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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.

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    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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    '‘Rhymes For The Deaf, Dumb & Blind’ '
    Blackalicious
    MO WAX 1994
    A-side: ‘Melodica EP’
    West coast indie rap arguably peaked in the mid-90s with the likes of the Pharcyde, Aceyalone, PUTS, Freestyle Fellowship and the Hieroglyphics crew all in ascendency. Formed at the University of California, the duo of Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab slotted right into the prevailing positive mode, with acts prioritising old fashioned lyrical skills and beat innovations above overly serious polemicising. Absorbed into the wider Solesides collective alongside Lateef the Truth Speaker, Lyrics Born and DJ Shadow, the latter produced this great EP track which, like most of the ‘Melodica’ EP, is an assertion of Gift of Gab’s versatile talents as an emcee and dedication to his craft. Gab had every reason to boast. His slick, quick-fire rhymes, technical savvy and sticky, unpredictable cadences were an antidote to the mediocrity slowly seeping into the hip-hop mainstream. Sadly, the nimble rhyme acrobat died in 2021, after years of poor health, with Shadow hailing him “the most preternaturally gifted MC I’ve ever worked with.” Listen to 1999’s gradually speeding-up B-side <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlynqOgBAUw" rel="noopener" target="_blank">‘Alphabet Aerobics’</a> if you don’t believe him. As for ‘Rhymes…’ it’s “all of that and a plate of chitlins”, just like the man said.

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