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Best Rock Intros


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The Chicago Tribune's website has a poll/blog asking, "Which rock songs have the best openings?" As everyone on this website would expect, "Go All the Way" was often mentioned. The other titles most often mentioned are Born to Run, Layla, Revolution, Where the Streets Have No Name, Thunderstruck, Sweet Home Alabama, and Smoke on the Water.

As far as bands go, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Who, U2, Springsteen, and Metallica rule the list.

I was a little surprised how often Elton John, John Fogerty, Mellencamp, and the Monkees were mentioned.

It is not just about hard opening rock cords. Some of the comments included-

Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: "Uno, dos, one, two, tres, cuatro!"

Ronnie Van Zant's instruction to "Turn it up..." on Sweet Home Alabama.

The rhythmic cash register with the funky bass line joining in on Pink Floyd's "Money."

It is not a contest; there is no voting, just opinions.

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It seems that most of the best intros happen to also be the riff or main part of the song(i.e. "Cat Scratch Fever", "Smoke on the Water", "25 or 6 to 4", "Last Train to Clarksville" etc.)

But my favorite exceptions:

Beatles-"Back in the USSR" (airplane noise)

"Strawberry Fields"(Mellotron lick)

"I am the Walrus"(that wierd orchestral thing)

Kiss- acoustic intro to "Rock Bottom"

Jimi Hendrix-the first four dissonant chords before main part of "Purple Haze"

Prince- the mishmash in the beginning of "17 Days"

Ramones- 1,2,3,4 count-offs on a lot of songs.

Rubinoos- the talking before the intros to "Peek-a-Boo" and "Rock and Roll is Dead"

Golden Earring--"Radar Love" need I say more?

Grand Funk- the "whoo whee" in the beginning of "Black Licorice" and the drum/cowbell interplay on "American Band"

Led Zeppelin- "In the Evening" opening chords before drums come in.

Terry Jacks' guitar intros on "Where Evil Grows" and "Seasons in the Sun"(actually the same lick).

The bells on AC/DC's "Hell's Bells"

There are more good ones, but I'm tired, it's late at night and I can't think straight now....

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How 'bout "I Wanna Be With You" for a perfect intro?

So many Beatles songs could get mention here.... There's the buzz-saw effect of "Revolution" (followed by that piercing scream---Paul, if memory serves, although it's a John song.... Correct me if I'm wrong). And I love hearing the intros to "Ticket to Ride," "A Hard Day's Night," and "Something." Then there's Lennon's "Instant Karma" and McCartney's "Band on the Run" and (for an obscurity) "Smile Away," from Ram.

I haven't looked at the link yet, but I'd guess the two Stones intros would be "Satisfaction" and "Start Me Up." And how about ELO's "Turn to Stone"? Or "Roll Over Beethoven" (with the Beethoven "sample")....

For me, those are the ones that come to mind right off.

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About 20 years ago there was a metal band named "Lillian Axe." They had no less than five superb intros on the same CD. At one time I had all five intros segued much like Bernie's Berry Mash. The intros were better than the complete arrangements.

That same CD had a very respectable cover of Badfinger's "No Matter What."

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Ticket To Ride, I Feel Fine, Tumblin Dice, Satisfaction, Honky Tonk Woman, Start Me Up, Won't Get Fooled Again, I Can't Explain, Look Through Any Window, You Really Got Me, A Hard Day's Night, Paperback Writer, Day Tripper, Brown Sugar, Go All The Way, I Wanna Be With You, Tonight, Substitute, All Right Now, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Happy, Stray Cat Blues, The Last Time, Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown, Needles And Pins, Born To Run, She's The One, Little Red Corvette, 1999, California Girls, Marcella, just for starters.

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To Eric's list, I'll add - Mr. Tambourine Man, Eight Miles High, So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star, When You Walk In The Room (Searchers version), Til The End Of The Day, September Gurls, Rebel Rebel, Shake Some Action, Shakin' All Over (practically any version), Mississippi Queen, Baby Blue (Badfinger), etc.

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