What is the best song intro... Ever?

JD

Master Member
Can't.

Pick.

Just.

One.

Just off the top of my head...

The dark thunder and rain and then the heaviest three notes ever recorded (diabolus in musica) of Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath.

That bending low E into Sabbath's Iron Man.

The simple crunchy chromatic chord progression of Metallica's Master of Puppets.

Those four clean notes on Metallica's One.
 
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letmebestormy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Ha, I have given this way too much though and actually made a "Best Intro" mix. I had to clearly define what constitutes an "Intro". I'll see if I can dig it up and upload it tonight when I am home. For now, here's the tracklist:

“Introductions Are In Order”
A Letmebestormy Mix

I’ve had this mix floating around in my head for a long time so I figured I needed to get it done before it got away from me. This is a mix of the best introductions in music….mostly rock music. Before I get into it, let me define as best I can the parameters I worked with.

For the purposes of this mix the definition of an “introduction” is as follows:

• An introduction can be verbal. That’s an automatic confirmation.

• An introduction can be instrumental. However, that instrumentation cannot be a regular part of the song itself. That is why after a serious debate with myself you won’t find songs like “Sweet Emotion”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Under Pressure” or even “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” on this mix. Those songs have sick beginnings (and they’ll be on “Beginnings” for sure) but I had to draw a hard line in the sand as to what separates an ‘introduction’ from a ‘beginning’.

• However, in the case of Alan Parsons, The Moody Blues, and Floyd I ran into a gray area. These are certainly tracks I would define as ‘introductions’, however on their respective albums these intros were given their own track and title. Does that make them a separate song and thus, lose their inherent ‘intro-ness’? Maybe. But to me, their function as “intro” clearly outweighed their existence as a sentient track on their own. For these tracks, they have been joined together and labeled as such.

As I said, I worked pretty much in rock music. I’m sure Sinatra, Bird, Dizzy, etc…had some powerful introductions in their day. I had to cap it. Originally I intended this mix to be a Top 10. It became clear quickly that was not going to happen. I ended up with 23 tracks and even then had to make some hard cuts. I’m sure I missed some real beauts, too. I think this is a pretty damn good representation given the criteria I set for myself. Alright, enough of my yapping. Let’s get to the tracks:

1) Let’s Go Crazy (Prince) - On a mix about Introductions, you can’t imagine the pressure of what track to put first. In the end I went with Prince, not because this intro is any better than any that follow it, but because it gets you fired up.

2) Sweet Jane (live, Lou Reed) – This may be the best instrumental intro ever. It’s just sick, flawlessly executed, slams right into the song. I can remember the first time I ever heard this on the radio. It blew my little mind.

3) Must Of Got Lost (live, J. Geils band) – This is up there as one of the best vocal intros. Peter Wolf tells a story of desperation. It builds and builds and they count off. That’s just great rock and roll.

4) The Way (live, Jill Scott backed by The Roots) – This is from Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Dave intros this great track. It’s sort of a 2for1 intro. You get the vocal intro followed by the thick and heavy guitar from The Roots. Tubbs, wait in the car.

5) Sirius>Eye In The Sky (The Alan Parsons Project) – Nevermind that Sirius served as the intro music for Michael Jordan and The Bulls when they owned the world, but man the segue into Eye In The Sky is sublime. Say what you want, Alan Parsons is master in the studio.

6) Celluloid Heroes (live, The Kinks) – This is a pretty personal track for me as the guitar solo that intros this track is the very first thing I learned on guitar decades ago. I can still remember trying to make my fingers play it. My whole approach to guitar can be traced to this track. It’s an incredible instrumental intro that was never on the studio version. This can be found on “One For The Road” and was recorded at The Volkhaus, Zürich, Switzerland, 11 November 1979.

7) Intro>I’ll Go Crazy (Live at the Apollo, James Brown) – You can’t have a mix of intros without one for James Brown, the hardest working man in showbiz. Period.

8) Departure>Ride My See-Saw (The Moody Blues) – Before they packed up and moved to Cheesyville, The Moody Blues were some trippy mother****ers. These two tracks open up their 1968 “In Search of the Lost Chord” album. This album got a lot of late night play in our college dorm room where you could often hear us mutter “The Moody Blues were some trippy mother****ers”.

9) I Can’t Turn You Loose>Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (live at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, The Blues Brothers) – Ok people, you get a twofer here. The first intro is by the late great Cab Calloway over the Otis Redding classic “I Can’t Turn You Loose”. The second intro is Elwood Blues welcoming you to the Palace Hotel Ballroom. These tracks have never been released on any soundtrack. I had to download the entire movie, trim it, and convert it to audio. I get chills every time I listen to this.

10) Casey Jones (The Grateful Dead) – *sniff*. Enough said.

11) Bodhisattva (live, Steely Dan) – This is another candidate for best vocal introduction ever. The emcee is Steely Dan’s truck driver, Jerome Aniton. Jerome was pretty much a walking, drinking, disaster zone. He crashed the band’s truck on numerous occasions. He was the comedian of the crew and thus was given the responsibility to introduce the band. The more he drank, the better the introductions – and you can hear the band cracking up in the background. Adding to the hilarity is that Jerome thought that Donald Fagan’s name was “Stevie Dan”. On one occasion, ever unsteady on his feet, Jerome stumbled into Fagan's grand piano on stage and said to one of the other players, "I bumped into Stevie's piano."

12) Speak To Me>Breathe (Pink Floyd) – Look, you can throw a dart at a list of Floyd songs and most likely will hit a track that deserves to be on this mix. Time, Money, Echoes, Sheep, Another Brick in the Wall II – ALL of them easily qualified to be in this mix. In the end I went with Speak To Me>Breathe. It’s not just the intro of one song to another but the intro into one of the greatest albums ever recorded. The heartbeats followed by the various themes you soon will hear merging into Clare Torry’s wail as you hit “Breathe” – brilliant.

13) I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles) – But…it’s a simple count off. Why does this deserve to make the list? Simple. It is THE count off. This count off didn’t just introduce us to “I Saw Her Standing There”. This count off didn’t just introduce us to their 1963 album “Please Please Me”. This count off introduced the world to The Beatles. There is no more important count off in rock and roll history. Other Beatles tracks that lost out to this seminal track are the airplanes introducing The White Album and the orchestra warming up at the beginning of Sgt. Peppers.

14) Proud Mary (Tina Turner solo. Sorry Ike, I didn’t use ya) – Just a brilliant cover. Admit it, you like it nice and rough.

15) Intro>God Save the Queen (Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight) – There are a LOT of great Hendrix intros out there. I like Jimi’s banter on this one.

16) Stonehenge (Spinal Tap) – eh, it deserves to be here.

17) Intro>You Sexy Thing (live, Tom Tom Club) – I love the funk underneath the intro that develops into the melody of the song.

18) The Ocean (Led Zeppelin) – You gotta love Bonzo’s pep talk to the band, "We've done four already but now we're steady, and then they went 1, 2, 3, 4!” and then they end up with this brilliant take. The only problem is you can barely hear him and if you turn it way up, be aware that the opening guitar riff will slay your ears – as it’s supposed to.

19) Lola (live, The Kinks) – Over the years, Ray Davies would tease audiences throughout their concerts about whether they would play Lola….often a half dozen or more times before finally playing it in the second encore or something. This version is a twofer intro with a vocal tease followed by a very pretty acoustic run through of a verse. This was recorded at the good ‘ol Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI, 23 September 1979.

20) Harry Hood Intro>2001 (live, Phish) - This one is for my Phish loving friends. As the 20th century turned into the 21st century Phish on 12/31/1999 Phish launched into an all night set which started at midnight and ended when the sun came up on the Seminole Reservation in Florida. It was the largest concert on the entire planet that night and I’m not sure if any other band has ever pulled off something so lofty as playing an entire night without any breaks. With just a hint of dawn creeping into the black of night Phish played the opening chords of Harry Hood (which they had played the night before). It quickly segued into a 13+min version of Deodato’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. My take on it was Phish was giving the audience who had been dancing now for 6 hours straight a quick “just want to make sure you’re still with us” gut check.

21) The Fat Albert Theme Song (written by Ricky Sheldon and Edward Fournier) – The opening bass line followed by “Hey Hey Hey!” instantly qualified this tv tune for the list.

22) You Can’t Always Get What You Want (The Rolling Stones) – The Stones have LOT of tunes with amazing beginnings (Gimme Shelter, Monkey Man, Satisfaction, JJFlash, I could go on forever) but amazing intros? Not so many. This one qualifies though. It features the London Bach Choir powerfully opening the song under the stewardship of Javier Sanchez Broto, highlighting throughout, and bringing it to an uproarious conclusion.

23) Love, Reign O’er Me (The Who) – As with a few of their predecessors on this list, The Who had multiple nominations for the list. In the end I went with the thunder, wind, rain, piano, and percussion that ushers in the final track of their masterful 1973 album “Quadrophenia”...and also concludes this mix. The Who have a lot of tracks that have amazing beginnings/intros that sort of ride the line between the two…i.e. “Overture”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The track that came in second to Love Reign O’er Me was actually the opening track of Quadrophenia “I Am The Sea” which features the 4 themes in the album and ultimately crashes into “The Real Me”. Check it out.

There you have it my friends. 23 of the greatest introductions I could come up with in rock history. If you have some suggestions for Volume II, I’d like to hear ‘em! Stay tuned as I have a couple more mixes taking form and hope to have them published shortly.

Cheers,
Cassidy
 

switchblade_slinger

Well-Known Member
8) Departure>Ride My See-Saw (The Moody Blues) – Before they packed up and moved to Cheesyville, The Moody Blues were some trippy mother****ers. These two tracks open up their 1968 “In Search of the Lost Chord” album. This album got a lot of late night play in our college dorm room where you could often hear us mutter “The Moody Blues were some trippy mother****ers”.
Oh! This whole album makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had forgotten all about it (having listened to this and bands from the 4AD label during my acid-dropping 'super-creative' college days)... the intro is positively dizzying. Good call.
 

Solo4114

Master Member
Although on the album it's three separate tracks, I tend to lump the following together:

I Remember Now/Anarchy-X/Revolution Calling -- by Queensryche.

Anarchy-X is basically the 1-2min intro to Revolution Calling, which is a badass song in and of itself. Check 'em out in the youtubes if you're curious. Well worth a listen to all three.

In fairness, I'm not sure if this is literally the BEST intro EVER, but it was the first that came to mind.
 

Solo4114

Master Member
• An introduction can be instrumental. However, that instrumentation cannot be a regular part of the song itself. That is why after a serious debate with myself you won’t find songs like “Sweet Emotion”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Under Pressure” or even “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” on this mix. Those songs have sick beginnings (and they’ll be on “Beginnings” for sure) but I had to draw a hard line in the sand as to what separates an ‘introduction’ from a ‘beginning’.
So, if I follow you, your line in the sand, as it were, is based on overall chord structure? As in, does the chord structure of the start of the piece merely repeat/reflect itself in the song, and thereby make it a "beginning," or does the chord structure stand alone ALMOST as a separate song (but not necessarily), and then smoothly transition into a different overall chord structure for the actual song? Or is the dividing line where you have a dominant riff or melody repeated in the start and throughout the song, thus it's "part" of the song? Or is it based on tempo/style, as well? Can a similar chord structure and even melody be distinguished by a radical shift in style and/or tempo? Or is it more just a gut reaction of "that's the same, and that's different" without quite such rigid analysis?


For example, you cite to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as a song with a true "intro." I'm trying to determine how that song's opening isn't a "beginning" if you determine a "beginning" as having the same general chord structure or melody. The choral part is certainly "different" from the "feel" of the main song, but it still follows the same basic melody as the verses. And the refrain, for that matter.

Others in your list are far more clear cut, of course, and I have no questions about them. (Prince, the Beatles, Zeppelin, Alan Parsons, etc.) I'm just curious about that one.
 

Larry Young

Master Member
I was going to try to think of a list, but I'm just going to agree with every one of Cassidy's and add the drum solo that leads off the theme of Hawaii Five-0.
 

JD

Master Member
I can't say I totally agree with your definition of an intro.

I Saw Her Standing There/The Ocean - that's a count into a song, not an intro.
• An introduction can be instrumental. However, that instrumentation cannot be a regular part of the song itself. That is why after a serious debate with myself you won’t find songs like “Sweet Emotion”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Under Pressure” or even “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” on this mix. Those songs have sick beginnings (and they’ll be on “Beginnings” for sure) but I had to draw a hard line in the sand as to what separates an ‘introduction’ from a ‘beginning’.
I think a great intro might echo or lead as a true introduction to the theme('s) of a song. Those theme's might be chordal or in the same key or just riffing based on a main part of the song...

My example of this is Metallica's One. After 17 seconds of war effects, we get to the intro - which is basically truncated versions of the verse riff. We get a guitar solo over that bit which leads to the main verse riff and we don't hear the intro riff again.

You mentioned your omission of Sweet Emotion. It starts with the bass line - which is repeated throughout the song with various effects and then quotes the chorus vocal line. I think this serves as a fine example of an intro as it truly serves as an introduction to a theme we will hear in the song. (Would it make my list? no).

By definition an intro is a part of a song... regular or irregular.
 

letmebestormy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So, if I follow you, your line in the sand, as it were, is based on overall chord structure? As in, does the chord structure of the start of the piece merely repeat/reflect itself in the song, and thereby make it a "beginning," or does the chord structure stand alone ALMOST as a separate song (but not necessarily), and then smoothly transition into a different overall chord structure for the actual song? Or is the dividing line where you have a dominant riff or melody repeated in the start and throughout the song, thus it's "part" of the song? Or is it based on tempo/style, as well? Can a similar chord structure and even melody be distinguished by a radical shift in style and/or tempo? Or is it more just a gut reaction of "that's the same, and that's different" without quite such rigid analysis?


For example, you cite to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as a song with a true "intro." I'm trying to determine how that song's opening isn't a "beginning" if you determine a "beginning" as having the same general chord structure or melody. The choral part is certainly "different" from the "feel" of the main song, but it still follows the same basic melody as the verses. And the refrain, for that matter.

Others in your list are far more clear cut, of course, and I have no questions about them. (Prince, the Beatles, Zeppelin, Alan Parsons, etc.) I'm just curious about that one.
I would say it's more the gut check "is it the same/is it different?". Yeah, the chorus in YCAGWYW does follow the chord structure of the song but it definitely satisfies my criteria for "separate and different" from the song itself.

Songs like Immigrant Song, Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again, Brown Sugar all have great beginnings, some of the best. But since phrasing is repeated/part of the body of the song - I kicked them out of "Intro" territory.

Lunatic Fringe mentioned above qualifies in my definition though!

ahhh, I love thinking about music.
 

Jet Beetle

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
Gunter glieben glauchen globen
Alright
I got something to say
Yeah, it's better to burn out
Than fade away!

Also Alex Van Halen's drum into on HOT FOR TEACHER.

and...

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
 

MrGzilla

Well-Known Member
the most truly emotional band ever is la dispute, and they have some amazing intros, but the best of all is from the last lost continent, its a 12 minuet song and the intro is 2 and a half mins long.

heres the lyrics for the intro:
I felt your sickness brush against my arm as I walked by you -
heard your voice but couldn't tell that it was you.
And, slowly, watched your sickness slip away into a place
that I'd once feared but I was not afraid this time
So I gave chase and found it, finally, slowly feeding from your head,
And from my friends, and from my family, so I grabbed it by the neck.
"For every lover you have ruined..." I dug my nails into its flesh.
"...and every life that you have taken..."
Slammed its head against the brick.
Its blood poured out onto the pavement,
I stirred it in with dirt and spit,
"I will take a part of you."
I made mortar from the mix.
Tore every organ from its body,
broke its bone and fashioned bricks,
I laid the mortar in between,
I made a throne for hope to sit.
"Too long you've torn us into pieces,
firmly held onto our wrists. Today I bury you in me."
I swallowed every inch of it.

the whole song is amazing and concludes with one of the best ending of any song aswell..
heres the link if you want to check it out: La Dispute - The Last Lost Continent (Full, No Breaks) - YouTube
 

Zykotec

Active Member
As many said, 'One' by Metallica. Although I sometimes feel the song goes on got too long. It's still the most beatiful intro.
The pure simplicity of 'Nothing else matters' is also great.
Pink Floyds 'Time' and Jethro Tulls 'Cross-eyed Mary ' also has some great build-ups (and they somewhat resemble each other), with great songs attached to them.
But, the most awesome/scary/hardcore intro to any song ever may be Slayers 'Raining blood' , Im' hardly a Slayer fan, so that songs gets tedious really fast. But I just love that mix of Beethovens 5th and Griegs 'in the hall of the mountain king' in the first notes.
 
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