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B-Side

A Flipsided History of Pop

A quickfire A-Z of 500+ flips, B-Side shows the format’s covert role in revolutionising pop. By Andy Cowan. Cover and spot illustrations by Kid Acne.

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Pop music would be a different beast without the B-Side. Music history is riven with songs deemed throwaway that revolted against their lowly status and refused to be denied. Be it rock’n’roll’s national anthem (‘Rock Around The Clock’), disco’s enduring game-changer (‘I Feel Love’) or hip-hop’s most notorious dis track (‘Hit ’Em Up’), all three started life as the so-called ‘lesser’ track on releases primed for maximum chart impact. But the B-side has done much more than make stars of Bill Haley, Donna Summer and 2Pac.

Whether it was the Beatles, the Kinks and the Yardbirds in the 60s, Elton John, the Who and Queen in the 70s, Depeche Mode, the Cure and Prince in the 80s, or Oasis, Pulp and Radiohead in the 90s, the B-side allowed many of the world’s greatest artists freedom to experiment with no commercial constraints in an age where physical product ruled the roost.

A quickfire A-Z of 500+ flips, B-SIDE is the first serious examination of the format’s covert role in pushing the musical envelope. Best read with one eye on YouTube and one ear on a streaming service, its revelations will prick up the ears of music fans of all persuasions.

Introduction

Inclusion Criteria
‘1963’ to ‘£. s. d.’
‘A Bitch Iz A Bitch’ to ‘Anytime, Anyplace’

B-Sides About B-Sides
‘Baby I’ve Got It’ to ‘Butterfly Collector’
‘Can-I-Bust’ to ‘Cut Across Shorty’

Dub B Good To Me
‘Daddy Cool’ to ‘DWYCK’
‘Early 1970’ to ‘Everything’s Alright When You’re Down’
‘Fantastic Life’ to ‘Funnel Of Love’

Going Backwards
‘Gambling Barroom Blues’ to ‘Grown Up Girls’
‘H.A.A. (Here’s Another Asshole)’ to ‘Housepower’

I Wanna B Like You
‘I Am A Cliché’ to ‘It’ll Be Me’
‘Jack The Ripper’ to ‘Just Passing’

Karaoke And B-Yond
‘Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning’ to ‘King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown’
‘La Bamba’ to ‘Lyrical Rundown’

Mind Your Language
‘Made Of Glass’ to ‘My Standard Break From Life’
‘Never Gonna Let You Go’ to ‘Nowhere At All’
‘Oh I Apologize’ to ‘Over The Rainbow’

Party Time
‘The P Is Free’ to ‘Put The Bone In’
‘The Rabbit Got The Gun’ to ‘Running Thin’
‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ to ‘Sweet Intuition’

To B Or Not To B
‘TV Baby’ to ‘Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please’
‘Unchained Melody’ to ‘Urge For Going’
‘Vacuum Cleaner’ to ‘Vigilante Man’
‘The Wagoner’s Lad (Loving Nancy)’ to ‘Wrath Of Kane’

You Can’t B Serious!
‘Yellow Ledbetter’ to ‘Your Love Is Wonderful’
‘Zing Zing – Zoom Zoom’

Acknowledgements

Index

  • First book to explore B-side’s influence.
  • Comprehensive alternative pop history, with 500+ entries
  • Illustrated with original label artwork, attractive to collectors
  • Striking cover by Kid Acne

Title: B-SIDE
Subtitle: A Flipsided History of Pop
Author: Andy Cowan
ISBN: 978-1-915316-13-4
Street Date: July 6, 2023
Category: Music
Retail Price: UK £17.99 / US $25.95
Binding: Paperback
Size: 216mm x 140mm
Pages: 400
Illos: 100+ record labels plus line art by Kid Acne

As the trade paperback, except the special hardback edition is on higher quality paper and features colour throughout.  

This special NO-ISBN hardback is exclusive to this website. Because it carries No ISBN number, this edition of the book is off the grid in as much as it doesn’t appear on any database, in any library, cannot be ordered through mainstream bookshops or online retailers. 

MOJO
David Hutcheon
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“It's 400-page heft dismantles suggestions this is the result of a simple pub debate or just a playlist in need of an explanation, but what really distinquishes is the legwork. [...] No shortage of inclusions to remind you that record companies never know what they are doing, and plenty with which you will disagree.”
GoldmineDave Thompson
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“It is guaranteed that most of its contents will be new to you. And thus worth seeking out. Filed a-z by title (but with a voluminous index for other purposes), this is the kind of book you’ll keep by the bedside, to flip through when sleep is being eaten by earworms. Or in the bathroom for when you’re soaking in the tub.”
Music WeekGeorge Garner
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Inside the new book tracing the history and evolution of the B-Side [Interview with the author]
Colin LarkinFounder and editor-in-chief, the Encyclopedia of Popular Music
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“Andy has brought his own style to this original concept. It reads beautifully – his slick and finger-snapping style is perfect for the wide subject covered. He writes with perceptive detail, and is never boring, his flowing text delicately laced with humorous opinion. The subject of the B-side is long overdue, and in the current age of streaming his incredibly diverse selection is made for the keen Spotify user. An important and outstanding work.”
Gary CrowleyBroadcaster and DJ
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“My love affair with the B-side stretches back to first getting the music bug as a kid. Listening to the flip immediately after the A was a given and I subsequently discovered a whole raft of audio nuggets. Andy’s book is a wonderful trawl through its history and a welcome opportunity to discover many I missed first time around in the topsy-turvy rush of beatdom.”
Pete Paphides
Pete PaphidesAuthor of Broken Greek
Read More
“Like the very phenomenon it celebrates, Andy Cowan’s celebration of the B-side is truly fascinating, amounting to no less than a parallel history of pop itself.”
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Andy Cowan

ANDY COWAN graduated from cut-and-pasting photocopied fanzines Only A Rumour and White Lie in his teens to working on Hip-Hop Connection – the world’s first rap monthly – in the late 80s, where his interviews included Public Enemy, Ice Cube and 50 Cent. Its editor in the 90s and publisher in the 00s, he has also contributed to podcasts, documentaries, museum exhibits and worked extensively as a music metadata specialist. A researcher at the University of Cambridge since the 10s, Andy has freelanced for The Independent, Flame Tree, Music Week and Q, among others, and is MOJO magazine’s jazz columnist. He has been a B-side obsessive since he first started buying singles in 1978.

Kid Acne

KID ACNE is a UK-based artist, illustrator, print-maker and emcee.

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