The top 5 Opening Tracks to Debut Albums
So, it seems like beginnings would be an apposite topic to start with, and few beginnings have such an immediate impact as the Opening Track to a Debut Album (“OTDA”). It has always been an object of fascination to me how bands view the opening track of their debut album; this is after all the first thing that they will ever commit to tape and to posterity, and not only creates the first impression people have of a band but also sets the tone for the whole album, their first (and potentially only) stab at greatness.
There are a number of types of OTDAs, and they will vary between genres. A lot of Rap and/or Hip Hop albums start with skits, which is pretty much going to count them out of the running, irrespective of comedy guest appearances from the likes of McNulty from The Wire (who continues his journey from Eton to Detroit via West Baltimore).
Some are simply brilliant tracks (the likes of I Wanna be Adored by the Stone Roses comes to mind, which shares with Round Here by Counting Crows the courageous distinction of opening a debut album with a sustained period of silence and/or indistinct mechanical noises).
Others, such as Rock and Roll Star from Definitely Maybe by Oasis, are, as well as being great tunes in their own right, perfect distillations of the sound or tone of the rest of the album, doing at the beginning of a debut what A Certain Romance does at the end of the Artic Monkeys’ first outing. Rock and Roll Star is such a swaggering, aggressive, and ultimately, cool introduction to what Oasis are about that it arguably remains the best showcase for Liam Gallagher’s talents.
But you get the impression that Oasis simply hit the ground running and carried on in that vein, whereas some ODTAs set out to be spectacular curtain raisers. It may be a function of the sheer variety of the album, but Turn the Page, from the Streets’ debut album, doesn’t really feel that indicative of the rest of his work, although it is undeniably a massive tune. It’s as if, both lyrically and musically, he’s set out the make the most self-consciously epic track possible, and while some may feel it over-eggs the pudding slightly, those who share my musical sweet tooth (to blend the culinary metaphor slightly) won’t complain.
Which I suppose goes to show that there is more than one way to skin your first cat, but there is, I think, something special about having your first recorded work stand the test of time so well. Here’s hoping…