10 classic Double A-Side singles

13 February 2024, 16:57 | Updated: 13 February 2024, 17:05

Some classics Double A-side singles from The Stone Roses, The Jam, New Order, Wings and The Beatles.
Some classics Double A-side singles from The Stone Roses, The Jam, New Order, Wings and The Beatles. Picture: Alamy Stock Photo

Remembering those times that artists couldn't make up their minds as to which tune to go with... The greatest 7" double headers in history.

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Radio X

By Radio X

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What exactly is a Double A-Side?

Back in the heyday of the 45rpm single - when the humble 7" used to sell in the millions - the b-side was often a bit of tat hastily recorded at the end of a studio session, or if you were lucky, it was a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

But not always.

Enter the Double A-Side: two tracks on either side of the single, both given equal weight in the charts and the press, designed to showcase the artist's versatility. Or their indecision, who knows?

The master of the Double-A manoeuvre was the late Frank Farian, whose act Boney M issued Rivers Of Babylon as a single in April 1978. The song spent five weeks at the top of the UK chart, then began to slip down the Top 10 under the onslaught of You're The One That I Want from the Grease soundtrack. Luckily, Farian had plonked the equally appealing Brown Girl In The Ring on the other side, so the single was "flipped" and crept all the way back up to Number 2. Nice.

Radio X looks at the greatest Double A-Side Singles.

  1. The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane

    Not only the greatest ever Double-A, but perhaps the greatest single coupling in history, these two songs were written about Lennon and McCartney's childhood memories of Liverpool. The two tunes were hived off from their parent album - which would become Sgt Pepper - and issued as the band's first single since they stopped touring in the summer of 1966.

    The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever

  2. Blur - She's So High / I Know

    Although She's So High is usually credited as the debut single by Damon Albarn and co, this was actually a Double-A with the ponderous shuffle of I Know. The pairing didn't break the Top 40, but it was a decent start for one of Britain's greatest bands.

    Blur - I Know

  3. The Stone Roses - Fools Gold / What The World Is Waiting For

    The Roses crashed the Top 10 thanks to the awesome combination of John Squire's wah-wah guitar stylings and Reni's distinctive baggy shuffle. But While all the attention was on Fools Gold, it was in fact a Double-A with the less-celebrated What The World Is Waiting For - and early copies of the 12" bore that title on the sleeve.

    The Stone Roses - What the World Is Waiting For (Audio)

  4. Queen - Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls

    Contrary to popular belief, We Are The Champions was NOT a Double-A side with We Will Rock You (the sleeve says "b/w, ie "backed with"!), but onbe of its follow-up singles was. The risque Fat Bottomed Girls was coupled with the less-rude Bicycle Race - although the video, featuring naked girls riding bikes around Wimbledon Stadium was a bit vulgar, despite special effects obscuring the nudity.

    Queen - Bicycle Race (Official Video)

  5. Nirvana - All Apologies / Rape Me

    This In Utero track ended up being the last Nirvana single to be issued in Kurt Cobain's lifetime, a Double-A with the provocative Rape Me (which didn't get any daytime radio play for obvious reasons). And let's not talk about meaning of the title of the b-side to the single, "M.V".

    Nirvana - All Apologies

  6. The Rolling Stones - We Love You / Dandelion

    Recorded as a protest against Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' legal issues in the summer of 1967 (they were arrested and later aquitted of possessing drugs), this coupling was advertised in the press as a Double-A and is listed by the Official Charts Company as such to this day.

    The Rolling Stones - We Love You (Official Music Video)

  7. The Jam - Going Underground / Dreams Of Children

    A Number 1 hit in March 1980, this Paul Weller-written classic was coupled with the less-familiar Dreams Of Children. Radio DJs tended to play Going Underground, but some reports claim that the records were printed in France and the "A" for Dreams Of Children was actually an error (although NME ads of the time list both tracks equally).

    The Jam - The Dreams Of Children

  8. Wings - Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School

    Paul McCartney wasn't 100% sure that the winsome ballad Mull Of Kintyre would go down to well with radio programmers so made his Christmas 1977 single a Double-A with the more commercial Girls' School. He was wrong - Mull became one of the biggest-selling singles of all time, and when the Scottish-themed song started to lose sales after 9 weeks at Number 1, the record company flipped the single and started plugging the other track.

    Girl's School (Remastered 1993)

  9. New Order - Procession / Everything's Gone Green

    A tricky one, this. The pair of songs were originally issued as the Double-A sided single FAC-53 in September 1981. All good. When New Order issued their compilation Substance in 1987, Procession was relegated to the "B-sides" disc, with the dancefloor banger Everything's Gone Green pitched as the more "important" tune. This was based on the 12" version, which was released in Europe with the complete version of Everything's Gone Green on the top and a couple of unrelated b-side on the flip, with Procession nowhere to be seen.

    New Order - Procession (Official Lyric Video)

  10. The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go / Straight To Hell

    The first time the iconic punk band issued this classic track was in 1982 as a Double-A with another song from their Combat Rock album. M.I.A. later sampled Straight To Hell for her hit Paper Planes.

    The Clash - Straight to Hell (Official Audio)

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