The 11 best hidden tracks in rock history
A long, long time ago, people in their millions bought CDs, strange reflective discs with art on one side and laser music on the other. Back then, in that golden age before MP3s were even a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye, bands would often include songs on their albums that were unlisted. Whether you called them secret tracks or hidden tracks or something else entirely, they were always fun – in that pre-internet age – to discover. Most often they could be found at the end of a long period a silence that followed the last listed track, but sometimes you’d have to rewind the first song and listen to it in the CD’s pre-track gap.
Nowadays, of course, no-one buys CDs and you can pretty much find everything on YouTube, so it’s not as much fun. Still, there have been some genuinely great secret album tracks over the years, so we decided to round up the best ones. And by ‘best ones’, we mean actual songs, not just hilarious skits or slices of ambient noise (we’re looking at you, Pearl Jam!).
Here are the 11 best secret tracks in rock history…
Green Day – All By Myself (Dookie)
Found at the end of F.O.D. (the last song on Green Day’s breakthrough album Dookie), All By Myself was written, played and sung by drummer Tré Cool all by himself and is about, well, what he – or a fictional narrator – did when he was alone. Not that masturbation references were unusual in early Green Day songs, but the act itself was usually written about in passing rather than being the focus of an entire song. The plot might be a bit creepy – the narrator goes to someone’s house but they’re not there, so he decides to masturbate, as you do – but it’s a great song nonetheless.
Nirvana – Sappy (No Alternative Compilation)
Sure, the best – known secret Nirvana track is Endless Nameless, the intense barrage of discordant noise that follows Something In The Way on some versions of Nevermind – but this song easily tops it. Initially released on 1993 AIDS benefit compilation No Alternative, it was included as a secret track and the band weren’t even listed on the compilation. Initially known as Verse Chorus Verse, when an abandoned Nirvana song with the same title was discovered, this became known – and later released on the band’s retrospective box set of rarities – as Sappy. It’s anything but, of course.
Municipal Waste – Touch Me Now (The Art Of Partying)
Tacked onto the end of Born To Party, the last song on Municipal Waste’s third record The Art Of Partying, Touch Me Now is a silly little ditty that may just be 35 seconds long, but definitely has a life of its own. Partly, that’s because it sounds like nothing else the crossover thrash band have ever done, but also because there’s a slightly tragic edge to it – the song was sung by drummer Brandon Ferrell, who was in the band from 2002 to 2004 and sadly died in 2016.
Nine Inch Nails – Physical (Broken EP)
Most people are aware that Johnny Cash turned Hurt into a beautiful acoustic number, but Nine Inch Nails have also dabbled in covers of other people’s songs. This EP actually has two secret covers – this renamed version of Adam And The Ants’ Physical (You’re So) and a take on Suck, a song by Pigface that Trent had written and sung when he was first in that band, way before Nine Inch Nails really took off. This song, however, is downright sinister – especially compared to the original version. For that, it gets its place here.
Guns N' Roses – Look At Your Game Girl (The Spaghetti Incident?)
Speaking of cover versions, in 1993, Guns N’ Roses released an album of 12 punk and hard rock songs, including Raw Power by The Stooges, Attitude by the Misfits, New Rose by The Damned and I Don’t Care About You by Fear. What the tracklisting didn’t say, however, was that at the end of the latter was a hidden cover of this song, written by notorious cult leader Charles Manson. That offended a lot of people, and led to the band saying they’d remove the track from future pressings of the record, but they didn’t, instead donating royalties to the son of one of the victims of the Manson Family murders.
Misfits – Hell Night (American Psycho)
All of the songs on this 1997 Misfits album – the first to feature Michale Graves on vocals – took their names from horror movies. Hell Night was tacked onto the end of Don’t Open ’Til Doomsday, and took its title from the 1981 slasher flick starring Linda Blair, the young girl from The Exorcist. Both the movie and this album were met with mixed reviews at best, but this is a morbid, rollicking, retro, horror punk song that’s catchy as hell itself.
Tool – Maynard's Dick (Salival)
Likely written as a jokey, throwaway song, Maynard’s Dick starts some 25 seconds after L.A.M.C. rounds out Salival, the live, outtake and video album Tool released in 2000. The ironic thing, despite its attempts to be deliberately crude (not just because of its title and lyrics, but also the plethora of belches and fart noises that are dropped into the cacophonous, discordant ending) is that it’s actually a pretty great track. Just be sure you don’t get too carried away singing along when you’re in a public place…
Papa Roach – Tightrope (Infest)
Who knew that Papa Roach could do reggae so well? Probably the seven million or so people who bought a copy of their 2000 major label debut, Infest – but only if they kept listening after the raucous nu-metal onslaught of closer Thrown Away. It’s a softer, more gentle version of a track from the band’s 1999 EP Let ’Em Know, and is actually one of the standouts on the album. Could Papa Roach have become a globally successful, million-selling reggae act? Probably not, but this song still kicks ass.
Deftones – Damone (Around The Fur)
Trust Deftones to go the extra mile. 1997’s second studio record, Around The Fur, didn’t just have one hidden track, but two. After final song MX finishes, there’s about 15 minutes of silence before a 20-second skit/recording called Bong Hit, which is exactly what it sounds like. Some 13 minutes after that, though, Damone kicks into action. A snarling, breath-crushing snake of a song, it’s made appearances in their live sets throughout the years and definitely deserves a better placement than the one it was given on this album.
AFI – Battled (The Art Of Drowning)
Before Davey Havok fully unleashed his inner goth on the world, AFI were a proper hardcore band. This secret song is found on the band’s fifth album, 2000’s The Art Of Drowning. By then, they’d already moved on from those punk roots, but not far enough to leave them behind completely. Smile, in the middle of the record, recalls the bands earlier days, but this track – which fires up after the seven minutes of silence that follow last song Morningstar – is even more frenzied and furious. It lasts for just over a minute and stops abruptly… like all good hardcore songs should.
Placebo – Black Market Blood (Black Market Music)
Placebo are no strangers to the hidden track, and their first three albums each had one lurking at their ends. Both on their first two records were more experimental, instrumental songs, but this kind of title-track is more of an actual song, with singable lyrics and everything. A slow, graceful tune that’s as melancholy as it is apocalyptic, Black Market Blood – like all the best Placebo songs – manages to be sleazy and beautiful at the same time, and is a true gem in their catalogue.
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