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The Top 10: B-sides that should have been A-sides

John Rentoul
·2-min read
<p>Ron Wood and Mick Jagger at Knebworth, 1976, not always getting what they wanted</p> (Getty)

Ron Wood and Mick Jagger at Knebworth, 1976, not always getting what they wanted


William French started this one, after I mentioned “Half the World Away” by Oasis, the B-side to “Whatever” (1994). We had already done “Your Song” by Elton John (1970) and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart (1971) in Top 10 Hits that Blindsided Experts and Gatekeepers, which included things that weren’t music, so here are 10 more, in chronological order.

1. “Green Onions”, Booker T and the MG’s. B-side to “Behave Yourself”, 1962.

2. “A Change Is Gonna Come”, Sam Cooke. B-side to “Shake”, 1964. Nominated by Mitchell Stirling.

3. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, the Rolling Stones. B-side to “Honky Tonk Women”, 1969. Nominated by Steven Fogel, Dan, Phil Riley.

4. “Bell Bottom Blues”, Derek and the Dominos. B-side to “Layla”, 1971. Thanks to Andy Ecelson.

5. “The Man Who Sold the World”, David Bowie. B-side to reissue of “Life on Mars?”, 1973.

6. “Silver Springs”, Fleetwood Mac. B-side to “Go Your Own Way”, 1976.

7. “52 Girls”, B-52’s. B-side to “Rock Lobster”, 1978. With thanks to the well-known Alex.

8. “Liza Radley”, The Jam. B-side to “Start!”, 1980. “A very great injustice,” said Patrick O’Flynn.

9. “How Soon Is Now?” The Smiths. B-side to “William, It Was Really Nothing”, 1984, which had two songs on the B-side, the other being “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”, which also should have been an A-side. Thanks to Andy Woodcock, Phil Gomersall, Simon West.

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10. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”, Green Day. B-side to “Brain Stew”, released in Germany, 1994.

No room, then, for “Pearly”, Radiohead, the B-side to “Paranoid Android”, 1997, which Mitchell Stirling and Jaimie Henderson like.

Several nominations for “The Model” by Kraftwerk, but it was originally the A-side in Germany, although it was first released as a B-side in Britain.

Next week: Obsolete ministries, to mark the death of Shirley Williams, once secretary of state for prices and consumer protection.

Coming soon: People who were going to be priests, starting with Stalin, Shane MacGowan and Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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