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.

Music: Rock the Casbah/Mustapha Dance

Super Black Market Clash was a compilation album released in 1993 that contains B-sides and rare tracks not available on their studio albums.

super black market clashAlthough I was a big fan of the eclectic and significant English group The Clash, I must admit the band was not a massive commercial entity. The group, consisting of vocalist/guitarist John Meilor, a/k/a Joe Strummer (d. 2002); Mick Jones on lead guitar; Paul Simonon on bass; and Nicky “Topper” Headon on drums, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Their first two albums don’t even reach the top 100 in the United States. The two-LP London Calling (1980) was their breakthrough collection, with quite a few songs getting airplay on my favorite Albany radio station at the time, WQBK-FM, Q104. That was followed by a triple album, Sandinista! (1981) that also did reasonably well.

Additionally, they put out various other packages including several non-LP singles, and Black Market Clash (1980), a 10″ album, with dub versions of some songs.

The last album of new Clash music I bought, and the last vinyl, was Combat Rock (1982). It was the group’s most successful album, getting to #7, and probably my least favorite. It did, however, contain two of their charting singles, Should I Stay or Should I Go, and Rock the Casbah.

I must have also purchased around that time an single or EP that contained a dub version of Rock the Casbah called Mustapha Dance, with fewer vocals and a more prominent bass line.

Super Black Market Clash was a compilation album released in 1993 “that contains B-sides and rare tracks not available on their studio albums. It is a repackaging of the original 1980 Black Market Clash,” with 20 songs rather than nine.

Listen to the Clash:

Train in Vain (Stand by Me), #23 in 1980, from London Calling, though it was recorded so late that it didn’t make the album liner notes

Time is Tight from Black Market Clash (1980)

Should I Stay or Should I Go, #45 in 1982 and #50 in 1983

Rock the Casbah, #8 in 1983

Mustapha Dance, from Super Black Market Clash (1993)

Throwback Music Saturday: Police On My Back

Police On My Back by The Equals was a track which was only ever released as a single in Europe.

equalsBy 1980, I had become a huge fan of the English punk rock band Clash. I’m fairly sure I bought the album Sandinista!, a triple LP containing 36 tracks, as a Christmas present to myself, very shortly after its December 12 release. (I had broken up with my girlfriend on December 1, 1980, and music soothed the soul.) The album won several “best of the year” critics polls in 1981.

The first song on Side 4 was Police on My Back, featuring a guitar part that sounded like a European siren. “A one-LP distillation of the album, called Sandinista Now!, was sent to press and radio”, and it also began with that song.

Police on My Back was written by someone named Eddy Grant, a name I wasn’t familiar with at the time. But I DID know his music, as it turned out.

EDDY GRANT WAS A teenager [in North London] when he formed The Equals in the mid-’60s… Guyana-born Grant assembled a band with drummer John Hall, guitarist Pat Lloyd and brothers Lincoln and Derv Gordon…

The band’s first single – 1966’s Hold Me Close backed with Baby, Come Back… failed to chart in the UK but it topped the charts in Belgium and hit the Top 20 in Germany and Holland…

The band’s overseas success… was finally replicated in the UK in 1968 when Baby, Come Back saw them appear on Top Of The Pops and hit Number 1. An album of the same name swiftly followed and included 11 tracks, including Police On My Back – a track which was only ever released as a single in Europe.

Baby, Come Back by The Equals got to #32 in the US in 1968. Police on My Back by The Clash made it to #21 on something called the US Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1980.

Baby, Come Back – The Equals HERE or HERE
Police on My Back – The Equals HERE or HERE
Police on My Back – The Clash HERE or HERE

Some time, I need to tell the story when I saw Eddy Grant in concert a few years later.

Favorite cover by original artist QUESTION

I’m really struck by Lesley Gore’s remake of You Don’t Own Me from the 2005 Ever Since album.

Sometimes, an artist will cover his/her/their own song. Frank Sinatra, among others, did it quite a bit over his long career.

What are YOUR favorite songs by the same artist? I’m not going to get too strict here. If you want to pick Layla, originally done by Derek and the Dominoes then subsequently unplugged by Eric Clapton, that’d be acceptable, since Derek WAS Eric. Speaking of Clapton, I prefer the live version of I’m So Glad from Goodbye Cream to the studio version on Fresh Cream.

I had this cassette of Procol Harum’s greatest hits and it included a live version of Conquistador, with an orchestra. Years later, when I got a similar CD, it had the studio version; not nearly as impressive.

Listen to Crying by Roy Orbison, a fine song, but the version by Orbison with k.d. lang makes me, well, cry.

I always preferred the remix Mustapha Dance by The Clash to its antecedent, Rock the Casbah.

Just listened to a Ladysmith Black Mambazo album. They do a couple songs from Graceland, Homeless and Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes, sans Paul Simon, but with Sarah McLachlan and Melissa Etheridge, respectively. Can’t find these online, unfortunately.

I’m really struck by Lesley Gore’s remake of You Don’t Own Me (this is a live take, not the version I really wanted from the 2005 Ever Since album), recognizable as the same song as the classic original, but different.

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