What in the heck is a B-side anyway?

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve completely lost the plot? I’m right there with all of you feeling that way today. Like many, I’ve noticed the stylish instagram pics that DDHQ has posted of Wendy Laister’s (DD’s manager) son and his buddies wearing the “latest in DD fashion”.  I  commented on it before because quite a few fans were upset.  My position is that I don’t care. Sure, if it gets kids interested – by all means, who am I to argue?

That said, sometimes, I really think the message gets lost in translation.

Here’s an example: on one hand, we’ve got the kids wearing the DD gear, and the band seems to enjoy playing festivals. I’m no genius, but I think it’s probably fair to say that those types of things are designed to help to get this band heard by a younger generation….like the generation of my kids.  On the other hand, they’re playing places like Capri for very secretive, very private parties for billionaires.  Nothing like perpetuating that air of exclusivity that I grew up recognizing to be part of Duran Duran. I’m not complaining, either. In fact – that exclusivity was one of the many things that intrigued me about Duran Duran. The idea of jetting off to Sorrento and Capri, the private parties, and even the “untouchableness” (probably not a word, but it is today!!) of this band, were all things that attracted me to this band from day one.  Well, maybe since the Rio video.   These are all things I’ve said on this blog  before, correct?  But does it attract millennials?  Aren’t they all about access (hence social media)?

Here’s the thing – most of this stuff, I’ve decided, doesn’t matter. I mean, singularly, yes – going to Capri to play a private party matters. Wendy’s son and his friends “modeling” t-shirts matters.  Even those festivals matter.  Some people like the ideas, a lot of others don’t, but in the end – these things don ‘t REALLY matter, or probably shouldn’t matter, to fans, unless you’re like Amanda and I and feel it necessary to give commentary.  <wide grin here> All together, these things add up to one band trying to reach a multitude of different people.  Whether that is actually working for or against the band depends upon who you ask, and today – I’m taking a giant step back from that subject because I really don’t know. Does anyone??

What I do know today is that DDHQ posts some sort of an “engagement” type question every day or so on social media. These questions, not entirely unlike what Amanda and I used to post (and still do through our polls), are designed to keep the fan base talking about the band, even when they’re not doing much. Or when they’re traveling from Capri to who-knows-where-before-they-have-to-play-in-Oakland-on-Friday.  Today’s question asked what your favorite B-side or bonus track might be.

Before answering, I thought about the question, because I think it’s really very telling, oddly enough.  I get the point that we have to keep trying to expand our listening audience (there I go, using the word “we” as though I’m somehow “on the team”….but after this many years being a fan, doesn’t it sometimes feel that way??).  The only feasible way to do that is to become relevant to a younger demographic, because the one I belong with is shrinking, both in size and in strength. We don’t buy. (which is part of the reason why they’re trying to market the t-shirts and things to kids to begin with!) But, when they ask questions like this, trying to engage their audience, they’re talking to people like you and I because of one semi-obvious detail:

What’s a B-Side???

Millennials, such as my two older kids, don’t really know what a B-side is. They grew up after vinyl. (Although rest assured my kids know what in the hell a b-side is, even though they think the idea of having to get up and flip a record over is dumb. Too bad for them that Sony has decided to start pressing vinyl again!)  For that matter, kids today don’t really have the same understanding about what a single might be. To them, they’re ALL singles. You go and buy a song on iTunes. Done.  Never mind the bonus tracks!

So, to the young ones that may or may not stumble upon this question and others like it in the future, and may or may not be reading this blog, allow me to help.

Back in MY day, when we trudged through snow, uphill, both ways, to school each day, we had records, which were flat disks with grooves and a hole in the middle. You’d play them on a record player, and a needle would go down into the groove, and as the record spun – music would magically spill out through the speakers.  There were two sides to these records: the A side and the B side.  Now, I can’t speak for all people here, but in my case – I was convinced that the more well-known songs were on the A side, and the stuff I didn’t really know as well would be on the B. I may have developed this theory back when I was a mere child because when I’d buy singles at the record store (they were also called 45s), the song I’d know from the radio would be on the A side, and the back side would have another song I didn’t necessarily know. Duran Duran was famous (infamous?) for putting an entirely different song – one that wasn’t even included on the full album – on that B side.

As I grew up, I realized that the REAL gems on an album were often on those B sides. And bonus tracks?  Well, those are the songs that were so good they couldn’t even put them on the album!! They were like SECRET gems!!  (Just go with it, people)

So for many of us “old folk” (I hear some of you talk about us in GA lines or at shows!), the very best songs in the catalog are the B-sides and bonus tracks that they almost never play. Even better? We’d almost rather hear a concert filled with THOSE songs than the stuff many of you have heard your parents play over the years. Hungry Like the Wolf?  A View to a Kill?  Nah.  We want Late Bar or Secret Oktober, or even Virus!

And I’d fall over in a dead faint if they ever pulled out something like  Cinderella Ride.

But I digress. If anyone needs help understanding what is or is not a B-side or bonus, I’d direct you to the discography section on the DD website as a good place to start!

-R

 

One thought on “What in the heck is a B-side anyway?”

  1. For obvious reasons, since I’m just back from a tourist trip to Canada, my fave B Side for now is Khanada.
    Bonus tracks? Hard to find my fave one, but I’m sharing a clue: my targets are the Astronaut and the Paper Gods albums.
    By the way: USA is still on my wishing list as a country to visit, but the exchange rate right now isn’t favourable for the Euro and my passport is expiring.

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