For today's young music fans, vinyl records are vintage: overpriced, somewhat bulky packaged art that actually takes time and effort to listen and enjoy. Back in the day when a song was released as a single (usually in the 45 rpm format), there was a lesser-known or less publicized track on the other side, known as the B-side.
Often the B-side cut became more popular than the A-side selection. So in honor of this month's Record Store Day, here are some of the best B-sides spanning the history of popular and mainstream music.
Widely regarded as the best "double-sided 45 (or vinyl recording) ever, Elvis Presley's A-side of "Don't Be Cruel" and B-sided "Hound Dog" is music history in one pressing. "Hound Dog" was a hit before Presley's version, but it's arguably the most recognized take on one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs of all time.
There's a good chance most music fans know this organ-fused instrumental gem without even knowing the name of the tune. The iconic track is considered one of the greatest and most recognizable instrumental rock songs — tinged with plenty of soul — around. It was initially released as the B-side to Booker T's "Behave Yourself" but then reissued as an A-side, and rightfully so.
Considered the band's first commercially successful song, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" was the B-side to "All I Really Want To Do." Both were on the charts, but the former has enjoyed a stronger legacy and was even covered by Tom Petty on his classic 1989 album, "Full Moon Fever" as "Feel a Whole Lot Better."
This is another song that's seen many versions, but arguably none more popular than that of The Righteous Brothers in the mid-'60s It originally came out as the B-side to "Hung on You" and is the one Righteous Brothers song that truly showcases the talent of the late Bobby Hatfield. Plus, we can't listen to the tune without thinking of the movie "Ghost."
This Beatles classic was the B-side to the U.S. release of the widely popular "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Though it did not enjoy as much chart success as its A-side, it more than held its own with the public and the tune, mostly written by Paul McCartney, remains a favorite among Beatles fans.
Included on The Beach Boys' most ambitious and progressive LP, "Pet Sounds,"
"God Only Knows" is considered one of the greatest songs of all time. As a single, it was released as the B-side to the super popular "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and featured Carl Wilson on lead vocals.
Though the A-side to "Hello, Goodbye," "I Am The Walrus," didn't do too shabby. Sure, it's one of The Beatles' more eclectic songs, but also one of the most recognizable by the Fab Four. It was part of the "Magical Mystery Tour" collection and is just a fun song that might not make sense to the casual music fan but can get stuck in your head.
"Revolution" is the flipside to "Hey Jude," and Beatles fans can go 'round and 'round about which song they think is better. Either way, not a bad two sides of music. This faster, popular version of "Revolution" was recorded to be released as a single and ultimately paired by the McCartney-lead "Hey Jude. John, at least, gets his time on the other side.
There's no doubt "Proud Mary" did wonders for CCR's career. But the flipside, "Born on the Bayou," remains one of the band's most popular releases. It's filled with plenty of soul, grit and the raspy, tantalizing vocals of Creedence frontman John Fogerty, who has often stated that this is his favorite CCR song.
At first release, this Stones' classic was the B-side of "Honky Tonk Women." Initially the song did not generate much buzz in rock circles, but upon its re-release a few years later, the song took off. It's become one of the most iconic tracks, not only in the band's arsenal but also in pop culture as a whole.
Penned by Chicago trombonist Jim Pankow, this track was actually the B-side to two of the band's other hits, "Make Me Smile" and "Beginnings." With the late Terry Kath on vocals, "Colour My World" took on a life of its own thanks to frequent radio play, and it became a popular choice at school dances throughout the U.S.
This song never appeared on any Led Zeppelin studio album but was the B-side to the "Immigrant Song" from the band's third effort. However, it would eventually be part of other Led Zeppelin compilations and box sets. In time it's blossomed into a classic rock staple that holds a firm place in the group's catalog.
This is perhaps the textbook case of when a B-side became more popular than the A-side. In all fairness to the flipside of Stewart's breakout solo smash, "Reason to Believe" was a fine track and enjoyed success of its own — just not to the degree of "Maggie May," which became an international chart-topper and a song that still receives regular classic rock airplay.
In it's original release form, this Bowie gem was featured as the B-side of 1972's "Starman." It became its own A-side in 1976, when it was already one of his most popular songs, and perhaps the defining track, of the Ziggy Stardust era. There might not be another tune more associated with the late legend.
Staying on the subject of Bowie, this was the title track of his third studio album. But the song started out as the B-side for both "Space Oddity" in the U.S. and "Life on Mars?" in the U.K. While the song has always been a favorite among Bowie fans, it gained even more fame with Nirvana's take on "MTV Unplugged" in 1993.
Now this Wings' staple never achieved the success as the A-side "Band on the Run," but it was more than a serviceable hit. It should rank among the top 10 in McCartney's non-Beatles repertoire. Though it reportedly was never played live by Wings, it has become somewhat of a live-show regular for McCartney.
It's a song that when played in concert tends to send most of the hardcore members of the "Kiss Army" heading toward the bathrooms. But the ballad, co-written and sung by former drummer Peter Criss, is still the band's highest-charting song but one that began as the flipside to the high-octane "Detroit Rock City."
In the U.K., one of the great rock anthems of all time was released as the B-side to companion "We Are the Champions." The two songs were always meant to go together and earned fame as a pair. However, "We Will Rock You" has become a staple at sporting events and in motivational arenas. Plus, John Deacon looks good sporting a Blackhawks jacket in the video.
The Stevie Nicks-penned classic was a response to her ex Lindsey Buckingham's "Go Your Own Way." The latter was a smash off Fleetwood Mac's Grammy-winning "Rumours" (1977) album. "Silver Springs" was left off the record, much to Nicks' dismay, but became the B-side to "Go Your Own Way." Her song, however, enjoyed its moment with the release of 1997's live effort "The Dance."
Arguably The Smiths' most popular and endearing song, "How Soon Is Now?" was well worthy of A-side status. However, as legend has it the band's label, at the time, did not think it was but included it as the B-side to "William, It Was Really Nothing"'s 12-inch single release. By getting it out there, word quickly spread of the song's haunted beauty and the rest is alt-rock history.
The Madonna dance favorite became popular because of its inclusion in the film "Desperately Seeking Susan," which she starred in. But it was not on the film's soundtrack and was the B-side to U.S. release of Madonna's single "Angel." Needless to say, this achieved much more success than its flipside.
A product of "The Joshua Tree" era, "Sweetest Thing" was originally released as the B-side to to the hit "Where the Streets Have No Name." Not a bad double dip. It was later re-recorded and re-released in the late 1990s and actually earned its own single status as part of U2's compilation "The Best of 1980–1990."
The original release of this Nirvana gem was actually the B-side to the band's groundbreaking single "Smells Like Teen Spirit." How's that for a two-fer? It became one of the trio's most popular songs with fans and should be part of any top-10 lists featuring the group's catalog. All three band members are given songwriting credits.
It's fitting we find Pearl Jam on this list, considering the band was named ambassador of Record Store Day 2019. The B-side to the smash "Jeremy," "Yellow Ledbetter" remains a favorite within the band's catalog and is often the closer of Pearl Jam's live shows. Even if Eddie continues to change the lyrics in concert.
For better or worse, it's Green Day's most popular song from 1997's "Nimrod." However, the original acoustic version — minus the strings — appeared as the B-side (or addition on a CD single in this case) to "Brain Stew/Jaded" in 1996. The original is faster, with a somewhat country twang to it, and maybe not the one that would play at high school proms throughout the country.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.