The first time I ran into a hidden track on a CD was with an early edition of Nirvana’s Nevermind. I was in the car and after the last strains of “Something in the Way” faded out, I forgot about the disc in the player. About ten minutes later, I nearly had a heart attack when more music suddenly started blaring. It was “Endless, Nameless,” a hidden freak-out that appeared on certain editions of Nevermind.
From then on, I became besotted with the idea of unlisted songs lurking somewhere on a CD. A lot of artists jumped on this bandwagon, eventually resulting in this Wikipedia entry on hidden tracks and where to find them.
Here’s a look back on those secret tracks from Udiscovermusic.com
Just as audiences now linger in cinemas waiting for a surprise outtake after the credits roll, in the 90s music fans would let their CDs play to completion, vigilantly scanning for hidden tracks or interludes to reward their patience.
No matter the medium, artists have always found a way to rebel against the confines of commercial music packaging. The trend famously started with The Beatles. A brief acoustic piece by Paul McCartney didn’t fit on Abbey Road and he ordered engineer Geoff Emerick to cut it. But Emerick had other ideas and he tacked it onto the end of the album after a few seconds of silence. The first “hidden track” was born.
The trend would continue throughout the decades, from The Clash’s ‘Train in Vain’, from their 1979 album, London Calling, to Pink Floyd and Slayer using audio reversal or “backmasking” to play secret messages. But it was really in the 90s when the trend took off, thanks to the technological loopholes that CDs created. Some bands used hidden tracks to include songs that didn’t quite fit on an album, while others used them to toy with listeners and their labels alike.
Regardless of their motivation, here are a few notable examples of hidden tracks that are worth breaking out your Discman for.