Getintothis ponders ten killer tracks that kick off fringe records in style.
Opening tracks of a record come in many a form. They set the tone, command attention, lure the listener in and often serve as an introduction to a band you’ve not yet heard. One thing they should never be is rubbish. If they’re dull or disposable, especially in today’s climate, it’s highly likely the listener will ditch the record and move on.
That’s why there’s been so many legendary opening tracks down the years. The list is endless: Gimme Shelter, London Calling, Smells Like Teen Spirit, I Wanna Be Adored, Tax Man, Bring the Noise, Baba O’Riley…
Here’s a few of my personal favourites, picked for your consumption, I hope you’ll offer some in return.
1. Salaryman: Rather (from Salaryman)
Music shouldn’t really be this scary. Taken from their self-titled debut this Illinois wierdo sect make music that sounds like electronic shadows colliding with demonic intermissions popping up sporadically to further unsettle your ears.
Rather sounds like the noises emitted from an electric chair post use. All thudding downbeats, hissy drones, electronic waves and the distant moan of a ghost. Not one for Christmas Day then.
2. Wishbone Ash: Time Was (Argus)
Wishbone Ash are hilarious early 70s medieval progrockers who’ve basically invented Circulus and all those other lot that like to dress up like it’s still the Robin Hood years. Their ’72 classic Argus features some armoured-up soldier looking over the sacred world preparing for invasion – and Time Was is the military call. Beginning like a Byrds-ian folkout it explodes into the funkiest alt-country psychedelic twin guitar rock thunder like Slash having guitar sex with Pete Townsend while Country Joe and the Fish bosh some Byzantine rhythms.
3. Kinski: Hot Stenographer (Alpine Static)
I saw an amusing cult Spaghetti Western called the Great Silence, directed by Sergio Corbucci, in the wee hours of Sunday night which reminded me of this record. Not just for the fact that the boggle-eyed bad guy was Klaus Kinski, but for the fact it was entirely shot amidst the alpine Veneto region of northern Italy which is engulfed throughout in thick bizzardy snow. This outstanding record, by the second best band ever from Seattle, is coloured by icy post-rock and breezeblocks of thundering riffs.
Hot Stenographer is of the latter variety and is the sound of your head getting pummeled by a prehistoric wooly mammoth. It concludes with the same hammer riff played about 97 times until your ears are bleeding. Essential.
4. Can: Future Days (Future Days)
Taken from my favourite Can LP, this cut is my favourite track, by one of my favourite bands. Future Days is the blueprint for mystical wipjap-wonga; a futuristic slice of funky post-rock that appears utterly effortless compressed into nine minutes of delicious space.
The most significant thing about this track is very little appears to be going down, but Holger Czukay‘s basslines and Jaki Liebezeit‘s drums map out a delightful meandering groove while Damo Suzuki rises from the mist to deliver ghostly whispers.
Over a 15 years later Gary Mounfield and Alan John Wren were ripping off every portion of this rhythmic beauty.
5. Brian Jonestown Massacre: Super-Sonic (Give It Back!)
In many respects Anton Newcombe and his band of assorted misfits will carry the iron lung of already classic music documentary Dig! around their necks forever. It’s a shame really, for while it captures the insanity of the BJM in full effect it doesn’t really paint the full glorious picture of their music.
For all their chaos, when Newcombe and the BJM get it right, they do so in abundance. This power-chord spectacular features satanic sitars, chugging mellotrons and more psychedelia than a Strawberry Field. One listen later and I guarantee you’ll be air riffing and joining in with Miranda Richards‘ ‘I dedictate, this chord, to you…’
6. Do Make Say Think: When Day Chokes The Night (Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead)
Sounding like it was conceived in a serial killer’s tool shed; the guitar is plucked like a mechanical weapon while cogs and fan belts crackle. DMST specialise in loose jazz orientated arrangements which appear close to disintegration before jerking into life, in this case at 3.34minutes the drums clock in, and an almighty clatter rings out as Dave Mitchell smashes bin lids and whopping 70s cop-show horns kick in, like Miles Davis on ketamine.
7. Beta Band: Dry The Rain (The 3 EPs)
Bit of an old favourite this. Couldn’t really resist. Everyone should own the 3EPs, it’s a must-have where every track is a winner, and this is perhaps the best on offer. A huge lolloping acoustic strum along that sees Steve Mason in full mumbly effect before mariachi horns transport us to the Bandito Wild West where robbing trains and befriending the James gang seem a good idea. Altogether now: ‘If there’s something inside that you wanna say… Say it out loud it’ll be okay!‘
8. Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (Maggot Brain)
Perhaps the best guitar solo in history accompanies this 12 minute piece of aural psychosis. ‘Nuff said.
9. Adem: Statued (Homesongs)
Watching Adem live is a special experience, it all seems on the verge of ruin. His stage apparatus seems purpose built to go wrong and fall to bits; he’s like a junk shop wizard making noise from washing machines and cutlery.
I saw him support Explosions in the Sky in Manchester and it took them longer to co-ordinate his stage equipment than it did for him to slope on and play his set. Frustratingly, such is gentle brand of DIY-folk, it only needs a few ignorant chatters in the crowd to drown his fragile little instrumentation out. Statued is a beautiful acoustic love song with what appears to be an elastic band pronging against a bongo with Adem‘s broken melody resting atop.
10. Canyon: Sleepwalker (from Empty Rooms)
This is included purely because I don’t know anyone that’s into this record, or indeed band, which is a complete tragedy. Essentially they’re part Pearl Jam, part Dead Meadow, part My Morning Jacket: all big riffs, soaring melodies and cavernous washes of noise, but with an expert amount of restraint. This song captures both extremes, beginning in a gentle twinkle of guitars before a cloudbursting slide guitar rips open the sky. It’s a whopper.
So there’s ten fine beginnings – now your turn…