favorite B-sides

Influenced by this thread. A search shows that this hasn’t been done before, which is surprising, so let’s give it a shot.

B-sides are usually unfinished filler tracks for padding out a single, but as Cece said, some artists are “incapable of writing a second-rate song.” So let’s name off some of our favorite hidden gems.

The Beatles—“Rain” (B-side to “Paperback Writer”)
I like this more than the A-side. The drowsy vocals on top of the swirling bass works perfectly, and it has some of Ringo’s best drumming.

U2—“The Three Sunrises” (B-side to "The Unforgettable Fire)
Well, about everything from this period in the band’s history sounds improvised (which sounds bizarrely beautiful with the atmospheric Eno/Lanois production), and this is no different. It’s bursting with energy.

Pearl Jam—“Dead Man” (B-side to “Off He Goes”)
A very dark song. The bass is like a heavy fog that the echoey guitar cuts through and that envelops the murky vocals and string section. Nice, simple lyrical imagery too.

John Lennon—“Move Over, Ms. L” (B-side to “Stand By Me”)
A wild, horn-filled affair with off-key vocals singing odd lyrics. Quite a contrast to the polished flipside.

Radiohead—“Cuttooth” (B-side to “Knives Out”)
A tense song, with worrisome lyrics like “a little bit of knowledge will destroy you” and “as the tanks roll into town” being chanted over a calm keyboard part. It culminates into Thom screaming “I don’t know why I feel so skinned alive” and then modulating a cry into something melodic.

Oasis—“Round Are Way” (B-side to “Wonderwall”)
I think I like any rock song with horns. This one has a couple harmonica solos too, which is even better. The music seems to ascend infinitely, especially when it hits the chorus.

Coldplay—“One I Love” (B-side to “In My Place”)
A screaming guitar riff in between the verses and bass interludes. Throwaway lyrics, but the howled out chorus makes up for it.

IIRC the B side to “Come Monday” was “Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw”, one of JBs most loved songs.

The Sweet’s “Cover Girl” , the B-side to "Love Is Like Oxygen"

Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs” also comes to mind as a once well-hidden B-side gem.

What is this strange “single” thing you speak of that has two sides?

(Don’t tell me it’s some kind of mythical audio-recording technology out of the distant past that involved analog scratches on the surface of a vinyl disc or something. That’s just too far-fetched to believe.)

tracer, you funny boy.

Iron Maiden has had many great b-sides; in their recent box set, the “Best of the B-Sides” portion takes up two whole CDs, and doesn’t even include them all. One of my favorites (which was NOT in the box set, bastards) is “Mission from 'Arry”, which isn’t even a song, but an argument between the drummer and bass player that Bruce Dickinson secretly taped on his Walkman. It’s hilarious.

Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” single was backed with “Hey Hey, What Can I Do”, one of their more memorable acoustic songs, which remained in relative obscurity until being included on their 1990 4-CD box set.

Soundgarden also put a interesting cover version of Devo’s “Girl You Want” on the B-side of their “Rusty Cage” single.

The Replacements put out a lot of good B-sides, some of which were collected on the 2nd disc of their **All For Nothing/Nothing For All **CD.

The funniest B-side ever, however, has to be on a bootlegged pressing of **The Misfits ** “Teenagers From Mars”. Side A contains the studio track of the song taken from the “Static Age” sessions, while the B-side contains a live version of the song where the lyrics were changed to disparage and insult their recently departed guitarist, Bobby Steele, who was reportedly in the audience at the time.

Radiohead - (and any fan will back me up) “Talk Show Host.” It’s one of their most requested non-album songs. Also “Worry Wort” off the Knives Out single, and just about all the Bends and OK Computer era B-sides.

Nirvana - “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” off the Pennyroyal Tea single, “Curmudgeon” off the Lithium single.

Gomez - “Pop Juice” off the Shot Shot single

Blinker the Star - “Deaf Angel Ears” off the Below Sliding Doors promo single

Slowdive - any and all of them

Foo Fighters - “How I Miss You” off a couple of the S/T era singles

On - “Sister Says John” off the Soluable Words single

Catherine Wheel - “Come Back Again” off the Crank cassette single, “Collidoscopic” (sp?) off the I Want To Touch You single, “Desending Babe” and “Willing To Wait” off the Ma Solituda singles

Adorable - “Summerside” off the I’ll Be Your Saint single, “Contented Eye” off the Homeboy single, and “Dinosaur #3” off the Kangaroo Court single.

“Talk Show Host” and “Cuttooth” are both great Radiohead B-sides. I’m also very fond of “Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2),” and while I’m not sure if either of the following counts as a B-side, the live version of “Like Spinning Plates” and the extended version of “Life in a Glass House.”

In the non-Radiohead vein… “Falling Down” by the Mad Caddies is one of the catchiest punk-ska songs ever.

Some highlights from the Beatles, the kings of the great B-sides (in A-side/B-side order):[ul][li]Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You [/li][li]I Want To Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There [/li][li]Please Please Me/From Me To You [/li][li]All My Loving/This Boy [/li][li]Can’t Buy Me Love/You Can’t Do That [/li][li]A Hard Day’s Night/Things We Said Today [/li]Parlophone R5160 - July 10, 1964
[li]A Hard Day’s Night/I Should Have Known Better [/li]Capitol 5222 - July 13, 1964
Capitol A6281 - November 30, 1981
[li]And I Love Her/If I Fell [/li][li]I Feel Fine/She’s A Woman [/li][li]We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper [/li][li]Paperback Writer/Rain [/li][li]Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby [/li][li]Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever [/li][li]All You Need Is Love/Baby You’re A Rich Man [/li][li]Hello Goodbye/I Am The Walrus [/li][li]Hey Jude/Revolution [/li][li]Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down [/li]Something/Come Together[/ul]What band wouldn’t kill to have just the B-sides in their catalogue? You know what? These guys were pretty good.:wink:

A few of my favorites:

by Pearl Jam
“wash”
“yellow ledbetter”
“footsteps”

by the cure
“Play”
“Twilight Garden”

by Seal
“Come See What Love Has Done”
“Sparkle”

by Richard Ashcroft
“XXYY”
“Precious Stone”
“Leave Me High”

Depeche Mode
But Not Tonight
Sibeling
Stjarna
Dangerous
Surrender

Mesh
Let Them Crush Us
Safe With Me

Iris
Everybody is Life

VNV Nation
Left Behind

While I have very few actual singles in my collection, I’m very fond of the b-side of the Cure’s STANDING ON THE BEACH, particularly “Man Inside My Mouth.” Very strange, but very cool.

Interestingly enough, both “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” were released as the a-side of that single. The math on that confuses me, but I think the idea was that they were both equally good or something like that. Sorry. Just had to geek out for a second there.

Even though you’d think Radiohead had gotten enough mentions in the thread, I have to throw in a word for Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong, Palo Alto and Fog. They’re all as good as anything they’ve put on their albums.

Buddy Holly had a big hit with “Oh Boy” back in '57, on a black vinyl 45-RPM record.
The flipside, which for you young’uns is synonymous with “B side”, is “Not Fade Away”, a tune that has seemed to last better over the years.

Elvis’s “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” were released on the same 45-RPM record. I don’t remember which was supposed to be the flipside, but both reached number 1 on the charts.

The Coasters’s release of “Young Blood” was supposed to be the hit side, but the flipside, “Searchin’” became #1 and the bigger hit after the record was released.

There were a number of cases like this in the early days of Rock ‘n’ Roll, where the people playing the juke boxes made the production “experts” change their mind about which song was really the best.

[/history lesson].

Fleetwood Mac - “Cool Water” - yes, the old cowboy tune.

The aforementioned Cure produced a ton of excellent B-sides that might have done just as well as album tracks, except that Robert Smith felt they were “too ephemeral.” There are two bootleg CDs with nothing but them. Highlights include: The Exploding Boy, A Few Hours After This, A Man Inside My Mouth, Breathe, Snow In Summer, Fear of Ghosts (possibly the best song from the Disintegration era), and Halo (possibly the best song from the Wish era, natch). Mr. Smith has said that when the Cure is kaput (which is announced after every album is released, and then they make another one…) he wants to put out a “proper” B-side retrospective, but until then we’re stuck with the boots.

All this mention of Beatles’ B-sides, and no “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” yet?

Unlike most of the songs in Bob Cos’ list, this one was a genuine throwaway. But it’s inventive and playful in a quirky sort of way.

Actually, I forgot to add “Halo” to my list. That song is really cool, and I do like “Babble” a bit, as well.

I’ll also say Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam.

Yeah, “Come Together” and “Something” were double A-sides too.