To put it mildly, Paddy is not a fan of his B Sides. He considered them throwaway abominations, and has resolutely blocked official compilations.
The problem seems to have been that pressure was put on him by the record company to provide additional material, and because he tended to work project to project this meant either taking things completely out of context and knocking a great big hole in something, or banging out a quick version of an old song. Or in some cases just arsing around in the studio.
That being said, the material on the B sides is pretty good and worth searching out. This post doesn’t deal with single edits or extended versions, nor “The Sound of Crying” and “If You Don’t Love Me” which were on “A Life of Surprises”, but it’ll give you an idea of what else there is around and where to find it. I’m giving information on CDs where they exist, otherwise vinyl, but a little work with the discography will locate other sources depending on your format preference. It’s not at all difficult to find copies of the singles and CDs via Ebay or Discogs, etc.
The Early Singles:
The story goes that Martin worked shifts on a building site to earn the money to record and press “Lions”, and that when it arrived, Paddy felt disappointed it didn’t sound more like a record and was just like the tape, he was expecting some sort of magical transformation.
Probably the nicest way to get these songs is one of the 12″ singles, SK8, altogether in a nice sleeve. Certainly “Radio Love” and “Walk On” are vinyl only, but you can find “Lions” in CD quality on SKTCD60, the “If You Don’t Love Me” CD2. “The Devil” is on a compilation CD – “The Indie Scene 1983”, but for whatever reason is at the wrong speed.
The Lost First Album
(Dandy of the Danube/ Tornado/ Nero the Zero/ Walk On (Goodbye Lucille #7)/ Tin Can Pot/ Vendetta (for the Countess)/ Spinning Belinda/ Silhouettes/ Donna Summer)
I reckon you can make a fairly convincing album from these B Sides, all of which were early songs, actually pre-dating “Lions”. These were all written for the original three piece line-up.
- Dandy of the Danube – one of my top three favourite Sprout songs – is on CDSK37 (“King of Rock N Roll”).
- Tornado is a tricky one – if you can find a playable CDSK38 (“Hey Manhattan!”), it’s on there, but as most copies of that are bronzed to feck, you’ll need one of SKGT38, SKX38 or SK38, which are the 12″ and 7″ vinyl versions.
- Nero the Zero is on “If You Don’t Love Me” SKCD60. The lyrics to the latter replace completely incomprehensible originals, incidentally, bizarre free associative poetry.
- Walk On was already mentioned above. I’m putting it into this group as well because it used to be “Goodbye Lucille #7”, replacing “Walk on, walk on” with “Goodbye, Lucille: that’s all I feel”. And it was Wendy’s favourite song before she joined, when she was taking money on the doors.
- Tin Can Pot, that gloriously ramshackle frenzy of early Sproutness, is vinyl only. SKX37 – “King of Rock N Roll”. It’s brilliant.
- Vendetta (for the Countess) where Scotty Moore meets Marc Bolan with a bizarre lyric is on “Cars and Girls”, CDSK35
- Spinning Belinda is only to be found on vinyl. SK10, SK1012 “Couldn’t Bear to be Special” depending on your preference. SK1012 also has “Donna Summer” incidentally. Spinning Belinda was also included on the “Debut” interview/record magazine, Issue 3, very easy to find.
- Silhouettes, in a massively changed version with vocals by Wendy, was a raucous rocker in its original form, as the Avalon version indicates. Slowed down and gentrified, you’ll find Silhouettes on “Faron Young” (SKX22). The 7″ version, SK22 has a slightly shorter edit with a different guitar intro.
- And it used to segue into Donna Summer, equally raucous. It can be found possibly on CDSK38 (Hey Manhattan!) which is usually bronzed as mentioned and the 12″ Hey Manhattan vinyl variants SKGT38, SKX38. But it’s also on the CD Compilation “The Kings of Rock & Roll” MCDLX056 which is the easiest place to get a CD quality version and can often be found in remainder bins for peanuts.
The Intermediate Material
(The Yearning Loins/ Real Life (Just Around the Corner)/ He’ll Have to Go)
I always find this a slightly underwhelming corner of the oeuvre. OK songs, not outstanding, from the gap between Swoon and Steve McQueen.
- The Yearning Loins is on the US CD of “Two Wheels Good” which is the best source and not too difficult to acquire. Actually as this is probably a current album you can actually buy it as a download I suspect. Otherwise your best source is probably the vinyl 12″ SKK19 (“When Love Breaks Down”) which also has the original fast version of Diana, not referenced here as there’s an album version, but you may as well have it.
- Real Life (Just Around the Corner) is available in three versions. Your best bet is the extended version on 12″ SKQ2112, “When Love Breaks Down”. You’ll also see it on the freebie NME “Drastic Plastic” EP, and there’s a version with a prog funk intro on the “Cars and Girls” CDSK35.
- He’ll Have to Go. A cover of the Allison/Allison song made famous by Jim Reeves, and to be found on the CD CDSK37, “King of Rock N Roll”.
The Contractual Obligation Corner
(Heaven Can Wait/ Oh, the Swiss!/ Wigs/ The Guest who Stayed Forever/ Old Spoonface is Back)
At some point. Paddy ran out of either songs or patience and essentially just laid down any old thing in the studio. This is particularly true for the “Wigs” set. He had been pestered by the record company for B Sides and so invented a few random titles, which the band then improvised songs for in the studio. They’re curiously satisfying, even so.
- Heaven Can Wait is just the backing track to “When the Angels” and vinyl only. The best source is probably SKX23, the 12″ of “Appetite” on which you will also get…
- Oh, the Swiss! This is a delicate piano instrumental, which was probably a throwaway but is actually transcendently beautiful. SKX23, “Appetite”
- Wigs is avant garde, stupid, engaging. Your vinyl only source is SKX24, “Johnny Johnny”.
- The Guest Who Stayed Forever, equally stupid, equally avant garde, and with one of the best off kilter guitar breaks you’ll ever hear. SKX24 again.
- Old Spoonface is Back, all of the above, with added sinister. SKX24 is your friend.
The Foothills of Andromeda
(Just Because I Can/ Dragons/ The End of the Affair/ Girl I’m Here/ Never Trust a Spell)
There’s a sort of thematic consistency around some of these songs, a connection to fairy tales, and some probably came from “Knights in Armour”.
- Just Because I Can – On the CD of Prisoner of the Past. SKCD70
- Dragons was made famous (ish) by Jimmy Nail. The theme probably suggests it was recycled from “Knights in Armour”. To be found on the CD of Electric Guitars, SKCD71
- The End of the Affair was written for but not used by Cher. Great song. Also on SKCD71
- Girl I’m Here is on SKZD71 – part two of the Electric Guitars Double Pack.
- Never Trust a Spell is also on SKZD71.
Noting also that if you hunt around you can find the Columbia CD 6647222 which has all of the songs from the Electric Guitars double pack in one.
They Also Served
(Bearpark/ Where the Heart Is)
- Bearpark is one of the very best unreleased songs. A wistful ode to the place where the hard as nails Geordies live. CDSK39 – “Nightingales The Demo Tapes”
- Where the Heart Is was, I’m fairly sure, a commission to make Paddy’s mum proud of him. Pleasant, unchallenging, and you’ll find it with “Just Because I Can” SKCD70 (“Prisoner of the Past”) to kill a couple of birds with one stone. Probably made him more money than “Andromeda Heights”, “The Gunman” and “I Trawl the Megahertz” put together.