Songs that weren’t massive hits the first time around

27 June 2021, 13:00

The La's in 1990: Neil Mavers, John Power, Lee Mavers and Peter Camell
The La's in 1990: Neil Mavers, John Power, Lee Mavers and Peter Camell. Picture: Clare Muller/Redferns/Getty Images

Which of your favourite songs did better second time out? From The La's to Radiohead, they weren't all chart smashes right away.

If at first you don’t succeed… reissue, repackage, re-evaluate… Sometimes genius isn’t appreciated during the artist’s lifetime. Sometimes they get a second bite of the cherry.

  1. The La's - There She Goes

    One could never accuse La’s frontman Lee Mavers of rushing into anything. This modern Merseybeat classic made No 59 in the national chart when first released in October 1988, but the accompanying album took another two years to arrive. When the song was re-issued to promote the LP, it made a more respectable No 13.

  2. The Cure - Boys Don’t Cry

    When Robert Smith first issued his lovelorn ditty in the summer of 1979, it failed to chart. By 1986, he’d morphed into the tousled-haired pop star we know and love and re-voiced the classic hit to go alongside a compilation of the band’s singles. It made No 22.

  3. The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

    Originally included on the band’s Combat Rock album, this classic made a respectable No 17 when issued as a double A-side with Straight To Hell in 1982. However, off the back of its inclusion in a Levis jeans ad in 1991, the song made the top spot in the UK.

  4. James - Sit Down

    When the Manchester band originally issued their communal classic in 1989 it was on the Rough Trade label and lasted a hefty seven minutes. It fared well in the indie charts, but only hit No 77 in the nationals. Come 1991, the band had signed to the major label Fontana and the track had become a live favourite, with audiences literally sitting down during the song. Now that “Madchester” was a thing, Sit Down was re-recorded and made No 2. It was included as an extra track on the reissued Gold Mother album and remains the band’s best-known song. Here's the video to the 1989 version.

  5. Radiohead - Creep

    Radio 1 though that this stone-cold classic was “too depressing” to play on its release in September 1992 and it only made No 78. After some enthusiasm in countries as far apart as New Zealand and Israel, the song was reissued a year later and strode all the way to No 7.

  6. Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage

    Originally released in 2001, when the Detroit band was known as The Wild Bunch, the dancefloor favourite was re-mixed into a new version when the band signed to the UK based label XL. Because there was already a band called the name The Wild Bunch, the group settled on the Electric Six moniker and the rest was history: the track made No 2 in the British charts.

  7. Kraftwerk - The Model

    “Das Model” was originally included on the Dusseldorf droids’ 1978 album The Man Machine, but when the record company were looking for a b-side to their new single Computer Love in 1981, this oldie was pressed into service. Its emotionless techno groove got noticed by New Romantic club DJs, who started to play the flip rather than the A-side. The track made No 1 in the UK in February 1982.


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