The Rule

Posted By on May 23, 2008

“Great, Good, Good, Okay, Fine, Meh, Ugh”

.: Robin thinks he sees a pattern:

albums begin well, and end weakly. The first track on the Beatles’ Abbey Road is “Come Together”, a big winner – the last tracks are “The End” and “Her Majesty”, two unknowns. The Indigo Girls’ eponymous album begins with “Closer to Fine” and ends with “History of Us”. Phil Collins’ Face Value starts with “In the Air Tonight”, ends with “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Tracy Chapman starts with “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”, ends with “For You”.

Joni Mitchell’s “Clouds” is a notable exception – the big winner, “Both Sides Now”, is the final track – but still. Is it that people buy based on the first N tracks? Do they?

.: I decided to test his rule against my own record collection. I’ve taken measure not to keep track of the tally while evaluating each album individually to see if it follows the rule. I’ve italicized the albums that do follow the rule bellow.

The final count was 23 out of 53 follow the rule, or 43%.

That said, I included some albums, like Yours Truly, Angry Mob and Post, which are solid but have some unfortunate track choices at the end; however, I didn’t include albums that had just as many bad songs, but spread more evenly throughout. Why that should make a difference, I don’t know, but thems the rules.

Onto the list!

Faith No More – Album of the Year
.: Starts with “Collision,” a song I always skip, and ends with “Pristina,” a song I never get to.

Lily Allen – Alright, Still
.: Starts with her most well-known hit, “Smile,” and ends with a stupid upbeat remix of “Smile.” Looks like fadethecat is onto something here.

Faith No More – Angel Dust
.: Starts with “Land of Sunshine,” a kickass, if veiled, attack on Scientology and ends with a wonderful, if unexpected, cover of John Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy.”

The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
.: Definitely a top-heavy album. “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” is catchy and great and everything an opening song should be, but “Goin’ On” just doesn’t do it for me.

Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Ladies Are Me
.: While the opener, “Adrift,” is a good song by itself, it doesn’t work well as the first track. “Wind It Up,” however, does exactly what its title suggests it would do, and does it well.

Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Ladies Are Men
.: “Serendipity” and “Why Say Anything Nice?” bookend this album quite nicely.

The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience
.: This is kind of a compilation album, but compilations rely just as much on song order as regular albums do. This one starts with the only Nirvana song I can still listen to, “I Hate Myself And Want To Die,” and ends with the best Sonny and Cher remake ever, “I Got You Babe.”

Kings of Leon – Because of The Times
.: I haven’t given this album a thorough listen-through, mainly because the only songs that hooked me instantly were the title track, “Knocked Up,” and track nine, “Fans.” The rest, including the last track, are rather boring.

The Proclaimers – The Best Of
.: You’d figure a Best Of collection could skirt this rule, but no, it follows it pretty closely. The first 3/4ths are truly great, and the last song is just awful.

Of Montreal – The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower
.: A lackluster album as a whole (wise men avoid early Of Montreal, I’ve learned), but the first track, “You Are An Airplane,” is significantly better than the last, “I Felt Like Smashing My Head.”

Opeth – Blackwater Park
.: Starts strong with “The Leper Affinity,” ends stronger with “Blackwater Park.”

Clark – Body Riddle
.: The first track, “Herr Barr,” is experimental gold, while the last track, “The Autumnal Crush,” is a luster-free rod of inanimate musical carbon.

The Bravery – The Bravery
.: “An Honest Mistake” hooks you immediately, but “Rites of Spring” is nowhere near as exciting.

Mates of State – Bring It Back
.: The most solid material on this album is actually in the middle, but the first track, “Think Long,” is slightly superior to the closer, “Running Out.”

Wall Of Voodoo – Call of The West
.: Had this album ended one song earlier, it would’ve been bookended by two great songs: “Tomorrow” and “On Interstate 15.” Instead they had to ruin it with the inclusion of the title track.

CSS – Cansei De Ser Sexy
.: Stupid title aside, “CSS Suxxx” is a pleasant, if insignificant start, and “This Month, Day 10” is a great closer.

The New Pornographers – Challengers
.: As far as I’m concerned, this album is one long song.

Hot Chip – Coming On Strong
.: Both the opener, “Take Care,” and the closer, “From Drummer To Driver,” are equally boring.

Justice – Cross
.: “Genesis” is how I wish all albums can begin, and while “One Minute To Midnight” is good, it pales in comparison.

Joe Satriani – Crystal Planet
.: “Up In The Sky” is Satch at his rockin’est best, and “Z.Z.’s Song” is Satch at his blues’iest worst.

Miho Hatori – Ecdysis
.: “Ecdysis” was not the reason I bought the album, but it’s practically the only reason I still listen to it. The closer, “Amazona,” is worthless.

The New Pornographers – Electric Version
.: Starts strong with “The Electric Version” and stays strong all the way through “Miss Teen Wordpower.”

They Might Be Giants – The Else
.: “I’m Impressed” and “The Mesopotamians” are the two strongest songs on the album.

Cake – Fashion Nugget
.: I love “Frank Sinatra” as much as anyone, but for some reason I can never make it past track 6 of this album. I think their cover of “I Will Survive” has something to do with it.

Gogol Bordello – Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike
.: “Sally” is the perfect opener for this album, and “Mishto” is the perfect closer. Both songs fulfill their role to maximum effect.

Pink Martini – Hang On Little Tomato
.: Another top heavy album. “Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love” gets things started, but by track 12 you’re just waiting for things to be over.

Pink Martini – Hey Eugene!
.: My least favorite Pink Martini songs are their quiet, slow ones, which makes both “Everywhere” and “Tea For Two” disppointments for me.

Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
.: Another one-long-song album for me. Starts great, ends great. Ends even better when you combine it with the Icons, Abstract Thee EP.

King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King
.: Every song sucks except for the last.

Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion
.: Oh, did I waste my money here. The first track, “Grace Kelly,” and the fourth, “Love Today,” are the only worthwhile songs here. The rest is unlistenable fluff.

Talking Heads – Little Creatures
.: A good album overall, but it’s hard to balance the opening act of “And She Was.”

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Living With The Living
.: Another album where the bookends are the best features.

The Velvet Underground – Loaded
.: After listening to the opener, “Who Loves The Sun,” I always find myself hitting eject.

Air – Moon Safari
.: Here’s a weird pattern: only every third song on this album sucks, and it has ten tracks.

Rush – Moving Pictures
.: Every song gets progressively worse as the track number gets bigger.

Talking Heads – Naked
.: All the best songs are seculded towards the beginning of this album. The remaining six or so are negligible.

The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
.: A solid album, but as long as we’re being scientific, I prefer “Black Mirror” to the closer, “My Body Is A Cage.”

The Blow – Paper Television
.: The best songs here are the second track, and the penultimate track. The first and last are about equal in quality.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Penguin Cafe Orchestra
.: If you are in a state of consciousness where you can actually differentiate the tracks on this album, you’re listening to it wrong.

Bj̦rk РPost
.: A kickass album with two pointless songs tacked onto the end.

Faith No More – The Real Thing
.: The beginning track, “From Out of Nowhere,” is good, and it’s followed immediately by their famous “Epic,” but nothing on this album compares to the greatest song ever sung from the point of view of a creepy molester man, “Edge of the World.”

Of Montreal – Satanic Panic In The Attic
.: “Disconnect The Dots” is the kind of song that I can show my friends; “Vegan In Furs” is the kind of song I have to listen to by myself.

Peter Gabriel – So
.: If you’re listening to this album, you’re probably looking for tracks 2, 5 and 7, and nothing else.

Stubbs The Zombie – The Soundtrack
.: The best songs here are found towards the end, especially the last track, “The Living Dead.”

Of Montreal – The Sunlandic Twins
.: Other than a few duds sprinkled here and there, the tracks are good throughout.

Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien
.: A five-song EP of the album’s first half would have sold just as well, I’m sure.

Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah!
.: Despite the album sticker’s claim to be “All killer – no filler,” there is plenty of filler to be found on this album, particularly towards the end.

Air – Talkie Walkie
.: I always skip the last two songs.

R̦yksopp РThe Understanding
.: A powerful opening is ruined eleven songs later with two utterly inessential tracks added for no reason.

Hot Chip – The Warning
.: The first four tracks are great, the rest is forgetable.

The Faint – Wet From Birth
.: Every song here is killer except the last, which is retarded.

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
.: I love the lead track, “Flight Test,” and but for a few odd balls the rest of the album follows beautifully.

Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob
.: The beginning is immediately likable, and the album would have been a tight twelve songs long and been one of the best in my collection, but the three bonus songs ruin the flow. How can you have any songs follow one called “Retirement”?

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3 Responses to “The Rule”

  1. Robin Z says:

    Thankee! I guess it’s less of a rule than I supposed. (I suppose there’s nothing people can do to make the bonus tracks go somewhere besides the end…)

  2. Oscar says:

    To the contrary!
    The Mars Volta-Deloused in the Comatorium
    Atmosphere-When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
    The Beatles-Please Please Me
    The Beatles-The White Album Disc 1
    The Clash-London Calling
    Eisley-Room Noises
    The Flaming Lips-The Soft Bulletin
    Matmos-The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast
    MSTRKRFT-The Looks
    Radiohead-Kid A
    Radiohead-In Rainbows
    Radiohead-Hail to the Thief
    Sigur Ros-()

    You seriously think that “True Affection” is equal with “Pile of Gold”? True Affection is much better, it’s unnecessarily spastic like “Pile.”

  3. Cody says:

    True Affection is much better, it’s unnecessarily spastic like “Pile.”

    This sentence makes very little sense.

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