All Songs Rewind: The Best Opening Tracks

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Prince & The Revolution's Purple Rain. (Amazon.co.uk)
Prince & The Revolution's Purple Rain. (Amazon.co.uk)

Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are still out of the office, so contributor Katie Presley and intern Julian Ring are ending their week-long All Songs Considered takeover by revisiting Julian's favorite episode of all time.

Can you judge an album by its first song? For a handful of classic records, absolutely.

In 2010, Bob Boilen asked listeners to submit their picks for the best opening tracks of all time. A week later, he invited Monitor Mix blogger Carrie Brownstein and Tom Moon, author of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, for a roundtable discussion about the best side-one-track-ones ever.

I vividly recall listening to this podcast while on a road trip with my father. We cranked these game-changing picks — songs by Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield and Gang Of Four — through our minivan's sound system, making the desert of northern Nevada seem to cruise by.

As with every All Songs show, the commentary was my favorite part. Moon is right when he says songs like "Let's Go Crazy" set the tone of the entire album to come — in Prince's case, a manic, glam frenzy of sexual bravado. The group looked at what kind of statement an opening song can make and celebrated the myriad ways artists have surprised and delighted us from the get-go.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.