Best-BSIDES

50 Best Alternative B Sides Of All Time

Check out our list of the 50 Best Alternative B Sides Ever Made.

In the age of digital downloads, the B-side has become a quaint memory. But for those who grew up pre-internet, it was an added pleasure to get one or more bonus tracks with the purchase of a vinyl, cassette or cd single.

Alternative Rock was made for the B-side. This was a genre with fans who enjoyed seeking out more obscure tunes to show-off their music cred and celebrate songs that were more under the radar.

And many were just as good if not better than the A-side singles, often proving so popular it eclipsed the single it was originally attached to.

So in honor of the lost art form, here are the 50 Best Alt-rock B-sides ever made.

Since I just did a list of the 60 Best Rock Covers (click here to read),  I’m only including original songs. I’m also not including alternate versions or remixes.

I’ll allow for multiple entries per artist, and ties for equally awesome tracks on one single/EP.

And I’ll have an iTunes playlist at the bottom if you’d care to preview or buy any songs listed.

Let’s begin!

50. U2-Alex Descends into Hell for a Bottle of Milk / Korova 1

Haunting B-side to Achtung Baby’s leadoff single The Fly.

49. Nirvana-I Hate Myself And Wanna Die

Kurt Cobain Suicide 19 years later

This rocking (yet troubling prophetic) track appeared as a B-side for Pennyroyal Tea. Also featured on Beavis And Butthead Experience Collection.

48. XTC-Dear God

This B-side for Grass proved so popular it was later added to the band’s Skylarking album.

47. Primal Scream-Velocity Girl

Primal Scream 2013

The band at their most wistful, taken from the Crystal Crescent Ep.

Click here to read my review of the new Primal Scream album More Light.

46. Ministry-Tonight We Murder

Al Jourgensen of Ministry

Al Jourgensen of Ministry

Al Jourgensen and co. at their most twisted. B-side to Stigmata.

45. Faith No More- Das Schützenfest

FNM are the only band besides They Might Be Giants who can make polka rock. B-Side from Easy.

*Not available on iTunes.

44.Gary Numan-We Are So Fragile

Tubeway Army "Replicas"

Strident New Wave B-side to Are Friends Electric.

43. Yazoo-Winter Kills

Eerie slow-burn number that’s the polar opposite of the poppy A-side Don’t Go.

42. Ween- Now I’m Freaking Out

Ween

This New Wave flavored ditty makes a winning combo with the Spirit Of 76 A-side.

*Not on iTunes.

41. Suede-Money

Suede 'Bloodsports' review

A skittering rocker. B-Side to Beautiful Ones.

Click here for my review of their recent album Bloodsports.

40. Gary Numan-Me I Disconnect From You

Excellent B-side to Complex.

39. Smashing Pumpkins-Hello Kitty Kat/Obscured

The alternating rocking and soothing tunes make great company with the Today single.

38. The Cult-Zap City.

the_cult_electric_tour-2013-

Makes for a rocking combo with the Lil Devil A-Side off the Electric album (which the band are getting ready to tour in its entirety.)

37. Siouxsie And The BansheesSomething Wicked This Way Comes

Alternate Text

Ominous yet beautiful. B-side to The Killing Jar.

*Not available on iTunes.

36. Buzzcocks-Why Cant I Touch It

Hook filled punk classic that eclipses it’s Everybody Happy Now A-side.

35. The Cure-Fear of Ghosts

cure acl fest 2013

Eerie, hypnotic B-side to Lovesong.

Click here for my ultimate Alternative Valentine’s Day Playlist

34. Echo And The Bunnymen-Do It Clean

One of their most rocking tracks was the B-Side to The Puppet.

Click here for my list of Best Alt-Rock Compilation Albums 

33. U2- The Lady With The Spinning Head

This soaring anthem provides counterpoint to somber A-side One.

Click here for my  Rock Wedding Playlist.

32. Jesus And Mary Chain-Psychocandy

Oddly enough this wasn’t included on the Psychocandy album, but appeared as a B-side to Some Candy Talking.

31. The Cult-Love Trooper

Ethereal power ballad makes a fine companion to the Wildflower single.

30. Joy Division-These Days

Jittery post punk at its finest and a fitting B-side to Love Will Tear Us Apart.

29. Depeche Mode-Happiest Girl

depechemode-delta-machine-review

Dark romance abounds in this World In My Eyes B-Side.

Click here for my review of their new album Delta Machine.

28. Roxy Music-To Turn You On

This lounge classic initially appeared as a B-side to the band’s cover of John Lennon’s  Jealous Guy.

27. Radiohead-Talk Show Host

Excellent B-side of Street Spirit (Fade Out).

26. New OrderIn A Lonely Place

New_Order_2012

The band exorcises its dark Joy Division leanings with this ethereal Ceremony B-side.

25. Bauhaus-Boys

A lurching classic that pairs perfectly with epic single Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

Click here for my Halloween Party Playlist.

24. Depeche Mode-But Not Tonight

Black Celebration Album Cover

A downright ray of sunshine compared to techno noir A-side Black Celebration.

23.Buzzocks-Autonomy

Arguably their best track. Originally a B-side to I Don’t Mind.

22. Radiohead-Palo Alto

Rocking  B-side  from the Airbag/How Am I Driving EP.

21. Siouxsie And The Banshees-Tattoo

Fantastic B-side to Dear Prudence.

*Not available on iTunes.

20. The Cure- Play/Twilight Garden

Two fine Goth-pop numbers werre both B-sides to the High single.

19. Smashing Pumpkins-Bye June

The short but sweet acoustic tune was taken from the Lull EP which featured the Rhinonoceros single.

18. Pulp-Underwear

<img src="Best-B-Sides-Pulp-Underwear" alt="Best B Sides Pulp Underwear"/>

B-side to Common People, and just as catchy and thrilling as their biggest hit.

17. U2-Salome

The band’s funkiest number was superior to the A-Side, Even Better Than The Real Thing.

16. Jesus And Mary Chain-Kill Surf City

<img src="Best-B-Sides-JAMC-Kill0Surf-City" alt="Best B Sides JAMC Kill Surf"/>

Killer B-side to April Skies. It’s surf guitar sound makes it a perfect summer tune.

15. Sisters Of Mercy-Colours

A spectral, hypnotic cinematic epic. B-side of This Corrosion.

Click here for my list of the 40 Darkest Rock Albums.

14. Smashing Pumpkins-Ugly/Set The Ray To Jerry

<img src="Best-B-Sides-SP-1979" alt="Best B Sides SP 1979"/>

These two tracks share the same 80’s synth-pop charms as A-side 1979. Where Jerry is wistful and light, Ugly is chilly and dark. Both excellent. Also featured on the Pumpkin’s Box-Set The Aeroplane Flies High, which is getting rereleased. 

13. Nirvana-Aneurysm

<img src="Best-B-Sides-Nirvana-Aneurysm" alt="Best B Sides Nirvana Aneurysm"/>

Raucous Lithium B-side that also appeared on the Incesticide collection.

12. Suede-My Insatiable One

Suede - My Insatiable One [single]

One of the best Brit-pop ballads.B-side to The Drowners.

11. Depeche Mode-Dangerous

<img src="Best-B-Sides-DM-Dangerous" alt="Best B Sides DM Dangerous"/>

One of their best songs was relegated to B-side status with Personal Jesus.

10. New Order-1963

<img src="Best-Alternative-B-Sides-1963" alt="Best Alternative B Sides 1963"/>

The band at their most emotional and stirring. B-Side to True Faith.

9. David BowieThe Man Who Sold The World

The Bowie classic (covered excellently by Nirvana) was originally a B-side to Space Oddity.

8. Suede-My Dark Star/The Living Dead

How to choose between these wonderful B-sides from Stay Together? Answer; you can’t.

7. The Cure-To The Sky

Pop perfection as only The Cure can do. Off the Fiction compilation.

6. Queen-We Will Rock You

While the band isn’t exactly alternative, their influence on Britpop is undeniable. B-Side to We Are The Champions.

5. Pulp-Like A Friend

Appeared on the Great Expectations Soundtrack, and as a B-side off A Little Soul. One of their most rocking tunes featuring some of Jarvis Cocker’s wittiest lyrics.

4. Prince-Erotic City

<img src="Best--B-Sides-Erotic-City" alt="Best B Sides Erotic City"/>

Again, not an artist that screams alternative, but one who influenced ton of alt-rock artists. B-Side to Let’s Go Crazy and eternal club anthem.

3. Pearl Jam-Yellow Ledbetter

Jeremy B-side. I still don’t know what the hell he’s singing, but it still sounds great.

2.The Smiths-How Soon Is Now/Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

<img src="Best-Alt-B-Side-How-Soon-Is-Now" alt="Best Alt B Side How Soon is Now"/>

Both tracks were originally B-sides to William, it was Really Nothing, but have far eclipsed it in popularity. Morrissey moping and Marr guitar work at their finest.

1. Smashing Pumpkins-Starla

<img src="Best-Alt-B-Side-Starla alt="Best Alt B Side Starla"/>

B-side to I Am One. Clocking in at 11 minutes and 2 seconds, it could never qualify for radio play, but for hardcore fans it’s rock ascension incarnate with some of Billy Corgan’s best guitar work to date.

So that wraps up the list. Agree? Disagree? Chime in below. And be sure to check out the iTunes playlist below.

About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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12 Responses to 50 Best Alternative B Sides Of All Time

  1. Nikki Thomason July 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    So glad you put Yellow Ledbetter on there! That is my #1 and my second favorite PJ song. Great list.

    • SLIS July 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks! Yeah, Pearl Jam was never one of my favorite bands, but this song is just so damn catchy. Total classic.

  2. Peter October 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    A few more:

    Curve: Falling Free, Today is Not the Day, Mission From God, Lo and Behold
    All About Eve: The Garden of Jane DeLawney, Drowning, Elizabeth of Glass
    The Sisters: Poison Door, On The Wire, Blood Money, Bury Me Deep, Emma
    Lamb: Ear Parcel, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
    Massive Attack: Euro Zero Zero, Reflection, I Against I
    Alien Sex Fiend: Gurl at the End of My Gun, Here She Comes, Mrs Fiend Goes to Outer Space
    Nitzer Ebb: KIA, Time Slips By, Backlash, Who We Are, Out of Mind, Beats Me
    Ministry: Smothered Hope (Live), Fucked, Paisley, Happy Dust
    Siouxsie: A Sleeping Rain, An Execution, Catwalk, El Dia De Los Muertos, Hothead
    Xymox: Shame, Promises, Down To Earth, Twisted
    Midnight Oil: You May Not be Released
    The Church: Life Speeds Up, As You Will, Lizard, Particles Matter, Dakota, The Gardener
    Bob: Splintered in Her Head, A Few Hours After This, It Used to be Me
    Mode: Oberkorn, Fools, Christmas Island, Stjarna, Memphisto, Kaleid, My Joy

    • SLIS October 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      Wow…I have some songs to seek out as some of these I haven’t heard before actually. But Emma by the Sisters is SO good! They actually use it on the soundtrack for the new thriller ‘The Guest’.

      • Peter October 10, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

        The ones The Cult put out for Love are legendary:

        Little Face
        All Souls Avenue
        Judith
        The Snake
        No. 13

        Love and Rockets had more than a few as well but the best:

        Lucifer Sam
        Holiday on The Moon
        Bike
        Dreamtime

        • SLIS October 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

          Yep: I have the Rare Cult box set and it’s gold…Judith is so good. I also really like the b-sides to their self-titled album as well.

          • Peter October 11, 2014 at 12:46 am #

            Then there’s PJ Harvey but there are well over 30 of those. Or The The, or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It’s endless… there’s John Foxx.

  3. Paul August 31, 2016 at 1:16 am #

    Thank you for this list! I’m very happy to see Smashing Pumpkins-Starla on 1st place! It’s olso on 1st place in my music list!

    • SLIS August 31, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed!

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