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I think about jukeboxes a lot. Not the modern-day CD, or ‘Internet’, jukeboxes—though those are nice too. I think about when I was a kid and loved playing the jukebox, at pizza places mostly, back when it was still filled with A/B vinyl singles. I loved looking through the jukebox for a band that I liked, and picking the song I’d never heard before: the B-side. It was a magical thing; it could be treasure or trash, but always something interesting.
I love bands who keep the B-side tradition alive, bands that understand the impact of EPs and 7”s, of keeping the songs dispersed across formats. I think of young, newer bands currently making their mark, who I respect for starting with this path right off the bat…bands like VOXTROT, PANTS YELL, MATH AND PHYSICS CLUB. Bands whose best songs are just as likely to be on a small-release single as on their proper albums.
Lately I’ve been especially taken with Belle and Sebastian in this regard. Their early EPs were as good as the albums around them, and fans that ignored them because they don’t take the single format seriously really missed out. But even as they’ve moved over the years away from the complete stand-alone EP and towards the album track-with-a-few-b-sides format (and even then, often left them as UK-only), they’ve still put out some fantastic non-album tracks. There’s been a wealth of B-sides from The Life Pursuit, and I like some as much as anything on the album…especially “Baby Jane,” a song I’ve been obsessing over lately.
At the very least, all the Life Pursuit B-sides are interesting. And their status as B-sides, as secrets, only goes to increase that feeling, I imagine. There’s something to be said about keeping some pleasures further from grasp, within the current download-everything-right-now culture.
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