Awesome Intros

There’s nothing like a good intro which grabs you by the scruff of the neck and gets your heart-a-tingling with the its awesomeness. Vast vistas can be summoned, entire moods established; the whole song summarised in essence. Here’s a fandabydozy selection.

Gimme Shelter

Oh god, that tremolo, that unsettling “Oooooh”… and the way Charlie Watts kicks in with the drums as the harmonica wails. Spine-tingling.

Out Ta Get Me

Guns at their best, with two fucking incredible guitarists. It’s interesting how though Izzy and Slash have pretty similar guitar sounds (not sure what guitars they used to record the album), they don’t really get in each other’s way, there’s a degree of space between them that lets the sound breathe. And goddamn, the tension they raise, over the straight beats by Steven Adler… fuck yeah!

She Loves You

I described this elsewhere:

The tom-tom roll sets it careening, but the first two declarations of “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!” are jerked back, heightening to an impossible tension (right from the very start!!), while the third iteration releases it into the first verse with superb momentum. The verses, sung jointly by Lennon and McCartney, just sizzles with their harmonised vocals, and in the chorus, the “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” absolutely soars.

Incident after incident after incident, all getting you to prick up your ears right from the off. The Fabs knew every trick in the damn book.

Eton Rifles

Another intro rich with drama and anticipation – you just have to listen on. It’s just so dramatic, the guitar drenching electricity over the bass’s rhythmic figure. Superb. (The verses don’t maintain this level, but the chorus is outstanding).


Nothing, but NOTHING, has a more dramatic, danger-filled intro.

Face The Slayer

I love the way that the tension rises and rise, the feeling of rising tide of evil just ready to burst loose. Slayer were the masters at that (see also: “Evil Has no Boundaries”, “Angel Of Death” and “South of Heaven”). The twin guitars are straight out of Iron Maiden/Judas Priest, but Slayer make them their own.

Higher Ground

What the fuck is that insanely funky thing at the very start? Whatever it is, its inflexions just get your hips grooving. (“Permit me to demonstrate”).

Wish Fulfilment

If you want some out-there distortion or weirdness, you need a steady figure to play off of, and to centre the listener. Thurston Moore’s overcharged distorted geetar, an almost melodic otherworldly yowling, plays over a simple figure by Lee Ronaldo, then… BAM!


3 thoughts on “Awesome Intros

  1. Lots of interesting stuff here, Mike. And dauntingly diverse, as ever.

    I think I’ve shared with you before that the spaghetti Western ambience of The Kane Gang’s Gun Law is one of my favourite intros from the ’80s. I suppose that was my key decade for listening to new music (pity it wasn’t a better decade!). Joe Jackson’s Right and Wrong and The The’s Sweet Bird of Truth stand out in the memory from that period too.

    And quite a few of Thomas Dolby’s songs – especially One Of Our Submarines and Wind Power.

    And Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road….

    Ooh, and the helicopter rotors at the start of Billy Joel’s Good Night, Saigon – which is a great song.

    And Pretty Vacant!!! Yes, I remember the ’70s too. That was one of those songs where – although the whole thing was pretty good – you got tempted just to play the first 15 seconds over and over again.

    And, if we delve really far back (I praise/blame my much older brother for a lot of my musical taste), Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis.

    Actually, Mott also did a BoRap rip-off called Marionette which wasn’t half bad… and had a pretty atmospheric intro (yes, I guess I just like piano openings). Ah, you’ve got me wandering around Youtube for hours here….

    • Pretty Vacant, yes! The Pistols were very good at intros, when you think about – Holidays, Anarchy, No Fun, Liar, Bodies…

      Otherwise I’ve heard very few of your own recommends! If my taste seems “dauntingly diverse” (which I would deny!), yours seems consistent and dauntingly thorough 🙂 . “I Don’t Like Mondays” though – yeah! Terrific intro, very dramatic. Or how about “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”? Punk was great for the ear-grabbing intro – compare with Pink Floyd, or Marillion…

  2. A little further pondering called to mind the mournful ringing guitar – that somehow sounds far away across a windswept moor – at the start of Thin Lizzy’s version of Whiskey In The Jar.

    I had a big weakness for Tanya Donnelly’s early ’90s band Belly as well. They had one track, Angel, which I’ve always felt would make great opening credit music for a movie – a suspenseful crescendo of multiple feedbacked guitars.

    And either of The Boomtown Rats’ great No. 1s, Rat Trap and I Don’t Like Mondays (piano again: I’m a sucker for it!), would qualify for a place in this category.

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