Franz Ferdinand, ‘Shopping For Blood’ (2003) Franz Ferdinand’s debut single ‘Darts Of Pleasure’ saw them march onto a barren musical desert and firmly plant their art-rock flag in the ground. John Peel declared them the saviours of music and the world agreed, and this B-side showed they were no one trick pony.
Lily Allen, ‘Cheryl Tweedy’ (2006) The B-side to Allen’s first Number One ‘Smile’ apparently saw her wishing she was a different person and singing lyrics like “Wish I looked just like Cheryl Tweedy/I know I never will”. However, she revealed afterwards that the words were tongue-in-cheek, and the pair enjoyed a brief spat. Cheryl Cole (née Tweedy) referred to Allen as “a chick with a dick”.
Radiohead, ‘Talk Show Host’ (1995) This song was never going to be lost into the B-side vortex. The flipside to ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ demonstrated Radiohead’s status as a band so good (at that time) they couldn’t knock out a bad tune, and became a live favourite. It gained further popularity after being remixed by trip-hop legend Nellee Hooper and used on the ‘Romeo And Juliet’ soundtrack.
Arctic Monkeys, ‘Despair in the Departure Lounge’ (2006). Appearing as a mere footnote on ‘Who The Fuck Are The Arctic Monkeys’ EP, this is the proof (if any were needed) of the tenderness that the Monkeys can exhibit in their songwriting when they want to, not to mention their skill for writing a brilliant post-modern love/heartbreak song. A real hidden gem.
Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Starla’ (1992) This whopping ten minute B-side to the controversial ‘Disarm’ atomises the best of the Pumpkins’ early period into one (albeit rather long) song. It’s also the song to play to anyone that disputes the fact that Billy Corgan was one of the best guitar players of the ‘90s.
Kings of Leon,’ My Third House’ (2007)’ A number from when the Followill family were still more hick farm band than stadium rockers. Off the ‘On Call’ single and supposedly written about a stay in Colorado, ‘My Third House’ displays the King’s raw and frenetic side – a little removed from the polished chart rocking band they have become.
Queen, ‘We Will Rock You’ (1977). Some mistake here? Actually no. Though subsequently released multiple times as an A-side, upon its initial release this – one of the most legendary rock songs of all time – began life as the B-side to ‘We Are The Champions’ in the UK (in the US it was a double A-side). The song’s seminal status was secured by its performance at the London Live Aid concert in 1985.
The Last Shadow Puppets, ‘Two Hearts In Two Weeks’ (2008) Despite clocking in at just over two minutes, ‘Two Hearts In Two Weeks’ demonstrated a genius songwriting partnership in Turner and Kane. It was the b-side to their debut single ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ and reached number 182 in the charts on downloads only. The other b-side was a cover of the classic ‘Wondruous Place’, a song made famous by Billy Fury and ruined by Jason Donovan in the same year.
Prince, ‘Irresistible Bitch’ (1982) The B-side to ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married’ received an equal amount of airplay upon the single’s release, and thus also charted. It was re-recorded a year later, and remained a live staple during his ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘New Power Generation’ tours. The A-side, incidentally, was a B-side on a Tina Turner track (‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’).
The Killers, ‘Daddy’s Eyes’ (2006). A classic of bombastic guitars and ethereal synths, ‘Daddy’s Eyes’ presents an enlightening snap-shot of the band during their period of transgression from gritty rock roots to grandiose stadium wonders. It appeared on the ‘Bones’ single, and was one of their B-sides that made the ‘Sawdust’ album.
Bloc Party, ‘Skeleton’ (2006). Written during the period of ‘Silent Alarm’, this became the B-side to ‘Helicopter’. One of the Party’s darker outings, the song’s status as fan cult favourite has resulted in Kele Okereke reportedly saying that he wished it had replaced ‘Lupo’ on the album, which would have given it a different feel.
Super Furry Animals, ‘Tradewinds’ (2001). Reportedly an initial contender for first single off of the ‘Rings Around The World’ album, ‘Tradewinds’ was somehow relegated to the B-side position of the ‘Juxtapozed With U’ single. Despite being an initial favourite, it has only since appeared as part of a bonus disc for the album.
The Cribs, ‘Advice From A Roving Artist’ (2006). A bizarre raw monologue, ‘Advice From A Roving Artist’ offers fans a gritty, more personal view of the Jarman brothers. Coupled to the single ‘You’re Gonna Lose Us’, it captures the bile of the emerging band, best witnessed in the screaming final refrain of “fashionistas, we don’t need you”.
Arctic Monkeys, ‘Plastic Tramp’ (2007). Appearing on the ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ single, this raw rock outing has become a firm fan favourite and one Alex Turner himself says he enjoys listening to. So respected is the song that a live rendition found its way onto the set list for the Monkeys’ live DVD, ‘At The Apollo’.