Over the last decade of listening to AT40s from the 70s, I’ve learned (or re-learned) how a few hit songs originally started off as the B-side of a single release. In 1971, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” quickly overtook “Reason to Believe” on radio stations; nearly eight years later, it was NYC discos that helped launch “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor over original A-side “Substitute.” In between those hits, there was Carl Douglas, whose story has one striking similarity to that of Gaynor’s–both supposedly had little time to record a second tune to go with the putative A-side. That time, though, it was a record exec who did the flipping, as once he heard “Kung Fu Fighting,” he pronounced it would be the featured song. (The links are to Wikipedia articles–they align, at least in broad strokes, with what I think I remember Casey saying about all three.)
“Black Water” took a more circuitous route from one-time B-side to hit for the Doobie Brothers. It originally appeared on the flip of “Another Park, Another Sunday,” the first single from What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. “Another Park” peaked at #32 in June of 1974 and quickly disappeared from the chart. (Like the recently-mentioned “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” it spent only two weeks in the Top 40. Must get on that research…) Three months later, a station in Virginia began spinning “Black Water,” and the suits at Warner Bros. quickly realized they might have something hot; a different song from Vices was used as its B.
I got to thinking about these letter changes after hearing “Hot Love, Cold World” by Bob Welch on the recently rebroadcast 7/15/78 show, because it had also started life as a B-side. My sister had bought the 45 for “Sentimental Lady” in the waning months of 1977, a period when I was still actively flipping our singles over on my semi-portable turntable. “Hot Love, Cold World” was one of the standouts, meriting repeated play. I am unable to find any details now as to how this jam graduated to A-side status, but I wouldn’t be surprised if play on AOR stations gave someone at Capitol an idea. Unlike the four songs discussed above, “HL,CW” didn’t shoot to #1, topping out only at #31 in a three-week run on the show.
The lyric that’s stuck with me most comes right at the end of the first verse: “We both can’t be wrong–I must be right.” You should have taken a logic class, Bob!
I’d be glad to learn about other 70s hits that went the B-to-A route–comments are always welcome.