Monday, 7 July 2008

Album Openers

Ok, the challenge set by friend of the blog, Schönberg, was to come up with your top five album openers that weren't singles. This was then sent also to two other people (Q Shoes and The Boy Carso) so that between the four of us we had a twenty track playlist. Should there be any clashes the last one back with the list had to resubmit.

Schönberg's Five

Wow, that was a lot harder than I expected. There are, quite literally, hundreds of fantastic first songs on albums in my collection, but it's not until you have to do an exercise like this that you realise that 99% were released as singles. It seems that bands tend to bleed dry their great songs on albums and end up releasing four, sometimes five singles, and inevitably the opener gets the fourth or fifth slot, just when you thought it would be left just for the real fans of the band to keep as their own.

The second problem I had with this list was the fact that some really great starts to albums occur through a short intro track followed by a belter (usually released as a single). I'm thinking Foo Fighters (Doll/Monkey Wrench), Public Enemy (Countdown to Armaggeddon/Don't Believe the Hype), The Alarm (Declaration/Marching On). Anyway, my first track is one that follows this pattern of intro followed by belter.

Senser - State of Mind (from 'Stacked Up')

The song starts quietly with some street noise which then breaks into a bit of hip hop instrumental (lots of peow pow). This goes on for a few minutes until it fades away to an absolutely massive industrial rock guitar riff, it's rock meets rap after that (always a fantastic genre-cross for me).

MP3: Senser - State of Mind

U2 - A Sort of Homecoming (from 'The Unforgettable Fire')

If 'Where The Streets Have No Name' had never been released as a single then it would occupy this spot, however this is a very good alternative, but don't take my word for it, ask Chris Martin... "The first song on The Unforgettable Fire, "A Sort of Homecoming", I know backward and forward -- it's so rousing, brilliant and beautiful. It's one of the first songs I played to my unborn baby."

MP3: A Sort Of Homecoming - U2

Oasis - Rock 'n' Roll Star (from 'Definitely Maybe')

It's 1994. A typical Friday night. 6.30 pm. You've just stepped out of the shower before your night down town and while you're putting on your Lynx deodorant and your best lash you reach across to hit play on the CD player. This is what you hear.

MP3: Rock 'n' Roll Star - Oasis

The Smiths - The Queen is Dead (from 'The Queen is Dead')

Starts with an excerpt from 'The L Shaped Room' where homesick Britons sing "take me back to dear old blighty" before Mike Joyce bangs his drums and The Smith's greatest album (possibly) starts. As always, Morrissey's lyrics are the highlight of this song, with his rhyming of 'spanner' and 'piano' the pinnacle!

MP3: The Queen is Dead - The Smiths

AC/DC - Hells Bells (from 'Back in Black')

This song opens AC/DC's first album after the tragic death of their influential front man Bon Scott, who died in the back of a friend's car in London from acute alcohol poisoning. The album heralded a new start for AC/DC - proclaiming they were 'back in black'. The song starts with the tolling of church bells, Angus Young's slow guitar riff joins in before being joined by the rest of the band, and they're back! This song was covered by The Dandy Warhols on the b-side of Bohemian like You.

MP3: AC/DC - Hells Bells

The Boy Carso's Five

Blimey, I've had some trouble getting this down to 5 from my original list of 21!

Here we go then:

(Number 1 was Oasis - Rock 'n' Roll Star - Jal)

2) Starlings - Elbow (Seldom Seen Kid, 2008). I'm a massive Elbow fan, and seeing this track performed live earlier this year has the album in general in my mind constantly. The horns come as a surprise, but it really is a belting tune.

MP3: Starlings - Elbow

3) Knocked Up - Kings Of Leon (Because Of The Times, 2007). From one of the best albums of 2007, this is 7 minutes and 10 seconds of wallowing genius - a slow start that sets the whole album up perfectly.

MP3: Knocked Up - Kings Of Leon

4) Triumphant - Royksopp (The Understanding, 2005). I didn't realise how much I loved this album until I listened to it again recently; a very apt title for such an upbeat tune.

MP3: Triumphant - Royksopp

5) The Fear - Pulp (This Is Hardcore, 1998). I remember this album not being very well liked at the time of release (people liked the poppy-world of Different Class, and pop this was not); however, I loved the seedy, dirty undertones of this whole album & no track more so than this opening.

MP3: The Fear - Pulp

Right, number 6 on my list is:

6) Don't Panic - Coldplay (Parachutes, 2000). The summer of 2000 sticks in my mind as particularly great, and Parachutes reminds me of that. I think you were 'allowed' to like Coldplay back then (I still do!) and this was a great track to start one of my favourite albums.

MP3: Don't Panic - Coldplay

Q Shoes' Five

So are you going to put them on your blog? That could be a problem cos mine aren't exactly what you'd call contemporary, just songs i like. And they're not exactly insightful reviews either. Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick. Anyway.... here's my first effort.

Title: One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces
Album: Whatever And Ever Amen
Artiste: Ben Folds Five
Reason: Dwarves are a greatly under-represented minority within popular music culture.

MP3: One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solem Faces - Ben Folds Five

Title: La Femme D'Argent
Album: Moon Safari
Artiste: Air
Reason: It sets up the album beautifully and lets you know exactly what you're going to get from just 25 seconds in.

MP3: La Femme D'Argent - Air

Title: Once
Album: Ten
Artiste: Pearl Jam
Reason: Guitars, drums, snarling... and that's before the intro's finished.

MP3: Once - Pearl Jam

Title: Is There A Ghost
Album: Cease To Begin
Artiste: Band Of Horses
Reason: It's lovely.

MP3: Is There A Ghost - Cease To Begin

Title: Back To The World
Album: Back To The World
Artiste: Curtis Mayfield
Reason: If you have to ask, I'm not telling you! It's soulful genius.

MP3: Back To The World - Curtis Mayfield

Jal 's Five

Take A Bow – Muse – Black Holes & Revelations

Album openers not only set the scene for the whole album but often they are like an intro in to the next song. Some bands take to even having an “Intro” song, often only 20-30 seconds long. Muse open Black Holes and Revelations with this epic track, telling us we will “burn in hell for our sins” as they provide us with another apocalyptic musing album. The track is such an epic track that you feel like you should applaud before it kicks in to Starlight.

MP3: Take A Bow - Muse

Start Again – Electric Soft Parade – Holes In The Wall

The first track on an album is so important never more so when it’s the first album you’ve bought from that artist. It doesn’t take our fickle nature to decide whether we will like the song, album and even the band. This is why bands often pack the start of their album with singles, so for a band to put only an album track at the start of their debut album is now seen as brave. Electric Soft Parade did just that and got me hooked straight away.

MP3: Start Again - Electric Soft Parade

In It For The Money – Supergrass – In It For The Money

Supergrass used the title track as the album opener on In It For The Money. It’s a great song that builds up and up until it abruptly stops and Richard III crashes in.

MP3: In It For The Money - Supergrass

The State of Things – Reverend and the Makers – The State of Things

Reverend and the Makers are sometimes compared to the Arctic Monkeys as they are friends with the band (Alex Turner co-wrote and performs on track The Machine and the brother of Jon McClure, c0-writer and lead singer of the band, is the guy on the front cover of the Arctic Monkeys first album. While the music of the two bands is quite different the ability to story tell is there for all to see. In the opener John McClure tells us about the State of Things and proceeds to fill us in for the next eleven tracks.

MP3: The State of Things - Reverend and the Makers

At The Bottom Of Everything - Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

The track starts with Bright Eyes lead man Conor Orberst describing a conversation between two strangers on an aeroplane as there is a mechanical failure. The man then hums this tune to the lady, ending with the great line "I'm happy just because, I found out I am really no one".

MP3: At The Bottom Of Everything - Bright Eyes


Schönberg said...

Right, I'm going to download some of these and get listening, but before I do I'd just like to contest one of Q Shoe's selections. Is there a Ghost was released as the first single from the Band of Horses second album. Not that I'm a pedant, it's just that if it wasn't then I may have well chosen it myself!!

Q Shoes said...

Oh B*lls. Sorry. I tried to check out BoH's singles but couldn't find much info., even on their website. Should have checked wikipedia because that shows you are quite correct.

The Boy Carson said...

Very interesting to see how close we all were to putting the same things; I could quite easily have picked 5 from Q Shoes & JAL's selections. Ben Folds/ Air/ Muse/ ESP/ Supergrass were all in my top 20!

Jal said...

I think the Senser track is the one I've not heard before that I'm enjoying the most at the moment. It makes a good playlist although it's weird hearing some of them out of context i.e. not being album openers when they're 12 in to a playlist...