Why do I love the 7” single?
Back in the days of vinyl, there were these little things known as the 7” single. Radio stations got serviced with some of the most interesting advance copies that it helped ensure the artist’s popularity and enduring memory of the song. I miss those days when the DJ and the audiophile did the flip – turning the A side over and finding something interesting and more delicious than the hit itself. Though I can’t list the enormous task of B sides and mixes, I’ll list a few that’ll send some of you scrambling in your old 7” singles.
SKYY-When You Touch Me (Originally the B-side of “Call Me”) (Salsoul)
Skyy started to hit their stride with their Skyy Line LP with people wearing out both sides of the disc. They decided to release the single “Call Me” and even though that was a big hit for them, the B-side, the lovely ballad “When You Touch Me” garnered equal attention. Smooth female vocals and a nice arrangement made it an instant favourite.
POINTER SISTERS-Fire (The Market-Only Mix) (Planet)
When Bonnie left the group leaving the group to be a trio, Ruth, Anita and June signed on to Richard Perry’s Planet label and they struck gold with their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire”. So popular was the song that the sisters recorded versions that were considered market-only mixes. These mixes were specifically serviced to those stations that played the song. On the line that says, “You turn on the radio,” “radio” was substituted for that station’s call letters.
EARTH, WIND & FIRE-Departure (Original B-Side of “Saturday Nite”) (Columbia/Kalimba)
Why is this one interesting? Because it’s a mellow instrumental? Because of limitations placed on 7” singles back in the day? Because it’s Earth, Wind and Fire and they can do whatever they want? Go with the latter. This B-side is interesting because, though it is on their album Spirit, the track on the album clocks in at a mere 27 seconds while the B-side is a mere 2:52.
WAR-Outlaw (The KFRC Mix) (RCA/FarOut)
KFRC was the precursor to Howard Stern but the only jock that was more fun and shock was the late Dr. Don Rose. Rose came up with the idea of doing a remix of War’s “Outlaw” by having the APB mention to be on the lookout for KFRC deejays. This played throughout the popularity of the song’s run.
SYLVERS-Free Style (Original B-Side of “Boogie Fever”) (Capitol)
The Sylvers literally struck gold with their Showcase album. But the single “Boogie Fever” hit the stores before the album did. It didn’t matter though because the B-side “Free Style” gave them a double dose of dance. And it was extravagant.
QUEEN-We Will Rock You (Original B-Side of “We Are The Champions”) (Elektra)
Elektra must have known what they were doing when they handled Queen in the States. So what happened when the label put “We Will Rock You” on the B-Side of “We Are The Champions”? Well, thanks to AOR stations and the songs’ sequence on the album, an unexpected double-sided hit where the B-side is still played at sporting events in one form or the other.
PETER GABRIEL-In Your Eyes (Live Version) (Original B-Side of “In Your Eyes (Studio Version) (WTG)
Gabriel was on a roll in the late ‘80s. His album So was cranking out hit after hit, he was about to start WOMAD (World Of Music And Dance) and began Real World, one of the most iconic world beat labels on the planet. The track “In Your Eyes” got new life from the boombox scene from the film Say Anything… The song’s use was almost tanked because the soundtrack was on WTG and Gabriel was signed on to Geffen at the time. Through the meeting of the minds, the single was re-released on WTG with an added bonus-the B-side has a live version of the song that clocks in at a whopping 8:45-the longest song on an American 7”, 45 RPM period.
THE JACKSONS-Can You Feel It (Long Version) (Original B-Side of “Can You Feel It”) (Epic)
Let’s face it, sometimes some radio versions got released unintentionally and the single could sit on shelves before someone realizes they have gold in their hands. Epic released an 8:00 minute music promo of the Jacksons’ third single from Triumph. In conjuction with the release, they released a very limited number of white label singles (white labels are usually reserved for radio station) with the edited and extended versions.
WANG CHUNG-Fun Tonight (The Early Years) (Original B-Side of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”) (Geffen)
This single (both sides) reminds me of the ‘70s theme from The Edge of Night where the first part starts slow and then picks up. What you have here is that if you listen to the B-Side first and then the A-side, you get that same kind of feeling. Both are good.
MICHAEL HENDERSON-Wide Receiver (Special Edit) (Buddah)
This special mix had the opening abbreviated and the phrase, “Next time I’m gonna kick the son of a bitch in” and the spoken intro taken out. But they were too late, they already released the genie from the bottle.
YES-Leave It (A Capella) (Original B-Side of “Leave It”) (Atco) and SHAI-“If I Ever Fall In Love (A Capella) (Original B-Side of “If I Ever Fall In Love) (Gasoline Alley/MCA)
Both of these B-Sides are like a DJ’s wet dream with a capella. Yes decided to do this with their second hit from 90125 and some DJ’s remixed it for their respectable dance floors. On the other hand, Shai released “If I Ever Fall In Love” as a Quiet Storm type single, and released the a capella on the B-side. Guess which one everyone gravitated to?
BILLY PRESTON-Will It Go Round In Circles? (Orignal B-Side of “Blackbird”) (A&M)
This is one of those cases where the deejays went poo-poo on “Blackbird” but found something else interesting on the B-side—so much so that “Blackbird” flew off into oblivion because “Circles” was the most interesting and fit Preston’s funk groove.
SHALAMAR-Pop Along Kid (Original B-Side of “Make That Move”) (Solar)
Like the Sylvers four years before, Shalamar put out a B-side which proved equally as popular as the A-side. Unlike the Sylvers, Shalamar was already riding high on the popularity of their Three For Love album (which “Full of Fire” was released first and where “Pop Along Kid” was a hot track). Both sides got airtime.
CHEECH & CHONG-Just Say “Right On” (Original B-Side of “Bloat On”) (Epic/Ode)
This B-side never made it to airplay but equally as funny because they are discussing how this record should go…and the key phrase was, “Just say, ‘Right On’” laid over an instrumental version of “Bloat On”.
CULTURE CLUB-Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? (The Ever-Abbreviated Mix) (Virgin/Epic)
This song was already popular so as the popularity waned, radio stations began playing one of these versions. One version had the slow “Give me time…” intro cut short and the other version didn’t have it at all.
PRINCE-Erotic City (Original B-Side of “Let’s Go Crazy”) (Warner)
I could do a whole section of some of Prince’s B-sides alone (he had a CD that did it better), so why the standout of “Erotic City”? Simple-when the soundtrack of Purple Rain came out, the bands that were featured in the movie weren’t included on the soundtrack. However, “Erotic City” (not even in the movie or the soundtrack) caught the ears of deejays everywhere. For a while there was a debate of whether the line, “We can funk until the dawn” said “fuck” and the song was re-edited for airplay. Years later, the original edited version made its’ way back to the airwaves. Which brings us to…
ELO-Drum Dreams (Original B-sides of “I’m Alive” and “All Over The World”) (MCA)
Xanadu, like Purple Rain, had so much good music that, due to space limitations of albums back then, it all couldn’t fit on one disc and there wasn’t enough songs to fit on two, so MCA went the B-side route on the left out songs. Anyhow, “Drum Dreams” plays during the opening of Xanadu (the nightclub/rollerskating club mashup that the movie leads up to), so ELO’s “I’m Alive” did fairly well and “All Over the World” did even better. The B-side is something that sounds like it is part of a drumming competition with the occasional strings, the synthesizer, and the occasional chants of “Xanadu!” accenting the 3:06 song.
Thanks Doc……….. DRB