The terms A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 78, 45, and 331⁄3 rpm phonograph records, or cassettes, whether singles, extended plays (EPs), or long-playing (LP) records. The A-side usually featured the recording that the artist, record producer, or the record company intended to receive the initial promotional effort and then receive radio airplay, hopefully, to become a "hit" record. The B-side (or "flip-side") is a secondary recording, although some B-sides were considered as strong as, or stronger than, the A-side and became hits in their own right.
Music recordings have moved away from records onto digital formats such as CDs and downloads, which do not have "sides", but the terms are still used to describe the type of content, with B-side sometimes standing for "bonus" track.
The first sound recordings at the end of the 19th century were made on cylinder records, which had a single round surface capable of holding approximately two minutes of sound. Early shellac disc records records only had recordings on one side of the disc, with a similar capacity (both media could hold between three and four minutes by 1910). Double-sided recordings, with one selection on each side, were introduced in Europe by Columbia Records in 1908, and by 1910 most record labels had adopted the format in both Europe and the United States; the ability to effectively double the amount of sound on the disc was one major factor in its rising to dominance over the cylinder record which was obsolete by 1912.
There were no record charts until the 1930s, and radio stations (by and large) did not play recorded music until the 1950s (when top 40 radio overtook full-service network radio). In this time, A-sides and B-sides existed, but neither side was considered more important; the "side" did not convey anything about the content of the record.
In June 1948, Columbia Records introduced the modern 331⁄3 rpm long-playing (LP) microgroove vinyl record for commercial sales, and its rival RCA Victor, responded the next year with the seven-inch 45 rpm vinylite record, which would quickly replace the 78 for single record releases. The term "single" came into popular use with the advent of vinyl records in the early 1950s. At first, most record labels would randomly assign which song would be an A-side and which would be a B-side. (All records have specific identifiers for each side in addition to the catalog number for the record itself; the "A" side would typically be assigned a sequentially lower number.) Under this random system, many artists had so-called "double-sided hits", where both songs on a record made one of the national sales charts (in Billboard , Cashbox , or other magazines), or would be featured on jukeboxes in public places.
As time wore on, however, the convention for assigning songs to sides of the record changed. By the early sixties, the song on the A-side was the song that the record company wanted radio stations to play, as 45 rpm single records (or '45s') dominated the market in terms of cash sales. It was not until 1968, for example, that the total production of albums on a unit basis finally surpassed that of singles in the United Kingdom.In the late 1960s, stereo versions of pop and rock songs began to regularly appear on 45s. The majority of the 45s were played on AM radio stations, which were not equipped for stereo broadcast at the time, so stereo was not a priority. However, the FM rock stations did not like to play monaural content, so the record companies adopted a protocol for DJ versions with the mono version of the song on one side, and stereo version of the same song on the other.
By the early 1970s, double-sided hits had become rare. Album sales had increased, and B-sides had become the side of the record where non-album, non-radio-friendly, instrumental versions or simply inferior recordings were placed. In order to further ensure that radio stations played the side that the record companies had chosen, it was common for the promotional copies (DJ version) of a single to have the "plug side" on both sides of the disc.
With the decline of 45 rpm vinyl records, after the introduction of cassette and compact disc singles in the late 1980s, the A-side/B-side differentiation became much less meaningful. At first, cassette singles would often have one song on each side of the cassette, matching the arrangement of vinyl records, but eventually, cassette maxi-singles, containing more than two songs, became more popular. Cassette singles were phased out beginning in the late 1990s, and the A-side/B-side dichotomy became virtually extinct, as the remaining dominant medium, the compact disc, lacked an equivalent physical distinction. However, the term "B-side" is still used to refer to the "bonus" tracks or "coupling" tracks on a CD single.
With the advent of downloading music via the Internet, sales of CD singles and other physical media have declined, and the term "B-side" is now less commonly used. Songs that were not part of an artist's collection of albums are made available through the same downloadable catalogs as tracks from their albums, and are usually referred to as "unreleased", "bonus", "non-album", "rare", "outtakes" or "exclusive" tracks, the latter in the case of a song being available solely from a certain provider of music.
B-side songs may be released on the same record as a single to provide extra "value for money". There are several types of material commonly released in this way, including a different version (e.g., instrumental, a cappella, live, acoustic, remixed version or in another language), or, in a concept record, a song that does not fit into the story line.[ citation needed ]
Additionally, it was common in the 1960s and 1970s for longer songs, especially by soul, funk, and R&B acts, to be broken into two parts for single release. Examples of this include Ray Charles's "What'd I Say", the Isley Brothers' "Shout", and a number of records by James Brown, including "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud". Typically, "part one" would be the chart hit, while "part two" would be a continuation of the same performance. A notable example of a non-R&B hit with two parts was the single release of Don McLean's "American Pie". With the advent of the 12in single in the late 1970s, the part one/part two method of recording was largely abandoned. Modern day examples are Fall Out Boy's EP, My Heart Will Always Be The B-Side To My Tongue, or My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade, The B-Sides
Since both sides of a single received equal royalties, some composers deliberately arranged for their songs to be used as the B-sides of singles by popular artists. This became known as the "flipside racket".[ citation needed ] Similarly, it has also been alleged that owners of pirate radio stations operating off the British coast in the 1960s would buy the publishing rights to the B-sides of records they expected to be hits, and then plug the A-sides in the hope of driving up sales and increasing their share of the royalties.[ citation needed ]
Occasionally, the B-side of a single would become the more popular song. This sometimes occurred because a DJ preferred the B-side to its A-side and played it instead. Some examples include "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor (originally the B-side of "Substitute"), "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice (originally the B-side of "Play That Funky Music"), "I'll Be Around" by the Spinners (originally the B-side of "How Could I Let You Get Away") and "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart (originally the B-side of "Reason to Believe"). Probably the most well-known of these, however, is "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets (originally the B-side of "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man In Town))".
The song "How Soon Is Now?" by the Smiths started out as the extra track on the 12-inch of William, It Was Really Nothing but later gained a separate release as an A-side in its own right, as did Oasis's "Acquiesce", which originally appeared as a B-side to "Some Might Say" in 1995, but gained subsequent release in 2006 as part of an EP to promote their forthcoming compilation album, Stop the Clocks . Feeder in 2001 and 2005 had the B-sides "Just a Day" from "Seven Days in the Sun", and "Shatter" from "Tumble and Fall" released as A-sides after fan petitions and official website and fansite message board hype, and both charted at No. 12 and No. 11 in the UK. In 1986, the first single from XTC's record Skylarking , "Grass", was eclipsed in the United States by its B-side, "Dear God" – so much so that the record was almost immediately re-released with one song ("Mermaid Smiled") removed and "Dear God" put in its place, becoming one of the band's better-known hits.
On many reissued singles, the A- and B-sides are two hit songs from different albums that were not originally released together, or were by completely different artists, altogether. These were often made for the jukebox, as one record with two popular songs on it would make more money, or to promote an artist to the fans of another. For example, in 1981 Kraftwerk released their new single "Computer Love" coupled with the B-side "The Model", from their 1978 LP The Man-Machine . With synthpop increasingly dominating the UK charts, the single was re-released with the sides reversed. In early 1982 "The Model" reached number one.
A "double A-side" is a single where both sides are designated the A-side; there is no B-side on such a single. In 1949, Savoy Records promoted a new single by one of its artists, Paul Williams' "House Rocker" and "He Knows How to Hucklebuck", as "The New Double Side Hit – Both Sides "A" Sides". [ citation needed ]In 1965, Billboard reported that due to a disagreement between EMI and John Lennon about which side of the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" single should be considered the A-side and receive the plugging, "EMI settled for a double-side promotion campaign—unique in Britain." They continued to use the format for the release of the singles "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yellow Submarine" in 1966, followed by "Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane" in 1967 and "Something" / "Come Together" in 1969. Other groups followed suit, notably the Rolling Stones in early 1967 with "Let's Spend the Night Together" / "Ruby Tuesday" as a double-A single.
A double A-sided single is often confused with a single where both sides, the A and the B, became hits. Although many artists in the late 1950s and early 1960s like Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Ricky Nelson, the Beach Boys, Brenda Lee, and Pat Boone, routinely had hit singles where both sides of the 45 received airplay, these were not double A-sides. The charts below tally the instances for artists' singles where both sides were hits, not where both sides were designated an A-side upon manufacture and release. For instance "Don't Be Cruel", the B-side of "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley, became as big a hit as its A-side even though "Don't Be Cruel" was not the intended A-side when released in 1956. Reissues later in the 1960s (and after the Beatles' "Day Tripper"/"We Can Work It Out") listed the single with both songs as the A-side. Also, for Cliff Richard's 1962 "The Next Time"/"Bachelor Boy", both sides were marketed as songs with chart potential, albeit with "Bachelor Boy" pressed as the B-side.
In the UK, before the advent of digital downloads, both A-sides were accredited with the same chart position, as the singles' chart was compiled entirely from physical sales. In the UK, the biggest-selling non-charity single of all time was a double A-side, Wings' 1977 release "Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls' School", which sold over two million copies. It was also the UK Christmas No. 1 that year, one of only two occasions on which a double A-side has topped that chart, the other being Queen's 1991 re-release of "Bohemian Rhapsody" with "These Are the Days of Our Lives".Nirvana released "All Apologies" and "Rape Me" as a double A-side in 1993, and both songs are accredited as a hit on both the UK Singles Chart, and the Irish Singles Chart.
Queen released their first double-A single, "Killer Queen"/"Flick of the Wrist", in 1974. "Killer Queen" became a hit, while "Flick of the Wrist" was all but ignored for lack of promotion. Three years later, they released "We Are the Champions" with "We Will Rock You" as a B-side. Both sides of the single received much radio airplay (often one after the other), which led to them sometimes being referred to as a double A-side. In 1978 they released "Fat Bottomed Girls"/"Bicycle Race" as a double A-side; that time both sides of the single became hits.
Occasionally double-A-sided singles were released with each side targeting a different market. During the late 1970s, for example, Dolly Parton released a number of double-A-sided singles, in which one side was released to pop radio, and the other side to country, including "Two Doors Down"/"It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" and "Baby I'm Burning"/"I Really Got the Feeling". In 1978, the Bee Gees also used this method when they released "Too Much Heaven" for the pop market and the flip side, "Rest Your Love on Me", which was aimed toward country stations.
Many artists continue to release double A-sided singles outside of the US where it is seen as more popular. Examples of this include Oasis's "Little by Little"/"She Is Love" (2002), Bloc Party's "So Here We Are"/"Positive Tension" (2005) and Gorillaz's "El Mañana"/"Kids with Guns" (2006).
Artists having the most US double-sided singles on which each side charted in the US Hot 100, according to Billboard :
|Nat King Cole||19|
|The Everly Brothers||13|
|The Beach Boys||8|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival||7|
|Bill Haley & His Comets||6|
|The Rolling Stones||6|
Artists having the most US double-sided singles on which each side reached the Billboard Top 40, according to Billboard:
|Creedence Clearwater Revival||6|
|Nat King Cole||5|
|The Beach Boys||5|
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On vinyl, double A-sided singles had one song on either side of the record, while double B-sides contained two songs on the same side (on the B-side, making three songs in all). When such singles were introduced in the 1970s, the popular term for them was "maxi single", though this term is now used more ambiguously for a variety of formats. For some people these records would not quite qualify as EPs, for those generally have four songs on a 45.
Genesis's 1978 7-inch single "Many Too Many" featured two B-sides, "The Day the Light Went Out" and "Vancouver", both of them being outtakes from the ...And Then There Were Three... album. There was no 12-inch equivalent. The band released two 7-inch singles with three tracks apiece, Spot the Pigeon and 3X3 (also known as "Paperlate"), which were explicitly marked as EPs. "Spot the Pigeon" was also available in a 12-inch version, and also subverted this format a bit, by having two tracks on the A-side and one track on the B-side. The B-side, "Inside and Out", was also considered the selling point of the EP, being Steve Hackett's last contribution to the band, and remains a favorite of many fans.
Paul McCartney's 1980 single "Coming Up" had a studio version of the song on the A-side, while the B-side contained two songs, a live version of "Coming Up" and a studio instrumental called "Lunchbox/Odd Sox".
Iron Maiden's 1980 7-inch single "Sanctuary" was a re-recording of a song that had been given for use on the Metal For Muthas compilation the previous year. The recording was made during the Iron Maiden sessions but was left off the UK version of that album, and was then put out as a single. To help compensate fans who had specifically bought Metal for Muthas for the track, the "Sanctuary" single had two live B-sides which were deliberately selected to be non-album tracks—"I've Got The Fire" (a cover of the Montrose song) and "Drifter". A studio recording of "Drifter" (featuring Adrian Smith instead of Dennis Stratton) appeared on their next album, Killers , and a studio version of "I've Got The Fire" featuring Bruce Dickinson appeared on the B-side of "Flight of Icarus" a few years later. At the time this single was released they were the first live Iron Maiden tracks released (though more would follow), and it remains the only officially released recording of "I've Got The Fire" with Paul Di'Anno on vocals.
The singles from U2's album The Joshua Tree were released with two B-side songs each, which were pressed at 331⁄3 rpm. Versions for jukeboxes included only one of those songs, which played at 45 rpm.
The UK 7-inch single of "Love Shack" by The B-52's was released with live versions of "Planet Claire" and "Rock Lobster" on the B-side, which plays at 331⁄3 rpm. The follow-up "Roam" followed suit, including live versions of "Whammy Kiss" and "Dance This Mess Around" on the B-side playing at 331⁄3 rpm.
The Rolling Stones released "Brown Sugar" from their album Sticky Fingers in May 1971. While the American single featured only "Bitch" as the B-side, the British single added a third track, a live rendition of "Let It Rock" (the Chuck Berry classic) recorded at the University of Leeds during their 1971 tour of the UK.
The concept of the B-side has become so well known that many performers have released parody versions, including:
The term "b/w", an abbreviation of "backed with", is often used in listings to indicate the B-side of a record. The term "c/w", for "coupled with", is used similarly.
Savoy and Paul Williams Lead Again with ... The New Double Side Hit – Both Sides 'A' SidesCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
In music, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.
An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.
In their native United Kingdom, between 1962 and 1970, the English rock band the Beatles released 12 studio albums, 13 extended plays (EPs) and 22 singles. However, the band's international discography is complicated, due to different versions of their albums sometimes being released in other countries, particularly during their early years on Capitol Records in North America. The Beatles' discography was originally released on the vinyl format, with full-length long plays (LPs), shorter EPs and singles. Over the years, the collection has also been released on cassette, 8-track, compact disc (CD), on a USB flash drive in MP3 and 24-bit FLAC format, and on digital media streaming services. Although their output has come to include vault items and remixed mash-ups, the Beatles' "core catalogue", recorded between 1962 and 1970, comprises 213 songs, totalling approximately 10 hours of music. Additionally, they released five tracks that are different versions of previously released songs: "Love Me Do", "Revolution", "Get Back", "Across the Universe" and "Let It Be"; two tracks in German: "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "Sie Liebt Dich"; and two tracks that are duplicates of songs included on previous albums but also included on the album Yellow Submarine: "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need Is Love".
The twelve-inch single is a type of vinyl gramophone record that has wider groove spacing and shorter playing time with a 'single' or a few related sound tracks on each surface, compared to LPs which have several songs on each side. This allows for louder levels to be cut on the disc by the mastering engineer, which in turn gives a wider dynamic range, and thus better sound quality. This record type is commonly used in disco and dance music genres, where DJs use them to play in clubs. They are played at either 33 1⁄3 or 45 rpm. The conventional 7‐inch single usually holds three or four minutes of music at full volume. The 12‐inch LP sacrifices volume for extended playing time. In the 1970s, a hybrid was created, the 12‐inch single.
"Unchained Melody" is a 1955 song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. North wrote the music as a theme for the little-known prison film Unchained, hence the song title. Todd Duncan sang the vocals for the film soundtrack. It has since become a standard and one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, most notably by the Righteous Brothers. According to the song's publishing administrator, over 1,500 recordings of "Unchained Melody" have been made by more than 670 artists, in multiple languages.
Substance is a compilation album by English alternative dance band New Order. It was released in August 1987 by Factory Records. The album compiles all of the band's singles at that point in their 12-inch versions, along with their respective B-side tracks. The then-newly released non-album single "True Faith" is also featured, along with its B-side "1963".
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33 1⁄3 rpm.
Tom Tom Club is an American new wave band founded in 1981 by husband-and-wife team Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, both also known for being members of Talking Heads. Their best known songs include "Wordy Rappinghood", "Genius of Love", and a cover of The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk", all released on their 1981 debut album Tom Tom Club.
The overwhelming majority of records manufactured have been of certain sizes, playback speeds, and appearance. However, since the commercial adoption of the gramophone record, a wide variety of records have also been produced that do not fall into these categories, and they have served a variety of purposes.
20 Greatest Hits is a compilation album featuring a selection of songs by The Beatles that were number one singles in the UK and US. It was released on 11 October 1982 in the United States and 18 October in the United Kingdom and marked the 20th anniversary of The Beatles' first record release, "Love Me Do," in the UK in October 1962. 20 Greatest Hits was the last Beatles album to be released with variations between the U.S. and UK versions. There is an extremely rare 8 track tape version of this album, which approximately 10 to 15 copies still exist today. Legend has it that Capitol Records decided to pull the plug on the release at the last minute, as 8 tracks were not selling well in late 1982, and all copies were to be destroyed. However, there were a few that survived.
"Pop Muzik" is a 1979 song by M, a project by English musician Robin Scott, from the debut album New York • London • Paris • Munich. The single, first released in the UK in early 1979, was bolstered by a music video that was well received by critics. The clip featured Scott as a DJ singing into a microphone from behind an exaggerated turntable setup, at times flanked by two female models who sang and danced in a robotic manner. The video also featured Brigit Novik, Scott's partner at the time, who provided the backup vocals for the track.
The Other Side of the Mirror is the fourth solo studio album by American singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks. Released on May 11, 1989 through the Modern label, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, California, mixed in Buckinghamshire, England, and is loosely based around the theme of Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"It's Only Make Believe" is a song written by drummer Jack Nance and Mississippi-born singer Conway Twitty, while both were touring across Ontario, Canada in 1958. The song was recorded on May 7 for MGM Records; produced by Jim Vienneau, it featured Floyd “Lightnin’” Chance on double bass. It was released on side B of "I'll Try" on July 14, 1958. Known as Harold Lloyd Jenkins until changing his name in 1957, Twitty was a relatively unknown rock n' roll singer at the time. That all changed when side B finally hit the chart in September, then made no. 1 twice, on November 10 and 24. The single topped both U.S. and the UK Singles Chart, and became the only #1 pop single of his career. Years later, on a segment of 'Pop Goes The Country', Twitty stated it was a hit in 22 different countries, and sold over 8 million copies. He did not become a country music star until he crossed over in 1966.
"Love Hurts" is a song written and composed by the American songwriter Boudleaux Bryant. First recorded by the Everly Brothers in July 1960, the song is also well known from a 1975 international hit version by the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and in the UK a top five hit in 1975 by the English singer Jim Capaldi.
"Nothin' at All" is a song written by Mark Mueller and recorded by rock band Heart. A Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hit peaking at #10, it was released as the fourth single from the band's self-titled 1985 album Heart, and was the fourth song from the album to hit the U.S. Top 10. It also was a Top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at #38 in 1988.
"(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" is a popular song written by Bill Trader and was published in 1952. Recorded as a single by Hank Snow it peaked at number four on the US country charts early in 1953.
"As Long as You Follow" is a song by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Written and sung by band member Christine McVie, and her then-husband Eddy Quintela, the song was one of two new tracks on the band's 1988 greatest hits album, along with "No Questions Asked". Lead guitarist Rick Vito singled out the guitar solo as his best work with Fleetwood Mac.
"It Doesn't Matter Anymore" is a pop ballad written by Paul Anka and recorded by Buddy Holly in 1958. The song reached number 13 as a posthumous hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1959, shortly after Holly was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. The single was a two-sided hit, backed with "Raining in My Heart". "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" was Holly's last US Top 20 hit and featured the orchestral backing of Dick Jacobs. It was also successful in the United Kingdom, where it became the country's first posthumous number 1 hit. The song was recorded in mid-October 1958 in New York City. Paul Anka wrote it specifically for Holly. He donated his royalties from the song to Holly's wife. He said: "'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' has a tragic irony about it now, but at least it will help look after Buddy Holly's family. I'm giving my composer's royalty to his widow - it's the least I can do."
Bill is a studio album by American country singer-songwriter Bill Anderson. It was released in July 1973 on MCA Records and was produced by Owen Bradley. It was Anderson's first studio album to be released on the MCA label after Decca Records merged with the label. It was also his twenty first studio recording to be released and only album project to be issued in 1973. The album included three singles, two of which became number one hits in either the United States and Canada. The album itself also would reach peak positions on national publication charts.
Nashville Mirrors is a studio album by American country singer-songwriter Bill Anderson. It was released in 1980 on MCA Records and was produced by Buddy Killen. His 30th studio album, it was also Anderson's final album effort with his long-time record label. The album included three singles that reached minor positions on the Billboard country songs chart.