Friday, June 30, 2006

Favorite Album Openers

I saw this over on Imagine Echoes and Jeff saw it over on Welcome to the Pond and thought it was such a jolly good topic I wanted to toss it out there for my loyal readers as kind of an homage to CDs (which are on their way out thanks to the age of digital music and mp3s) and the late age of vinyl records.

Here are my top 10 album openers:

10) Astronomy Domine by Pink Floyd from Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1969)

What an introduction to Pink Floyd. Much of Syd Barrett's material was a bit "out there" but a few of his offerings to Pink Floyd's early musical canon show some level musical brilliance-- Astronomy Domine is probably his best and most interesting musical offering to his brief tenure with Floyd.

9) Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas from Leftoverture (1976)

What an excellent track to open an album with! Sadly, the rest of the album didn't stand up as well as its opener.

8) It's a Long Way There by Little River Band from their self-titled debut (1975)

This is easily one of THE best tracks Little River Band ever recorded it was an excellent introduction to an oft-underrated band. The rest of their debut was a bit uneven with some other strong tracks but also a handful of what could be considered filler tracks-- but this song certainly tugged the listener's ear.

7) A Fortune in Lies by Dream Theater from When Dream and Day Unite (1989)

Their debut often gets overlooked in favor of their 1992 follow-up, Images & Words, and the vocals of Charlie Domenici are often panned or viewed as sub-par when compared to their operatically trained and current Canuck lead vocalist, James LaBrie-- but this track shows Domenici at his vocal best and I think much more than a lot of their more recent material this song shows Dream Theater's chemistry as a band. Their respective solos complement each other as opposed to merely playing off each other. Which brings me to...

6) Pull Me Under by Dream Theater from Images and Words (1992)

This was the song that got people to start to take notice of Dream Theater and really introduced their (at the time) new lead singer, James LaBrie-- and what an introduction it is!

5) 1982-A by The Sons of Champlin from Loosen Up Naturally (1969)

A great debut from one of the most underrated bands EVER. The band was not very good with titles so when they were in the studio recording and the sound engineer called out "1982-A" before recording they figured that was as good a name as any. While the title is not exactly good, the song is a lot of fun and makes to a great introduction to this obscure psychadelic meets blue-eyed soul SF Bay area horn band.

4) Mississippi Delta City Blues by Chicago from XI (1978)

While this song had been appearing in Chicago's live sets as far back as 1972 and had even been recorded for Chicago V (1972) it didn't make the cut (although the original arranagement did show up on Rhino's recent re-release of V), it didn't show up on any of their albums until 1978. And just in a nick of time! This Terry Kath tune truly shows him at his best-- sadly Terry accidentally killed himself on January 23, 1978 just a few days shy of his 32nd birthday. At the time of his untimely demise, Terry was rather unhappy and this song perfectly captures that melancholy-- "I've got a smile that I put on, when my insides are cryin' and my heart's torn in half."

3) Watcher of the Skies by Genesis from Foxtrot (1972)

Once upon a time, before he was known for his vocals, Phil Collins was a pretty damn good drummer. His slowly building morse code-esque beat tapping out the intro to Watcher of the Skies shows Phil at his best. While some of the other albums from the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis were superior to Foxtrot none of those albums opened with quite a bang as this one!

2) Introduction by Chicago from Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

Before they were known for their saccharine ballads, before a threatened injunction forced them to shorten their band's name-- when they opened for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and were the house band at the Whiskey this great rock and roll band with horns burst onto the scene with a double LP debut album. The album's opener showing some pretty intense chemistry and some great solos by trumpeter Lee Loughnane and guitarist Terry Kath. While their second and third albums showed more classical influences, their debut was pure balls-on rock and roll with a killer wall of brass to set them apart from many of their contemporaries.

1) Baba O'Riley by The Who from The Who's Next (1971)

The granddaddy of anthemic rock! Pete Townshend's guitar, Daltrey's impassioned vocals and of course Entwhistle and Moon's killer rhythm make this one of the best songs The Who ever recorded and it opens one of their best albums ever with a bang!

What are yours?


Jeff said...

Great choices with Astronomy Domine and Pull me Under!

Metal Mark said...

I agree with you on 9,6 and 1 for sure. Here are a few I like.
-Rocks off by the Stones off of Exile on Main Street
-Freewheel burning by Judas Priest off of Defenders of the faith
-Black Sabbath off of Sabbath's debut
-Speed King off of Deep Purple's In Rock
-Tarot Women off of Rainbow's Rising
-I don't know of of Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz
-Whole lotta love off of Zeppelin 2

Bar said...

Most of mine are the same as Jeff's but I see he doesn't have his listed here! Here are the ones that were different than his:
Oh, I love this too! I think I would keep several of your list: 1, 3,4, 5, 7 and 9 and add:

Sunshine of Your Love, Cream (Greatest Hits)

ThunderRoad, Springteen (Born to Run)

Black Dog, Zeppelin (IV)


Purple Haze, Jimi (Are You Experienced)

Baba O'Reilly - MAN! That just zooms me right back to the time and the place when it first came out! The nice thing about being OLD is that I remember all these songs from when they were NEW :)

Bruce said...

Aqualung and Cross-Eyed Mary- Jethro Tull's Aqualung

:P fuzzbox said...

A new one that pops into my head because it is awesome is on Shinedowns new one. The dream is a perfect opening.

Bruce said...

Fuzz, Shinedown is one of the few new bands that I absolutely love. Not only is their music great, but Brent Smith's voice ranks right up there with the best.