The 10 Best Hidden Tracks In Rock: Secret Recordings, Psychedelic Sleight-of-Hand & More
The CD is format is all but dead, and while most of us won’t miss the agony of skipping tracks on those scratched little wretched discs, a true cultural gem is rapidly falling by the wayside in its demise: the hidden album track.
Sure, bands still tack extras on as “bonus” songs for deluxe editions, special iTunes releases and whatever other way they can tease those few extra bucks out of you. But there’s nothing quite like getting to the end of an album, only to find the track numbers suddenly skipping ahead into some unknown & unannounced musical territory. And then… it arrives. That alien extra, the sub-promotional anchor curve balling its way into our ears and hearts. Sometimes it’s a pretty cool sonic afterthought. Others, it’s a mind-bending trap door into a new dimension.
In honor of those wonderful little sonic surprises we hate to see fall by the wayside, we’ve put together a list of the The Top 10 Hidden Tracks In Rock, with accompanying audio for each song to hear what you digi-kids have been missing out on.
10. Pearl Jam – ‘Master/Slave’ (Ten)
A psychedelically tribal bookend musical section on Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten, “Master/Slave” is an unlisted and deceptively dreamy mood-setter. Bassist Jeff Ament told Billboard: “I think there were a couple of days where Stone (Gossard, guitarist) was either sick or at the dentist. We had a couple of days in the studio, and on one day we did ‘Master/Slave’ which is the beginning and end of the record. The other day, we just jammed on some things. This was one of the things we pulled up and we were like, ‘Wow. This isn’t terrible!’ It shows you, even at that time, what Ed (Vedder) could ad-lib. Nothing got changed.”
9. Deftones – ‘Damone’ (Around The Fur)
One of the best tracks off the Deftones’ classic Around The Fur isn’t on the official tracklisting, and doesn’t appear until after nearly a half hour of silence after the final song “MX” ends. The sense of hopelessness & fury associated with betrayal comes through in full force on this slugger. But before the track begins, keen ears can pick up an earlier hidden track and called “Bong Hit,” a.k.a. “Chino Taking Bong Hits”.
8. The Clash – ‘Train In Vain’ (London Calling)
This fan favorite wasn’t supposed to be a hidden song, but the album was printed before the song was added to the tracklisting. It became a massive hit despite the printing slight, and was the first Clash song to crack the United States Top 30 charts. It’s also among Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The track was written in one night and recorded the next day, near the very end of the recording for London Calling.
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Poor Song/Porcelain’ (Fever To Tell)
This delicate ditty after “Modern Romance” is dripping with unpolished, slow-swaying sensuality. A hypnotic love song no man could resist, it’s a gravitational flipside to Karen O’s trademark spastic lunacy that’s somehow sweeter than the glorious yet overplayed “Maps”. Mainstream missed out on a gem with this one.
6. Beck – ‘Diamond Bullocks’ (Mutations)
Beck explained this secret Mutations gem on KCRW in 1998: “We literally, in one night, recorded eight songs, then took the 24-track tapes and cut them all up on a tape and created this crazy song. It was more about the process than the actual song, but I ended up liking the song too. It’s like the wayward son at the Thanksgiving dinner who just doesn’t really fit in with the family anymore, is the black sheep. So you put him at the end of the table.”