28 February 2009
while we were putting together our own b sides compilation i began thinking about all the other b sides by other groups that i love, so i thought i would make a list of my top ten favourite b sides ever.
10. the go-betweens - karen
the b side of lee remick. i didn't even know this was a b side until recently. i only knew the song because i used to have it on a tape that i got free with an issue of underground magazine when i was about eleven. it was the most amazing tape. it had alex chilton doing no sex on it and belle vue by miaow. i wish i still had that tape. sad the things we lose as we get older.
9. the loves - i know i'm going to heaven when i die
this was the b side to just like bobby d and i think it's just lovely. i wish i had an mp3 version of it so i could put it on my party pod. if only were were touring with someone who used to be in the loves.
8. the stone roses - mersey paradise
a lot of the stone roses b sides were actually good enough to be a sides too so they kind of ruin all the things i love b sides for, but anyway this is my favourite i think, but it was close between this and going down.
7. billy bragg - walk away renee (version)
this is a weird little song in which billy bragg plays an acoustic version of walk away renee by the left banke and speaks over the top of it. it's all about car parks and bus rides, and fun fairs and nose bleeds and it ends with the unforgettable lines "and then one day it happened. she cut her hair and i stopped loving her". perhaps a perfect b side. i never have understood what it means when someone puts the word "version" in brackets after a song title though.
6. sandie shaw - monsieur dupont
ah, my favourite sandie shaw song and it happens to be a b side too. i love the backing vocals that sound like they're being sung by mice.
5. dexy's midnight runners - soon
this was on the other side of the show me seven inch, and it's another song that's perfect for fitting on to the end of mixtapes. it's also the song i'd sing if i ever did an american idol audition, or i might do one more try by george michael. i don't expect either rendition would get me to hollywood, but at least i would have been true to myself. choosing which dexys b side should be on the list was almost impossible too. other ones i must mention are breakin down the walls of heartache off the geno seven inch, let's make this precious, the b side of jackie wilson said and reminisce part one.
4. the field mice - between hello and goodbye
this was on the other side of sarah forty four, september's not so far away. this is one of my favourite songs in the whole world, and we did a worse version of it for the b side to be gentle with me. one particularly exciting day a couple of years ago rob wratten sent us an email telling us how he'd been driving across california listening to the radio and nic harcourt had played our version, and he told us it had been a lovely surprise once he'd realised what it was. and that's the sort of thing that makes being in the boy least likely to so great. we can do rubbish cover versions of other people's songs and then they can write to us and tell us how much they enjoyed hearing them in unexpected places. still haven't heard anything from george michael though.
3. kenickie - lights out in a provincial town
i could have chosen ten b sides all by kenickie, but i thought that would be a bit pointless. so instead i spent the last week trying to decide which of their b sides was my favourite. it could have been girl’s best friend or skateboard song or their version of save your kisses for me or pretty much every other b side they did, but in the end i chose this one. it was the other side of punka when it was reissued, and because i'd already heard the a side one million times i ended up listening to this incessantly. i like the lyrics about needles on beaches and it makes me never want to go to prestatyn again either. if those are the right lyrics which they might not be. i think it’s the only song entirely written by pete gofton, but i might be wrong about that too, and i remember when i first heard it it kind of hinted at the way the next album was going to sound, and as everyone knows that album went on to be the greatest album ever recorded.
2. the mighty wah! - talking blues (the story of the blues part two)
this is really the second half of the a side, and it was on the twelve inch as one whole song, but on the seven inch it was a b side. so it still counts. the a side doesn’t sound complete to me without playing this afterwards. it makes me feel like i can take on the whole world when i hear it. the two halves together are the song i would choose if i could only have one song to listen to for the rest of my life, and any song that manages to quote raoul vaneigem and jack kerouac is always going to be amazing.
1. the smiths - please please please let me get what i want
when i wrote the other day about b sides being songs that weren't good enough to be a sides or included on albums i wasn't being rude about them. it's exactly because b sides are often weird and freaky little reject songs that i like them so much. it's what makes them so special. at one minute and fifty two seconds long this song is far too short to ever be an a side, but it's so small and sweet and simple that you wouldn't want it any other way. it's also perfect if you want to squeeze a song in at the end of one side of a mixtape. although the song i use most for that is girl's best friend by kenickie which is one minute and thirty two seconds long.