Round this time of year, you do often find yourself in the mood for lists. Earlier today, I was listening to one of my favourite albums, Dog Man Star and mused over how many great tracks there were on the album that never made the light of day as singles. And naturally that leads on to “So what are the best album tracks ever?“. The definition being any tracks that have never been released as singles and only 1 per artist. In addition, choices that will annoy Stuart have been specially selected. I imagine there are countless versions of my list, but today, this is the list I came up with. As they say on the X-Factor, in no particular order:
Suede – Dog Man Star – Asphalt World
Well, listening to this gave me the idea, so best place to start. I can never quite put my finger on why I love this song so much, but I just do. Listen to it in the dark, its sublime. There are other notable album tracks on Dog Man Star but this is my fave.
The Beatles – Rubber Soul – In My Life
I’ve never really taken part in the Lennon Vs McCartney debate but this song shows that when John was on top form he could produce songs that Paul could never get near. In My Life is one of these, 2 mins 24 seconds of genius.
The Smiths – Meat Is Murder – What She Said
Like The Beatles, Bowie and a few others, you could spend a long time just listing great Smiths’ songs that were never singles. Therefore, its quite hard to choose one but What She Said is where Marr’s guitar meets Morrissey’s words come together at their very best. There is only one rule. Play it loud.
New Order – Low Life – Sunrise
Probably not a popular choice, but these lists will invariably get infected by personal nostalgia. Sunrise was one of those songs that got played endlessly when I was 15/16. And, like so many other New Order songs, is generally better when Barney isn’t singing. Check out the vid, a classic New Order live performance. If you’ve seen them live you’ll know what I mean. Also, look out for some top quality moshing. Its a shame I never did make it to the Hacienda.
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – View From The Afternoon
Another thing that often blights lists like these is their somewhat contemporary nature. Check out any Q Top 100 to see what I mean. So, this makes it on the list as I’ve been listening to it a lot recently. It was a close run thing between this and Fake Tales of San Francisco, but as that doesn’t really get good until 2 minutes in, this had to win. But if you haven’t heard Fake Tales, check out the end, wig-out-tastic.
PJ Harvey – Bring You My Love – Long Snake Moan
Any great artist who is not a prolific singles releaser will always cause a problem with this list. Polly is one of these. Again, its not easy to pick one. Obviously, I could have gone for Kamikaze to keep Stuart happy, but I’ve always loved Long Snake Moan, its just cries out to be played at full bung, maybe even 12. I VERY nearly went for Rid of Me, watch the vid, you’ll see why. Actually, I’ve just watched the live performance again, can I change my mind?
Portishead – Dummy – Roads
The live version of this could have been one of the best moments in music ever if it hadn’t been for some dumb Americans not knowing where the end of the song was (watch the video, you’ll see what I mean). Still unbelievably good nonetheless. Another one for a dark room.
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures – New Dawn Fades
This should be a joint thing with “Day of the Lords” but New Dawn Fades swings it because of the lyrics. Cut to me standing in a bedroom with an unamplified electric giutar playing along with some quiet gusto.
Oasis – Definitely Maybe – Slide Away
Obviously, I was close to choosing Rock ‘N’ Roll Star but I’ve always a had soft spot for Slide Away. I think it was once claimed to be Paul McCartney’s favourite Oasis song.
Radiohead – OK Computer – Exit Music (for a film)
Radiohead (and similarly Muse) are quite a tricky proposition when it comes to a list like this. They seem to have had a knack of releasing the best songs as singles. You can kind of understand why this wasn’t a single but the loss to the charts is this list’s gain. The bass kicking in still gives me goose bumps.
Thomas Dolby – The Flat Earth – Screen Kiss
So obscure its not on YouTube, so great it should be. Fab lyrics.
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane – Cracked Actor
Its very difficult to deal with Bowie in this list. There is a lot to choose from and a lot of things that have been released as a single in one way or another. I could probably list 10 without pausing but you have to choose one and before you go thinking that I’m all a bit melancholy and naval gazing, this will bump it up a notch. I love this song (with apologies to all the great tracks on Hunky Dory).
Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy – Taste The Floor
It was a straight fight between this and “In a Hole” and this won because it was on “the tape” and it didn’t kill my fingers on an acoustic guitar like “In a Hole” did. This one was easier too.
The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic – My Finest Hour
Come back Harriet, come to my house for tea. Another cracking chorus from one of the great, forgotten voices. Why “Can’t Be Sure” was picked before this as a single escapes me.
The The – Infected – The Mercy Beat
Matt Johnson before the Hank Williams fixation. Another great builder. Video ain’t bad either, if you like that 80’s kinda thing.
That Petrol Emotion – Manic Pop Thrill – Tightlipped
OK, so you were wondering when I would have a That Petrol Emotion song. Obviously, hugely tempted by Creeping to the Cross, but that’s what you were expecting. So I’ve gone for Tightlipped, always loved the chorus. Ask me tomorrow, I will have changed my mind. Sadly, can’t find a video for this, so have Genius Move instead and then listen to me killing it (if you dare).
Turin Brakes – The Optimist – State of Things
This is a little bit of a cheat as I think it was maybe an E.P. but what the hell, who’s going to disqualify me? Can’t find a video, so have Long Distance instead, candidate for the “Best Chorus Ever” award, but it was a single so can’t be listed here.
Andy White – Rave On – Things Start To Unwind
So good I’ve got the title on a T-Shirt. Half nostalgia, half coz its great. I love songs that build up steadily (none better than this). Can’t find a vid so here’s Andy proving he’s seen some Bob Dylan.
Blur – Blur – You’re So Great
OK, so its really a Graham Coxon song but a hidden gem nonetheless, quite Bowie-esque. Tricky choice as there were a good few candidates but this won out over tracks like Best Days and This Is A Low.
Belle and Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant – Don’t Leave The Light On Baby
Not the greatest quality, but listen anyway, fantastic, should have been a single, best song by a Scottish band for many, many years.
Fun Boy Three – Waiting – The More I See The Less I Believe
So good I wrote an essay about it at school. Terry, if you’re out there, you’re a hero.
Travis – The Man Who – Slide Show
Bet you didn’t see that one coming? Forget all the light and breezy singles, this is the best song on the album. And its dead easy to play on the guitar too, which helps.
B. 52’s – Good Stuff – Deadbeat Club
Again, another nostalgia trip I’m afraid. It was 1990, it was sunny and I was a studying to this album. This track shows that they could be a very good, straightforward pop act. When Fred shut up. Probably doesn’t deserve to be on the same list as some of these other tracks but hey, its my list.
Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune
OK, this is definitely a cheat but, strictly speaking, it wasn’t released a single. Speaks for itself.
So, there you have it. I have to say, I’ve had immense fun putting this together, far more than you’ll ever get from reading it. It has taken hours as I watched all the videos and many more besides. Hope you watch a few, they are all fab.
Happy New Year!