to feature Join Our Club/People Get Real, a single by Saint Etienne that reached #21 in 1992.
It wasn’t until The Robster pulled together a Saint Etienne ICA did it hit me that this wasn’t even the best example of a double A side by that band. Here’s what he had to say:-
“Who Do You Think You Are (1993, double a-side single) : Originally recorded by Candlewick Green, this wonderful, wonderful song was updated some 20 years later by Saint Etienne. It’s definitely one of my fave tracks of theirs, and it makes up possibly their best single as a double-A with…
Hobart Paving [single version] (1993, double a-side single) : Stops me in my tracks this one. This version beats the album version hands down thanks to that lovely, mournful French horn solo. As close to perfection as it’s possible for a pop song to get.”
mp3: Saint Etienne – Who Do You Think You Are
mp3: Saint Etienne – Hobart Paving
It’s incredible to think that such a fine pop single stalled at #23 on its release in May 1993, especially when another cover version was all over the radio and sitting at #2 the very same week, namely the rather appalling take on Can’t Help Falling In Love by UB40. I’ll spare your ears.