By Scott Westerman – Keener13.com
After reading John Colapinto’s fascinating New Yorker article, When I’m 64, Paul? McCartney Then and Now, I was inspired to look over my Beatle 45 collection to see what tunes were on the flip sides of their American singles during the Keener era.
1963: I Saw Her Standing There?- 1964: You Can’t Do That, I Should Have Known Better, I’m Happy Just to Dance with You, If I Fell, Slow Down, She’s a Woman -1965: I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party, Yes It Is, I’m Down, Act Naturally?- 1966: What Goes On, Rain?- 1967: Baby You’re a Rich Man, I Am the Walrus?- 1968: The Inner Light, Revolution?- 1969: Old Brown Shoe?- 1970: You Know My Name (Look up the Number), For You Blue
If you discount the stuff from 1969 on as being influenced by those outside of the Beatles’ hit machine (Brian Epstein and George Martin), the 17 B sides are remarkable. With a couple of exceptions, each one was or could have been a smash hit in its own right.
Compare that to the bulk of the other acts of the decade and you’ll find for the most part that B sides were populated with tunes that were meant to be abused by the turntable platter.? The Stones only had a couple of double sided hits: Ruby Tuesday / Lets Spend the Night Together and Honky Tonk Woman / You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Only the Beach Boys come within striking distance. The partial list below doesn’t include the hits with duds on the flip:
1962 Surfin’ Safari/409? -1963 Surfin’ U.S.A./Shut Down, Surfer Girl/Little Deuce Coupe, Be True to Your School/In My Room, Fun, Fun, Fun/Why Do Fools Fall in Love??- 1964 I Get Around/Don’t Worry Baby, Wendy/Little Honda, Dance, Dance, Dance/The Warmth of the Sun??- 1966 Wouldn’t It Be Nice/God Only Knows
I don’t know about you, but I used to love to listen to B sides anyway. It was a way to see if the group was for real, or just a one-trick-pony. And sometimes they would yield a gem that never found its way to the air, but became an underground personal favorite.
As the record industry slowly starts to embrace on-line distribution, singles are coming back as downloadable one-offs on Rhapsody and I-Tunes. We don’t need B sides anymore. But I miss them.