Prince – The 15 best B-sides!

Prince - 15 Best B-sides - Header (apoplife.nl)

Introduction

B-sides and Prince. A combination that speaks to many Prince music lover’s imagination. For many, it led to an exciting and thrilling search for (at times very rare) vinyl. Because on this very date in 1985 the B-side She’s Always In My Hair, which many regard to be one of his best all-time B-sides, was released, the A Pop Life Panel presents its 15 best Prince B-sides, based on 7 contributions.

What is a B-side?

In the vinyl era the term B-side was used to describe a song that was placed on the back of a (maxi) single. The A-side, the front, was the song which was intended to be the hit. In the cd-era it often referred to a song that was part of a (maxi) cd-single, but wasn’t meant for the charts.

Three different types of B-sides exist:

  • A different version of the A-side, like an acoustic or instrumental version, or a remix.
  • Another song coming from the same album the A-side stemmed from.
  • A song that wasn’t released on an album, making it exclusively available on the (max) single.

For collectors the first and last types are particulalry interesting.

Prince - 15 beste B-kantjes - The Hits The B Sides - Disc Three (bol.com)

Prince – The Hits / The B Sides – Disc Three

Prince B-sides

In this article our main concern is with the last B-side type, songs that were never made available on an album. Additionally, that only refers to the initial release. In other words, at the time of its initial release the song wasn’t available on a regular album, or the first upcoming album, and it was indeed placed on the actual B-side of the (maxi) single.

After all, the compilation The Hits / The B-Sides was released in 1993, which contained a complete disc with almost every B-side that had been released in the 1980s, with the exception of God (Love Theme From Purple Rain), ♥ Or $, Alexa De Paris and Sex.

The qualification as a B-side for some songs can be up for debate:

  • Gotta Stop (Messin’ About) was already released as an A-side on May 29th, 1981 (UK only), but has never been part of a regular album.
  • Sex was released on a regular album some time later, not by Prince himself, but by Dutch band Lois Lane.
  • Call The Law was initially released as a Prince And The New Power Generation B-side and once more on the NPG debut album Gold Nigga.

To put an end to those kind of dicussions, the A Pop Life Panel decided to use the Princevault site as a guide. If a song is characterized as a B-side by the site, the A Pop Life Panel did the same. The complete list of B-side songs is listed in the paragraph The complete list.

Why a top 15?

Prince - 25 Beste Live Bootlegs - Header (apoplife.nl)

Prince – 25 Beste Live Bootlegs

In 2019 the A Pop Life Panel published the article Prince – The 25 best live bootlegs!. Both the compilation and the many positive reactions and comments made us decide to undertake the same process once more. So, today the second article by A Pop Life Panel, which nowadays consist of no less than 7 persons, sees the light of day!

Bram, Edward, Herman, Leon, Rick, Vincent and me went to work with great zeal and tried to compile our own personal top 25. With the exception of Bram, no-one made it to 25. So, we collectively decided to tone down our ambitions and each compile a top 15.

Before going to the list, some remarks:

  • The B-side with the highest score won and so on. The points were calculated as follows:
    • Number 1: 15 points
    • Number 2: 14 points
    • Etc

    All points are added up, which results in the definitive list.

  • If more than 1 B-side end up with the same number of points, the sorting order is expanded with the date of the B-side’s first release (old to new) and the song title (alphabetically).
  • The image and the date of release shown with each B-side refer to the first release of the song in question, as much as possible.
  • As a general rule, the A Pop Life Panel prefers the B-side 12-inch version over their respective 7-inch versions (if they are different).

With pride and sincere gratitude to Bram, Edward, Herman, Leon, Rick and Vincent, we give you Prince’s 15 best B-sides!

 

Prince And The Revolution - Let's Go Crazy & Erotic City (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy & Erotic City

1. Erotic City

(B-side Let’s Go Crazy, 07/18/1984)

Remarks

Bram The rhythm of this song! ‘tastic! But DAMN! How are we going to handle this? Shouldn’t this track be higher upo in this list? It can’t get any better than this? In short: this top 15 can’t be done.
Edward Full title actually being: Erotic City (Make Love Not War; Erotic City Come Alive) ) as mentioned on the 12″ Let’s Go Crazy which this track is the B-side to. Easily one of the most celebrated, and surely one of the most controversial killer B-sides.
After the iconic single release of When Doves Cry/17 Days (see 17 Days), I was eagerly looking for the very first pressing of the Purple Rain LP, on purple vinyl, in June 1984. In the end, there was only one store turning out to have it. And that wasn’t even a record store but just a large supermarket that happened to have a selection of the best-selling LP’s of the time. Very funny how that went ….. the albums were all sealed there. So I had to boldly open the seal to see what color LP was inside. Immediately, of course, a salesperson breathing down my neck: hey, you can’t just take the plastic off! Me, looking back with a face like: watch me! Calmly I explained: just want to check if the LP is purple. He: yeah right, watcha talking ’bout? And then the album came out: indeed, purple! Haha! You should’ve seen that guy’s face ….. oh wow, I’ll buy one right away too! So, we had a great laugh about it afterwards.
After gotten hold of that particular pressing of the Purple Rain LP, I was ultra excited for the new 12″ on the menu, way back in the late summer of 1984. Somehow, I already knew that this particular 12″ would have an extended dance mix on Let’s Go Crazy but also a unique B-side, not on the Purple Rain-album. Understandably, as Erotic City is not featured in the accompanying movie. We were still very far away from the internet, and the only news channels back then were music magazines (especially the British were quite up to date) and the radio. I’m guessing I knew it from an advertisement in the British New Musical Express? I simply had to have this 12-inch, right now, the minute it came out. So, the day it was released, I immediately went into town, strollin’ at every recordshop, and there were quite a few in those days. But not every shop was selling import 12-inches from the USA. Please, remember that the USA 12″ was on the market much earlier in comparison to the European 12″. So, only one shop, who also did imports, had just gotten a package of those USA 12″ in, like an hour before. They still had to be unpacked. OK very nice, but I don’t care … now, please?! (I was terribly impatient in those days). So, luckily the shop attendant understood my urge and Prince being a very hot selling artist at the time, he unpacked the box with a big smile and I got my 12″ much to my delight. I listened to the record in the shop right away through sassy and bassy headphones and was dancing all the way through, especially at the notice of that 3-minute extra instrumental coda on LGC. Wow, just WOW …. it blew me away. This was great stuff! Now, play the B-side, please. Eeeeuhm OK ….. I might have gotten some reddish cheeks there ….. what the funk is this song? And the lyrics, they are quite ….. unashamed and sleazy. And for me, it was a first encounter with Sheila E, whose album The Glamorous Life I wasn’t very familiar with at the time, though I knew who she was. Plus: what’s up with Prince’s voice?! It was actually the first track on which Prince ever used his sped-up voice, later fully realized in the Camille-project … is it becoming a running theme here?! Erotic City contains a cacophony of voices; some sped-up, some slowed down, some belonging to Prince himself, some belonging to Sheila E.
Just so blown away by this 12″ … Erotic City has such an infectious groove. Clever lyric use, whooping everybody’s attention. The sparseness of the track -yet very persuasive- recalling a sparse When Doves Cry, though an incredible bass-line present here, besides being ridiculously funky. It was mentioned, that Prince drew inspiration heavily from Laid Back’s White Horse for the track. U should take a listen to it sometime.
I decided right away there in the recordshop that this was my favourite 12″ …. well, for 1984 anyway. So, you understand, very fond memories of this particular release. The whole package, an A-side with an extended dance mix, a unique B-side in its extended form and also because of the quintessential motorbike sleeve (USA 12″); sorry, I am not particularly fond of the European picture sleeve, despite it being a still from the movie. ?
Erwin Prince at his most funky. The beat, the bass, the lyrics. It’s almost inconceivable that this was relegated to a B-side!
Herman Prince always used B-sides to release songs that did not fit the album or were too naughty; Erotic City (‘Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive’) is both of those. Its cold-stone funk was funkier than the funk-rock on Purple Rain and even though there was no one masturbating with a magazine, he does use the F-word many, many times. It did not stop this song blowing up in clubs all over the US and still fills up the dancefloor at every Prince party all over the world.
Again, this is one of those songs that takes its time; a long play filled with a killer groove, and has Prince playing around with the speed of his voice.
As with 17 Days, ithis is a song that was edited down from an originally longer version, which would have been a perfect contender for being included on the Purple Rain Deluxe Expanded set, but it wasn’t. One can only hope for a Purple Rain SUPERdeluxe do-over to set the record straight.
Leon If only for the discussion, what does he sing, funk or fuck? A track as only Prince could make them: funky, funny, sexy, strange.
Rick The beat and the bass in this song are truly great. This song was often played at the discotheque I frequently visited when I was younger.
Vincent Great song showcasing the Linn-drum computer’s true strength complemented with a great bass-line. Superb funk that deserves being played at maximum level through your speakers!
Prince - When Doves Cry & 17 Days (discogs.com)

Prince – When Doves Cry & 17 Days

2. 17 Days

(B-side When Doves Cry, 05/16/1984)

Remarks

Bram Such an amazing love song. Just this alone: ‘Here I sit in my lonely room…’. Who says, I want to mention them here, that The Smiths were the lone guzzlers in the 1980s?
Edward An absolute fan favorite I guess. Again, with a sparse feel to this song, it seemed to work very effectively. A very driven and urged track. Thus, 17 Days being quite the suitable B-side to the also sparse When Doves Cry. Such a powerful combination as well as an iconic single release in my music catalogue. Looking back, I recall being starstruck by Prince, ever since Controversy. And 1999 being my favorite dance tune at that time. This artist, favorite colour purple, seeking gender boundaries, wearing high heels and a purple trenchcoat …. though in the summer of 1984, it absolutely went cosmic. The single When Doves Cry was just so immediately a classic. I think I was playing the tune all summer long at the swimming pools … that bold arrangement, no bass, those vocals … that supreme purple single sleeve with Prince wearing dark glasses. Epic!
The track is noticeable for its contrast of the sad and lonely lyrics (of a lover who’s been gone for 17 days) against the rather upbeat, happy sounding rhythm. Though the plain driven monotonous beat (no, not saying dull!) maybe resembles the drag and loneliness of the day? Wendy & Lisa are providing backing vocals but they are not the only ones. Originally intended for a second album by Vanity 6, one can still hear Brenda Bennett’s backing vocal as well.
Some 35 years later, a full length version (7:23) was finally discovered in the vaults, having an extended instrumental portion (after the familiair 3:54 version fades out) as well as extra lyrics. An absolute joy to hear that and know now it even existed! Too bad it was never released on the 12″ of When Doves Cry. That would’ve made that release just unquestionably perfect.
Also released in 2018 as a 6-minute piano rehearsal on Piano & A Microphone 1983.
Erwin A beautiful melancholy song showing Prince almost drowning in his own sorrow. Different, but very convincing!
Herman 17 Days is well known, as When Doves Cry B-side. As with She’s Always In My Hair, it is awesome enough to have been released as a single on its own. It was recorded with Brenda’s Bennett’s voice in mind, who did record a version of it, and some of her backing vocals were kept, I think, in the backing vocals in the released version. But a longer spoken part of her vocals is still on the unreleased longer version of this song. When that non-official version hit the Prince community a few years back, it blew my top off, as it is so awesome. It should have featured as an extended version on the When Doves Cry 12″. So, the much known edit has an extended version MUCH worth looking for.
Leon A delicate sing-along! It even has a la,la,la segment. The feeling Prince describes at the start “So here I sit in my lonely room, looking 4 my sunshine”, is just what you need when you’re going though it yourself, a partner for your feelings. And does Prince smoke… (why the 2 cigarettes)?
Rick If this song is just a B-side than you know how high the level of his work is. Living Colour made a great rock cover of this song.
Vincent Great song with a superb rhythm. Again supplementend with a great bass-line and super lyrics.
Prince - 1999 & How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore (discogs.com)

Prince – 1999 & How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

3. How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

(B-side 1999, 09/24/1982)

Remarks

Bram Unbelievable: is this a B-side? This really is class A material. Prince couldn’t find a place for it on the 1999 album? Yeah right. I think he just wanted a badass B-side to his 1999 single!
Edward Fantastic heartfelt ballad, contradicting the energetic party theme of its A-side: 1999. A slow ballad of a romantic longing alongside some gospel elements, with matching vocals in his falsetto range. I am particularly fond of the very bluesy piano playing which the whole track is interspersed with. It complements the painful experience one could feel after a break-up quite good. An absolute classic in the Prince catalogue and played live on many occasions, despite being only a B-side. A fantastic extended live rendition can be found on the Carrier Dome dvd during the Purple Rain tour, met extra zeer expliciete teksten. Toen ik dit concert live zag in de nacht van 30 maart 1985, with extra -very explicit- lyrics. When seeing this concert live in the night of March 30, 1985 I was just blown away by the energy, the dynamic, the unashamed lyrics, particularly on this track (amongst others). ‘Is he fine? Tell me, has he got an ass like mine?’ Simply marvellous, when realizing half the world is watching.
In 2019 also released in a newly found extended take on the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition.
Erwin Impressive ballad, with Prince touching your soul with his gospel like screaming.
Herman One the archetypical Prince ballads. Him on piano, his voice swirling, whooping, whispering and bemoaning the loss of his love. It hits all the right notes and it is high on my list as it’s one of those songs where he uses his voice as an instrument (also listen to B-side God (Vocal) and 1994’s Solo uit 1994 and you know what I mean).
It’s one of those songs you cannot describe, really, as no words can do its brilliance justice. So, just put it on, why won’t ya?
Leon Espcially live, a great song, it has it all vocally. One of the first shows I witnessed; Syracuse… I had to pause to make sure I did really saw what I saw, at the moment he says: “Is he fine, tell me…does your man have an ass like mine”.
Rick One of my Prince favorites ever since I first heard it. Initially I only had a copy on a cassette, until I bought the 1999 maxi-single at a record fair, obtaining this great B-side.
Vincent Glorious piano ballad that was played during the 1999 shows. I think this is one of the better ballads and I can’t understand why this wasn’t releases on a regular album.
Prince - Let's Pretend We're Married & Irresistible Bitch (discogs.com)

Prince – Let’s Pretend We’re Married & Irresistible Bitch

4. Irresistible Bitch

(B-side Let’s pretend We’re Married, 11/16/1983)

Remarks

Bram That muffled drum sound, the glorious synth-sound midway through the song (starting at 2:42, a sound the band Japan could easily have used), the funny lyrics, the bass and the background choirs… Oh, oh, oh this is superb!
The lyrics are very comical as well:
‘Every Friday night I call your butt up on the phone A deeper voice answers and it says you’re not at home
I bet you think that I’m a fool who’ll go for any line Well honey, put down all your money, you win every time’

Doesn’t this just put a smile on your face?
Edward B-side to Let’s Pretend We’re Married. Originally recorded soon after the Controversy release in late 1981, the initial version has a much rougher vocal plus being a organ-driven song. In this way, it would be a feasible The Time track, I always thought. The 1983 remake has more percussion, both live and the dry drum machines, along with bell-like keyboards and vocal backup by Wendy & Lisa. This version fits the bold arrangements of 1999 far better. Quite an enjoyable track actually. Whimsical lyrics, with a familiair Prince theme of a jilted lover who treats his woman well, but gets treated badly in return. Also a remarkable tune, as Prince is already nodding towards the then still-in-progress hip-hop here. The song was performed on the Purple Rain tour and can be seen played live in the Carrier Dome video/dvd.
Erwin Funky drums by Prince, rap avant la lettre?
Herman Featured the b-word, so not considered for album use. With its early Wendy & Lisa backing vocals, it is an iconic Prince song; naughty, funky and playful.
One of my faves, as it originated in jam sessions with Morris Day on drums, Prince on bass, where the two were goofing around, yet those sessions originated some of Prince funkiest songs, some of them as of yet unreleased or relocated to even more obscure releases, like The Time‘s awesome B-side only track called Tricky.
Leon The title alone is great. Very very funky, especially the version on the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition. Pfffeww!
Rick Just like Feel U Up, multiple versions of this song are in circulation. And the B-side was the only released version for a very long time
Vincent Nice funky song with great drums and samples.
Prince - If I Was Your Girlfriend & Shockadelica (discogs.com)

Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend & Shockadelica

5. Shockadelica

(B-side If I Was Your Girlfriend, 05/06/1987)

Remarks

Bram We keep on dreaming about a just world: see comments track Feel U Up.
Edward Originally intended for his alter-ego Camille album, and also for a single b/w Housequake in late 1986. The entire Camille adventure was recorded with Prince experimenting with his vocals in an artificially pitched-up style to create an androgynous tone. Weeks before its release, the project was abandoned for unclear reasons. It evolved into Crystal Ball, also shelved, and finally into Sign O’ The Times. The track was eventually released as the B-side to the If I Was Your Girlfriend (also originally from the Camille LP) single in 1987 with both tracks having the Camille voice.
I always felt this song is just Genius. With a capital G. Beyond casual listening actually, one should listen to this track as some sort of alternate art. One cannot label it definitely: pop? rock? soul? funk? Anyway, Shockadelica is Prince at his peak of creativity, daring to seek other means of getting his talent, vision, inspiration and ingenuity across. I just like it soooo much. It is uberfunky, quirky unconventional Prince, yet catchy and an absolute joy to listen to. I get thrills down my spine, every time I hear the introduction to this track. You get this urged feeling of throwing a party right away. I always thought, it appears so anyway, that Prince had a lot of fun recording this track. My first encounter with this track was when I bought the UK picture disc 12″ back in 1987 so that was certainly adding an extra dimension ….. immediately, I was drawn to it (we certainly didn’t know anything about the Camille character way back then). All in all, my favorite B-side of all time.
Shockadelica? meaning? Most likely, it is about a feeling one gets when encountering a seductive woman, with no suggestion that the feeling is mutual in this case. Thus the female having all the power, almost to a supernatural state (using the witch part of the song as a metaphor). The lyrics are just off the charts.
Erwin “Shockadelica, got you in a trance”. That’s right!
Herman Sign O’ The Times the album/tour that made me a die-hard fan/collector and If I Was Your Girlfriend was one of the biggest reasons. It was a shock to me it got released as a single, as there were bigger contenders for a single on the album. But when it did arrive, it came in probably my favest ever single design by way of Laura LiPuma and Jeff Katz’s photography.
But the biggest win was its B-side Shockadelica, which was obviously by Prince’s most famous alter-ego Camille, even though not credited, the sped-up voice made it clear. Again, the funk runs thick on this one, and as the other B-side from 1987, it was grittier than Prince’s normal stone-cold funk.
Leon  
Rick If the Camille album had been released as planned, this would have been a regular album track, or maybe even a single. Luckily we can still enjoy it as a B-side.
Vincent Funny song in which Prince experiments with his voice scrambler and alter ego Camille.
Prince And The Revolution - Raspberry Beret & She's Always In My Hair (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – Raspberry Beret & She’s Always In My Hair

6. She’s Always In My Hair

(B-side Raspberry Beret, 05/15/1985)

Remarks

Bram Most of the songs on this list could just as easily fit on a regular album. They’re just that great! And it most certainly applies to She’s Always In My Hair. The fact that this fantastsic song was turned into a B-side, (perhaps) makes it even better, more exciting and collecting Prince items MORE fun… Because the ‘hunt’ for maxi’s and the like truly was quite a challenge in the 1990’s.Then again: it was highly entertaining!
Anyway, this song is the undisputed champion of this list, for many reasons. Just the sound to this song alone (how do I categorize this?). The live versions I know: spot on every time! And just listen to a confession like: ‘Whenever I feel like not to great at all’. That’s what I love about Prince; besides being tough and humurous, also being able to show insecurity and vulnerability. In sort: to me, this is P. at his best.
Edward  
Erwin Inspired by Jill Jones, so it’s nearly impossible not to come up with a great track! By the way, Jill herself was less enthusiastic about it (also see the story on Around The World In A Day).
Herman A classic Prince song, as shown by the fact he kept on playing it his entire career. If this had been released as a single back in the day, it would have gotten a lot of airplay; its ease on the ears is why so many Prince fans love it so dearly. Check this out for sublime, smooth guitar rock.
Leon No. 2 is a counterpart to #1 (17 Days), someone who is always there! A song for every mood. This is really a favorite, especially in a live setting, because of the big solo. Prince himself must have been pleased with the song, as he played it up until the end, one the very few B-sides he did that with.
Rick Especially this song’s extended version. It contains fantastic bass and guitar parts, and beautiful climax of the drums at the end of the song.
Vincent I never understood why this song wasn’t released on a regular album and/or released as a single. During live shows this song always went hand in hand with a superb guitar solo by Prince. I clearly remember hearing this song for the first time at the Coca Cola report on MTV … WOW!
Prince - Partyman & Feel U Up (discogs.com)

Prince – Partyman & Feel U Up

7. Feel U Up

(B-side Partyman, 08/18/1989)

Remarks

Bram Just imagine: in a parallel universe the Camille album DID get released… I wanna go there… That’s where I wanna be…
Edward As with Shockadelica, immediately I get in some sort of delighted state, when hearing this track. It is so catchy, you are instantly soaked up by its energy. Do your dance ….. Another track from the Camille LP. The whole set-up for this concept is just so freakin’ genius. Funky as hell. I can listen to this album every week and never get bored. As said already with Shockadelica, this is the ultimate fun, joy & party album in my book.
Originally demoed way back as 1981 after the Controversy release (and released slightly reworked on the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition in 2019), the track was re-recorded in the autumn of 1986 for the Camille album, this time around way funkier, but with yet no release again. But this latter mix eventually found its way to the public as the B-side to Partyman in 1989, a perfect match again (see number 1), as the track Partyman also uses a pitched-up voice.
Lyrically, Prince is continuing his sexual frustration of the Shockadelica-theme, still trying to conquer the woman of his desire. So, one could say that the numbers 1 and 2 align perfectly. Another party tune with shamelessly perverse lyrics. As I am sure that everyone will notice that the word ‘feel’ is pronounced in such a way that one could easily hear the word ‘fill’ instead, which would suit the content of the lyrics even better.
Erwin Originally recorded in 1981, it was re-recorded in 1986 and placed on the planned, and unfortunately scrapped, Camille album. The 1981 version was released in 2019 on the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition. Top song.
Herman A famous song in Prince circles; originally recorded in 1981, it was re-recorded in 1986 and was part of the unreleased Camille album, only to be shelved until 1989, when it was featured as a B-side to Partyman. Compared to the 1981 version it is still cold stone funky, but the addition of Eric Leeds’ saxophone makes it even funkier.
Leon Quite some raunchy tracks in this top 15, as if he targeted less experienced listeners on his A-sides. The same reasons for being a part of this top 15 apply here, as they did for Erotic City, Violet The Organ Grinder, Irresistible Bitch and Scarlet Pussy.
Rick By now, multiple versions of this song have been released. But this B-side was the only release for a long time and it still is a great song.
Vincent  
Prince And The Revolution - Mountains & Alexa De Paris (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – Mountains & Alexa De Paris

8. Alexa De Paris

(B-side Mountains, 05/07/1986)

Remarks

Bram Great melancholy instrumental that fits the score to Under The Cherry Moon like a glove. On the Veni Vidi Vici bootleg this song has a nice moment: at this particular show band member Miko starts playing Alexa De Paris at the wrong time. Prince’s reaction is priceless.
Edward  
Erwin  
Herman When the Mountains single was released, its instrumental B-side Alexa De Paris had links to Venus De Milo of the album and Prince’s lone other instrumental God, also on this list. It was in the period following 1985 that Prince ventured out more into instrumental fusion and would release two instrumental albums under the guise of Madhouse.
Alexa De Paris is swirly and full of temperament, focusing on guitar and it seems tailored to match the mood of Prince’s movie Under The Cherry Moon, for which he scored a stash of instrumental music, as yet unreleased. As often with B-sides, it did not fit on the album, but here it finds a loving home.
Leon I suddenly feel the urge to go to the beach, whenever I hear this song. A kind of Princely version of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatros. Instrumental, which certainly doesn’t mean you’re missing out on anything. The guitar make this song great.
Rick Mountains was the first maxi single I bought. I payed five guilders for it at a sale at V&D. Nostalgia! I still think the B-side Alexa De Paris is great. And it’s the one B-side I played the most of all. It’s such an exciting song with al those different parts, breaks and instruments. And the guitar plays a beautiful leading role.
Vincent Prince really gives his all as a composer. Fantastic guitar playing.
Prince And The Revolution - America & Girl (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – America & Girl

9. Girl

(B-side America, 10/02/1985)

Remarks

Bram  
Edward  
Erwin Great minimalist song. The remark “all I have 2 do is think about U and I can have an orgasm” always puts a smile on my face.
Herman America‘s B-side Girl is always firmly in my Top 5 of Favourite Prince Songs Ever for several reasons, the first being one the biggest reason I am a Prince fan; the man’s voice is like no other one on earth; versatile, not only does he use his voice on Girl like an instrument, when I was a teen, and playing this on my walkman constantly, I really related to Prince’s longing for this girl.
One of the other reasons is the instrumentation; its lone repeating beat, overlaid with synthesizers, voices and love noises was able to warp time for me, back in the day. And it still does.
For fanatics; there is a whispering, backwards voice in the background, which is Vanity’s, proclaiming the lyrics to a song called “Boy”, if you reverse the track you can make her out.
Leon The best of what was left, certainly not a top song. It sounds nice, is happy and has something that grabs you.
Rick If I have to come up with arguments as to why I like this song, nothing springs to mind. Yet I did play Girl a lot.
Vincent Nice B-side with Prince using his falsetto. During the 3rd NSJ night show Prince played this song to compensate for the bad sound of the 1st show.
Prince And The Revolution - I Would Die 4 U & Another Lonely Christmas (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – I Would Die 4 U & Another Lonely Christmas

10. Another Lonely Christmas

(B-side I Would Die 4 U, 11/28/1984)

Remarks

Bram A bit pompous, but I can handle this. It’s all very grand. Once again a phenomenal vocal! For that alone it deserves a spot in the list. By the way, there are no Chistmas bells to be found. Whos says it’s a Christmas song anyway?
Edward Released as the B-side to I Would Die 4 U in late 1984, this track is considered to be the only festive season related track by Prince. He has always insisted the track is a fictional story. I have always found it to be a somewhat disorienting tune. Piano and organ play in sync, but an overdriven guitar is laid down on the tracks and Prince’s voice is mixed just above the instruments. It all comes across to me as very loud, a little distorted. Perhaps resembling in what way the suffering subject of the song is encountering his surroundings in these sad moments?
The track is a melancholy account of a man mourning his lover, all about memory and missing someone, and a rush back to a happier time; then we find out that his lover has died, seven Christmases previous, of some kind of illness, though it is painfully unclear which it was exactly. What’s more, he marks the occasion every year by drowning his sorrows with drinking banana daiquiris ’til he’s blind. Towards the end of the song, Prince rips a nasty guitar solo; also here, it’s lower in the mix than one might want it to be, but it’s there, and it cooks.
Played live only once (!) on December 26, 1984 during the Purple Rain tour.
Erwin  
Herman  
Leon Rarely have I heard such a sad Christmas song and still I play it every year. The imagery is very vivid and I always get a thirst for a banana daquiri 🙂
Rick This song contains beautiful lyrics. And Prince screams and lets his guitar roar like no one else. One of the few Christmas songs I listen to, even when it’s not December.
Vincent Great Christmas song by Prince. One of my favorites and a great lyric. On a circulating bootleg you can hear Prince teaching the song to Wendy.
Prince - Sign O' The Times & La, La, La, He, He, Hee (discogs.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times & La, La, La, He, He, Hee

11. La, La, La, He, He, Hee

(B-side Sign O’ The Times, 02/18/1987)

Remarks

Bram  
Edward Only a fun track if listened to in its original full-length version. It might seem like kind of a lot for a song of a mere 10 minutes about a cat in a tree, but when you’ve got a groove that won’t quit, it doesn’t really matter what the lyrics are about. Very amusing, lively and different. I always get happy at an instant, when playing this track. The song is fast-paced on a high energy beat and reminiscent of P-Funk, depicting a chase between a cat and a dog. It contains a snare drum sounding like a dog’s bark, which originates from a sample-synthesizer. Also features Sheila E. on vocals.
The track was created as a response to a dare by Sheena Easton who claimed that Prince wouldn’t be able to write a song from such a basic phrase about a cat up in a tree, teasing a dog (Sheena being sarcastic). But Prince replied ‘that could be a song’. Sheena on her part: ‘what do you want me to sing? La La La He He Hee, I love you, You love me?’. Prince agreed, much to her surprise, saying ‘yeah, that’d be kind of cute; go ahead and write it’ … resulting in her writing co-credit.
Erwin The story behind the song’s origin is just as great as its execution (see the other lists for more ). Funky and funny at the same time.
Herman I remember taping La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) when it was first broadcast on Dutch radio and the doggie bark sample in the drums, in combination with the silly lyrics about a dog chasing a cat made me smile. When the 12″ was released, it turned out to be a 10 minute dirty funk extravaganza of the kind he would not often release on record. As such it is a joy in my Prince collection. Amazing brass performance by Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss.
Leon  
Rick A great unpretentious funk exercise.
Vincent  
Prince And The Revolution - Kiss & Love Or Money (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – Kiss & Love Or Money

12. ♥ Or $

(B-side Kiss, 02/05/1986)

Remarks

Bram A total blast this song. Is that Camille I hear calling?
Edward a.k.a. Love Or Money. And what do we have here? Yes, again ….. a Camille voice driven track. Though never intended for the project and not regarded as a Camille track as such by Prince. A song with a very Paradeera ambience to it, though full of surprise instrumentation on it, which gives it a fuller/busier production feel, in comparison to the sparse production of the other stuff on the Parade album. A brief sample of the song can be heard in the movie Under The Cherry Moon nevertheless. Wendy & Lisa are providing a “Love or Money” chant throughout the whole track. Lyrically, Prince was still in a, shall we say, uncompromising modus, stating: “the boy was in need of some diehard pussy” (only on the 12″ btw). Nice anecdote: when I bought this 12 “, I thought: aren’t those vocals from Prince weird sounding? So, I played the 12” at 33 rpm …. resulting in his normal voice with a delayed track, but still fun to listen to.
Later, I was able to find an uncut picture disc 7″, looking like a 12″ picture disc.
Erwin Fantastic funk song, which was oddly enough left off the 1993 compilation The Hits / The B-Sides (just like that other 1986 B-side Alexa De Paris).
Herman  
Leon  
Rick  
Vincent  
Prince And The Revolution - Pop Life & Hello (discogs.com)

Prince And The Revolution – Pop Life & Hello

13. Hello

(B-side Pop Life, 07/10/1985)

Remarks

Bram Around The World In A Day truly was a great period. Hello is part of the proof for that. Coming from the maxi with a very nice A-side…
Edward  
Erwin Prince is angry, hurt and irritated. He responds with this thumping song. Great and sincere.
Herman Around The World In A Day was an album that birthed the set of Prince B-sides and extended versions that made me a die-hard fan. Hello (Fresh Dance Mix) was Pop Life‘s B-side and as Erotic City, , funky in ways his album material wasn’t.
Prince funks out on rhythm guitar and lyrically responds to the madness of his much written about fame and the backlash of him not attending the We Are The World recording session.
Lyrically, it’s one of those rare songs in which he responds directly to the bad press directed at him; musically, it is a fast-paced trip of funky rhythm guitar that forebodes the funkiness of his 1986 album Parade.
To me, it is one of those songs that stretched time when I played it, again and again, on my walkman.
Leon  
Rick A fine pop song and good lyrics.
Vincent
Prince - Delirious & Horny Toad (discogs.com)

Prince – Delirious & Horny Toad

14. Horny Toad

(B-side Little Red Corvette, 08/17/1983)

Remarks

Bram Once upon a time some B-sides weren’t avialable on cd. I worked my ass of obtaining this B-side. That’s what record fairs in the 1990s were designed for. I just had to have that Delirious 7″!
And another funny lyric:
‘If I had your number I’d call you on the phone
I’d breathe real heavy, if that didn’t work
Maybe I’ll start to groan…’

FAN-TAS-TIC!
Edward Another fun track from the 1999 era. Released as a B-side to the Delirious single. Both tracks of this single are quite similar in rockabilly style (not unlike Jack U Off on the Controversy album), instrumentation and using sexual metaphors in the lyrics. Though in the track Delirious they were hidden enough to avoid censorship, the explicit lyrics in Horny Toad were interpreted as sadistic at the time and the source of some controversy. As with Irresistible Bitch, these two tracks separate them from the Prince catalogue up to that point: it was highly unlikely to pass the radio censors in 1983 with these kind of titles. Thus creating a buzz presumably anyway.
In collecting the Prince catalogue, this 7″ was not one of the immediate purchases. Until I came across the UK poster-sleeve on a record-fair for the astronomic amount of €1. Oh well, maybe it’s time now …
Noteworthy: one of the very few songs in the Prince catalogue, never to have been played live!
Erwin  
Herman  
Leon  
Rick  
Vincent
Prince - I Wish U Heaven & Scarlet Pussy (discogs.com)

Prince – I Wish U Heaven & Scarlet Pussy

15. Scarlet Pussy

(B-side I Wish U Heaven, 09/20/1988)

Remarks

Bram  
Edward  
Erwin Robotic funk to the max. Irresistably funky.
Herman  
Leon Could have been a Bond girl’s name. Obviously he had a dirty mind quite a lot, given the other titles in the list.
Rick On the I Wish U Heaven CD single cover this song wasn’t mentioned. So, this was a nice surprise when I played it for the first time. And it’s a great song too.
Vincent

 

Interpretation and justification

So, there it is: the 15 best Prince B-sides according to the A Pop Life Panel. Of course, there are things to be said about the list.

Prince - 15 Best B-sides - Graph - Results (apoplife.nl)

Graph – Results

Numbers

Out of all the 40 identified B-sides a total of 29 were nominated for inclusion in the top 15. It’s remarkable that none of the B-sides released in 1990 were nominated, making that the only year without any nominations.

Prince - 15 Best B-sides - Graph - Decade overview (apoplife.nl)

Graph – Decade overview

Decades

What stands out is that the vast majority of nominations stem from the 1980s. Nothing too surprising in itself, as most of the B-sides (55%) stem from that decade, but when compared to the number of nominations that decade ranks up to no less than 76%. Even more, the top 15 is a 100% 1980s affair.

Prince - 15 Best B-sides - Graph - 1980s (apoplife.nl)

Graph – 1980s

1980s

The B-sides released in 1984 and 1985 both received 3 nominations that ended up in the top 15. If the top 15 is aggegated by year, and each year is awarded with points in the same way the indivdual lists are, the results are:

Year   Points
1984   35
1985   20
1987   16
1983   14
1982   13
1986   12
1989   9
1988   1

Based on the numbers shown above, 1984 is the most successful year for B-sides. Rightfully so, as both the numbers 1 and 2 stem from that year and every A Pop Life Panel member nominated the songs.

Points

As can be seen in the complete list below, the number 1 really is undisputed with a stunning 90 points. The difference with number 2 is 10 (!) points. Of all the 29 nominated B-sides, 4 were mentioned by all list providers. These make up the top 4 of the combined list.

Of all the A Pop Life Panel members, 87% of Rick’s nominations ended up in the top 15, followed by Bram, Erwin and Vincent (80% each), Herman (73%) and Edward and Leon (67% each). Each member sees his personal top 6 in the top 15. Erwin’s personal top 6 is in the top 6 of the combined list, and his personal top 3 is the same as the top 3 of the combined list.

Occasion

So, what about the special occasion that triggered the list, the release of She’s Always In My Hair on this day in 1985, which is regarded as one of his best B-sides by so many? The song ended up at number 6 in the top 15. Edward is the only one who hasn’t nominated the song.

The complete list

For everyone that just can’t get enough, below the complete list, sorted by the number of points, release date and song title, can be viewed. Click the text below to show the complete list.

The individual lists

All lists come with personal commentary, remarks and memories. All lists are enclosed below. Click on one or more lines below.

In closing

A Pop Life Panel

Just like our previous A Pop Life Panel article, Prince – The 25 best live bootlegs!, we had a great time compiling this list. On a personal note I would like to mention that I find the expansion of the A Pop Life Panel highly inspiring. My sincere thanks to all involved!

Of course we are curious about reactions, remarks, compliments and your opinions. Use the comment form at the bottom of this article and get in touch. It truly is highly appreciated!

We have plans to publish more of this kind of articles in the future. Should you have wishes or suggestions, we’d love to hear them. Please be so kind as to report them by clicking the mail icon on the A Pop Life Panel page.

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Prince – The 15 best B-sides!. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

More Prince?

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!