Know The B-Sides

November 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

For some us the promise of an excellent B-side is enough to justify the price of a 7″ record, and in many cases fans enjoy the B-side more than the A-side. There have been many disappointing B-sides over the years: poor remixes, songs readily available on the album already, demo versions of the A-side though sometimes nice are often kind of crap. The hardest and most frustrating part is when you want the song and can’t get it because it was a limited pressing and you missed it, or maybe you weren’t even aware of the band when it came out.

CD singles have always felt kind of flimsy and weird to me, by the way, and I figure this is because it’s a false scarcity being portrayed. Duping CDs is much cheaper than pressing vinyl and 7″ records are inherently limited in song capacity. CDs, on the other hand, can always hold around 80 minutes, so putting two or three songs on there feels like a ripoff, and the packaging is usually pretty crap. Let’s face it with singles half of the appeal is the packaging and those slim jewel cases are a disappointing thing to hold in my hands, and I just think of Staples CDRs. There are mini CDs and those are legitimate as singles, but hindered by the fact that many players can’t read them.

Back to B-sides. I think that after a single has been sold out and if the artist/band doesn’t plan on re-releasing the B-sides on a reissue (if they are a big band), they should at least offer the song for sale elsewhere, or if they are kindly, give free downloads. The reason I say this is because singles are always limited in production whereas the capacity for fans is only limited to the availability of the music, and sure, let a select group have your hard copies, but does that really mean you’re going to deprive everyone else? Some bands have addressed this by giving free downloads of their songs with the purchase of a record, and I commend that. I just find myself listening to certain singles wishing I had the B-sides handy on my iPod. Some B-sides I like better than the singles or the album. I’m just thinking about this because I was listening to an old Saint Etienne single where I prefer the B-side “Sushi Rider”, which I think they might have re-released on a deluxe version of the album but all I can find is this 5 minute version of the song online, instead of the very, very short and cute 7″ version.

Stay Gold

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