Visions of Paradise

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rock albums openings and closings

I doubt I will ever be one of those people who listen exclusively to songs downloaded from the internet. I enjoy complete albums too much, especially those albums which offer a complete flow from opening song through closing. Artists seemed to put more effort into complete packages in the 1970s than they do now, although some artists still care about albums as artistic creations rather than collections of songs, mostly progressive rock artists. Some recent examples of “complete” packages including the Decemberists’ masterpiece The Crane Wife and Green Day’s American Idiot.

Perhaps the most important parts of albums are the openings which, if well-done, pull you along into the rest of the music, and the closings which provide the lasting memories afterwards. Here are some of my favorite openings and closings of rock albums which were designed to be “complete” packages.

• Electric Light Orchestra was an outstanding prog rock band early in their career before becoming more mainstream as they got caught up in their commercial success (the fate of many prog rock bands). But their album Face the Music has one of my favorite openings, “Fire on High” (although admittedly the rest of the album does not quite live up to that intro);

• Pink Floyd is a band which never abandoned its prog intentions no matter how popular they got, which is why they are one of my favorite bands. They have two of my favorite openings as well, “Astronomy Domine” on Piper at the Gates of Dawn and “One of These Days” on Mettle;

• Few people realize the Moody Blues were primarily a prog rock band early in their career, the highlight being their masterpiece To Our Children’s Children’s Children with its fabulous opening “Higher and Higher”;

• Pink Floyd also had one of the best album closings on my favorite prog rock album ever, The Dark Side of the Moon with “Brain Damage / Eclipse”;

• The Kinks’ rock opera Preservation was erratic with some amazing high points intermingled with some areas which dragged a bit. But there is no denying the power of its closing anthem “Salvation Road’;

• One of the reasons I like U2 is their lead guitarist David Evans (“The Edge”) knows how to suck in the listener with music which is both insistent and powerful. Nowhere is that more evident than in the opening track “Where The Streets Have no Name” on their masterpiece The Joshua Tree.

Anybody have any other favorite openings or closings of rock albums?


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