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20 Best Hidden Tracks on Albums

on July 08, 2014, 2:00pm
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Every day we walk amongst things that are hidden—concealed from our immediate sensory perception. Things that nestle just along our peripheral edge like a distant buoy floating on the horizon. As human beings, we walk through our days bombarded by stimuli of all natures; our eyes, ears, noses, and mouths do all they can to give us an idea of just what is surrounding us, but a good deal gets lost in translation. So much of this missed detail is not our fault, rather an unavoidable consequence of having more to do than sit in silent absorbance of our environment. And thus, things become hidden. Sometimes putting a spotlight on these minute parts can add depth to our appreciation of the whole. Assuming the role of proverbial spotlight, we decided to comb through the hidden tracks from some of the great albums of the past half-century.

First, why don’t we begin by removing some opacity from the phrase hidden track”. Our functional definition includes those tracks that were not listed on the album but were nonetheless tucked into its sonic existence. This has been achieved in many fashions, from the classic few-minutes-of-silence-then-obscure-avante-garde-noise-appears (I love The Beatles) to unlisted interludes between tracks or just simply sticking it at the end and not telling anyone about it.

Now the reasons why bands decide to include hidden tracks—that’s a bit more speculative. Coldplay have been quoted as saying it was to assure the album had “enough value for the money.” In some less mockably righteous cases, it clearly served as a platform for a musical joke. Hidden tracks can also provide an excuse to release a less than optimal quality recording, or they can simply be the inadvertent result of bad labeling. The most commonly cited reasoning is that of surprise for listeners, but there’s likely as many artists who do it without any presumption at all.

Inadvertent or not, we have compiled a list of the 20 best hidden tracks that deserve to see the light of day. Some you may already recognize; others may just be your missing Chapstick (the one that ended up being in your pocket the whole time). Enough lip-softening relief to make all the anxiety go away.

-Kevin McMahon
Contributing Writer

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Anonymous
September 1, 2014 at 7:28 am

“Blue Flashing Light” by Travis. The best song on the album is both a hidden track and a complete departure from the palette of the album proper.

Frederic
August 31, 2014 at 3:11 am

Madrugada’s “love’s institution” on the album “grit”. Of course.

Paul Snyder
August 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Mile High on John Hiatt’s 1995 album Walk On

KW
July 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

REM – Superman. And referring to Her Majesty, the version on Abbey Road was recorded before the extended version, as the Get Back sessions to which you’re referring took place before the recording of Abbey Road.

Jv77
July 12, 2014 at 2:26 am

Backini – Clocks

Anonymous
July 12, 2014 at 2:02 am

Thanks for the Atmosphere :)

Anonymous
July 11, 2014 at 3:12 am

the Smiths – How soon is now?
That was a B-side….does that count as a hidden song??

rene
July 11, 2014 at 1:04 am

whereis god damn Placebo´s Evil Dildo

waj1805
July 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

My go-to hidden track is from the self-titled Jawbox LP where they absolutely torch “Cornflake Girl”.

strawmancomics
July 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I was thinking of the hidden track before Unkle’s Psyence Fiction. Also Coldplay’s “Till Kingdom Come” was the best thing off of X & Y.

Jason W
July 10, 2014 at 7:25 am

“Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum” by Nick Cave % The Bad Seeds in the pre-gap of the Songs in the key of X album That and their version of the X-files theme are hidden jems on the album

Ana Pham
July 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Sublime , thanks for sharing

Ben Höek (@Ben_Hoek)
July 10, 2014 at 7:25 am

Here’s what’s left – RJD2

Jayy
July 10, 2014 at 6:44 am

UNKLE <3

cirkusfolk
July 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Diamond Bollocks off of Beck’s Mutations album?

Elliott
July 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

^ THIS x a million. What a song.

Nikita Skorobogatov
July 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I love both Green Day and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but “All By Myself” sucks, and “Poor Song” is a mediocre throwaway at best. Also, I’ve always thought of “Endless, Nameless” as more of a statement than an actual song you can enjoy. I’d go with “Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip,” which has a Pavement-esque ring to it. And I know it’s not a popular opinion, but my favorite hidden track of all time is “Look At Your Game, Girl” on “The Spaghetti Incident?”, Axl’s brilliant cover of Charlie Manson’s best song. Another good one is the demo version of “Sermons Vs. The Gospel” on Cold War Kids’ debut, which sounds better than the eventually released studio mix.

Cailan Lefavre
July 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm

I thought that Train In Vain was originally released in the US as a 45 or EP inside the London Calling album.

Anonymous
July 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Islands – Bucky Little Wing!

SLIS
July 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm

No ‘Crazy’ by the Pumpkins? Damn, that’s one of the best ever.

Stephen Williams
July 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Did you really leave Tool’s ‘Disgustipated’ off this list?

Rory Biller (@cloneradio)
July 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

qotsa – mosquito song

mike
July 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

talihina sky – kings of leon

jprobichaud
July 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm

I was thinking “Euro trash girl” by Cracker.

JennBird3
July 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill – “Your House”

Jade
July 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Yes!! I was just about to say this!

andylovesmusic
July 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Dookie wasn’t Green Day’s debut album

Anonymous
July 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm

“Breakthrough” doesn’t mean debut.

marsbonfire9
July 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Strangulation at the end of My Morning Jacket’s At Dawn LP

Elliot Wedge Barker
July 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

No ‘Running the World’ by Jarvis Cocker?

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