Firing The Canon (A List) (of b-sides) (and other things)
iring The Canon (A List) (of b-sides) (and other things)…
1. Hunting down hard-to-find Disco Inferno CD singles on eBay, MusicStack, NetSounds, Amazon Sellers and anywhere else I think there might be the vaguest sniff of one. Five EPs, eulogised within these pages by myself and others and eulogised elsewhere by yet more. I’ve got four so far. Feeling like a Pokemon fan. Buying up My Bloody Valentine EPs on import CD in the interim to keep myself amused. Because I need them. Because I was only 11 or 12 when the MBV EPs were released, and what 11 year old is into shoegaze?
2. “Flim” by Aphex Twin. (Which went on almost every compilation I made between 1998 and 2001.)
3. A final realisation that Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and, to a lesser extent, Pink Floyd aren’t evil. Necessarily.
4. “Ladyfriend” by The Byrds. Not actually a b-side but I wish it was.
5. Cultural choices (music, film, books, clothes, the glasses I wear, and how I tie my shoelaces) may reflect my identity but they don’t always structure it. Maybe identity structures my cultural choices? Maybe it’s a two-way exchange? Does this mean that I am not immutable?
6. “Get A Real Tattoo” by Six.By Seven.
7. Writing liner notes for a compilation of b-sides by my favourite band and being paid by a major record label to do so. There would be an amount of existential panic along the lines of Oh no! I’ve taken the poisoned coin of the capitalists! if I wasn’t earning well below the average wage in this country. It’s nice to be asked, to see my name in a record sleeve detailing some of my favourite songs ever. I’d have done it for nothing if I wasn’t earning well below the average wage in this country.
8. “Red Eye Shot” by Embrace.
9. Fantasising about expensive headphones and pre-amps.
10. “17 Days” by Prince.
11. Getting into Bowie at university, for a month, but not dressing any different or watching any of the films; just buying some of the 70s albums and liking them.
12. “Your voice is not your own; you are the product of a discourse.”
13. “Talk Show Host” by Radiohead.
14. Wondering how many awesome songs have fallen by the wayside because, in the CD age, people can’t be bothered to change a disc over every [insert number of minutes less than 45] and thus no one listens to singles anymore, meaning no one hears b-sides.
16. “Shameless” by Pet Shop Boys.
17. The English language is the only language I know of which, in its written form, privileges the self-singular pronoun by capitalising it.
18. Does this make us think that I is always more important than you or we or them?
19. “All U Crazies” by Basement Jaxx.
20. A vague assumption that one day I’d do something great and significant.
21. All those 60s, 70s and 80s records suddenly becoming much more palatable once they’re remastered.
22. “Your Mind And We Belong Together” by Love. A double a-side with “Laughing Stock” rather than a b-side, but still my favourite song by them.
23. Wanting to read a really good book about music.
24. The Manual; How To Have A Number One Hit The Easy Way by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty is the only good book about music that I have ever read.
25. “Godrevy Point” by Patrick Wolf.
26. The iPod, playing a playlist of 60s songs in my office during working hours allegedly on random, choosing (if machines choose) to juxtapose “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Helter Skelter” immediately in that order.
28. “Into The White” by The Pixies.
30. “Bustin’ And Dronin’” by Blur.
31. I really like trumpets, both big fanfares and honking jazz solos.
32. “Why Can’t I Touch It?” by The Buzzcocks.
33. People think the numbers are important; they’re not. Most of the time we barely even think about them, and some of us don’t want to use them at all. I used to determine 1-10 grades by rolling an old d10 that was leftover from my role-playing childhood.
34. Jan Svankmajer ought to have made music videos.
35. “Rain” by The Beatles. (My favourite Beatles song is “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, which was also a b-side before they stuck it on the hodge-podge that is Magical Mystery Tour. Just listen to the bass. Apparently at one point Lennon sings “baby you’re a rich fag Jew” in tribute to Brian Epstein.)
36. “Chun-Li’s Spinning Bird Kick” by Arctic Monkeys being used as incidental link music on Radio Five Live.
37. “Adventures Beyond The Nurgon Zone” by Sarah Brightman.
38. Arctic Monkeys getting to number one on the back of “internet hype”.
40. “Cherry” by Smashing Pumpkins.
41. Graphic courtesy of Gustav Serjikev, who doesn’t exist.
42. “Turtles Have Short Legs” by Can.
43. “Beat Connection” by LCD Soundsystem.
44. “A Man Inside My Mouth” by The Cure.
45. The problem with Zeppelin and Floyd is that they didn’t do singles, which means no b-sides, which means no secrets, no hidden-self, no deeper fanboy understanding. Unless you get into live bootlegs, and frankly they sound shit.
46. “What Happens Next?” by Orbital.
47. Why don’t record companies release more b-side compilations? Surely they’re cheap to produce (as the material is already pre-recorded, obviously), and they deepen fan loyalty and band mythology at the same time.
48. I shunned singles for far too long in my early teenage years, and then again in my early 20s, and now I feel that this obsession with b-sides is some kind of quest to make up lost time and catch up with what I missed out on.
49. “I Think I’m In Love (Chemical Brothers Remix)” by Spiritualized.
50. Yes I’m only writing this list because I can’t be arsed to produce a proper, cogent, and flowing article.
51. “(It’s Good) To be Free” by Oasis.
52. I’m also making a very salient point about the nature of music fandom which might say something revelatory about the male psyche.
53. I hate High Fidelity, which is weird cos I love John Cusack. I won’t go near the book. Hornby is an evil little troll.
54. Top ten b-sides ever? 1. “Blind” by Embrace, 2. “D.I. Go Pop” by Disco Inferno, 3. “Standing Here” by The Stone Roses, 4. “Why Is It So-oh, fuck it.
55. “Why Is It So Hard?” by Talk Talk.
56. Do b-sides really reveal something about the secret identity of an artist? Or are they just the songs that weren’t good enough for an album?
57. “Let The Damage Begin” by The Verve.
58. Artists don’t know what their best songs are.
59. EMI are owned by Thorn, who are an arms manufacturer.
60. Sony are also owned by an arms manufacturer.
61. This doesn’t make
62. “Needles In My Eyes” by The Beta Band
63. any less great.
64. “Fear of the middle of the body” as some kind of universal truth, which is why indie people don’t dance. Or didn’t.
65. Leaving great songs as b-sides is rockist selfish mythologizing at best. You don’t see Sly & The Family Stone doing it.
66. “Fish Chips And Sweat” by Funkadelic.
67. Wondering how many points to do on this list. 100 is far too rockist. I might as well stop now.
68. If 100 is rockist then 69 is sexist.
69. “Under The Ivy” by Kate Bush.