Rock’s Top 10 B-Sides
In the heyday of Top 40 radio, when the 45 was king, record labels typically put all their effort into only one side of single, the A-side. B-sides were considered throwaways. The Beatles were the exceptions as nearly all of their singles produced double-sided hits, but for the vast majority, “flip sides” were often only heard by the kids who purchased the singles and then, usually in the privacy of their bedrooms when they were alone – seldom shared when friends dropped into visit.
That said, some B-sides have gone on to far greater fame than their A-sides. Here are h=wht we consider the top 10:
- “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets – Yes, the song that’s often credited with launching rock into the mainstream begam life as the B-side to “13 Women.” Initially, the record was a two-sided flop. Then, movie producers used the B-side over the titles for the movie Blackboard Jungle. The single was re-issued with A & B sides reversing and the rest is rock & roll history!
- “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley – Hard to believe, but this all-time classic was actually released as the flip side of “Don’t Cruel. Now, “Don’t Be Cruel” is famous in its own right, but nowhere near as well known or remembered as “Hound Dog.”
- “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers – Yes, this little opus was considered a throwaway track by legendary producer Phil Spector. The A-side was supposed to be “Hung on You.” On that, Spector lavished his usual amount of time and attention. “Unchained Melody” was thrown together so quickly that it features only one, not both, of the Righteous Brothers (Bobby Hatfield) and was recorded fairly quickly. In truth, neither side found much initial success. It as only when the track was used as part of the 1990 film, Ghost, that it became the classic it is today.
- “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys – Hailed by many as Brian Wilson’s greatest composition and far and away the Boys most popular tune in the UK, this thoughtful ballad was the B-side and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was the A-side. Actually, both are still considered stone cold rock classics.
- “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart – You read that correctly, the song that is probably Rod’s best remembered song was actually the B-ide of his breakout single, “Reason to Believe.” Reading both those titles, we know which one is currently playing in your mind. “Wake up, Maggie!”
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