It’s the first free day, blog wise, of a new month.
A few weeks ago, I thought I’d try for a mix with songs released as b-sides. The long list proved to be very substantial, with more than enough bits of music to bring you a box set. I ended up making two volumes. Hope you enjoy them.
mp3: Various – Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The B-Side (Volume 1)
Bagged Out Ken – Julian Cope
Intuition Told Me – Orange Juice
La Pastie De La Bourgeoisie – Belle and Sebastian
Situation – Yazoo
Rent – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
First We Take Manhattan – R.E.M.
Do It Clean – Echo and The Bunnymen
I Kicked A Boy – The Sundays
The Highland League – I, Ludicrous
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
The Butterfly Collector – The Jam
Even In His Youth – Nirvana
Edam Anchorman – Super Furry Animals
Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend – Arctic Monkeys feat. Dizzy Rascal
Unfaithful – The Wedding Present
Life’s A Gas – Teenage Fanclub
Mars Bar – The Undertones
My Insatiable One – Suede
mp3: Various – Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The B-Side (Volume 2)
Friday Night, Saturday Morning – The Specials
Erotic City (Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive) – Prince & The Revolution
What’s The World – James
His Latest Flame – The Motorcycle Boy
Lipstick – Buzzcocks
I Love You, You Big Dummy – Magazine
Fantastic Life – The Fall
Shopping For Blood – Franz Ferdinand
10.15, Saturday Night – The Cure
Paninaro – Pet Shop Boys
Laugh You Out The House – Everything But The Girl
We Could Send Letters – Aztec Camera
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy – Sons and Daughters
Blank Slate – The National
1963 – New Order
This Girl, Black Girl – The Go-Betweens
Both come in just a few seconds short of sixty minutes.
11 thoughts on “KILLER B’s”
Oh, I love that Go-Betweens single with Man O’ Sand To Girl O’ Sea and That Girl, Black Girl on the flip. My first real encounter with them, and it started a life long love affair.
4 of which…
…are firm As and all-time favourites.
What’s The World might be my favourite James song (Smiths’ cover attempt was poor), lurching, deranged and very tuneful. Fantastic Life would be in my top ten Fall songs. Grant wrote This Girl Black Girl to entertain his family with a catchy folkie singalong and hit a rich seam of melodic Dylanesque pop thereafter. We Could Send Letters comes from Aztec Camera’s short-lived imperial phase (the two Postcard singles for my money . . . ) and is sublime.
As Flimflamfan says some of these are all time favourites and should never have been ‘just B-sides’…
I Third that statement!
Great B-sides are a religion unto themselves! Here’s a list I compiled for a friend’s blog [now deceased] and I still stand by this one.
20 best non-LP b-sides of all time [according to PPM]
1. Ultravox – Paths + Angles
B-side to “The Voice.” Fascinating blend of Warren Cann’s recited verses with Chris Cross singing the chorus. Midge Ure was not around the day the other three recorded this one. Killer melodic hooks are mated with typically compulsive rhythms.
2. Ultravox – I Never Wanted To Begin
“The Thin Wall” B-side. This track is jam packed with insanely compulsive rhythm programming! Once you hear this it will lodge itself in your skull for hours. The 12″ version is extended!
3. Adam & The Ants – Beat My Guest
The B-side to “Stand & Deliver.” Just our luck to have one of Adam’s best singles mated with an even better B-side! As emphasized by Marco Pirroni’s lewd guitar licks, this frolicsome ode to S & M manages to actually sound cheerful.
4. Spandau Ballet – Glow
B-side to “Musclebound.” The band invent new forms of Latinesque synth funk with this killer B-side that telegrphed their first big stylistic shift. Never better than in its 12″ version!
5. Simple Minds – New Warm Skin
B-side of “I Travel.” Another act that mated their best single with an evenly matched B-side! The rhythm track on this chilling song about plastic surgery is an example of Brian McGee at his finest. Mike McNeil’s keyboards mesh perfectly with the jarring stabs of Charlie Burchill, back when he avoided guitar clichés like the plague.
6. Japan – European Son
B-side of Japanese “I Second That Emotion” single. Quite frankly, this is my favorite Japan song of all time! It is the acme of the band’s Moroder-influenced “autobahn music.” It thoroughly smokes the actual single the band recorded with Moroder. Which was great!
7. China Crisis – This Occupation [ext. ver.]
B-side of Wishful Thinking” 12.” The 7″ version of this track is good, but the extended mix is mystical! This sounds nothing like the China Crisis we know and love. It sounds even better! Quite frankly, this resembles mid period Cabaret Voltaire, sigh!
8. Visage – Frequency 7
“Tar” B-side. I was over familiar with the not so interesting extended version of this track that turned up everywhere back in the day. It took years of having this single before I finally played the 7″ version and was blown away the the superiority of this mix. It’s night and day compared to the tedium of the 12″ mix. For starters, it’s an actual song with vocals, and some killer synth rock.
9. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Just A Memory
B-side to “New Amsterdam.” quite possibly my favorite Elvis Costello track ever, this heart-wrenching ballad was originally written for Dusty Springfield, who ultimately did record it.
10. Swing Out Sister – Fever
“Fooled By A Smile” B-side. Yet another face rave B-side by a group that normally sounds nothing like Cabaret Voltaire, yet manages to channel them brilliantly on a B-side.
11. Yello – There Is No Reason
“She’s Got A Gun” B-side. This magnificent song from the soundtrack to Dieter Meier’s film “Jetz Und Alles” is an utterly riveting track by a band that typically had modest instrumental B-sides.
12. The Human League – Marianne
B-side on “Holiday ’80” EP. Killer track from the sessions of my favorite Human League album. Also available in an alternate take [also great] only in Australia.
13. The Tourists – The Golden Lamp
B-side of “Blind Among The Flowers.” Another example of a B-side just as strong [if not moreso] of the killer A-side it was paired with. Conny Plank didn’t need synthesizers to achieve production brilliance!
14. The Cramps – Wilder, Wilder, Faster, Faster
B-side of “Eyeball In My Martini.” This is one of The Cramps longest numbers at nearly five minutes… and it’s not nearly long enough! This track is done in the style of an old 60s AM radio ad for a drive in movie packed with all of the lurid action they could stand. Brilliant!
15. Pet Shop Boys – Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend
B-side of “Where The Streets Have No Name.” The Pet Shop Boys have an enviable catalog of B-side material that most bands would kill for. This song is a typically strong B-side that sounds like robust A-side material to me.
16. The Cure – The Exploding Boy
17. The Cure – A Few Hours After This…
“In Between Days” B-sides. If you bought The Cure’s “In Between Days” 12″ you were gifted with the three best songs the band ever recorded! “The Exploding Boy” is driven by acoustic guitars and mighty drums in addition to a killer tenor sax riff that proves that less is more. “A Few Hours After This” is a baroque feast for the senses with strings, percussion and tympani evoking Ennio Morricone at his most expansively robust!
18. Duran Duran – Secret Oktober
“The Union Of The Snake” B-side. Their third album was far from Duran Duran’s finest hour, but this exquisitely poised B-side put everything else they recorded for those sessions very much in the shade! One of their finest songs ever. It was almost like a proof of concept for the Arcadia album.
19. OMD – Annex
“Enola Gay” B-side. OMD were another band with a plethora of strong B-sides, but this one has the edge for me today. This evocative tune begins with a Japanese seaside melody under which a throbbing industrial rhythm ultimately ascends to hijack the wistful song by its end to leave the listener shell-shocked by its chilling intensity.
20. Bill Nelson – The Passion
“Flaming Desire” B-side. Another B-side that plays strongly off of a rousing A-side. “The Passion” is a driving instro that sounds like Duane Eddy poured in a blender with classic Duran Duran as the solid guitar chords are abetted by sax and synthetic percussion.
From a time when B-sides were just as important as A- sides
I would nominate all Joy Division B sides and all the New Order B sides up until Blue Monday,
You are spoiling us, JC! I was hooked by the opening 1-2 of Julian Cope and Orange Juice but this really is an excellent (and apt) pair of mixes. It wasn’t all that unusual for me to buy a single on the strength of a B-side or, in many cases, preferring it to the A-side.
It felt like the marketing and multi-format frenzy reached a ridiculous extreme in the late 1990s/early 2000s, with singles featuring a plethora of sub-par outtakes and/or remixes, and it felt like it was the death knell for the quality B-side.
Ironically, although I mostly buy digital rather than vinyl singles these days, I think there’s been something of a resurgence of good songs on singles/EPs that aren’t the lead or feature on an album.
Closing with The Go-Betweens was a genius move.
Vol. 2 is a beautiful mix (and another proof of knowledge and good taste). All the songs are easily good enough to be an a-side as well. A few songs even managed this feat: “10:15 Saturday Night” was released as a single in France in 1980 (550 € at Discogs). And “1963” was released as a single 8 years after “True Faith”.
Favorite song I didn’t know/have: “His latest Flame”.
I’m very excited for vol. 1.