A great album is “great” chiefly because it’s full of consistently good songs, but also because it has a brilliant beginning, middle and end. But it takes a certain type of track to close a set of songs which have thematically fit into a particular suite. The full stop on an album can make or break that spell. With that in mind, here’s our list of the 10 greatest album closers.
10 LCD Soundsystem -‘New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’
James Murphy’s bruising love/hate ballad to the city that raised him was everything we wanted from the closing of ‘Sound Of Silver’. For an album which dived from punk funk to anthemic new wave in one skinny tie swish this was a melancholy and surprising note to end on.
9 The Strokes – ‘Take It Or Leave It’
‘Is This Is’ was a riot of punk-pop colour and the open, questioning chords of album closer ‘Take It Or Leave It’ suggested an exciting, open road of possibilities. The ravaged production and the teenage blues of the lyrics (“Girls lie too much and boys act too tough“) sums up this riotous, firecracker album.
8 Radiohead – ‘The Tourist’
After the prog sprawl of ‘Lucky’, ‘The Tourist’ felt light-headed and delicate. With its lolloping beat, slow glittering build and Yorke’s plea to “slow down” it was a perfectly simple way to put a bow around all the post modernity that had bolstered the rest of ‘OK Computer’.
7 Fleetwood Mac – ‘Gold Dust Woman’
If ‘Rumours’ was filled with bloody broken hearts and egos as chipped as old tea cups, ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was a doorway into the darker world of drugs that this fragile quintet came to inhabit. Stevie Nicks sang this song about cocaine addition like a sinister fairytale and its power stayed with you.
6 Kate Bush -‘The Morning Fog’
The richly dark ‘Hounds Of Love’ took in drowning, witches and murder. In this context ‘The Morning Fog’ was somewhat of a surprise. Keeping with the conceit of the conceptual second side, ‘The Morning Fog’ finds Bush surviving a near death experience and ready to re-evaluate her love of life. The light as air Fairlight effects add to the gentle sense of hope contained within.
5 Talking Heads -‘This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)’
‘Speaking In Tongues’ wasn’t perhaps Talking Heads best album (‘Remain In Light’ or ‘Fear Of Music’ might just take that crown) but ‘This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)’ is one the greatest examples of the band’s songwriting genius. Melding a beautifully realised synth melody with a lyric about “home“, this was a uncharacteristically warm way for the band to end their album.
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4 Kanye West – ‘Who Will Survive In America’
Kanye’s massive ego goes through all sorts of self analysis on ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ aka ‘the album after Taylor-gate’. Some of it was bruising, some of it whip smart and hilarious and some of ballsy and defiant. ‘Who Will Survive In America’ finishes things in a wordly, questioning way, throwing ideas of race, class and celebrity into the mix via a well placed Gil Scott Heron sample.
3 Nirvana – ‘Something In The Way’
Not counting hidden track/splurge ‘Endless, Nameless’, the official end of ‘Nevermind’ – ‘Something In The Way’ – is fragile to the point of breaking. Previously on the album, Cobain’s barbed poetry was hidden beneath a grungey swathe of guitars, but on this track the band showed a whole other side of their armory which they would later reveal more of.
2 The Beatles – ‘A Day In The Life’
For some this is the best closing track ever written. Like ‘The Tourist’, it is relatively sparse compared to what’s come before, but with enough of a twist in its tail to keep you glued to your stereo.
1 Prince & The Revolution – ‘Purple Rain’
Really The Ultimate. It’s the sound of a musician making his legend, in the process crossing over from the R’n’B hinterlands to the rock charts. It closed a perfect album with all the epic grandeur of a fabulous curtain call.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think is the best closing track ever?