Paul McCartney’s B-Sides are some of the most sought items when trying to get all of his songs. Many long-time McCartney followers will tell you that some of Paul’s best songs are on his b-sides. I’m here to tell you… It’s all a lie. Generally, Paul puts the worst stuff on his b-sides. Right? So no need to read on.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. Yes, I know that’s a cliche. A fine album can be built from Paul’s b-sides. Much like the unreleased Cold Cuts album, the compilation of b-sides is more enjoyable than several proper albums. In fact, in many cases, the b-side song is so much better than the tracks that were included on the albums that Paul’s artistic judgment must be seriously questioned.
Take “Country Dreamer”, for instance. It’s a fine track recorded during the sessions for Red Rose Speedway, but left off the final album only to later become the b-side of “Helen Wheels”. Red Rose Speedway is a good album that could have been great. “Loup (The First Indian On The Moon)” is an okay experimental track, but it didn’t belong on the album when songs like “Country Dreamer” were available. And that’s not the only superior track left on the shelf. “I Lie Around” was held over for the b-side of “Live And Let Die”, while “Mama’s Little Girl” didn’t make it’s official appearance until 1990, and the sublime cover of “Tragedy” is still languishing on the shelf.
Skip forward six years, and we find another of McCartney’s best songs, “Daytime Nighttime Suffering” (possibly a career highlight – even Paul thinks so), on the b-side of “Goodnight Tonight”. Meanwhile the forthcoming album, Back To The Egg, needed a couple more killer songs to sell the album. “Daytime Nighttime Suffering” would have been a great choice, and no one would have complained if “Baby’s Request” had been a b-side.
Jump forward 10 years, and we find one of the strongest tracks from the Flowers In The Dirt sessions, “Flying To My Home” on the b-side on “My Brave Face”. As we discussed in this sites review of Flowers In The Dirt, the album took a particular turn for the worst toward the end. It got slow and the quality fell. Why not “Flying To My Home” instead of “How Many People” or “Don’t Be Careless Love”? Paul had his reasons for including “How Many People”, and those reasons had little to do with artistic quality.
One has to consider whether he was making what he believed to be the best decisions for his albums and career, or if he simply didn’t give a toss. Either possibility is troubling. Another possibility is that McCartney simply liked the idea of singles with really good b-sides, while considering albums to be a completely different matter.
At one time, some of these b-sides were difficult to find. Then almost all of them (almost) were made available as bonus tracks on CD. Currently, most of the b-sides can still be found by picking up used CDs. Most aren’t available by download. Having them added to CDs is convenient, but most people buying those albums probably don’t realize that “I Lie Around” and “The Mess” weren’t part of Red Rose Speedway or that Little Woman Love wasn’t on Wild Life. Here is a quick listing of the b-sides you need, and shouldn’t be too hard to find either on CD or 45.
- Another Day / Oh Woman Oh Why (1971)
- Mary Had A Little Lamb / Little Woman Love (1972)
- Give Ireland Back To The Irish / Give Ireland Back To The Irish (Version) (1972)
- Hi Hi Hi / C Moon (1972)
- My Love / The Mess (1973)
- Live And Let Die / I Lie Around (1973)
- Helen Wheels / Country Dreamer (1973)
- Band On The Run / Zoo Gang (UK single, available on the Band On The Run (Archive Collection) (1974)
- Junior’s Farm / Sally G (1974)
- Mull Of Kintyre / Girl’s School (1977)
- Goodnight Tonight / Daytime Nighttime Suffering (1979)
- Waterfalls / Check My Machine (1980)
- Ebony And Ivory / Rainclouds (never on CD) (1982)
- Take It Away / I’ll Give You A Ring (never on CD) (1982)
- Say Say Say / Ode To A Koala Bear (1983)
- Spies Like Us / My Carnival (1985)
- Press / It’s Not True (this version never on CD)
- Once Upon A Long Ago / Back On My Feet (1988)
- My Brave Face / Flying To My Home (1989)
- This One / The First Stone (1989)