In our iTunes-ruled world of 99-cent singles, the careful construction of an album’s song order has become sort of a lost art, which is precisely what inspired the fine folks over at music social community site JamsBio to put together a list of the 25 best closing tracks in (mostly rock) music history. Overall, it’s a solid list. Included are “A Day in the Life” from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” from Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from the Who’s Who’s Next, and “Gouge Away” from the Pixie’s Doolittle.
Anyone who doubts the waning importance of track sequencing need only look at the last half of the list, starting with that Pixies selection, which, while inarguably a great closer, feels a bit less obvious a choice as the first three. We can go back and forth over whether the Beatles are better represented by “A Day in the Life” than “Tomorrow Never Knows” from Revolver, but both are clearly ideal for this list. On the other hand, “Glorybox” from Portishead’s Dummy? “Blue Line Swinger” from Yo La Tengo’s Electr-O-Pura? Again, great songs, but they don’t scream “greatest closer ever” the way “You Can’t Always Get You Want” does. Perhaps it’s just a case of being too recent. It’s taken 40 years of history to build “Won’t Get Fooled Again” into the anthem it is today. Plus, music today is so much more segmented than it used to be, making JamsBio’s list seem incomplete without any electronic dance music (“The Private Psychedelic Reel” from the Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole), metal (“The Call of Ktulu” from Metallica’s Ride the Lightning), or hip-hop (“Mind of a Lunatic” from the Geto Boys’ Grip It! On That Other Level).
But again, the biggest reason this list has just two entries since the turn of this century is because the music industry has become so singularly focused on singles, while consumers have taken full advantage of the option to buy individual songs. Sadly, this shift has made song sequencing feel like an antiquated practice back from the age of album sleeves, 7-inch B-sides, and 37-minute LPs.
So check out the list, PopWatchers, and let us know which of your favorite album closers are left off. Do you still buy complete albums, or are you more of a singles consumer? Do you think album sequencing is a thing of the past, or is it still in integral part of the records you buy, if not culture as a whole?