Oh gaad no. I'm stuck in Nick Hornby world and I'm not sure I can get out. I noticed that Chris Rand picked out some top songs to close out albums after picking up on a thread at the Guardian. And I fell in the hole. In between bursts of real work, I piled through the iTunes collection - a lot of it I've rated over the years so the job was fairly easy.
I tried hard to not bung in good songs that happened to be at the end of an album, but sound as though they were meant to be there as well and that nothing else would do.
The top two are easy. It's a toss-up as to which should come top but I reckon The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again (Who's Next) has to be up there somewhere. I'm surprised more people didn't namecheck it: that's an album closer if ever I heard one.
The masterpiece of structure is The The's Beyond Love on Mind Bomb: a masterpiece of delayed satisfaction. Matt Johnson said it's his favourite song, largely because of the lyrics. In all honesty, they're a bit too heavy handed. But the structure of the song is perfect. Not only do you have to wait for the end of the album for the song, you have to wait for the end of the song for the payoff of the full chorus. That's songwriting.
A bit more obscure is Hotel Womb by The Church from Starfish. Forget Under The Milky Way - the only hit single for the Aussie band (and resurrected in Donnie Darko). This is the real gem on the album: what would you put after this?
Some at the Guardian site put in Teenage Fanclub's Is This Music? But it probably tries a bit too hard to be an album closer. S*T*A*R*C*A*R at the end of Julian Cope's Autogeddon suffers from the same issue.
Also in the trying-too-hard department: It's the Sun by the Polyphonic Spree from The Beginning Stages Of... However, the whole album desperately wants to be liked - but that's its charm. Even if it does make you wonder if you are being surreptitiously brainwashed by some crazy Adventist cult.
Most of the lists tend to swing towards rock rather than anything else. In reality, with the exception of Prince and early Michael Jackson albums, most just shove the best songs up front and let the album fizzle out.
In the electronica and dance department, Orbital arguably has the best offering. Out There Somewhere? is dangerously close to being prog techno and not in a progressive house kind of way. The Girl With The Sun In Her Head is the real star of the album but this one builds and builds and builds to the final minutes making it a damn fine album closer.
Six Six Sixties which finishes the original version of Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats is the fitting finish to this album, with a cover shot at suicide spot Beachy Head.
On a happier note, there's Sensoria by Cabaret Voltaire on Micro-Phonies – the original from the LP rather than the much more famous single version mashed-up with Do Right which now sits at the end of the CD. The single is arguably better but it wouldn't work as the end of the album proper.
In the crazy corner muttering to itself, we have Beast Box from er...Beast Box by Luxuria. Lyrics are nutty as only Howard Devoto can do ("So, I'm in the beast box with my kid brother and there's all these scenes of awful suffering going on") but it's the song you've been waiting for all album. Well, the vinyl version anyway (it took me years to buy a CD player). Unfortunately, the CD adds a sub-par 'bonus' track.
Also in the mad as batshit department is Battle of Britain from Jah Wobble's utterly unhinged first solo album Betrayal. It's got one star in iTunes to make sure it never comes up on an smart playlist. Yet it's the ideal song to close out that album. But the world's wobbliest bassist (and I mean that in a good, 'why is my sternum vibrating' way) gave us Om Nava Shiva at the end of Heaven & Earth. Laaaarvely.
Guns'n'Roses didn't know where to go with Sweet Chile o'Mine on Appetite for Destruction, but they knew how to end the album with another song that's practically two glued together: Rocket Queen.
Motherfucker - Redeemer, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Yanqui UXO. This probably falls foul of the prog-rock test (ie would be half of the album). But the chamber rockers don't really do short numbers.
And the rest...it's a long list (in no particular order and after a little bit of whittling down):
Love & Communication, Cat Power, The Greatest
All The Way, Ladytron, Witching Hour
A Prayer For My Death, Foetus Interruptus, Thaw
I Am The Resurrection, The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
Runners Dial Zero, Beck, Mutations
This Must Be The Place, Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues.
Disappointed, Morrissey, Bona Drag (Worth it just for the crowd's moan when Morrissey changes his mind)
Suffer Little Children, The Smiths, The Smiths
A Song From Under The Floorboards, Magazine, The Correct Use of Soap
Shoot Speed/Kill Light, Primal Scream, Extrmntr
Run Wild, New Order, Get Ready. (But you can't help feeling they kind of lost their edge after Factory went poom.)
OX4, Ride, Going Blank Again
I Can't Sleep Without Music, Modeselektor, Happy Birthday
Here Come The Warm Jets, Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Jets
Stars Of CCTV, Hard-Fi, Stars Of CCTV
Last Will & Testament, Pere Ubu, Story Of My Life
Seeing Out The Angel, Simple Minds, Sons And Fascination
Chesh, The Black Dog, Spanners
The Secret Life of Arabia, David Bowie, Heroes
Coelocanth, Shriekback, Oil & Gold
Pretending To See The Future, OMD, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Fisherman's Tale, The House of Love, The House of Love (1988)
The Next Life, Suede, Suede
Just For A Moment, Ultravox, Systems Of Romance.
The Mercy Seat, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tender Prey. (I'm not sure whether this one counts as it's an alternative version of the opener.)
WXJL Tonight, The Human League, Travelogue
Donimo, Cocteau Twins, Treasure
Stacked Crooked, The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
Sixty Sixteen, Banco de Gaia, Igizeh. (Not a great album by any stretch: this number helps it punch above its weight by leaving you with a good memory of it. It's not exactly a crowd pleaser, but the Shephard Tone effect that de Gaia conveys in the music sets it apart.)
Antarctica Starts Here, John Cale, Paris 1919
Rhapsody, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Peepshow. (A friend once described this as the perfect hangover album. It starts with warped, unsettled syncopation of Peek-A-Boo, goes through the paranoia of Burn Up and closes out with the haunting Rhapsody.)
Here Comes The Flood, Peter Gabriel (1)
Blue Sky, Fluke, Puppy
Gone, Kosheen, Resist (assuming the album ends here rather than the weak remix edit of Hide U. The album itself suffers from too much of-the-moment drum'n'bass sample trickery that, were it released a year before or a year later wouldn't have been there.)
It Never Rains, Dire Straits, Love Over Gold. (However, if I listen to this one I generally go straight from Telegraph Road to this one. More of a 12in single than an album in that context. And this one doesn't wake up until the bridge two minutes in.)
It's No Game, David Bowie, Scary Monsters.
False Goodbyes, Echo & The Bunnymen, Reverberation (This is the one without Ian McCulloch. Just try not to listen to the words. You won't be able to walk properly for hours if you do.)
When I'm 84, The Beautiful South, 0898.
The Chauffeur, Duran Duran, Rio
A Crack In The Clouds, Julian Cope, Saint Julian
Gouge Away, The Pixies, Doolittle
Sugar Baby, Bob Dylan, Love & Theft
Is This Desire? PJ Harvey
Hail Mary, Ultra Vivid Scene, Ultra Vivid Scene
Fight, The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
End, The Cure, Wish (no-one does maudlin end-of-album downers like The Cure)
EMI, The Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks (what better way to go out than with a love letter to your last-but-one record label, on the last proper album you'll ever make.)
Automobile Noise, The Blue Nile, A Walk Across The Rooftops
Love And War, Paul Haig, The Warp Of Pure Fun
Hung Up, Paul Weller, Wild Wood
Track 8, Sigur Ros, ()
Decades, Joy Division, Closer
Cutman, Meat Beat Manifesto, Armed Audio Warfare. (This one probably doesn't count as it's really a compilation and Cutman wasn't even on the original pressing. But it's an album's worth of sampling in one hit.)
Question: should there be a special category for uncredited last tracks that are great closers? I offer up Train in Vain by the Clash from London Calling, REM's cover of Superman on Life's Rich Pageant and the Dead Kennedys' Moon Over Marin from Plastic Surgery Disasters - I haven't got a vinyl version to check against but I vaguely recall this one going uncredited.
I'm glad that's over.