The other day in the NME office, I overheard one of my esteemed colleagues make the bold claim that U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ was the finest introduction to an album the world has ever witnessed. Some people agreed; some roundly mocked him. But his comments inspired me to compile a list of those songs that kickstart an album so brilliantly it gives you goosebumps. Let us know your own favourites below…
10 The Horrors – ‘Primary Colours’
Behold, the reinvention of The Horrors: from the cartoonish, art-school goths of yore into one of the slickest, finest bands to come from these shores in yonks. Opening track ‘Mirror’s Image’ was the start of that metamorphosis: blood-scraping synths, colour-drenched walls-of-sound and almighty rumbling, rolling bass before a crash of noise ushers in Faris’s half-yelped, half-crooned vocal. They’ve not looked back since.
9 Blondie – ‘Parallel Lines’
Many of the most memorable album intros are lengthy, long-winded affairs. ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, from Blondie’s colossal ‘Parallel Lines’, is the exact opposite – just two brief trills of a dialing tone, before Debbie Harry starts hollering “I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall”. She and Blondie get to the first chorus within 20 seconds – that’s how to start an LP with a shot of adrenaline.
8 Radiohead – ‘The Bends’
‘Planet Telex’: a lovely slow-burn opening to what remains Radiohead’s most listener-friendly record. The opening snatch of howling wind is immediately softened by a shimmering, reverb-heavy soundscape, making it the perfect introduction to the Jeff Buckley-indebted epic that followed.
7 Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born To Run’
Nobody does wistful tales of dashed dreams and down on their luck losers looking for their shot at the big time quite like The Boss, and everything about ‘Thunder Road’ – track one on ‘Born To Run’ – aches with defiance and hope, from the dying, wheezy strains of harmonica to the dusty piano. No matter what age you are, you’ll get a lump in your throat when Bruce sings: “So you’re scared and you’re thinking maybe we ain’t that young anymore”.
6 U2 – ‘The Joshua Tree’
“The ‘Joshua Tree’ has the greatest first minute of any album ever,’” trumpeted NME.COM ed Luke Lewis earlier today. And, regardless of what sonic war-crimes Bono and the boys have been responsible for since, it’s nigh-on impossible not to be seduced by ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ with its heavenly, choral-like synthesizer and The Edge’s twinkling
5 Guns N’ Roses, ‘Appetite For Destruction’
Wailing police sirens! Slash’s filthy, power-charged guitar! Axl’s dirty ‘n’ dangerous screeching! Listening to the opening salvo from ‘Appetite For Destruction’ is a surefire way to get the blood pumping furiously in your veins.
4 The Smiths – ‘The Queen Is Dead’
One of Morrissey and Marr’s finest compositions, from what many deem to be their defining album, ‘The Queen Is Dead’ starts with an old pub sing-a-long, but the jolly knees-up doesn’t last long: it’s quickly wiped out by some searing feedback and Mike Joyce’s frenzied drumming, paving the way for Morrissey to take centre stage with his arch missives.
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3 Nirvana – ‘Nevermind’
He may have later admitted to purloining the riff from Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’, but Kurt Cobain’s Midas touch ensured that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ became one of the catchiest, most memorable intros of all time – and was also the track that transformed him into an alternative music superstar and icon.
2 Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – ‘The First Born Is Dead’
Is there anything more righteously brilliant than Nick Cave making like a demented thunder god as the heavens open and, backed by the world’s most unholy, beastly bass riff, he merges WB Yeats’ apocalyptic poem ‘The Second Coming’ with the birth of Elvis Presley? No, there is not.
1 The Stone Roses – ‘The Stone Roses’
Just imagine how huge it’s going to be when the Roses bust this out in the summer. And for a group of Mancs who made no bones about the fact that they wanted our love and devotion, this was the ideal opening gambit with its moody, atmospheric opening, Mani’s brilliant bass work and John Squire’s gold-plated guitar line.