Last week, Portishead and the folks at All Tomorrow’s Parties collaborated to bring us a mixtape showcasing the killer lineup for I’ll Be Your Mirror, which features the likes of Company Flow, Shellac, Beak>, Anika, Cults, and many others. And to keep the promotional train going steady, they have teamed up with us here at Prefix to bring you a run down of some of the acts’ favorite B-sides. You’ll learn about how EPMD’s “Brothers from Brentwood Long Island” is probably the duo’s best track ever, why Earth’s Dylan Carlson loves “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” by Led Zeppelin, and how one member of the Pop Group can’t help loving Rod Stewart.
The list along with streams of each track is below. I’ll Be Your Mirror runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 and more information on the event can be found here.
“Brothers from Brentwood Long Island” by EPMD (B-side to “Crossover”)
Never been on CD. Possibly the best EPMD song ever.
DJ Mr. Len (Company Flow)
“Erotic City” by Prince (B-side to “Let’s Go Crazy”)
Prince is at his best being bad. This tune is naughty in every way.
Bigg Jus (Company Flow)
“GOD” by Prince (B-side of “Purple Rain”) and “Synopsis” by E-Rule. (B-side of “Listen Up”). Stream the Prince cut below.
“T.V.O.D.” by The Normal (B-side to “Warm Leatherette”)
I always choose The Normal’s “TVOD” over “Warm Leatherette.” I always thought this was the A-side anyway. I think on my vinyl copy, the a and b are in really small print and I have terrible vision, so that probably explains it. I prefer the lyrics. I like the line “stick the arial into my skin” it reminds me of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Don Siegel version (the re-make/s lose the whole point of the film). Both play on the idea of a hidden force brainwashing us and turning us into emotionless dupes, with an inability to think for ourselves. The way Dana Wynter and the bloke in the film try to blend in with the dupes, is by walking around like robots, keeping their heads down, not questioning the system and working. Sounds familiar. Some people I know find it a little repetitive but for me this is the point of it. It puts you into a kind of trance which plays on the TV OD theme. I also like the deadpan delivery. I picked up the Grace Jones version of “Warm Leatherette” on vinyl the other day, which is an interesting take on the A-side.
“Meet Me At The Harbour” by Idlewild (B-side to “Actually It’s Darkness”)
Probably an unpopular choice, but Idlewild’s “Meet Me At The Harbour” on the “Actually It’s Darkness” single, (March 2000) is my favourite B-side – I think it captures the proper slightly ragged proto-emo indiecore thing that they were doing so well before they drifted off into naff low-rent REM territory – Tense and knotted whilst still melodic, I think this track’s their strongest out of all of ’em, and don’t know why it didn’t make it as an album cut, but the fact that it is a secret little B-Side buried on one version of a single makes it all the more special (which adds to the dreamy fey teenage feeling, back when you still bought singles). The piano drop before the last chorus is super effective for me, and gives me that OUCH feeling right in my guts. I saw them play a few weeks after, it was my first proper gig and they played this song right in the middle of the set and I wept like a fuckin’ bairn.
Billy Fuller (Beak>)
“Cheddar Cheese” by The Wurzels (B-side to “One For The Bristol City”)
For me, it’s got to be “Cheddar Cheese” by The Wurzels, it was the B-side to “One For The Bristol City”. My copy was from 1977 I think, well, it wasn’t my copy, it was my eldest Brother’s copy from when Bristol City got promoted to the old 1st Division way back when Starburst were Opal Fruits and only one car (Morris Minor I think) was ever parked in my street. Funnily enough, my old man played snare drum in The Wurzels back when they first started out around 1966. Unfortunately, he didn’t last very long in the band because he knocked Adge Cutler out in a pub in a village near Bristol called Pill (in North Somerset & a Beak> tune). When I asked him why he did this, my Dad replied, “Because he was flashing his cash around at the bar the bastard… I don’t like flash bastards, so I hit ‘im!”… um, nice one Dad. Anyway, it’s got to be “Cheddar Cheese” because it’s the first song I ever remember hearing and having a positive reaction to it, even today, it doesn’t sound bad, it just sounds like The Wurzels. And fuck it, everyone else will be going on about some trendy record by Nitzabottom Ein Stickenbacken or something like that.
“Violence to Violence” by Rollerskate Skinny
Rollerskate Skinny’s “Violence to Violence” (on Placebo; 1993), truly the sound of the universe being ripped open. Every ineffable beauty and terror bursting forth in one stream-lined mess. The sharp compositional twists and confident, poetic delivery of grim lyrics here fascinated my teen mind and continue to inspire me today. If only all the ’90s retro going on right now was centered around bands like TFUL282, rRope, and Rollerskate Skinny.
“No Time This Time” by The Police (B-side to “So Lonely”)
Jeremy Barnes (A Hawk And A Hacksaw)
“I’m Not Like Everybody Else” by the Kinks (B-side to “Sunny Afternoon”)
It’s from their 7-inch release with “Sunny Afternoon” on the A-side. I first heard “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” on a cassette tape while driving around Albuquerque, N.M. looking for something to do. I realized halfway through that listening to that track while driving was exactly what I should be doing.
“Holly Dolly” by Kano (B-side to “I’m Ready”) or “Lorelei” by Tom Tom Club (B-side to “Genius Of Love”) Stream the Kano track below.
Those are the first ones that come to mind. Both are records I bought as a kid and realized at the time that I liked “the back as much as the front” of the record. “Erotic City” by Prince is one that was much more popular than the a-side. Then when hip hop singles came out, B-sides were always listened to as well. “DWYCK” by Gang Starr comes to mind. “Paul Revere” by Beastie Boys. “Rebel Without A Pause” by Public Enemy. “Paid In Full” by Eric B & Rakim. “My Melody” by Eric B & Rakim. “PSK” by Schoolly D. “If The Papes Come” by Tribe Called Quest. “F-4000” by Fearless Four. And of course “Sucker MCs” by Run DMC. That changed hip hop when it came out.
JG Thirlwell (Manorexia)
“My Mind Ain’t So Open” by Magazine (B-side to “Shot By Both Sides”)
I had a pretty huge 7-inch collection from the ’70s and early ’80s, thousands of them, which I left behind in London when I moved to NYC in 1983. Unfortunately many of them went astray or were stolen and the collection was decimated by the time I finally went to retrieve them after many years, but I still have many boxes of gems. I hate to pick “favorites” because my obsessions change from day to day, but a b-side that popped into my mind when I was asked was “My Mind Ain’t So Open” by Magazine, the B-side of their first single “Shot By Both Sides.” That was an exciting single at a time when anything seemed possible. In the course of musing about this I also listened to “Amsterdam,” a Jacques Brel cover by David Bowie, which graced the B-side of his “Sorrow” single, and that still sounds pretty intense.
“The Crunge” by Led Zeppelin (B-side to “D’yer Mak’er”)
I think our collected favourite 7-inch B-side is maybe “The Crunge” by Led Zeppelin. It is the B-side to “D’yer Mak’er.” It is awesome because it hardly sounds like Led Zeppelin. It’s funky, and has a weird synth part, and is in 9 time. I first heard it when I (Matt) first started hanging out with Tomas, Mike and Jordan. We used to listen to that and the song, “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder all the time. But once we discovered Frank Zappa, everything else was mud for a whole year.
“Bullet Train to Vegas” by Drive Like Jehu (B-side to “Hand Over Fist”)
It’s one of they’re fastest, most aggressive, most brutal songs, with all the parts and pieces I love about Jehu. Amazing guitar parts and amazing vocal melodies. I remember seeing them play it live, almost passing out when they played it because I was 16, in the front row. I was getting squashed into the stage and nearly getting trampled on. It blew my mind. I bought the 7-inch that night. Awesome.
“David” by Prince Far-I
“R.A.F” by Brian Eno & Snatch (stream this below)
It was a melancholic violin dub I first heard in Revolver Records (Bristol) where every Friday we would knock off school to wait for the van from “Zion” (at the time driven by Mr. Adrian Sherwood (On-U Sound)) that would deliver the latest pre-releases hot from “Jamdown” (i.e. Jamaica). Also “R.A.F,” B-side of Brian Eno’s “Kings Lead Hat,” by Snatch, the London-based, American girl duo of Patti Pallidin and Judy Nylon.
Gareth Sager (The Pop Group)
“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart (B-side to “Reason to Believe”)
Obviously, a very uncool choice. “Maggie May” was originally the B-side to Rod Stewart’s “Reason to Believe,” (which is a really dreary song), but some bright spark DJ played the other side. “Wake up Maggie I think I’ve got something to say to you.” Henry Miller in Pop.
“Hey, Hey What Can I Do” by Led Zeppelin (B-side to “Immigrant Song”)
I was madly in love with a beautiful tramp and it reminded me of her, I mean that in a non-judgmental way (the goddess is always inconstant as it regards us merely male mortals). Also I love the line about leaving here/her when the guitars play (music as shamanic portal to a better world). One of my favorite lines in any song is “time to play b-sides” from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burning For You.” I think they wrote it with Richard Meltzer. I bought the Zeppelin single at Positively 4th Street in Olympia, Wash. I heard it on the radio in San Antonio, Texas.
Adrienne Davies (Earth)
“Right Now I Am A-Roaming” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (B-side to “Into My Arms”)
My favorite song leaving on tour and coming back from tour, especially beneficial when knee deep in a panic attack assuming crash positions at 38,000 ft. What ever gets you through the flight, is all right. It uses a lull-a-bye like quality to capture the dissonance between the unreality of tour versus the mundanity and comfort of home. It’s got bells!
Angelina Baldoz (Earth)
“Nothing To Say” by Soundgarden (B-side to “Hunted Down”)
The B-side of their blue vinyl 7-inch “Hunted Down” of which only 500 copies were made. I bought it at their show at the Canterbury in Seattle in 1987. It was also the first time I had ever heard them. This track is what I imagine metal exploding in slow motion would sound like. Yamamoto’s rich bass sound wih his slow grinding riffs, Cameron’s exploding drums, Cornell’s voice in long sustained tones with vibrato that rides the groove, and Thayil’s guitar with such a lush, deep, and dissonant sound that the nerves throughout my body resonate with it, all combine to create a raw physical experience that reminds me of how ecstatic and raw I felt watching the show. My favorite part is the ending. I love the slow and slower diving dirge into the guitar feedback.