Let’s See Your Openers

I have lots of actual remunerative labor in my sights for the next few days and we’re headed out of town later in the week, so I won’t have much time to post here. But here’s a chance for the readership (all two dozen of you) to talk amongst yourselves, based on a couple of things that came up in last Friday’s post:

First up: I mentioned that “Fire” by Arthur Brown and “A Hard Day’s Night” are two of the most attention-grabbing openings in rock history. Our pal whiteray threw “Layla” into the hopper. So now let’s see if there are any more. Which songs grab the hardest from the first second? I can think of a couple additional candidates, “Go All the Way” by the Raspberries and “Start Me Up” by the Stones, but there are certainly others. Add your suggestions in the comments.

If that topic doesn’t appeal to you, try this one: In the same Friday post, I mentioned that the Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 cover of “Fool on the Hill” is one of the few Beatles covers that stomps the original. Another reader, bean, has two more: Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Savoy Truffle” by Terry Manning. What say you? Are there other cover versions of Beatles tunes that improve on the originals? Click “Comments” and tell the whole class.

If you read this blog but have never commented, now’s the time to lose your virginity. (If you’re going to download either track below, the least you can do is bring something to the party.) And if you’re a regular commenter, get busy. I appreciate the help this week.

One More Thing: Here’s the rundown of my recent posts at WNEW.com:
This Week in Rock History: Takeoffs
Rock 101: Chicago
Founding Father: Cosimo Matassa and the New Orleans Sound
This Week in Rock History: Play it Again, Ringo
Rock 101: Punk
Founding Father: Buddy Holly

Rock history runs Wednesdays, Rock 101 on Thursdays, and Founding Fathers on Saturdays at WNEW.com.

“Go All the Way” (live)/Raspberries (from a 1973 Armed Forces Radio concert in Germany; buy it here)
“Savoy Truffle”/Terry Manning (the leadoff track on Manning’s lone album, 1970’s Home Sweet Home, and like the rest of the album, it is both ridiculous and awesome; buy it here)


33 responses

  1. As far as the song with an intro that hooks me immediately, I’d put U2’s “One” on my list. Far more subtle than the songs already mentioned, but maybe that’s why it works for me.

    As far as covers of songs by The Beatles, I’ve always thought that Siouxsie & The Banshees did a bang up job on “Dear Prudence,” and, somewhat related, Marianne Faithfull’s version of “Working Class Hero” is far more powerful to me than John Lennon’s original.

  2. I was going to mention Siouxsie’s “Dear Prudence”, and Faithful’s “Working Class Hero” is a good call too.

    I also think Aerosmith’s “Come Together” actually betters the great original; it’s a little harder, and Tyler’s vocal is perfect.

    And, of course, Earth Wind & Fire’s “Got to Get You into My Life”.

  3. As for openers, the Pixies’ “Motorway to Roswell” opens with a Joey Santiago guitar run that gives me chills every time.

  4. Put me down for the beginning of “Don’t take Me Alive” by Steely Dan. That haunting guitar at the beginning of the song lets you know that there’s a case of dynamite somewhere later in the song.

    I also like the beginning of “Radar Love” by Golden Earring.

    Beatles covers? I can’t think of any that stand out, but I do have “Greatest Hits/Live” by Heart and Ann & Nancy Wilson do an aboslute kick-ass, let-it-rip, volcanic live version of “Long Tall Sally/I’m Down.” That one is really good!

  5. I second “Go All The Way” and I’ll add the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” to the mix. And in an utterly different and subtle way, the opening track to Shawn Phillips’ “Second Contribution,” titled “She Was Waiting . . . .” but colloquially known as “Woman.” Some good entries here . . .

  6. I concur with “Fire” and “Go All The Way.” Great ear-grabbers.

    The deep bass-driven intro to Ramsey Lewis’ “Kufanya Mapenzi” (Making Love) (Columbia 45766) bowls the unsuspecting listener over from the get-go, and never lets up. It’s a miracle that the stylus doesn’t go flying from the grooves of this red-hot 45.

    “All Together” by the Rowan Brothers (Columbia 45728) opens with a straight-out-of-left-field descent that would have deejays in a panic, thinking that the turntable had just died. Few DJs ever got the chance to be “surprised” in 1972, though. A college radio fave.

    Parrot 45005. “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!! DO THE HAMMERLOCK!!!” Anybody not paying attention yet? Thought so. Chalk one up for “The Crusher” by The Novas. Number one for weeks here in Minneapolis-St. Paul, just as another local group had done exactly one year earlier with their ear-catcher, “Surfin’ Bird.”

    My all-timer is from another Twin Cities band. To this day, nothing grabs me by the lapels quite like the screaming, piercing, menacing, electrifying and thrilling opening guitars on “Action Woman” by The Litter (Scotty 6710.) They had my rapt attention the frst time I heard it on KDWB. Now THAT’S rock ‘n’ roll!

  7. I think Zodiac Mindwarp’s “Prime Mover” is great! There’s a speech before the song on the album that is worth checking out too. Here’s the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtnCcWOS7y8 In the same vein of dark speech into great intro is Motley Crues “Shout At The Devil”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dy-Q4tSkQY&feature=related

  8. I’m going to go in a different direction on this one and say “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five. That piano into the intro gets me going every time.

  9. My theme song from days-gone-by, “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.

  10. I have GOT to know Yah Sure from above a little better for his nod to ‘Action Woman’! Great call.

    Let’s not forget that a great opener doesn’t have to be a nailed balls to the wall, slingshot pellet to the bridge of the nose to chill your colon solid. Sometimes it’s simpler than that. Let me submit the opening of Gladys Knight and her ‘If I Were Your Woman”. Pin drop quiet, anticipation salivating and then the track begins … Hard to beat.

    Though I’m not sure any cover actually beats the original, Siouxie is hard to beat. How about something completely different? Ever hear the Carpenters (yea, them) version of “Help”? Or, try out Ramsay Lewis with “Cry Baby, Cry”. How about the Stones’ version of “I Wanna Be Your Man”?

    Let me throw out another twist – how about a tune that the Beatles covered that’s better than the original? I toss out thier version of “Kansan City/Hey, Hey, Hey”. Much as the originals are holy to me, I think the cover sails on a higher wind.

  11. I Feel Fine – The Beatles & Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures have killer intros. One cover of a Beatles song that stomps the original is “I Call your Name by The Mamas and The Papas.

  12. One more….”Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. The opening guitar always takes me back to a cold winter night back in the early-to-mid 70s ridin’ around with my friends and discovering FM on a car radio

  13. Shark, I’m shocked you didn’t mention Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page.” The haunting saxophone opening from “Live Bullet” sends chills up my spine every time I hear it.

  14. Some other likely candidates for intros that grab:

    “All Along the Watchtower” by Hendrix
    “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy

    And to take a page from Kevin’s suggestion that they don’t all have to be hard shots:

    “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five.

    Keep it going here, gang. I’ll have a new post up on Thursday night.

  15. Thought of another one: The Moody Blues, I know, are not to everyone’s taste. But the opening guitar strum to “Question,” followed by the (mellotron?) horns, sure got your attention when it came out the radio speakers.

  16. Blue Swede beefed up Jonathan King’s wimpy, but unique rearrangement of B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked On A Feeling,” with its unforgettable opening.

    Whiteray, the single version of “Question,” which came out well ahead its LP appearance, didn’t have the call-and-response horns during the intro that appeared later on ‘Question Of Balance.’

  17. Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
    Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog
    Elton John – Rocket Man
    Aerosmith – Walk This Way
    Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne
    Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel
    The Eagles – Seven Bridges Road
    Aretha Franklin – A Natural Woman
    Talking Heads – Life During Wartime
    Leon Russell – Tightrope

    …make me stop…make me stop…

  18. OK…so you already mentioned “Start Me Up”.

  19. Faulty memory then . . . another sign of encroaching geezerdom!


  21. Attention-grabbing opening: “Revolution,” by the Beatles.

  22. for ear-grabbing openings, come to think of it there are a whole slew of :00 intros that are irresistible.

    “rock and roll music,” “can’t buy me love,” and “all my loving” by the beatles, for instance.

    “down by the lazy river” by the osmonds (remember: “what are you doing tonight…?)

    “white lies, blue eyes” by bullet.

    and many more….

  23. One of my favorite covers is the 1972 version of “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. It went to #9 on the Billboard Charts that year.

    Originally recorded by Charlie Ryan and The Livingston Brothers in 1955, it was also covered in 1960 by Johnny Bond.

  24. Fusion 46 made mention of the Talking Heads and that made me think of that first drum beat in “Take Me To the River.” I think Al Green wrote that song and it’s been covered by many artists.

  25. Speaking of Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime” has a great opening, too.

  26. The Terry Manning track reminded me . . . I have a version of “Savoy Truffle” by Ella Fitzgerald. Not as good as Manning or the Beatles’ but interesting.

  27. Great list (several new songs to check out), but how can Springsteen’s Born to Run not be on this list? Grab’s ya from the first crack of the drumstick.

  28. Ok, ok, on a personal (and subjective) nature, I have a few more:

    School’s Out – Alice Cooper
    Ca Plane Pour Moi (excuse my French) – Plastic Bertrand
    Take Me I’m Yours – Squeeze
    American Woman – Lenny Kravitz
    Heavy – Collective Soul
    Cold Turkey – Lennon
    Candles In The Rain – Melanie
    Tall Cool One – Robert Plant
    Mission Of Mercy – Motels
    Smiling Faces Sometimes – Undisputed Truth
    Who Do You Love – George Thorogood
    Summertime – Billy Stewart (long version of course)
    Letting Go – McCartney
    Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players
    Somebody Calling – Robin Trower
    Heavy Makes You Happy – Staple Singers
    Tomorrow Never Knows – Beatles
    Lucretia Mcevil – BS&T
    I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
    Rollin’ And Tumblin’ – Jeff Beck
    Stay – David Bowie
    I Put A Spell On You – Creedence
    Pipeline – Chantays
    I Just Wanna Make Love To You – Foghat
    Let’s Work Together – Canned Heat
    Round And Round – Ratt
    Frankenstein – Edgar Winter
    The Hippy Hippy Shakes – Swinging Blue Jeans
    Streychnine – The Sonics
    Treat Her Like A Lady – Cornelius Bros And Sister Rose
    Do It Again – Beach Boys
    Sister’s Are Doin’ It For Themselves – Annie and Aretha

    Sure, I ramble on, sorry.

  29. The album version of “Telephone Line” by ELO, which opens with “telephone company-like sounds.”

  30. Opening notes that grab you? There’s so many. When the Beach Boys start the openings to “California Girls” and “Sloop John B”, nobody touches the radio. Same with “Under the Milky Way” by the Church and (don’t laugh) “A Summer Place” by Percy Faith. Great thread.

    Beatles covers better than the original? The ones that come to mind are George Martin’s instrumental covers of “Here, There and Everywhere” and “And I Love Her”. There was a disc jockey on WLS or WCFL radio in Chicago that used to end his show every night at midnight with Martin’s “And I Love Her”. Can’t remember his name but maybe JB or another poster can recall who he was. One other Beatles tune I felt was better than the original was “If I Needed Someone” by The Cryan Shames.

  31. How about Hi-De-Ho?

  32. […] of town approached, JB the DJ at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ invited readers to take part in two extended discussions, one detailing the most attention-grabbing openings to rock and pop records, the other cataloging […]

  33. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys
    Kick Out The Jams – The MC5 (particularly the un-Bowlderized version)

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