Live Ledge #223: Track One

The most important track on an album is undoubtedly the very first one. The first song sets the tone for the rest of the album, and almost every classic record opens with one of the most meaningful tracks. Think about how “Subterranean Homesick Blues” introduced Dylan’s new electric sound to the world, or how the title track of Sgt. Pepper brought to fruition the idea of a concept album. The Stones routinely placed a classic cut in this spot, including “Sympathy For the Devil”, “Gimme Shelter”, and “Rocks Off”. The Replacements had a long line of incendiary intros such as “I.O.U.” and “Hold My Life”, and no song like “Hootenanny” better indicated that a record was going to be like no other. “Black Dog”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Vicious”, “Search and Destroy” - the list of classic track ones goes on and on. Hell, even “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees” works as this kind of memorable opening statement. Generally, these songs were not even the singles off the album, although it wasn’t unusual. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Radio Free Europe”, and “London Calling” worked as both hit singles and opening tracks. In this era of declining sales, single-track downloads, and the disappearance of the album as a piece of art, the opening track is almost always the so-called “big hit”. This is a sad development, and hopefully the return of vinyl brings back the concept of a grand opening statement. Tonight’s show isn’t a collection of the “greatest” opening songs of all time. It’s just a bunch of these types of songs, and if every great album has such a song there was clearly too many to squeeze into one show. Next week will see another two hours of “track ones”, and I’d like to see what other people believe are great tunes of this type. Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page, or tweet some suggestions to @paulisded or @theledgepodcast.

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1. The Jesus & Mary Chain, I Hate Rock 'N' Roll
2. Wilco, I Must Be High
3. The Jayhawks, Waiting For The Sun
4. Golden Smog, V
5. Lucinda Williams, Right In Time
6. The Connells, Scotty's Lament
7. Dashboard Saviors, Cabaret College
8. Beat Rodeo, Twin Home Towns
9. Buffalo Tom, Sodajerk
10. The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God
11. Camper Van Beethoven, Good Guys & Bad Guys
12. Bash & Pop, Never Aim To Please
13. The Cavedogs, Tayter Country
14. The Plimsouls, Shaky City
15. The Church, Myrrh
16. The House Of Love, Christine
17. The Close Lobsters, Just Too Bloody Stupid
18, Pixies, Debaser
19. Rolling Stones, Rocks Off
20. Liz Phair, 6'1"
21. Cheap Trick, Hello There
22. Material Issue, Valerie Loves Me
23. The Heartbreakers, Born to Lose
24. Archers Of Loaf, Web In Front
25. Fugazi, Waiting Room
26. Sonic Youth, Teen Age Riot
27. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Accidents Will Happen
28. The Saints, (I'm) Stranded
29. Stiff Little Fingers, Suspect Device
30. Public Image Ltd., Public Image
31. Chris Spedding, Wild In The Streets
32. The Kinks, Victoria


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