Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Great Opening Tracks

The opening track of any given album is arguably the most important song on the work, since it usually sets the tone and sensibility for the proceedings to follow.

While most chart-friendly albums would be front-loaded with the most obvious single (so as to provide an instantaneous hook for the listener), weightier records tend to open with a more considered song that prepares the palate for a fuller course. Here are some notable opening tracks that successfully introduces the rest of the album:

COME TALK TO ME (Peter Gabriel: Us, 1992)
Skirling bagpipes, textured synths, resonant percussion, Armenian wind instruments and a traditional Russian folk choir comprise the temperament of this paean to communication breakdowns, a fantastic beginning to Gabriel's most confessional work.

AURA (The Church: Priest = Aura, 1992)
A cinematic epic worthy of inclusion on a peak-era Spielberg flick, this bizarre tale of a stranger in a strange land is The Church's awesome psych-rock take on mid-1970s Floydian prog-rock. Ominous string orchestrations merge with intuitive guitar work to make up a superb opener to the band's msot rounded effort.

PLAINSONG (The Cure: Disintegration, 1989)
As Goth as The Cure can ever get, this doomy burst of tinkling chimes, funereal synths, cavernous drums and slow-motion guitar filigrees signal the inevitable slide into hopelessness as personified by the band's aruable magnum opus.

KARE KARE (Crowded House: Together Alone, 1993)
Basically a narrative description of the windswept, bucolic surroundings in which Crowded House's final studio project was recorded, this acoustic and slide guitar-led tune introduces a veneer of pathos to Neil Finn's archetypal melodic songwriting.

ON THE WESTERN SKYLINE (Bruce Hornsby: The Way It Is, 1986)
Filled with a palpable sense of expectant optimism, yet tempered with a knowing sobriety, this mid-tempo number features some of the brightest-sounding guitar and synth textures ever laid down on a heartland-rock record.

REGRET (New Order: Republic, 1993)
A poignant yet heartening opener to the most contentious album by the Mancunian veterans, this perfectly poised, superbly toned guitar-rocker would be the last great New Order song in about a decade.


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