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    Pop music would be a different beast without the B-side. Music history is riven with songs deemed throwaway that revolted against their lowly status and refused to be denied. Be it rock’n’roll’s national anthem (‘Rock Around The Clock’), disco’s enduring game-changer (‘I Feel Love’) or hip-hop’s most notorious dis track (‘Hit ’Em Up’), all three started life as the so-called ‘lesser’ track on releases primed for maximum chart impact. But the B-side has done much more than make stars of Bill Haley, Donna Summer and 2Pac.

    Whether it was the Beatles, the Kinks and the Yardbirds in the 60s, Elton John, the Who and Queen in the 70s, Depeche Mode, the Cure and Prince in the 80s, or Oasis, Pulp and Radiohead in the 90s, the B-side allowed many of the world’s greatest acts freedom to experiment with no commercial constraints in an age where physical product ruled the roost.

    My first book, B-Side: A Flipsided History of Pop, rounds up over 500 most important flips and is published by Headpress.com. This site is an adjunct to the book, bonus tracks if you like, where I’ll be gradually working my way through some personal favourites plus other B-sides I had to omit from the book for reasons of space.

    Buy B-Side here
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    Pop music would be a different beast without the B-Side. Music history is riven with songs deemed throwaway that revolted against their lowly status and refused to be denied. Be it rock’n’roll’s national anthem (‘Rock Around The Clock’), disco’s enduring game-changer (‘I Feel Love’) or hip-hop’s most notorious dis track (‘Hit ’Em Up’), all three started life as the so-called ‘lesser’ track on releases primed for maximum chart impact. But the B-side has done much more than make stars of Bill Haley, Donna Summer and 2Pac.

    ImageImage

    Andy Cowan graduated from cut-and-pasting fanzines Only A Rumour and White Lie in his teens to working on Hip-Hop Connection — the world’s first rap monthly — in the late 80s, becoming its editor in the 90s and publisher in the 00s. He has also contributed to podcasts, documentaries, museum exhibits and is MOJO’s jazz columnist. He has been a B-side obsessive since he first started buying singles in 1978.

    Can’t believe your favourite B-side is missing? Have a cool B-side tale to tell? Please get in touch. All suggestions taken into account for future editions.

    Buy B-Side here

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    ONE
    Billion
    Concurrent crypto meta NFTs minted today
    TWO
    TB
    Volume of cat pictures and memes archived
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    '‘TV Stars’ '
    Skids
    VIRGIN 1979
    A-side: ‘Into The Valley’
    Often derided in punk quarters for their preening and pretentiousness, the B-side of Skids’ biggest hit was as basic as it comes. The Dunfermline band headed by singer Richard Jobson and buzzsaw guitarist Stuart Adamson (long before he made it sound like bagpipes) weren’t shy in proclaiming their differences from the throng, second wavers who wrote about futility of war and processing past emotional traumas. But not here. After a bit of onstage ‘banter’ (“This is the political part,” says Jobson, “speaking politics to you today”) and an introductory ode to Stanley Ogden and Eddie Yates (<em>Coronation Street</em>’s greatest window cleaners) they launch into a list of 12 names drawn from the <em>Street</em> and fellow ITV soap <em>Crossroads</em>. There are two exceptions – DJ John Peel (who’d previously played a session version on his Radio One show) and Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool footballer) – but it all revolves around the chorus hook, a chant-along shout-out to Weatherfield’s most obstinate curmudgeon, Albert Tatlock. And while the rousing A-side has lived on as the theme song for Jobson’s beloved Dunfermline AFC, ‘TV Stars’ has remained a cult favourite, a rollicking reminder of the thin gruel served up on British television in the 70s. It’s a great ball of fluff, but that’s one of the things B-sides are for.
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