Back in the day when we used to buy 45 rpm singles, many of us would buy the vinyl 45 rpm singles for the B sides. Real rock and roll fans always brought the albums of their favorite artists. We didn’t just buy the singles, we brought the albums. Most of the time the singles were the least liked songs of those classic rock albums. Many artists or at least their managers or record companies realized that die-hard fans of certain bands were always wanting more from the artists. So many artists began to release non-album B sides to accompany the A sides of the songs. We sought out those records intensely. Elton John was an artist well-known for releasing B sides that were not on any of his albums. The man was writing like a Madman across the Water, he had so much material that he needed to release B sides.
In the 1980’s Bruce Springsteen began releasing singles from his Born in the U.S.A album that always contained non-album tracks or at least live versions of his songs. Springsteen’s famous Christmas classic “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” was originally released as a B side to “My Hometown.” And lets not even get started on The Beatles who not only released rare B Ssdes, but many of their A sides were non album tracks. That is until Capitol Records began putting together the bogus U.S. Albums.
The one band that we had wished would have released more non-album B sides was of course Led Zeppelin. To this day we still wish they had released more non-album B sides. Nonetheless, there was one time when the band did surprise fans with a non-album track B side. I was in Sam Goody’s record store in the mid 1970’s when the cover for the “Immigrant Song,” single caught my eyes. When singles were first released, many times record companies would release them in beautiful picture sleeves that would become collectible. I brought the single originally just for the cover, and did not notice at first that there was a B side that I had never heard of. When I put the single on my turntable at home, I accidentally put on the B side. I was completely blown away when I heard that country-esque introduction to “Hey Hey What Can I do.” I was actually quite stunned. I immediately recorded the song onto a blank 8 track . My friends were picking me up in a few hours and had asked for me to make a tape for the car. We were all huge Led Zeppelin fans and I knew this would blow them away.
My friends picked me up and I gave them the tape. It was all Led Zeppelin songs. When “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” started to play, everyone ion the car began to yell at me. They had wanted an all Led Zeppelin tape. They had never heard “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” before and had figured I was messing with them. They actually said what is this country garbage? When Robert Plant began to sing, the car went silent. These were my friends who lived Led Zeppelin every day and they had never heard “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” Before. I was a hero for the moment for discovering a gem of a song.
“Hey Hey What Can I Do,” was the only non album track Led Zeppelin ever pressed on a vinyl record in the 1970’s. The first time the song was released on CD would be in 1990 on their 4-CD Led Zeppelin Boxed Set collection. When The Led Zeppelin catalog was remastered for the third time on CD, the track was released on Led Zeppelin III in 2007. When Jimmy Page started the great Led Zeppelin Deluxe Album series in 2015, he included the track “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” on the companion CD on the Coda CD Deluxe Release. Over the years the song has become a Led Zeppelin fan favorite. It’s interesting to wonder what fans would have thought of the song had it been originally release on Led Zeppelin III.
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