One of the secrets to ensuring this little corner of t’internet maintains a sense of relevance is to go with public opinion. There was an incredible reaction to the pair of postings from jimdoes in respect of ICAs consisting purely of opening album tracks, the likes of which hasn’t been seen round these parts for many a long time.
Everyone was offering up thoughts, views and opinions, with all sorts of alternative suggestions put forward in the comments section. So, I’m taking advantage of the energy that was on show and have decided that, until such a time as the contributions dry up, Mondays will now be used for ICAs of opening tracks.
jimdoes was disciplined in coming up with two lists – one for tracks that were singles and one for tracks that were album cuts only. If anyone wants to follow those chains of thoughts they are very welcome, but I’m going to kick things off with a ten-track ICA that is a mixture. There’s just the three singles across the ten cuts, all of which can be found on one side.
What follows is not a list of the greatest opening tracks of all time. Indeed, they might not even the greatest opening track ever offered up by a particular singer or band. But, and crucially for me, I think the ten songs, when taken as a whole and in the running order I’ve come up with, would make for a fabulous album across two sides of vinyl.
LET THEM ALL TALK: AN ICA OF OPENING TRACKS by JC
1. Let Them All Talk – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Punch The Clock, 1983)
All great albums open with great songs, that much is a given. But, to me, all the very greatest of albums don’t open with the greatest of songs that will be found on a particular cut as there has to be something later on to provide that particular ‘wow’ moment. Which is why I’ve decided to open up with something that is perhaps a little less than obvious – it’s not one of Elvis Costello‘s most memorable songs and it’s from an album which, although is a splendid effort, is rarely (if ever) ranked as his best. But, aside from giving me an appropriate title for this particular ICA, I reckon it works really well in terms of pricking up the ears of any listener.
2. Age Of Consent – New Order (Power, Corruption & Lies, 1981)
It was back in 2008, in the 45 45s at 45 rundown, when I revealed that Temptation was my all-time favourite single. The thing is, it’s not my all-time favourite New Order song, an accolade which I will always bestow on this, the first track from the album that truly brought them out of the shadows of Joy Division.
3. Protection – Massive Attack (Protection, 1994)
Every now and again, even on the loudest and fastest of records, there comes a moment when things just need to be slowed down a little. This is achingly beautiful and sublime and a highlight in the career of Tracey Thorn.
4. The Cutter – Echo and The Bunnymen (Porcupine, 1983)
No apologies for returning to the early 80s for a third time on this particular side of vinyl. I just felt the opening few notes of The Cutter were the perfect complement to the final notes of Protection.
5. Good Bad Times – Hinds (The Prettiest Curse, 2020)
Here’s a simple but brilliantly subversive pop song that perfectly captures the mood and feel of one of my favourite albums of this past twelve months, a slab of vinyl that has brought a lot of sunshine on what have often been dark, depressing and lonely days. Kind of inspired by jimdoes pulling out the brilliance of Heartbeats on his second offering.
1. Will I Ever Be Inside Of You – Paul Quinn & The Independent Group (Will I Ever Be Inside Of You, 1994)
Back in the days when it was all vinyl, it was imperative when you had your first listen to a new album that the opening track on the flip side had to be something that really grabbed you in.
There were two reasons for this. First of all, if Side One had been memorable, then the momentum had to be maintained. The alternative reason was that, if you hadn’t really been grabbed by Side One, then this was the album’s chance to redeem itself – if track one, side two was also a disappointment, then there’s every chance the rest of the album won’t be given a fair chance.
It’s such a pity that Paul Quinn was able to provide lead vocals on only two albums and I make no apologies whatsoever for taking up more than nine minutes of your time with this epic. This provided the hardest moment in coming up with a running order for the ICA as I had to come up with something that wouldn’t immediately be a jolt to the system. One thing for sure, it isn’t quite the time for a new wave/post-punk classic……
2. When I’m Asleep – Butcher Boy (React or Die, 2009)
This is a very personal choice in that Butcher Boy often opened their shows with this, the first track from their sophomore album. I’ve mentioned before how blogging has opened up so many opportunities for me over the years, but probably none more so than being able to become good friends with the members of this band and there’s something very special and different when you’re in an audience and your mates are on stage. Every time I hear the notes on the accordion, followed by the strum of the mandolin, I get a real tingle down my spine. It’s magical.
3. The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit (The Midnight Organ Fight, 2008)
Another very personal choice. I was lucky enough to watch Frightened Rabbit grow and develop from the smallest of shows in and around Glasgow. The series of shows they played to launch The Midnight Organ Fight were amongst the best I’ve ever seen going all the way back to 1979 and my first ever gig. An album that I couldn’t bring myself to listen to for a long while after Scott Hutchison took his own life – it took until a gloriously sunny day and a need to get something from work out of my system that got me to sit on a park bench and press play. Once I got through the opening track without tears of sadness or anger, I was fine. Indie-folk at its very finest and most passionate.
4. Janie Jones – The Clash (The Clash, 1977)
Again, it’s about finding something that fits in perfectly to the running order. Something that gets across the idea that I’m in love with rock’n’roll (whoa). The opening track from the UK version of the debut album by The Clash does that nicely.
5. The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Is the Light of an Oncoming Train) – Half Man Half Biscuit (Cammell Laird Social Club, 2002)
Just a reminder that I should never take myself, or this blog, too seriously. Great tune and great lyrics. That’s all I ever ask for……that and something which makes me want to flip back over to side one.
You can judge for yourselves if things have worked out nicely……and as it’s Monday, these are hi-res rips.
Let Them All Talk: Side One (23:03)
Let Them All Talk: Side Two (20:18)
Huge thanks to jimdoes for the idea, and to everyone for the initial reactions. I’ve another four or five volumes that I could offer up, but I’d rather the TVV community got on board.