Music History

Weekly Survey: What’s the best album opener of all time?

Before an album comes out, there is much agonizing over what order the songs should be placed. Of utmost importance is track one. How should the experience of listening to this album begin? Whatever is chosen has to grab the listener right away and make a STATEMENT that will reverberate for the rest of the record.

Some great examples:

  • Nirvana, Nevermind: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  • U2, “Where the Streets Have No Name”
  • The Clash, London Calling: “London Calling”
  • Led Zeppelin IV: “Black Dog”
  • Oasis, Definitely Maybe: “Rock’n’Roll Star”
  • Guns ‘N Roses, Appetite for Destruction: “Welcome to the Jungle”

What’s your pick for the best-ever side one/track one? Let me know and we’ll fight about it on my 102.1 the Edge show at 6 pm tomorrow.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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20 thoughts on “Weekly Survey: What’s the best album opener of all time?

  • War Pigs by Black Sabbath from the Paranoid album

  • Hells Bells

  • Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy from Purple Rain…

  • “Busy bein’ born” by Middle Class Rut – off of “No Name No Colour”

  • Arc Arsenal- At The Drive-In (Relationship of Command)
    This Is a Call- Foo Fighters (Foo Fighters)
    Brianstorm- Arctic Monkeys (Favorite Worst Nightmare)
    Know Your Rights- The Clash (Combat Rock)
    Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)- Arcade Fire (Funeral)
    Everything in Its Right Place- Radiohead (Kid A)
    Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’- Michael Jackson (Thriller)
    Seven Nation Army- White Stripes (Elephant)

  • U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” has to be it for me. It has been such a long lasting song, it slowly builds to that amazing song. That song has some strong staying power too. It gets my vote.

  • The greatest album openers of all time are indisputably Elton John – Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and Rush – 2112.

    Here are some honorable mentions:

    The Beatles – Sgt Pepper/With A Little Help From My Friends
    Metallica – Battery
    NWA – Straight Outta Compton
    Pink Floyd – Speak To Me/Breathe
    Supertramp – School
    The Who – Baba O’Riley

  • Breaking Into Heaven – The Stone Roses

    • Great deeper cut

  • I forgot Yes – Roundabout.

  • The Birdman- Our Lady Peace

  • Blind – Korn

  • I think London Calling is my pick but honourable mentions to Green Day/American Idiot, Elvis Costello/Welcome to the Working Week and The Ramones/Blitzkrieg Bop

  • My personal favourite is Someone’s Looking at You from Fine Art of Surfacing. As soon as I heard it I knew Surfacing was going to be an amazing album and there was a lot more to the Boomtown Rats than I Don’t Like Mondays. For a blow your socks off opening track I would choose Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses. And one cannot forget the best band ever, the Beatles – Back in the USSR from The Beatles (the White Alburm).

  • So many to choose from! Here’s my picks. The winner for all-time classic is probably Bowie or Hendrix, but Rage and Iggy are up there for me, too. Looking forward to the discussion!

    Space Oddity from Space Oddity by David Bowie
    Purple Haze from Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    The Dock of the Bay from The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
    What’s Going On from What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
    Lust For Life from Lust For Life by Iggy Pop
    Mirror in the Bathroom from I Just Can’t Stop It by The Beat
    A Little Respect from The Innocents by Erasure
    Suicide Blonde from X by INXS
    Bellbottoms from Orange by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
    Are You Gonna Go My Way from Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz
    Straight Outta Compton from Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.
    Head Like A Hole from Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails
    I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) from Sunshine On Leith by The Proclaimers
    What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? from Monster by R.E.M.
    Bombtrack from Rage Against The Machine by Rage Against The Machine
    The Good In Everyone from One Chord To Another by Sloan
    Dead and Bloated from Core by Stone Temple Pilots
    Shout from Songs from the Big Chair by Tears For Fears
    Grace, Too from Day For Night by The Tragically Hip
    Courage from Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip
    Bittersweet Symphony from Urban Hymns by The Verve
    Loser from Mellow Gold by Beck
    Lonely Boy from El Camino by The Black Keys
    Round Here from August And Everything After by Counting Crows
    In Between Days from The Head On The Door by The Cure

  • “The Age of Pamparius”, from Turbonegro’s 1998 release Apocalypse Dudes.

  • “Bitter Sweet Symphony” Urban Hymns

  • Stinkfist – Tool

  • Strength Through Wounding off of Black Sails in the Sunset by AFI


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