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Five Great Album Closers

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This morning on the way in to work (Monday commutes always produce ideas like this) I decided I’d include an abridged list of great album closers in my show. I arbitrarily set the number at 5, and set about trying to narrow down a list.

I decided I’d make it a list of great last songs on great albums, which made it a little easier. So here’s what I came up with. Most of it’s pretty obvious, and I’m sure everyone who reads this will disagree completely and chew me out. That’s fine and that’s fun. Go for it.

1. Weezer – Butterfly (from Pinkerton)
Weezer’s second release was full of great songs and wacky production choices. It was a major departure from the polished sound of their self-titled debut, and predictably, there was major fallout as a result. By now everyone knows that story though, so I’ll drop it. This was my favorite of their production decisions on the whole record. An acoustic song. From Weezer. Who knew? I still get chills.

2. Idlewild – In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction (from The Remote Part)
Roddy Woomble asked famed Scottish poet Edwin Morgan to write a poem for the end of the record, and this is what he got. So he trekked out to Edwin’s place with a cheap microphone and a MiniDisc recorder, and got a recording of the old man reading his poem, and the band slapped on top of a repeating, surging riff, right after the prettiest, quietest song on the record. The first time I heard this song I did that thing where you look around your room to see what else could be playing over your music (kinda like when a song has sirens in it and you listen in your car and you think you’re being pulled over) before I realized it was part of the song. This is great stuff.

3. Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out) (from The Bends)
This choice is so obvious I’m almost embarrased that I chose it. But come on. How do you make a list of great songs at the end of great records and not include this one? You can’t. Period.

4. Mike Doughty – Rising Sign (from Skittish)
As much as I like Haughty Melodic, it doesn’t hold a candle to Mike Doughty’s previous, less polished release. When the ex-frontman of Soul Coughing started to tour on his own, I saw him at the Met Cafe (R.I.P.) in Providence with about 100 other people, and bought this record from him there. He signed every one and shook everyone’s hand who bought one, which made it more justifiable to pay $15 for a burned cd in a white envelope. Now you can buy it in stores, though.

5. Bruce Springsteen – Jungleland (from Born to Run)
I can remember when I first really got into Springsteen in high school, sitting in chemistry class and writing out every word to this song on the back of my notebook. I wrote really small and I still barely fit it. This song is epic and this song is beautiful. And it still hits me as hard as it did in high school.

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  • Let me second you on the Springsteen. “Jungleland” is the ultimate Springsteen song. Good call.

    Let us put in a little plug here for “Purple Rain.” Now there’s a big finish for you.

    Less acclaimed, but Sinead O’Connor’s trip back through the spiraling DNA of “Just Call Me Joe” most righteously kicks ass as well.

  • I’ve not heard 4 of these tracks, so I can’t comment on good closers or not. But Street Spirit is spot on. Good call.

    A couple recent others I’d add:
    “Moaner”, the closer to Underworld’s Beaucoup Fish
    “Slow Life”, the closer to Super Furry Animals’ Phantom Power.

    Al, a funny thing about Purple Rain: my first tape was a copy recorded in wrong order, so I always thought “Darling Nikki” was the closer.

  • Styx – Suite Madam Blue (from Equinox)

  • [MR]Chip

    Gouge Away?

  • One of my favorite closers is “After Hours,” from the eponymous third Velvet Underground disc, sung by drummer Maureen Tucker in her unaffected, child-like voice. After nine songs of lost love, spiritual despair, adultery, drugs and death comes this bouncy little two-minute cut that could either be a wistful desire for true love or a sing-along suicide note:

    “If you close the door/The night could last forever/Leave the sunshine out/And drink a toast to never/All the people are dancing/And they’re having such fun/I wish it could happen to me/But if you close the door/I’ll never have to see the day again…”

    The perfect album for late-night melancholy, and the last songs ends it perfectly.

  • i like “Ain’t It The Fall” at the end of Starland Vocal Band.

    ok, mebbe not.

  • Yeah, Purple Rain and Gouge Away are great, too.

  • What, no “A Day in the Life” from the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”? For shame.

  • Baronius

    If I agree with you about “Jungleland”, can I cheat a little? “Black” is the second last song on Pearl Jam’s Live on Two Legs. It’s the finale of the concert. Then there’s a track that serves as an encore (which is very average). As a closing number, “Black” really tears it apart.

    And “Jungleland” had the same effect on me. “Born to Run” is often called Springsteen’s best song, but “Jungleland” always works for me.

    Who’s Next: ends with “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

  • “When the Levee Breaks” Led Zeppelin IV

  • The Days of Wine & Roses from the Dream Syndicate album of the same name.

  • J. P. Spencer

    “Get It While You Can” By Janis Joplin off of her last album “Pearl”.

    I can’t think of a better musical epitaph.

  • Shark

    My nominee:

    Album: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Vol. 3 (“A Child’s Guide to Good & Evil”)

    *Song: “Anniversary of World War III

    * (it’s three minutes of silence)

  • DJRadiohead

    “Out of Nowhere” by Mark Lanegan on “Bubblegum.” The first line of the song: “And as it ends/so to it begins.” Something cool about ending an album with that. Or maybe it’s just me. “Love is Blindness” on “Achtung, Baby” is also really good.

    I like the Radiohead and Springsteen choice. And the Weezer, too.

    This is a cool question to consider.

  • DJRadiohead

    In fact, if I might… Mark Lanegan has a penchant for album closers. The swirling psychadelics of “Because of This” was an unexpected way to close “Scraps at Midnight.” The repetitive, searching blues of “Fix” was a tremendous closer to “Field Songs.”

    Yes, I am a biased Lanegan fan but he does know how to close an album.

  • Cool convo topic. There’s too many good albums to pick favorites, and some of my favorite albums don’t really have a kick-ass closer, but here are some that I think nail the ethos of the “Best Closer Ever,” at least in the context of the albums on which they appear:

    “Downtown,” B-52’s, from their self-titled debut;

    “Train In Vain,” The Clash, from “London Calling” (and I know they dumped this on last minute, and it’s a “bonus” or hidden track, but it’s still a hell of a closer);

    “Show Me Mary” by Catherine Wheel, from “Chrome” – this fast loud poppy rock-out that sends you home in a perfect place;

    “Havalina” by The Pixies from “Bossanova” – a great “chill-out” track that still maintains their eponymous other-worldly outer space tropical vibe;

    “Wild Thing” by Sister Carol from the “Something Wild” soundtrack & “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Smiths from the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack.

    -Soundtracks can definitely be considered cheating, BUT on soundtracks the track listing is usually chronological, so in great movies he “end credits” or last song of the movie can be memorable, fitting, and fantastic.

  • Re: Weezer

    I HATE that Rivers Cuomo slags and disowns Pinkerton because it’s such a terrific and perfect album, and with each subsequent release of theirs, it only shines brighter.

  • Train in Vain would’ve been on my list for sure if it was 10 songs long. Good one.

    Also, You’re absolutely right about Pinkerton. The buzz about their latest record very early on was that it would be a return to Pinkerton-era Weezer. Turned out to be anything but.

  • [MR]Chip

    The new album by Belgian band dEUS ends with ‘Nothing Really Ends’. Most of you won’t know it but the title alone should tell you it’s a good choice to end with 🙂

  • Baronius

    Train in Vain is a really good song, and it’s the last song on the album. But it doesn’t really fit on the album, does it? I think of great closers like Won’t Get Fooled Again or Jungleland as being like the steeple on a Gothic cathedral, kind of the pinnacle that completes the structure. But hey, maybe I’m just bitter because I bought London Calling at full price and Born to Run for $2.50.

  • The appropriately titled “When The Music’s Over” off The Doors “Strange Days”

  • One For My Baby from Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. Although maybe a saloon song isn’t ideal. After all, coffee is for closers.

    Off topic, I sure wish we’d gotten, say, a week’s notice before the no personal attacks policy was instituted. I’d been saving up some juicy ones.

  • Godoggo indeed with that Sinatra pick. Outstanding!

  • Anjel

    The second album of the legendary grunge band Stone Temple Pilots “Purple” ends with a jazzy bonus track “the second album”. Twist of music and the lyrics are great. simply outrageous in this category!

  • The more people that comment on here, the more I wish I made this a top ten list.

    Honorary mentions extended to Brand New’s Your Favorite Weapon, which ends with “Soco Amaretto Lime,” and REM’s Automatic for the People, with the majestic one-two punch of “Nightswimming” and “Find the River.” And speaking of great one-two punches, forgive me for adding Third Eye Blind’s first record, which ends with “Motorcycle Drive By” and “God of Wine.”

    Maybe a great one-two punch top 5 is in the works….

  • “Find the River” is amazing – I totally agree with the one-two punch on “Automatic For the People.”

    There could be a whole sub-list of “songs that SHOULD be closers on albums but aren’t.” For that list I’d put down “Three Days” by Jane’s Addiction off of “Ritual de la Habitual.” The last track is actually “Classic Girl,” but I feel like “Three Days” burns down the place mid-album.

    It’s interesting that bands probably spend time obsessing over track list order on their albums, and how some albums seem to get it entirely wrong (another sub-list?)…

    “Train In Vain” doesn’t really fit on “London Calling” because it was a last-minute addition based on some riffing in the studio during recording of the album, I think. It was so last minute, in fact, that the album covers were already printed, which is why it’s not on the original track list.

  • DJRadiohead

    Totally, totally agree on “Automatic for the People.” How could I have missed that? Stunners. One of the great albums ever. Period.

  • “Man In The Street”, which closes out Joe Jackson’s Big World.

  • uao

    I’m fond of the slimy and sleazy hard funk jam “Wars of Armageddon” that closes Maggot Brain by Funkadelic.

    Also, the Sgt. Pepper inner groove was a cool idea on the heels of the 54-second final chord of “A Day In The Life”

  • “The Bewlay Brothers” on Hunky Dory and “Rock and Roll Suicide” on Ziggy Stardust, both from David Bowie, make my list.

    Funny how all these reissues with bonus tracks ruin the moment of a great closing number.

  • “Anywhere I Lay My Head”, Tom Waits – Rain Dogs

  • “Come On Up To The House” – Tom Waits – Mule Variations

    contains the great lines:

    Come down off the cross
    We can use the wood

    heh…love that.

  • “Anywhere I Lay My Head” is a magnificent call. This is too fun.

  • “Come Down Off The Cross…” was Firewater’s debut album title. Great album, and off topic, but the Waits wink reminded me of it.

  • I was going to say Garageland from the first Clash album, but One for My Baby is the hands down best

  • JR

    AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie”
    The Allman Brothers Band – “Whipping Post”
    The Bad Plus – “Iron Man”
    The Beatles – “Twist and Shout”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”
    Black Sabbath – “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Dirty Women”
    Blue Oyster Cult – “Astronomy”
    The Chambers Brothers – “Time Has Come Today”
    Deep Purple – “Hey Joe”
    Al DiMeola – “Elegant Gypsy Suite”
    Fleetwood Mac – “I’m So Afraid”
    Lita Ford – “Close My Eyes Forever”
    Peter Frampton – “Do You Feel Like We Do”
    Gamma – “Fight to the Finish”
    Peter Gabriel – “Biko”
    Charlie Hunter Quartet – “Revolution”
    Iron Maiden – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
    Jefferson Airplane – “Volunteers”, “The House At Pooneil Corners”
    Jethro Tull – “Fire At Midnight”
    King Crimson – “In the Court of the Crimson King”
    k.d. lang – “Constant Craving”
    Led Zeppelin – “How Many More Times”, “Tea For One”
    Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”
    Dave Mason – “Look At You Look At Me”
    Paul McCartney – “The Back Seat of My Car”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”
    Mercyful Fate – “Come to the Sabbath”
    The Monkees – “I’m a Believer”
    Montrose – “Make It Last”
    The Moody Blues – “Nights In White Satin”
    Ozzy Osbourne – “Diary of a Madman”
    The Outlaws – “Green Grass and High Tides”
    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “American Girl”
    Pink Floyd – “Echoes”
    Jean-Luc Ponty – “Nostalgic Lady”
    Queen – “God Save the Queen”, “The Show Must Go On”
    Queensryche – “Eyes of a Stranger”
    The Rolling Stones – “Going Home”, “Salt of the Earth”, “You Can’t Always Get what You Want”, “Moonlight Mile”, “Fingerprint File”, “Waiting On a Friend”
    David Lee Roth – “That’s Life”
    Rush – “Working Man”, “Cygnus X-1”, “La Villa Strangiato”, “Natural Science”, “Between the Wheels”
    Joe Satriani – “Echo”
    Scorpions – “Yellow Raven”, “Holiday”, “Still Loving You”
    Steely Dan – “The Royal Scam”, “Josie”
    Supertramp – “Crime of the Century”
    The Thorns – “Among the Living”
    Robin Trower – “Little Bit of Sympathy”
    The Tubes – “White Punks On Dope”
    UFO – “Love to Love”
    Yes – “Heart of the Sunrise”
    Neil Young – “The Last Trip to Tulsa”, “Cowgirl in the Sand”, “Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black)”
    ZZ Top – “Tush”, “Asleep in the Desert”, “Party on the Patio”

  • Frequent Ken

    R.E.M. – New Adventures In Hi-Fi – Electrolite
    Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms – Brothers In Arms
    Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head – Amsterdam