Oxfam Jams #6

by Liam Hill

The Single

Over the last few weeks, the shop has had some really exciting donations, which has made it difficult to hold on to my pennies. There have been a range of limited edition and interesting singles from The Clash, Blur, Grandaddy, Muse, and Neutral Milk Hotel, amongst others. There has also been a wide range of other various donations, which I’ve found exciting, such as a limited promotional EP CD from The National, various classic cassettes, and a wide range of prog-rock albums.

But it is the earlier content of the introduction that I want to return to. The humble single. It reminded me that this column’s genesis was in a 7” clear vinyl Radiohead EP, which coincided with my personal rummage and collecting of singles.

I have been collecting albums on vinyl for a few years now, but I never really saw the attraction of singles until more recently. I didn’t understand the point of having a record which you would have to turn after one song. Or for arguments sake, let’s say four minutes. To me this would consume more energy than its worth, just stick on a playlist on iTunes.

But then something changed. I’m not sure what, but somehow I know have a rather excessive and eclectic collection of singles, many of which have been bought at this very store. I think some of the attraction of the humble single for me is that it provides such an easy route into an artist I may not normally listen to. Do I want to spend £10 on an album when I can spend (on average) 99p and get a glimpse of what an artist is all about.

At least this was my original entry into buying singles. But now, I find myself actively seeking out singles, such as those I referred to at the start. There is arguably a cultural importance to the single (both the 7 and 12 inch), filling radios, jukeboxes and discos with sound and energy.

And whilst this week there have been numerous singles I could have focused on, from the ones I’ve mentioned to a limited edition £30 Ryan Adams release of Nuclear, A Thousand Trees by Stereophonics or even Hard To Explain by The Strokes, I’ve chosen to have a closer look at a release by The Dandy Warhol’s.

Despite being elevated into indie dance-floor icons through the release of Bohemian Like You, I had never really listened to much more of their music. So, this seemed like an appropriate way to explore The Dandy Warhol’s.

Much like in the first edition of this, the 7inch release is “special”. Its on purple vinyl and as expected, it features the often sought after B-Side. Lets not forget that Oasis’ Half The World Away, The Beatles I Am The Walrus and Queens’ We Will Rock You all had their genesis as B-Sides, so what’s to say The Dandy Warhol’s don’t have some magic hidden away only for the fans that are willing to find it?

Side A, Every Day Should Be A Holiday has some funky layers and a pretty catchy melody, having a crossover of shoegaze and indie pop, having an ever so slight reminiscent sound of Jesus Mary Chain popped up.

But it’s the two, yes two, B-sides I wanted to look at here. B1, One (Ultra Lame White Boy) surprisingly on the first listen reminded me of Beasties Boys – its eclectic, slightly psychedelic with a slightly hip-hop punk fusion vocal. But what I would note about the first of the two, is as is often the case, had this been on an album, it wouldn’t sound at all out of place. Weirdly, however, out of the three songs, I liked the third the most, a second B-Side. And it is this that is the brilliant thing about the single. As amazing as the single may be, there are inevitably hidden gems kept away just for the fans. There are very few people that would go to listen to Head, a summer song which sounds like a moody Wavves track, because they simply wouldn’t know it exists. It isn’t on an album and it doesn’t seem to have had much coverage.

So whilst last time I encouraged you to go and listen to something you might not ususally, this week I encourage you to go and find those songs that only the super-fans know of. Take a look at the discography of your favourite artist and see how many hidden gems they have on their B-Sides, you never know, you might just find something that surprises you.