History of the B-Side

By Ryan Jobes

The disc record developed over the fist half of the 20th century and gained in popularity as radios and home stereos became an important part of family entertainment. By the 1940’s, thick 78 rpm records began to give way to crisper higher fidelity sound of records pressed on vinyl. During the 50’s and 60’s the 45 rpm format became the most popular way for recording artists to release singles. Artists would release singles with one song on each side. The A-Side would usually feature “the hit single,” and the B-side would be an additional track sometimes featured as a bonus track not included on the artists full LP. The focus on which side would get more airplay was not clearly delineated until the rise of the top 40 radio format.

There are so many amazing songs that were included on records as B-sides that can be found in our catalogue. Here are some of my favorite B-sides; all of which can be found in either Print or Digital format arranged for voice and piano and guitar (chords only). That means you can learn to play these today.

In 1965 Gene Vincent released Woman Love, a song considered too provocative to play on the radio so DJ’s flipped the record over to spin the incredibly catchy B-side Be-Bop-A-Lula.

One of my favorite Beatles songsStrawberry Fields was included on the Penny Lane single. This went on to become one of the Beatles twenty #1 Billboard hits. Many of the Beatles hits can be found in song compilation books on our site. Take a look at The Beatles Complete Scores below:

The Beatles - Complete Scores

The Beatles – Complete Scores

One of The Rolling Stones most well known songs, Jumping Jack Flash peaked at #3 in the charts but the real gem is the enchanting B-side Child of the Moon. You can find this song in the Rolling Stones Singles Collection – The London Years seen below:

The Rolling Stones Singles Collection - The London Years

The Rolling Stones Singles Collection – The London Years

The Beach Boys had their first #1 hit in 1964 with I Get Around, and I’m sure a lot of people were even more pleased when they flipped the disk to listen to the girl group influenced Don’t Worry Baby.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

I hope you enjoyed the brief overview about the B-Side of recordings. What are some of your favorites?

Ryan Jobes is a Customer Service Representative at Sheet Music Plus and holds degrees in classical and electronic composition from Cornish College of the Arts and Mills College.

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