What’s the best B-side in music history?

CSNY, Beatles, Petty, The Clash

Super Black Market ClashGreg Burgas, curse him, asked “What’s the best B-side in music history?” Wait, it gets harder.

“I should clarify that I’m looking for songs that don’t appear on any of the band’s albums (unless it’s on a compilation from years later).” OK, let me think about this.

Greg came up with Hey, Hey, What Can I Do, the B-side of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song from 1970, which is a fine choice.

The first ones I thought of were a pair very much on the nose. The B-Side by Blotto is the flip of When The Second Feature Starts. Of course, I own this vinyl relic of the Albany-based band. It later shows up on a Blotto CD collection. Our “B” Side  I first heard on Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965-1975. B-side of Shambala.

Find The Cost Of Freedom is a simple but effective song on the B-side of Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Actually, NEITHER song was on a studio album until a greatest hits collection. Both do appear in live versions on their 4-Way Street double album.

Some radio stations I listened to liked playing Sugar Mountain by Neil Young in the early 1970s because of its seemingly mysterious origins. The live cut was the B-side of The Loner (1969) before it showed up on the Decade collection in 1975.


Dealing with The Beatles was complicated because there are a number of songs that were on US LPs but not initially on UK albums. Sticking to the US criteria, I am a sucker for I’m Down, which the Beatles performed at Shea Stadium, then ABC-TV aired the following year.

Some songs I’d count ended up on that Hey Jude/Beatles Again album: Rain (B-side of Paperback Writer),  Old Brown Shoe (w/ The Ballad of John and Yoko), and Don’t Let Me Down (w/Get Back). I remember that Kelly correctly highly praised the latter.

And speaking of Beatles, sort of, One Day At A Time is a John Lennon song that Elton John put on the B-side of his version of – can you guess? – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

I have a certain fondness for Surfing and Spying by the Go-Gos, the B-side of Our Lips Are Sealed. It’s in part because when I saw the band at J.B. Scott’s in Albany in the early 1980s, it was the ONLY song they performed that wasn’t on their debut album, Beauty and the Beat.

Time to cheat

OK, there are tons of B-side ALBUMS, e.g., here which reminds me of other B-sides I own.

Elvis Presley Blvd. – Billy Joel is on the flip side of Allentown. It’s an OK tune.

There’s a slew of tracks I like on The Best Of 1980-1990 by U2.

Gator On The Lawn – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the B-side of “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me),” July 1981 a great rockabilly song at 95 seconds. It’s on the boxed set. Greg, I may have put this on one of those mixed CDs we used to exchange.

One of Greg’s commenters suggested The Kinks’ I’m Not Like Everybody Else. The  A-side is Sunny Afternoon.  I have it on a compilation.

But, and I may be missing some, I’m going to select Mustapha Dance by The Clash. It is a dub version of Rock the Casbah, and the B-side of that 1982 single. It appears on Super Black Market Clash, an album I love.

Finally, I recommend to you Attack Of The Killer B’s. This is NOT the Anthrax album, but rather a 1983 Warner Brothers various artists compilation. It contains, among others, the very weird Walk The Dog by Laurie Anderson, the B-side of O Superman.

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