Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guardian Readers recommend: opening album tracks

Herbie Hancock in 1986
Losing track ... Herbie Hancock struggles to hear the beginning of his latest LP. Photograph: Rex Features

Music is increasingly sold digitally, one track at a time. Which means that albums are, sadly, becoming an anachronistic form. But before the dear old LP rides off into the sunset, let's consider a strategic moment of every album: the opening track.

From the listener's point of view, "side one, track one" is one of the most important moments. Does it draw you in? Does it make you want to continue listening?

Most albums are carefully plotted, the order of the tracks crucial to taking the listener on a journey. Sometimes an artist (or the record company, which usually has a say in these matters) might want to show their hand, hitting the listener between the eyes straight away with their best track. Or they may just want to whet our appetite, giving a mere hint at pleasures to come.

True, some albums are carelessly slung together. But even then, the running order of the tracks can work fine. Whatever the reason, tell us about your favourite opening album tracks.

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