We’ve flipped again!
Double-Sided Summer Issue “B”
“Fighting to stay free” #157...September 2011
And now, ladies and gentlemen…
…the most value-driven music buys ever, according to you. The 40 best double-sided singles.
Let’s stop and think about this. A physical recorded product with just two songs –two great songs – is, because of technological advances, a thing of the past. An idea that probably makes little sense to anyone below a certain age. Kind of like cursive (although, according to his latest hit, Kanye West claims he curses in it).
Today, in the digital world, every song is born with an equal chance to be purchased. Every song is, in effect, a “single.” Music companies, radio, print media and word-of-mouth may play a big role in helping consumers decide which songs are worthy of being purchased – and yes, more often than not, the song promoted to radio still has the edge – but no more is there such a thing as a “two song statement.”
As albums became more important, B sides became less so. The selections in this Top 40 back that up: the most recent is from 1971. 60% of these singles were released before Sgt. Pepper, widely regarded as the album that put singles in the back seat. 60% are from the “Beatles era,” suggesting that the group’s knack for double-A sides raised the quality of other acts’ singles output. And 25% are from the Beatles themselves.
While in many ways predictable, the list does have oddities. Which Motown single made the cut? (Probably not the one you’re expecting.) Which song is represented on two different 45s? And which decidedly-not-rock ‘n roll single snuck in?
I’d say that this top 40 might make you want to dig out your copies of these 45s, but I’m sure most of you already have them out. These were always too good for the attic.
40. BEATLES, HELLO GOODBYE B/W I AM THE WALRUS (1967)
Perhaps the earliest single to sneak preview Paul’s and John’s post-Beatles solo careers, as in lyrically simplistic hook-meister and introspective poet, respectively. A better single than the album it came from, Magical Mystery Tour.
39. CAROLE KING, IT’S TOO LATE B/W I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE (1971)
If you can poke any hole in the strategy behind Tapestry, the multi-million-selling album from which these were taken, it’s that A&M put its two best songs on one 45. Or maybe that’s what Bob Lefsetz means by “leaving money on the table.”
38. BEATLES, YELLOW SUBMARINE B/W ELEANOR RIGBY (1966)
Notable, of course, for Ringo’s only lead vocal on an A side. A goofy recording as Beatle hits go, offset by, arguably, Paul’s most serious and sad song ever on the flip.
37. ROLLING STONES, THE LAST TIME B/W PLAY WITH FIRE (1965)
Wow. A side is underrated pre-“Satisfaction” blues rock, while the B showcases Mick at his bad-boy-from-across-the-tracks finest.
36. (THE) CREAM, SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE B/W SWLABR (1967)
Although really nothing more than the next phase of the blues-infused rock the Stones put on the musical map, at the time it wound up being the first shot fired in the Psychedelic wave. For me (maybe you too?) it wasn’t until the Internet that I learned what “SWLABR” meant, an acronym for “She walks (or was) like a bearded rainbow.”
35. THE CRICKETS, OH BOY! B/W NOT FADE AWAY (1957)
I can only imagine how this must have sounded on the family phonograph at the time: Holly’s best rave-up on the A, and the stripped-down/drums-and-‘bop bop’-happy B (to which the aforementioned Stones later gave the Bo Diddley treatment).
34. THE MAMA’S AND THE PAPA’S, MONDAY MONDAY B/W GOT A FEELIN’ (1966)
A reminder that this group was bigger than the sum of its hits: the B side was a perfect low-key companion to the pop masterpiece on the A.
33. PERRY COMO, CATCH A FALLING STAR B/W MAGIC MOMENTS (1957)
To say that Perry survived rock ‘n roll would be understatement: this was Top 5 when it kicked into high gear, with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis all at the top of their games. While RCA often got traction from both sides of a Perry Como 45, “Magic Moments” could have stood on its own.
32. ELVIS PRESLEY, (Marie’s the Name) HIS LATEST FLAME B/W LITTLE SISTER (1961)
A welcome departure from Elvis’ string of operatic re-writes (“It’s Now or Never,” “Are You Lonesome To-night,” “Surrender”), “Flame” a Pomus-Shuman gem with an unforgettable piano-driven bridge, “Sister” marking a sort-of return of tough-guy Elvis.
31. THE EVERLY BROTHERS, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM B/W CLAUDETTE (1958)
A terrific study in contrast from the country-rock pioneers. The A side is arguably what turned the boys into balladeers, while the B continues on the rockabilly road of “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” The B side is also noteworthy in that it was written by a then-unknown Roy Orbison for his then-wife.
30. BEATLES, TICKET TO RIDE B/W YES IT IS (1965)
You can put me in the group that likes the flip side more: the harmonies on “Yes It Is” still make me stop dead in my tracks. Rock aficionados (and pains, too) revere the A side, though, citing its influence on heavy metal.
29. BUDDY HOLLY, PEGGY SUE B/W EVERYDAY (1957)
Last issue Bill Cain asked “Does it get much finer?” I’m not sure it does. Two takes on teenage love, lust-driven on the A side, lovingly optimistic on the B.
28. CHICAGO, MAKE ME SMILE B/W COLOUR MY WORLD (1970)
Both sides taken from the 13-minute “Ballet for a Girl in Bucahannon,” which takes up most of Side 2 of the original two-disc set of Chicago II. Unless you have the album, you’d never know they were part of the same “suite.”
27. MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS, JIMMY MACK B/W THIRD FINGER, LEFT HAND (1967)
Of all the Motown singles with great hidden treasure (outside of Detroit and Philly) B sides, why this one? Perhaps because the B side might serve as a sequel to the A? It’s a nice thought, anyway.
26. ROLLING STONES, BROWN SUGAR B/W BITCH (1971)
Another case of an album the two best songs from which are on one single. Even though some Top 40 stations played it, “Bitch” was a few years too early to be a hit in its own right. Nonetheless, this is a terrific pair of horn-driven rockers by the boys.
25. ARCHIES, SUGAR, SUGAR B/W MELODY HILL (1969)
Two tasty sticks of bubblegum for the price of one? I’m embarrassed to admit I never flipped it until you pains pointed out how great “Melody Hill” is. And it is, too. Almost makes up for the A side, if like me you were never moved by it.
24. BEATLES, I FEEL FINE B/W SHE’S A WOMAN (1964)
Being in the U.S., I remember it as a perfect way to end Beatlemania year one: classic harmonies and hooks on the A side, Paul doing his best Big O on the B.
23. BEACH BOYS, SURFIN’ U.S.A. B/W SHUT DOWN (1963)
Episode II in the ‘surfing on the A side, cars on the B side’ trilogy, following “Surfin’ Safari/409” and preceding “Surfer Girl/Little Deuce Coupe.” Probably wins given the anthem-like nature of Side A.
22. BEACH BOYS, BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL B/W IN MY ROOM (1963)
And this is the single that followed that trilogy, with the first hint of what Brian was capable of, outside the usual teen-drama realm, on the B side.
21. CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, TRAVELIN’ BAND B/W WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN (1970)
Third of four straight CCR singles where one side was an anti-war or anti-government rant, and the other was just plain swamp boogie fun. And where the latter was more often on the A side (in the case of “Bad Moon Rising,” it was both). Here, Fogarty channels Little Richard on the A, while taking on Vietnam again (maybe the best-ever take) on the B.
20. BEATLES, AND I LOVE HER B/W IF I FELL (1964)
The rare double-ballad Beatles single, coming just weeks after “A Hard Day’s Night.” It was a strategy Capitol would never again try, limiting single releases to one every few months going forward. That said, what an amazing pair of love songs to appear together on one 45.
19. MONKEES, A LITTLE BIT ME, A LITTLE BIT YOU B/W THE GIRL I KNEW SOMEWHERE (1967)
A little bit Davy, a little bit Micky. And composer-wise, a little bit Neil Diamond, a little bit Mike Nesmith. Nesmith wrote both of my personal fave Monkees B’s, this and “Tapioca Tundra.”
18. CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN B/W HEY TONIGHT (1970)
The last great 2-sided CCR single, again with a slow and fast side. Classic rock radio sure has been good to this pair.
17. GUESS WHO, AMERICAN WOMAN B/W NO SUGAR TONIGHT (1970)
Every 7th grader knew that neither of these songs sounded the same on the album. Still, this one always preferred the shorter versions presented here.
16. MONKEES, PLEASANT VALLEY SUNDAY B/W WORDS (1967)
A great summer of love twosome: Goffin/King’s take on suburbia, backed with Boyce/Hart’s tale of unrequited love, made even more urgent by Micky and Peter’s back-and-forth vocals.
15. MONKEES, I’M A BELIEVER B/W (I’m Not Your) STEPPIN’ STONE (1966)
Two sides of Micky Dolenz, literally: subdued yet pop-savvy on the A, gritty and rockin’ on the B. Are you sensing I think Micky’s been underrated?
14. SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER B/W KEEP THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED (1970)
Back when some labels, like Columbia, thought that slapping a great song on the B side would get kids to go back to the store to buy the album. “Bridge” and Art steal the show here, but in a later world, “Customer” probably could have made a go of it on its own.
13. ROLLING STONES, RUBY TUESDAY B/W LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER (1966)
Well, we all know this story. Who didn’t play the crap out of both these sides? And who couldn’t argue that the band’s best rocker and ballad may well be these two?
12. CHICAGO, BEGINNINGS B/W COLOUR MY WORLD (1971)
Although “Colour” had already been a B side (see #28), you have to admit it made a nice partner to the older “Beginnings.” Were I older and in love then, I could see giving this 45 to object of my affection.
11. ELVIS PRESLEY, DON’T BE CRUEL B/W HOUND DOG (1956)
Even if it wasn’t the biggest double-sider ever, you can understand RCA’s (and Colonel Tom’s) logic here, showing off Elvis’ vocal chops on both the country and R&B sides.
10. BEATLES, COME TOGETHER B/W SOMETHING (1969)
The rare Beatle double-sider without Paul in either driver’s seat. And two more different songs you’d never find on a 45 from these guys: George’s best love song hands down, and John’s tip-of-the-hat to Chuck Berry.
9. BEATLES, WOULDN’T IT BE NICE B/W GOD ONLY KNOWS (1966)
An absolute turning point for Brian and the group, where the boys of summer ponder what happens when summer’s over. For me, maybe the best B side ever…
8. ROD STEWART, MAGGIE MAY B/W REASON TO BELIEVE (1971)
…unless, that is, you call “Maggie” the B side here, which it was at the start. Rod’s take on “Reason” was, in some corners of the world, a big hit pre-“Maggie” (where I was, #1 on both Beantown Top 40s).
7. BEACH BOYS, I GET AROUND B/W DON’T WORRY BABY (1964)
My guess as to one reason most of these singles placed so high: someone out there likes the other side just as much or more. Following “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around” was anything but world-changing. Not so for “Don’t Worry Baby,” another step in Brian’s maturation as a writer.
6. BEATLES, I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND B/W I SAW HER STANDING THERE (1963)
This is likely an America thing, you guys overseas wouldn’t understand. The thrill of their first U.S. hit will probably never wear off, or we’d think this a lopsided pair, with “Standing” carrying the weight.
5. BEATLES, PENNY LANE B/W STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER (1967)
Represented a big leap forward from the ’66 singles. Sure sounded like Paul and John got to do whatever they wanted, and what John wanted was to push the musical envelope. Was there ever a more innovative B-side to break Top 10?
4. BEATLES, HEY JUDE B/W REVOLUTION (1968)
Continued the natural evolution begun with #5. The A side speaks for itself. The B side happened to hit at the right time, when harder rock was blasting into the mainstream.
3. FOUR SEASONS, CANDY GIRL B/W MARLENA (1963)
A real surprise, and a pleasant one, seeing as it was one of the first 45s I remember my older brother buying when it hit. And in our house, A plays probably equaled B plays, as the footstomper “Marlena” seemed just as big on radio.
2. BEATLES, WE CAN WORK IT OUT B/W DAY TRIPPER (1965)
Not the one of theirs I expected to get the most votes, but I can see it, since both sides were Top 5 hits (which didn’t happen all that often), the A is as close to pop perfection as you can get, and the B opens with an unforgettable guitar hook. May have been the last single where “Lennon-McCartney” seems most accurate for both sides.
1. RICKY NELSON, TRAVELIN’ MAN B/W HELLO MARY LOU (1961)
Maybe it’s because Ricky didn’t have to compete with any other singles of his (even though he did have other double-sides where both did very well). Or because there were lots of places where “Mary Lou” (an early Gene Pitney composition) was the big side. Or because in 1961, you didn’t have to pay much to get both songs. Whatever it was, this led early and never lost momentum.
The ranking above was based on suggestions from everyone that sent something, even those who missed the first deadline. Like, say, those below.
The B-side HzLine
Mike Riccio was amazed that the B-side of "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa" was the same song backwards. Hey, Mike, how about "Noollab Wolley," the B-side of the Yellow Balloon's 1967 hit, "Yellow Balloon"?
Steve in Boss Angeles
Good column on flip sides. You reminded me to finish my list and send it. I have over 5,000 45s and after all these years I STILL haven't checked out all their b-sides, but I went through my Whitburn and here are some that
leapt out at me that I remember liking at the time.
Alpert, Herb and the Tijuana Brass- Flamingo (9/66). The flip was So What's New, the closing theme of "The Lloyd Thaxton Show" on TV, and I loved that show.
America- A Horse With No Name (2/72). The flip was Everyone I Meet is From California, a great song that didn't end up on an LP.
Badfinger- No Matter What (10/70). The flip was Carry On Till Tomorrow, a song that I really loved at the time, especially the recording quality on the vocal.
Beau Brummels- Just A Little (4/65). The flip was They'll Make You Cry, a song with a bizarre vocal that hooked me back then.
Blood, sweat and Tears- Spinning Wheel (5/69). The flip was More And More, a song from their first album with David Clayton-Thomas that I really liked.
Blue Cheer- Summertime Blues (3/68). The flip was Out of Focus, a hard and heavy classic.
Buffalo Springfield- For What It's Worth (1/67). The flip was Do I Have To Come Right Out and Say It, a very atmospheric song.
Chad & Jeremy- Willow Weep For Me (11/64). The flip was If She Was Mine from the Yesterday's Gone album. Good song, wacky arrangement with a strange note that recurs.
Clark, Dave, Five- Glad All Over (2/64). The flip of their first hit was I Know You, which was equally as good. A later hit, Please Tell Me Why, had a good flip too, Look Before You Leap.
Cream- Their first single, Strange Brew, was not a hit but when Sunshine of Your Love hit, both its flip (SWLABR) and both sides of the previous record (its flip was Tales of Brave Ulysses) were played like crazy. And they're all classics.
Cryan' Shames- I Wanna Meet You (11/66) and its flip, We Could Be Happy, were both great. They had a major label, too, Columbia. Why they didn't break out big is beyond me. All their records were good. They just didn't get played in California, so I didn't find them until I found a used cassette copy of their stuff years later.
Doobie Brothers- Hard to believe, but the flip of an early hit of theirs, Jesus is Just Alright, didn't hit the Hot 100 separately. The flip was Rockin' Down The Highway, a great track.
Everly Brothers- Found this one in a bargain bin- So It Always Will Be with the flip Nancy's Minuet- both good.
Fuller, Bobby, Four- Love's Made A Fool of You (4/66). The flip, Don't Ever Let Me Know, is a lost classic. Again, it was a bargain bin find.
Grass Roots- They had a bunch of good flips. Only When You're Lonely, which barely scraped the Hot 100, had a really great flip called This Is What I Was Made For that is actually one of my favorite records from the mid-'60s.
Another flip, No Exit (flip of Wake Up, Wake Up from 10/67) is another great one.
Herman's Hermits- the flips of their first 10 or 11 singles were as good as their A-sides, but none of them charted separately. Don't know why, because radio played them.
Jefferson Airplane- Somebody to Love (4/67). The flip was She Has Funny Cars. Great track from "Surrealistic Pillow."
Lovin'Spoonful- Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (5/66). The flip was Didn't Want To Have to Do It, a great track that could have been another single.
Mamas and Papas- Monday, Monday (4/66). The flip was Got A Feeling, a breathy little number with tricky harmonies. Michelle sang lead.
Mercy- Love Can Make You Happy (4/69). What a surprise to turn it over and hear a rocking surf instrumental on the flip! (Fire Ball)
Moody Blues- Ride My See Saw (10/68). The flip was Voices In The Sky, one of their best.
Morrison, Van- Come Running (4/70) had the great Crazy Love as the flip.
Nazz, The- Hello It's Me (2/69). The flip is the rocker Open My Eyes.
Poppy Family- If you turned over "Which Way You Going Billy" (3/70) you found a great, non-LP version of Endless Sleep. The followup, That's Where I Went Wrong, had a great flip too, Shadows On My Wall.
Rubinoos- I Think We're Alone Now (3/77). By the '70s I was mainly interested in albums, but the flip, As Long As I'm With You, wasn't on an album. It remains one of the best things they ever did, with kind of a Beach Boys
wha-wha-wha-ooo thing going on.
Santana- Turn over Oye Como Va and you've got Samba Pa Ti, a great instrumental.
Searchers- They never really caught on in the US, but they had some great records. The flip of Don't Throw Your Love Away was I Pretend I'm With You.
Steppenwolf- Turn over Magic Carpet Ride (10/68) and the other side is Sookie, Sookie. Every garage band in my area played that one.
Them- The flip of Gloria was the awesome Baby Please Don't Go. An L.A. radio staple in '65.
Vanilla Fudge- The flip of You Keep Me Hanging On (7/67) was Take Me For A Little While, which got enough airplay in L.A. that it was released the next year as an A-side.
Yardbirds- The flip of I'm A Man (10/65) was Still I'm Sad, played just as much in L.A.
Young, Neil- Can anyone forget one of the best b-sides ever, Sugar Mountain?
Zombies- All the records they made were great, but the one that comes to mind was the flip of their first, She's Not There. It was called You Make Me Feel So Good.
And the hits…
…REALLY DO KEEP ON COMIN’ …if your name is Katy Perry. Her last five, all from the same album, Teenage Dream, got to #1 nationally.
So does EMI go for #6, or do they quit while they’re ahead? There are 7 songs left on Teenage Dream, so I figured I’d lay odds on which has the best chance of keeping the string going.
Realistically, there probably won’t be a 6th #1, but EMI would be silly not to send another single to Top 40 anyway, since there’s really no downside: the more songs out there, the more exposure, and the more album and digital song sales.
That said, follow the bouncing bras for what I think’s got the best shot.
”Hummingbird Heartbeat” (3-1)
”The One That Got Away” (5-1)
”Not Like The Movies” (8-1)
”Who Am I Living For” (17-1)
”Circle The Drain” (22-1)
I AIN’T ASKING FOR MUCH For more than 15 years and 157 Hz’s, you’ve been great pains, and I appreciate that. While I’ve never mixed business with pleasure, if you’ll allow it, I’d like to do that now.
A few weeks ago, I became one of the 9% you hear about so much. I’m without a full-time gig, on the proverbial beach (I wish I really was on a beach, that would make this a lot easier).
The last time this happened to me, the #1 song in the U.S. became my mantra: “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” So it’s been awhile, and while that’s good, it’s made me less “ready” to start the search all over again.
I’ve got two theories about this: 1) It’s a positive, not a negative, because I’ve been given the chance to find something I’d love to do a lot. And 2) The more people I tell, the better my chances of finding that thing.
For most of you, this – as in, Hz So Good – is my resume. Maybe you’ve also seen my occasional guest columns in Radio-Info.com, or you picked up either or both Book Of Days. Or you’ve heard me weekends on WRNJ. If so, then you already know about 90% of what there is to know about me.
So, in your travels, if you learn about something in the creative, writing, music, pop culture and/or radio realm that you think I’d be good for (and vice versa), let me know. Thanks.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Hz So Good.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM I’m aware that fizzy drinks are in a downtrend, and that we don’t see and hear advertising for them the way we did even ten years ago. Which makes me ask…whatever happened to root beer?
I know it’s out there, and a few national brands still dominate (Hires, A&W, Barq’s, Mug). But outside of the web, do any advertise? Is there any serious effort made to attract younger drinkers? Or does the – ahem - Barq’s stop here?
For me growing up, root beer was a staple beverage. We always had it in the house. Now you’d be lucky to find it in restaurants (although I was pleased to see it still ‘on tap’ at Fuddruckers recently).
I know there are lots of little startup soda companies making root beer among their other flavors, but what kind of share are they fighting for? Shouldn’t there be a National Root Beer Council? There is, but…well, check it out yourself.
SO NICE… …it’s now on twice. The Rest Of The Week with Rich Appel, that is. Radio’s answer to the KFC Double Down can now be heard Saturdays 6am-1pm ET, and Sundays 10am-3pm ET. Right here.
Also, the 2012 edition of the I.R.S. (It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit) appears in April-May 2012 edition of Hz So Good.