BritPop B-sides

BritPop B-sides


When Britpop started booming, record labels devised a cunning plan to flog as many versions of each Dodgy single as they possibly could – by multi-formatting.

Essentially the art of releasing three CDs of the same song with bonus goodies attached to each disc, this notoriously dark-art left bands peddling at twice the speed as they attempted to record more and more B sides. It’s all too easy to imagine some EMI boss whipping the songwriter from Cast, shouting “Faster! Faster!”

Luckily, the side effect was that people really did write shitloads of songs, offering fans a parallel universe which – if you were betting the right band – could provide almost as rich an experience as the singles themselves: see classic B-side compilations Out Spaced (Super Furry Animals) and Sci Fi Lullabies (Suede).

Talking about Britpop B-sides is a bit of a geeky niche, not to mention dangerously nostalgic. To keep our self respect intact then, let’s keep this clean, short and on-point. Here are five classic Britpop B sides.

1) Suede – Whipsnade

Why is ‘Whipsnade’ great? Consider this: the depression-o-meter of this band is generally pretty high (I have a distinct memory of people smothering themselves with pillows to their second album) yet amazingly this B-side shows a funky, almost acid jazz (acid jazz!) side to Suede – and it’s as zesty as a lemon being cheese grated. Bernard come back etc!

2) Blur – No Monsters

This was a B-side? Those Britpop twits! If it was me, I’d have saved ‘No Monsters In Me’ for the ‘Holy Shit We’re On Our Fifth Album Without Any Tunes’ phase. Instead this beautifully anarchistic pop song emerged as B-side to The Universal. Aside from a mischievous and memorable chorus, this tune also features some nice speed drumming from Dave. Ah, good old Dave.

3) Pulp – Seconds

Britpop! It was all ‘aving a pint down the Merry Breezer, yellow tracksuits in Camden and getting off with supermodels wrapped in Union Jacks, yep? Er… not entirely. Setting fire to those tracksuits were Pulp, who managed to make your first experiments with male-to-female kinkiness even more paranoid, claustrophobic and awkward than they already were – with songs like this. Thanks Pulp!

4) Oasis – Rocking Chair

Oasis were nearly as uncool as Menswe@r in my circle (that being the dark little poets circle), but this acoustic pop song – hitching a ride on the ‘Roll With It’ single – has an air of coastal blues that nicely hits the spot. It’s just a shame that it’s not only called ‘Rocking Chair’, but also seems to be literally ABOUT a rocking chair. Oh dear.

5) Echobelly – We Know Better

There might have been a bit too much Loaded-fuelled interest in their singer’s sexuality, but Echobelly harboured magic –and to think they chucked this indie sea-shanty onto the B-side is frankly criminal. Well. Almost criminal. Criminal-ish.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.