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What Happened To B-Sides?
I am clearly a music nerd. When I am a fan of a band or if I hear about a new band, I always look and try and discover what’s beyond their records. First I try to find out how they sound live; whether they have a live record, live songs, live bootlegs, YouTube clips whatever, and second I go on the hunt for B-Sides. Those songs that didn’t make the record, either they didn’t fit into the concept of the record, or someone felt the songs just didn’t have the quality of the rest of the record.
When downloading was in its infancy, or prior to the download takeover, B-Sides were everywhere. The CD single or the 7-inch vinyl would promote artists’ current single with a B-Side on side b or track 2/3 (whatever). The B-Side could be a live track, a cover, or a song that didn’t make the record. Either way, it was something I desired to check out. If you’re a fan, the LP isn’t enough, you want it all.
The CD single now is basically non-existent. Some artists do release them, but more artists tend to be releasing vinyl singles, so the 7 inch is making a steady comeback. If you’re not a record collector, or you don’t have a phonograph, artists are releasing digital singles. Sometimes you see a b-side pop up on iTunes, but A) it’s a digital copy and B) it’s pretty rare that the song is something you haven’t heard before (live track, remix etc). So either way, you end up losing in the end.
Also, what I have been seeing a lot in the last decade or so are Rarities and B-Sides albums being released. Immediately my thoughts go to, ‘these artists are trying to fulfill a contractual obligation and get out of their record contract by releasing a Rarities and B-Sides album’ (much like the Greatest Hits records you see everywhere). However, if you’re the opposite of me and you don’t like owning 7 inch singles or CD singles, this is a pretty decent option to find those sought-after b-sides. Here is a list of a few;
- Deftones – B-Sides & Rarities
- The Killers – Sawdust
- Oasis – The Masterplan
- Nirvana – Incesticide
- Pixies – Complete “B” Sides
- Ash – B-Sides & Rarities
B-Sides are out there, but it all depends on the artist and for the most part, you’re going to have to spend some time and find them. It’s definitely worth the effort as it’s always good to see what didn’t make the record, or what sound the artist may have been heading towards, and sometimes it can be a good representation of where the artist is heading for their next record. Get out there, seek out these gems and see all of which your favourite artists have to offer.