Back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s (and other decades),
pop, rock, R&B and country records were released
in the form of double-sided singles.
The majority of these 45’s were individually launched by record companies
who, in their infinite wisdom, decided which track had the most potential
and which would therefore receive the heaviest promotional push.
These chosen tracks were referred to as ‘A’ sides.
However there were times when songs on the ‘B’ side eventually proved to
have greater potential and the singles were flipped switching the ‘B’ to the ‘A’ side.
The following is a group of unforgettable hit records
which were B-sides when they were first released…
I WILL SURVIVE
(Dino Fekaris/Freddie Perren)
by Gloria Gaynor
Pro: Dino Fekaris in assoc.w/Freddie Perren
It’s hard to believe that this disco staple was not
the A-side when Gloria’s single was issued in late ’78
but it was hidden on the flipside of another Gloria Gaynor track
SUBSTITUTE, a song written by Willie Wilson.
(Rod Stewart/Martin Quittenton)
by Rod Stewart
Rod’s magnificent breakthrough hit. It was
originally issued with Rod’s excellent cover
of Tim Hardin’s REASON TO BELIEVE
as the A side but DJ’s began playing
MAGGIE MAY turning it into a million-selling topside.
(Booker T. Jones/Steve Cropper
Al Jackson Jr./Lewie Steinberg)
by Booker T. & The MG’s
Consistently popular Hammond organ-led soul instrumental 45 by
Booker T. and his group of Stax session players. GREEN ONIONS was
initially released as the B-side to another tune written by the group
namely BEHAVE YOURSELF.
I’LL BE AROUND
(Thom Bell/Phil Hurtt)
by The Spinners
Pro, Arr & Cond: Thom Bell
Known in the UK as The Detroit Spinners, this soul group had previously
recorded for Motown and then with Philadelphia’s Thom Bell helming some sessions
for Atlantic, their success was assured. First issued as the B-side of the Yvette Davis composition HOW COULD I LET YOU GET AWAY, the single was wisely flipped and I’LL BE AROUND topped Billboard’s R&B chart in October ’72.
by The Edgar Winter Group
Pro: Rick Derringer
This powerful chart-topping instrumental fronted by keyboard-playing saxman
Edgar Winter was originally released as the B-side to HANGIN’ AROUND,
a song co-written by Edgar with fellow musician Dan Hartman.
(Alex North/Hy Zaret)
by The Righteous Brothers
Pro: Phil Spector
Arr: Jack Nitzsche
Eng: Larry Levine
This song was written for a long-forgotten 1955 prison picture but it struck gold
in ’65 when recorded by the blue-eyed soul duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield
aka The Righteous Brothers. However, their single was originally released as the B-side
of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King/Phil Spector song HUNG ON YOU. Bill & Bobby’s version
of UNCHAINED MELODY became a chart hit again in 1990 when it was used in the
Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore movie “Ghost”.
by David Rose & His Orchestra
Pro: Jesse Kaye
Initially issued as the B-side of maestro Rose’s orchestral version of Robert Maxwell’s
instrumental melody EBB TIDE which was memorably featured that year on the
soundtrack of Metro’s Paul Newman/Geraldine Page film “Sweet Bird Of Youth”.
With its dominant raunchy trombone figure, David Rose’s 45 of THE STRIPPER
garnered much attention prompting MGM to switch it as the A-side and it topped
Billboard’s Hot 100 in the summer of ’62.
by Cliff Richard & The Drifters
Pro: Norrie Paramor
(UK Columbia: 1958)
This marked the very first of seemingly countless UK hits by Cliff Richard.
Written by bass guitarist Ian Samwell of Cliff’s group The Drifters who changed
their name to The Shadows. The original A-side was Cliff’s cover version of the
Aaron Schroeder/Sharon Silbert song SCHOOLBOY CRUSH which was first recorded
by American singer Bobby Helms. However, UKTV’s “Oh Boy!” producer Jack Good
voiced his influential opinion that MOVE IT should be the A-side, it was flipped and
MOVE IT reached UK#2 that November.
(We’re Gonna) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK
(Jimmy DeKnight/Max C. Freedman)
by Bill Haley & His Comets
Pro: Milt Gabler
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK eventually hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in
July ’55 but when it was first sent out by Decca to radio stations, the song on the
flipside namely Dickie Thompson’s composition THIRTEEN WOMEN (And Only
One Man In Town) received the promotional pitch. A few months later, when
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK memorably appeared on the soundtrack of
MGM’scrime drama “Blackboard Jungle”, the 45 was flipped and re-issued.
It even became the title of an early rock movie in which Bill Haley starred.
From time to time, hit songs could be found tucked away in different places.
For instance, the flipside of The Box Tops’ 1967 American hit NEON RAINBOW
was the Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham composition EVERYTHING I AM which, when
recorded by British group Plastic Penny on Larry Page’s Page One label, turned
into a chart success reaching #6 in early ’68.
Another hidden B-side was Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich’s HANKY PANKY
which when first released was the flipside of the song THAT BOY JOHN on
Jubilee in ’63 as recorded by Jeff & Ellie as The Raindrops;
That’s the same HANKY PANKY with which Tommy James & The Shondells
topped Billboard’s Hot 100 three years later; here’s their version produced by Henry Glover:
As in all my postings, the recordings listed and referenced above
are in no way intended as definitive collections.
Please send any comments or suggestions to
© Alan Warner, 2020.
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