Now that most music is stored, exchanged and enjoyed digitally, some of the peculiarities of the days of physical music formats are fading into obscurity. One of those is the convention of A-sides and B-sides on record singles. Back when single songs were sold on the small, 45-rpm vinyl records, record companies placed the popular, radio-friendly track on the A-side, while the instrumentals, or inferior tracks were used to fill the B-side.
On a few notable occasions, the “inferior” B-sides become more popular than their A-side counterparts. Some examples include Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday“. On a few occasions, both the A and B side became hits, as with the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper“.
Indeed, taking the extra four or five minutes to flip to the B-side, or spending the extra quarter to play the lower track on the jukebox would sometimes reveal a pleasant surprise.
The other day, when riding by the Tricentennial Installation featured a few weeks back, I noticed someone taking some pictures of the backside of the concrete wall. I decided to explore. On the B-side, I found a few tags and some murals, along with the image of an antique pistol which seems part of the “official” project. The B-side artwork is very similar to what can be found on the Mur Lliures which pepper the city.
While this B-side may not enjoy the hit status of “Ruby Tuesday” or “Ice Ice Baby” (B-side to “Play That Funky Music“), it does show the value of going a little further below (or behind) the surface.