There’s a fascinating article on Wikipedia about the b-sides of popular singles. Here is an excerpt:
B-side songs may be released on the same record as a single to provide extra “value for money”. There are several types of material commonly released in this way, including a different version (e.g., instrumental, a cappella, live, acoustic, remixed version or in another language/text), or, in a concept record, a song that does not fit into the story line.
Additionally, it was common in the 1960s and 1970s for longer songs by soul, funk or R&B acts to be broken into two parts for single release. Examples of this include the Isley Brothers “Shout” (Parts 1 and 2), and a number of records by James Brown, including (“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (Parts 1 & 2) and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud (Parts 1 & 2). “Part 1” would be the chart hit, while “Part 2” would be a continuation of the same recording. A notable example of a non-R&B hit with parts 1 & 2 was the single release of Don McLean‘s “American Pie“. With the advent of the 12” single in the late 1970s, the Part 1/Part 2 method of recording was largely abandoned.
Since both sides of a single received equal royalties, some composers deliberately arranged for their songs to be used as the B-sides of singles by popular artists. This became known as the “flipside racket”.
On a few occasions, the B-side became the more popular song. This was usually because a DJ preferred the B-side to its A-side and played it instead. Examples include “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (originally the B-side of “Substitute”), “I’ll Be Around” by The Spinners (originally the B-side of “How Could I Let You Get Away“), “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart (originally the B-side of “Reason To Believe“), “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé (originally the B-side of “If I Were a Boy“), and Reddish -Diva Version- by D’espairsRay (B-side of their single “Gemini“). More rarely, both sides of the single would become hits, such as Queen‘s “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You“.
And back to me:
Among others, two of the biggest singles of the late 60’s-early 70’s had two very strange b-sides, and this was by design, to prevent DJs from flipping them over and playing them. The $$$ behind the a-sides was too significant to leave to chance.
Here’s the b-side to “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks, late of the Poppy Family. It’s called “Put The Bone In”, and it’s a big hit here in the office:
“Seasons in the Sun” comes from this:
Another huge hit from that era was “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by The Ohio Express. Here’s the b-side, believe it or not, the instrumental backing of 1910 Fruitgum Co’s. “(Poor Old) Mr. Jensen” recorded backwards, a common practice of producers Kasenetz & Katz (who produced both ‘groups’) to discourage double-sided hits. As I said!