The Second Disc

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One Track Mind

with 11 comments

I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d bet that there are two big questions that reissue producers and catalogue compilers get from fans. There’s “What about a proper reissue/expansion of such-and-such an album?” and “Why did you miss/forget that one track?” I’ve been thinking about that last query lately – and I’ll bet you’ve thought about it at some point, too.

Oh sure, to some of your friends and fellow fans it sounds crazy – why on Earth would someone obsess over one stupid little track?, they might wonder to themselves. It also seems a bit greedy, considering how much labels have given from their vaults in recent years. But anyone who writes off that one track is missing something that you’re probably not. People like you and I, who wonder how that one lonely track could be missing from such a devoted lineup of B-sides or alternates, are in tune with something almost intangible. For some, that one track means completing a collection, or reliving a fond musical memory, or justifying a re-purchase of that worn-out CD copy with a newer, pricier one.

Right now, my one track is a pretty simple one. Billy Joel’s “Sometimes a Fantasy,” a single from his oddly endearing Glass Houses (1980), barely cracked the Top 40 when released. But it’s always been one of my favorite songs of the Piano Man’s. So imagine my surprise to find out, some years ago, that the original 45 RPM single had a longer version of the song!

As a child who a) didn’t grow up with many vinyl singles and b) frequently turned up cassette and CD players to hear as much of a song before it faded out, this was a revelation. While the regular album version fades after about 3 minutes and 40 seconds in, the 45 version continues nearly a minute past that fadeout, engaging in some more fancy fretwork and piano riffs before a chaotic ending that Beatles fans would appreciate (hint: “Helter Skelter” reference).

In this age where everything’s online, one would think I could simply find a vinyl rip elsewhere. And for awhile I could; there was a really good version on YouTube that’s been pulled due to terms of use violation. But I want more. I want to have that on a disc and play it as much as I want. In fact, I’ll come out and say it: if I only could have one vault track released all year, right now I’d pick that one.

Call it crazy or devoted if you want. But remember that we all have that one track. Which one is yours? I’d love to hear about it.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 4, 2010 at 09:44

11 Responses

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  1. “Think I’m Going Mad”, the b-side of the Rolling Stones 1984 single “She Was Hot”, is the only officially released vinyl-era Stones song that has never been issued on CD. Yes, there have been several imports and oddities like the Italian version of “As Tears Go By” and “Exile On Main St. Blues” over the years, but once upon a time, a 45 containing “Think I’m Going Mad” was on sale at every music store in the U.S. Will the Stones ever deem it worthy of 21st century reissue?


    February 4, 2010 at 11:08

    • What a great song. I actually had that 45 in my hands today while I was organizing. I’ll have to give that a spin tomorrow. BTW the version of She Was Hot from Shine A Light is awesome!

      ray judson

      February 4, 2010 at 23:35

  2. After begging for the Cameo-Parkway catalog from ABKCO for years I didn’t feel I could be greedy. But I was truly upset to see that the Bobby Rydell song “Make Me Forget” did not make the box set or his single disc compilation. It didn’t quite make Billboard’s Top 40 but neither did seven of the 25 tracks on the comp, five of which didn’t even hit the top 100!


    February 4, 2010 at 11:43

  3. As far as I know the single mix of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” by Loggins & Messina has never been released on CD. I haven’t heard it in years but I remember it had an entirely different opening riff and an overall more rocking sound. “Thinking of You” from the same L&M album also had a more radio-friendly mix.

    Glenn S.

    February 4, 2010 at 17:08

  4. Can’t believe I have to wait until I get home from work to throw on my 45 of Sometimes a Fantasy!! I had no idea it was different than the LP version. Love that Stones tune also!

    ray judson

    February 4, 2010 at 23:33

  5. Sony seems to be rectifying SOME of this in their “Playlist: The Very Best Of…” series. The Eddie Money version in particular has some 45 and/or radio versions not available till that release.

    Maybe if they do one for Billy Joel, we’ll get some as well.

    I remember reading a posting somewhere by Mark Wilder, who mastered the Billy Joel “My Lives” rarities boxed set, where he alluded to the fact that Billy himself nixed a bunch of tracks that were initially included for release on that box, among them the “Sometimes A Fantasy” 45 and the live “You Got Me Hummin'” that he included on the “Tell Her About It” 12-inch single. Mark’s comments were something to the effect of “you should have seen what it [the boxed set] could have been”.


    February 8, 2010 at 10:53

    • I too am hoping for a “Playlist” title for Billy Joel, as it’s probably the best shot at getting some of these tracks. There’s also an import compilation (“Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel”) that has a few single masters (notably the 45 edits of “Piano Man” and “Just the Way You Are.”

      I never knew about that comment by Mark Wilder, though. It’s a great set, if a bit odd, as it doesn’t usually follow the semi-strict hits-and-rarities format that most boxes from Legacy adhere to. Imagining what it could have been, considering that it’s pretty hefty to begin with (I’ve heard that Joel is often a little leery of going full-throttle on the catalogue stuff), is pretty amazing.

      Mike Duquette

      February 8, 2010 at 13:20

  6. […] » The other day I was talking about how us catalogue fans can sometimes end up wanting that one missing track to add to our collections. I used the 45 version of Billy Joel’s “Sometimes a […]

  7. I wasn’t aware that Billy himself nixed several of the songs that SHOULD have been on My Lives. The long “Sometimes a Fantasy” is a total gem. I have it on a bootleg CD, and that blistering (on his blisters!) jamming after the fade out on the LP makes it an indispensible track.

    Why was the album version shorter anyhow?? It makes no sense.

    I wonder if Billy was also behind omitting the original mixes of songs from Cold Spring Harbor (the long “You Can Make Me Free” needs freeing!) and replacing the released (B-side) version of “House of Blue Light” (one of my favorite Billy songs) with an inferior mix that replaced Billy’s Hammond wailing with a harmonica instead.

    My Lives is a decent box if you’re a hardcore Billy fan, but too much good stuff was omitted in favor of less interesting filler. The last disc (covering 2000-onward) on the set is something of a joke, given that Billy hasn’t had a studio album since 1993.


    April 22, 2010 at 22:58

  8. […] for 2008′s reissue of The Stranger; perhaps there’s more goodies on the way. Maybe that darn single version of “Sometimes a Fantasy” isn’t that far away after […]

  9. My “one track” is from another Columbia artist, Barbra Streisand. The hit single version of “The Way We Were,” which contains a completely different vocal take for most of the song, has never been issued on CD, period, anywhere in the world. It has been buried in favor of the later (and in my opinion, inferior) album version vocal. The instrumental backing track is the same, it’s just a different vocal take.

    I’m hoping the “rarities” set that Miss A.D.H.D. Barbra Streisand has allegedly been working on for some seven years will finally have it on there.

    Brian W.

    October 11, 2010 at 00:34

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