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Ten Great Album Opening Tracks

A mighty little thing it can be. You've gone and disposed fifteen or so quid on the over-priced commodity that is a CD these days. You take it home and hope that disappointment doesn't suggest itself when your ears wrap themselves around the album's opening track for that first time. And then - once in a while - that first song is a certified 44 carat gem (with a little blemish on its underside to add a bit of intrigue). Here's a selection of ten such jeweled opening moments from ten well encrusted albums, as nominated by various visitors to CLUAS.

Stone Roses - 'I wanna be adored'

Massive Attack - 'Angel'

Stone Roses 'Stone Roses'What does it click in at? about 55 seconds of shuffling and waiting until the album becomes audible? Well, that was the way it used to be on my stereo. 'I wanna be adored' opens with some kind of industrial factory noise, giving it the full grimy Manchester sound from the beginning. And then that killer bass line surfs over the top of the whole thing. As an opening gambit from a debut album, the song tells you everything you need to know about The Stone Roses in about one minute. 'I don't have to sell my soul, he's already in me.' Great album, great track. (submitted by Jack Murphy) Every now and again a song or album comes along that deserves your unadulterated and  undivided attention. Such an album was 'Mezzanine' by Massive Attack. And its opening track 'Angel' is a classic. So sit back in a dark room, turn up the bass and volume on your stereo and reap the rewards. You'll be surrounded, and there'll be no escape. 'Angel' burrows under tightly your skin and then gently explodes your brain and leaves you feeling anything but angelic. (submitted by Mick Curtis).

Deep Purple - 'Highway Star'

The Minutemen - 'Search'

'Highway Star' is the opening track from 'Machine Head,' Deep Purple's second successive No. 1 album, released in 1972. Purple's consistently high levels of musicianship come together successfully in this powerhouse opening track which should be played extremely loud when driving very fast in a car on a road which (for the good of others) has little traffic on it. Highlights include the high-energy vocals of Ian Gillan, and the (common to a lot of Purple songs) masterly classical influenced solos of organ and guitar by Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore respectively. (submitted by Willie Jenkins) The Minute Men 'The Punch line''The Punch Line' may be a little known album by a very non-mainstream band, but to the disaffected youth of America in the early eighties, this underground battle cry would go on to influence such artists as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and gain the respect of peers Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets and Husker Du. The opening track, 'Search', may only be 50 seconds long, but the infectious quality of this funk / jazz / beat-poetry / punk hybrid will leave you humming it for days, let alone hours, afterwards. 'Search' is the perfect example of quality over quantity. You can't say that about too many songs these days. (submitted by MacDara Conroy)

Whipping Boy - 'Twinkle'

Tim Buckley - 'I can't see you'

Whipping Boy 'Heartworm'Opener on the 'Heartworm' album.  The riff is unsettling. Edgy and empty sounding like something dreadful is about to happen and then - boom - "She's the only one for me / now and always" shouts Fergal Mckee like a lunatic into the darkness. The song crunches to a self destructive end. The perfect opener for an album full of decay and decadence. (submitted by Kevin Fitton) Not only does this track fabulously open the album with moving lyrics, angelic vocals and dizzy melodies, it also was the beginning of his whole short-lived career as it is the opening track on his eponymously titled debut album. Not bad for a 19 year old! (submitted by LazyLinePainterJane)

Aimee Mann - 'Longshot'

Dire Straits - 'Tunnel of Love'

"You f**ked it up" is a pretty frank accusation to start your debut album with. Aimee Mann then proceeds to then build it up into an even better argument - "you should have quit / 'til circumstances had changed a bit." The music too backs her up, a growling riff shouting down the accused, until a guitar solo at which point the case is reconsidered. "Or was it you? 'Cause when you said it / I said it too." By the end of the song, the argument is over, "please love me more". Although our songstress has a few more bones to pick just yet (cue track 2: "row, row your boat, gently down the stream / hope you drown and never come back..."). And then some. *** opening track to her 1995 album 'I'm with Stupid' *** (submitted by Ian Stalvies) The calliope that opens the 'Making Movies' album signals unique and spectacular things to come. In particular, Mark Knopfler's outstanding guitar work, which ranks among the most accomplished and individual licks in the history of rock and roll. Of course, things get only better and better on this album, with 'Tunnel of Love' followed by 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Skateaway'. Always a great album to put on loud when you're feeling blue. (submitted by Tim Ford)

The Waterboys - 'Don't Bang the drum'

Bob Dylan - 'The Hurricane'

The Waterboys 'This is the Sea'From the soaring trumpet line that opens 'Don't Bang The Drum' on 'This Is The Sea' to the crash of symbols that hits you with such force, this has to be very heaven for those searching for the ideal album opening track. I always know it's going to burst out all over the place like that but still, every time I put it on, I just get all tingly waiting for it to happen. Having listened to the entire album, you can see why this song leads it off. "Here we are in a special place / what are you gonna do here?". It's an invitation by this motley crue who only have a love of music in common. And it shows. They were on to something great in the songs - and their arrangement - in this album. And they know it. A fabulous place. A fabulous bunch of songs. I love to leap around. Like the duracell bunny really. It winds me up and I can beat that damn drum for hours. As Mike Scott would say - "Whoo!" (submitted by Brano) Bob Dylan 'Desire'One of the 1st albums I ever bought was Dylan's 'Desire'. It covered many different aspects of the great poet's song-writing however its opening track 'The Hurricane' gave the album its place in musical history. Dylan, always a sucker for a cause visited Ruben 'Hurricane' Carter - a contender for the world heavyweight title - in jail and learned of how he was apparently wrongfully framed for armed robbery & murder. So Dylan, convinced of Carter's innocence, penned the classic. There are rumours that Carter has since confessed to the crime whilst in prison but that hasn't stopped Hollywood making a movie out of it. Denzel Washington is reckoned to win an Oscar this year... It's a funny old world but a great song regardless of the validity of the lyrics. Who knows what song he would have written about Mike Tyson... (submitted by Willie Clynes)

 

Also make sure you check out the other ten lists:
(bullet) ten great film soundtracks
(bullet) ten great debut albums
(bullet) ten great one-hit wonders
(bullet) ten great hidden album tracks
(bullet) ten great b-sides
(bullet) ten great rock & pop instrumentals
(bullet) ten great naff songs of the eighties
(bullet) ten great cover versions
(bullet) ten great Irish singles that time forgot

 

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