B-sides, rarities, demos…. what are they good for?

Actually quite a lot. With a glut of 2CD reissues and bonus CDs making up my collection, I thought it’d be a good idea to draw attention to some great songs that have fallen through the cracks. Consider this a guide to making up a mix CD of rare tracks:

1. DJ Shadow – Six Days (Soulwax Remix): this is a right cracker. The vocals are sped up and there’s a quality sample from the B52’s “52 Girls” to propel the whole thing along. Well worth seeking out although why this was only on the Japanese rarities album I don’t know. (Available on the Private Repress Japanese Import by DJ Shadow)

2. Jeff Buckley – Forget Her: apparently this was left off Jeff’s classic debut Grace, at the last minute. There are rumours that Jeff didn’t want he song to be heard, but it was re-instated on the 2CD Deluxe reissue edition of the album a few years ago. It’s something that’s equally as good as anything on Grace and a beautiful song. (Available on Grace: deluxe edition by Jeff Buckley)

3. Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls: this cover of the Joy Division track probably slipped under the radar of a few people since it appeared on the soundtrack to the Crow. It was added onto the 2CD edition of The Downward Spiral when it was reissued. (Available on The Downward Spiral deluxe edition by Nine Inch Nails)

4. Superstar – Every Second Hurts: b-sides don’t carry that much weight these days. Which is a shame as they’ve often been the source of little songs that make the grade. Superstar were once of Scotland’s most under-rated bands, thanks to Joe MacLinden’s delicate voice and quality song writing. This delicate ballad was on the b-side of one of the band’s best songs. (Available on the single “Everyday I Fall Apart” by Superstar)

5. The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog: the Stooges always sounded filthy, but this alternate take from their debut album, polishes things up a little making John Cale’s production just that bit sharper. (Available on The Stooges 2CD reissue by The Stooges)

6. Smashing Pumpkins – Real Love: a review I read of the Pumpkins “Greatest Hits” album said that the CD was proof that Bully Corgan wrote too many songs. Maybe, but this is one of their best: an unreleased track that sounds like nothing else they’ve done before. A swirling feedback anchored by Jimmy Chamberlin’s incredible drumming. It’s my favourite Smashing Pumpkins track by a mile. (Available on Rotten Apples – Greatest Hits of Smashing Pumpkins)

7. U.N.K.L.E. – Guns Blazing (instrumental version): I don’t think it’s any secret that I like the first U.N.K.L.E. album, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Some of the vocal performances aren’t especially strong, so it’s good to see the Japanese version of the album comes with some instrumental versions of two of the tracks. The best one is the album’s intro, “Guns Blazing”, a blistering drum assault that’s made more powerful without the lacklustre rapping that was on the original. (Available on Psyence Fiction Japanese Import by U.N.K.L.E.)

8. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Bang: the hype about the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s really peaked when the released their first album, but it had been building since they released their first two singles, Bang and Machine. These two songs weren’t on the debut album Fever To Tell which was a shame, especially Bang with it’s gritty sound and biting lyrics (“as a fuck son/you suck”). The b-side  “Our Time” is pretty good too. (Available on the single Yeah Yeah Yeah’s)

9. Gorillaz – Hong Kong: the 2006 version of the seminal Help charity album never reached the heights of the 1996 version. There were too many cast off songs that felt like they were chucked in there because they would have gone to waste. The shining light here was Gorillaz mournful and atmospheric “Hong Kong”. Instead of the slick hip hop beats of the last album Demon Days, this track is a minimalist mood piece with sparse lyrics and a simple melody on a zither and piano. (Available on Help: A Day In The Life)

10. Roots Manuva – Movements: this live version is on the third disc of a great Ninja Cuts boxset called Xen Cuts. Disc three is all the rare stuff that’s been passed over and there’s some quality music on there (Cinematic Orchestra, Saul Williams, DJ Food). But this live take on “Movements” is great. It’s just Roots and a DJ, with a sample that reminds me of the John Barry sample that Sneaker Pimps used for Six Underground. Echoey and full of reverb it’s something that really stood out for me on this comp. (Available on Xen Cuts)

11. RJD2 – True Confessions: the Urban Renewal Project was a stellar compilation showcasing some great leftfield hip hop and beats from the Def Jux label. Prefuse 73, EL-P, Tortoise  and Mr. Lif were all on there. But it’s RJD2’s rocking “True Confessions” that’s the standout. Taking the same beat form Oasis’ “Fuckin’ In The Bushes” it builds a big dynamic sound with some heavy guitar sounds al throughout. (Available on Urban Renewal Project)

12.  Hope Of The States – Black Dollar Bills: I think I’ve professed my love for this song many times. But there is a catch here; I much prefer the original version that was released as a limited edition single in 2002. It was another two years before their debut album came out by which time they had re-recorded this song (as well as another early single “Enemies/Friends”). These new versions lacked the abrasiveness of the earlier releases that I loved. If you can find a copy of the original single (and it ain’t cheap I can tell you), then you’ll be rewarded with something that’s majestic and overpowering, but bleak and heartbreaking at the same time. (Available on Black Dollar Bills – Hope Of The States)

13. DJ Shadow – Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt (alternate take): ok, I couldn’t leave it with one DJ Shadow track, could I?  the 2CD deluxe edition of Entroducing has a great alternate version of one of my favourite Shadow tracks that strips it of nearly all the overdub, making the hypnotic piano loop ever more prominent. (Available on DJ Shadow – Endtroducing deluxe version)

14. Ok, I’m not going to pick a specific Radiohead song, because there’s too many to choose, so here they all are. These are culled from b-sides, import albums and other releases:

  1. Fog (Again) – Come Lag: 2+2=5 (Japanese Import)
  2. Palo Alto – Airbag (mini album)
  3. How I Made My Millions – No Surprises (b-side)
  4. Cuttooth – Knives Out (b-side)
  5. True Love Waits – I Might Be Wrong (live album)

Jeff Buckley – Forget Her:

Hope Of States – Black Dollar Bills:


  1. Anyone know any other instant hypnosis tricks explained here


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