Thursday, June 23, 2011

Listmania #4: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Track

The first album I got with a hidden track on it was Smells Like Teen Spirit.  I thought the CD player was broken because it just kept on ticking after closing track Something in the Way finished... and then, wahey!  Endless Nameless was not exactly Nirvana's finest hour, of course, but it was a cool little extra nonetheless.  Even if it was pretty much nonsensical.

Although vinyl can be double-grooved to include a hidden track, the CD has been the main culprit because it allows for tracks to be hidden in several ways.  As well as the fairly stock-standard "hide an extra song after a whole lot of silence at the end of the last track", the other common tricks are:
  • Include a track which isn't featured on the album's tracklisting (e.g. Iron Gland on the Alice in Chains album Dirt)
  • Stick a bunch of empty CD tracks after the last song and then have an actual song as, say, track 99 on the CD (e.g. Nine Inch Nails' Broken EP which has 6 songs, then 91 empty 1-second tracks, then two actual songs at tracks 98 and 99)
  • Include a track in the 'pre-gap' before each track on a CD.  Normally this is done before Track 1, so the hidden track is actually Track 0.  This means you have to start Track 1 and then manually rewind to get to Track 0 (which is often inaccessible using a computer's CD drive). 
Anyway, this list is dedicated to a few of my favourite hidden tracks.  Either because they're good tracks or because they were clever in some other way.  For a much longer list, check out Wikipedia, home to people with too much time on their hands. 

1. Blur - Me, White Noise (from the album Think Tank)
Track 0 of Think Tank is host to what is quite possibly my favourite Blur song.  Which in this case also annoyed the crap out of me because I couldn't rip it to my computer.  Anyway, Me, White Noise sees Blur once again partnering with Phil Daniels, who provided the vocals to Parklife.  Except, where Parklife was a bit mad in a sort of happy, cheerful, harmless way, Me, White Noise is totally batshit insane (which sort of parallels Blur's sound moving from cheerful pop-rock to all sorts of random Albarn-led experimentation).  It's set to an infectious, grinding beat, and sees Mr. Daniels ranting over the top with such gems as "If I had a gun I would use it" and "You look at the wall, and what does the wall say to you? I ain't the mirror, fuck off!".  Here's a live performance:

2. Probot - I am the Warlock (from the album Probot)
Yeah, I rambled about this in my last post, but what it comes down to is Dave Grohl + Jack Black in the style of Ronnie James Dio = win.  This one's hidden after a bunch of silence on track 11 of the CD and starts at 8:56.

3. Rollins Band - LA Money Train (from the album Get Some Go Again)
So Henry Rollins dumped his old band, got a new one, recorded an album, and hid this little ditty as an unlisted track (#14) on the album.  Most of the album is hard rock but this is a funk jam featuring Wayne Kramer (MC5) on guitar.  Rollins is scene-stealing on the mic with some hilariously satirical spoken word material.

4. Queens of the Stone Age - Feel Good Haha of the Summer (from the album Songs for the Deaf)
This (brilliant) album has all sorts of clever touches - most notably mock radio snippets featuring various musical personalities.  But there's also two hidden tracks - firstly an assortment of random noises hidden in the pre-gap before track 1 (known as The Real Song for the Deaf), and secondly a reprise of Feel Good Hit of the Summer appears at 5:45 of track 13, after some silence.  The thing about this reprise is that it replaces the vocals with laughter (hence why it's known as Feel Good Haha of the Summer).  It sounds dumb but it is actually quite good fun.

5. Type O Negative - various
Admittedly none of the examples I'm about to describe are hidden tracks per se, but frankly it would be wrong to omit Type O Negative from any sort of list relating to amusing exploitation of the CD format.  The emphasis being on amusing:
  • Track 6 of Slow, Deep and Hard, entitled The Misinterpretation of Silence and its Disastrous Consequences is, in fact, silence and was designed to confuse listeners into thinking the CD was over.  Or broken.
  • Track 1 of October Rust, entitled Bad Ground, is 38 seconds of low frequency hum, which sounds like an ungrounded wire.
  • Track 1 of World Coming Down, entitled Skip It, is 11 seconds of the sound of a CD skipping (again obviously designed to confuse first-time listeners!).
Quite the comedians, those Type O boys were.  RIP Peter Steele. 

6. Nine Inch Nails - Physical (You're So) and Suck (from the Broken EP)
Hidden at tracks 98 and 99, after 6 songs and 91 silent 1-second tracks, are two covers.  The first is a sludgy, fuzzy cover of Adam and the Ants, the second is a cover of a song Trent Reznor originally recorded with Pigface.  The latter has actually been performed live on a number of occasions as well and appears on the And All That Could Have Been live CD/DVD.

7. Clutch - 05 / Gifted and Talented / David Rose (from the album The Elephant Riders)
Not content with the old trick of hiding a song on the last track after a bunch of silence, Clutch upped the ante by including one of three songs as a bonus track after The Dragonfly at 7:34.  The three songs were 05, David Rose, and Gifted and Talented and which one you got depended on which pressing of the album you got.  Unless you were in Japan in which case you got all three.  Lucky Japanese.  All damned good tracks too.

8. Korn - Twist (acapella) (from the album Life is Peachy)
Whilst I was never a huge Korn fan, I always had a soft spot for Twist, a glorious 51 seconds of gibberish over thumping bass and a typically eerie detuned guitar line.  To his credit, Jonathan Davis is probably the only man who could pull this off.  Anyway, there's also an acapella version hidden after some silence at the end of track 14.  In this case, removing the instruments just makes the vocals sound even more mental.

9. Mastodon - Pendulous Skin (from the album Blood Mountain)
Track 12 of the album starts with the song Pendulous Skin, continues with 16 minutes of silence, and then at 21:25, we get this hilarious fan letter from none other than Josh Homme:

10. Deftones - Damone (from the album Around the Fur)
At first glance, closing track MX at 37:19 appears to be longer than the rest of the album put together.  That is, however, because most of that is silence, with the bonus track Damone beginning at 32:35.  It's a good song.  I don't know if it's worth sitting through almost half an hour of silence for, though.

11. Stone Temple Pilots - My Second Album (from the album Purple)
Part song, mostly pisstake.  There's some silence on track 11 after the final listed song, Kitchenware and Candybars, concludes, and then at 4:55 there is this cheesy lounge jazz number performed by Richard Peterson.  Ironically, the song references the "12 gracious melodies" motif - which is also displayed on a cake on the album's back cover.  Without this bonus song, there would of course only be 11 songs.  Very funny ha ha.

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