Last week’s first five suggestions for a top ten list of musical introductions ended with a plea for help in picking out the balance. And Long-Suffering Readers Of The Blog Prof Paul and Atletico Marcelo didn’t disappoint in the comments.
[How to round out a Top Ten List: read on.]
Paul picked out The Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice, which arguably makes a list of Top One Introductions. Brian Wilson probably knocks Phil Spector off the Master of Intros throne, because he’s also responsible for California Girls, nominated by Bob McGinty on the Facey Book.
Amber, Jessica, and Aidan came up with some strong nominations with the chugging boogie-woogie that kicks off Tom Petty’s Saving Grace, the no-mucking-around More Human Than Human, and Weird Fishes, wherein one finds that great staggered drum beat as guitar arpeggios seem to flow seamlessly into one another and Thom Yorke starts probably his best vocal performance.
Marcelo pretty much makes this week’s post redundant with a mixtape EP of an awesome variety of intros. But he also gives me the intro to this post. I’ve noticed that the best intros tend to inspire homages. Marcelo nominates Max Romeo’s brilliant Chase The Devil (produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry) which gave rise to a whole rave classic, even if the intro to Out Of Space makes no reference to it. It certainly primes the gurning masses to lose important bits of their brains somewhere in a field in Hampshire, though.
“Pay close attention!”
Orbital may have been named for
Greater London’s orbital motorway, the M25, which was central to the early rave scene and party network in the South East during the early days of acid house
but they soon went off in another direction. The Girl with the Sun in Her Head, dedicated to the memory of the band’s friend Sally Harding, was entirely recorded using electricity provided by Greenpeace’s mobile solar power generator, Cyrus. It opens with the sound of a heartbeat which serves as bass and develops into what many critics hold as one of Orbital’s most accomplished pieces.
Not the girl who works in the record shop
Although, since we’re among friends, let’s return to the homage test, and note that Orbital’s Hartnoll brothers directly lifted the first minute-and-a-half of the Butthole Surfers’ Sweat Loaf for the opening to Satan from the Butthole Surfers’ Sweat Loaf.
And quite right, too!
Wow. This isn’t going where I expected at all. Which is good.
What I tend to like about Orbital’s songs is the way they reveal the structure, the scaffolding, of the song as layers are added. That’s something Spiritualized are really good at, too. Their debut was initially released on two 45rpm vinyl LPs, and on CD the album’s twelve songs are segued together into four colour coded (red, green, blue, black), cross-faded suites. As such, the album was included in Pitchfork Media’s 2010 list of “ten unusual CD-era gimmicks”.
Except, it’s not a gimmick. It’s how the album should be listened to. Blue, comprised of Take Your Time and Shine A Light, is a 14-minute build and ebb and rise and fade that hits the most adrenalized sustained crescendo in modern popular music around 10’30”-13’30” before collapsing in a brilliant SQUONK. And part of the reason it works is because quarter-of-an-hour earlier, it started with a simple, picked guitar figure, and an instruction to take your time.
Few. That’s been exhausting. Blue illustrates that finishing a song properly when it’s spent is important, too. Oasis’s Definitely Maybe is really hard to listen to – even though it came out when I was turning twenty – because Noel doesn’t know when to knock it on the fecking head.
If you can track down the right version of Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode pull a reverse Orbital, and deconstruct the song on its way out. It’s got a pretty good opening, too.
And with that, I’ll knock it on the head.