There are a number of songs now regarded as classics that began life as B-sides — a phenomenon laid to rest when vinyl fell out of favor with the charts. At first, this might seem surprising, but it makes some sense when you think about it.
Studio bosses tend not to be equipped with the same strain of gray matter as people who appreciate music. A head filled with dollar signs is not likely to cater to, say, the silken tones of a nimble bass line. But WHO CARES! I’M THE BOSS AND I’LL BE PICKING SIDE A, SO WHAT DO YOU KIDS HAVE THAT I CAN SNAP MY FINGERS TO?? What’s that, you have a song you’re really proud of? Oh, that’s cute. We’ll put it on the other side. (Nobody’ll even know it’s there!)
Which turned out not to be the case, as I’m generally referring to the 1960s and ’70s, back before Nintendo or Twitter, when there was literally nothing to do other than throw huge darts at one another in the backyard for hours at a time. So you know Junior was bound to discover that there was another side to that 45 — and then a) proceed to fall in love with his first band, or b) continue that self-absorbed, unchallenged slug trail toward executivedom.
Now on to our track for the day!!! Lene Lovich’s biggest hit and best song, “Lucky Number,” started out on the dark side of her first single, 1978’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” a clunky, cheeky cover of the 1967 tune by Tommy James and the Shondells. The B-side was quickly rereleased and went to No. 3 in the U.K. It’s on “Number” that Lovich first showcases her startling vocal style, employing Betty Boop-like squeals and such, like a bubblier version of Nina Hagen. (Hagen, coincidentally was pals with Lovich and covered “Lucky Number” on her band’s second album, 1979’s “Unbehagen”).
Lovich and longtime cohort guitarist Les Chappell in the late ’70s were supping at the same trough as Talking Heads, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Devo and Siouxsie and the Banshees — and Lovich’s voice predated the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Toni “Hey Mickey” Basil. The good news that you might not know about is that Lovich did plenty of good work after this song, such as “Blue,” a bonus track (!) off 1979’s “Flex.”