The 20 greatest ‘Track One, Side One’ songs – part I

Downloading just one or two tracks from an album, making your own mp3 playlist for the car or listening to streaming audio on-line may be symptomatic of our ‘now, now, now´ society but the excitement of putting a new vinyl album onto the turntable with nary a clue of what to expect is something we´ll never have again.

Call us old if you like (some of us are!), but when the first track of said opus hits the eardrums, you can´t help but feel something undeniable, and when that track turns out to be an absolute died-in-the-wool classic, the thrill is heightened to an almost unbearable level

Here are our choice of the 20 greatest songs to have been track one on side one of a vinyl album. We´ve had our work cut out for us to even agree on some of the entries, but here they are.

This is the first of four parts, and look out for part II tomorrow...

20 - Holidays In The Sun
Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

The noisy birth of punk and many subsequent genres is neatly defined by the opening track inspired, according to sources, by a raucous trip to the Channel Islands. Two years later, Sid Vicious was dead and the Pistols never released another album, but their work was already completed.

19 - Thunder Road
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run (1975)

In the old days, this album´s most famous - and title - track appeared as the first track on the second side of the good old vinyl version, but it´s down to Thunder Road to fly the flag for the Boss´ breakthrough release. Worthy of mention in the same breath as BTR, Thunder... is the Noo Joisey-man´s style in a nutshell, all blue collar angst and strident Fender Esquire (one assumes...!).

18 - Rock N Roll Star
Oasis - Definitely Maybe (1994)

It was easy to judge these five Manc chavs by their Beatles-obsessed, profanity-ridden press but, the opening chords of this track, so heavy that it could pass for death metal should Dani Filth have taken the lead vocals, blew any doubts away. Oasis would become the voice of a generation and therefore biggest band in the world.

17 - Detroit Rock City
Kiss - Destroyer (1976)

Moan if you will, but this album made Kiss the biggest band in the world at the time and subsequently influenced an entire generation of American rockers that now are part of some great bands of their own. A simple riff and story based on the perils of ‘driving too fast whilst squiffy´, there´s a twin-guitar break, a drum break and gruff backing vocals to back up Paul Stanley´s silvery lead melody. Now, guys; about the new line-up...

16 - Seven Nation Army
The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

In a nutshell, this is arguably the only song casual fans of The White Stripes will be aware of, but what a song! How screeching vocals, a dime store guitar and some drums can sound so full is anyone´s guess - the analogue recording processes employed for this album probably helped - but if any further proof of Jack´s genius is required, we´ll give up.

Part II tomorrow...

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Total Guitar magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.