All music fans love a theory.
And what with all this talk of Q’s sad demise, movingtheriver has been ruminating on the magazine’s great articles past, including an interview with Brett Anderson in which the Suede head honcho posited his theory that track seven of an album is always the best track.
This was red rag to a bull for movingtheriver. But was Brett on to something? Or does he just have some kind of weird, ritualistic interest in the number seven? In a world exclusive, we investigate some movingtheriver-approved, ‘critic-proof’ albums of the 1980s to test his theory.
In the words of Ian Dury, this is what we find…
1980: Talking Heads’ Remain In Light
Track seven: ‘Listening Wind’
1981: Human League’s Dare
Track seven: ‘I Am The Law’
1982: Roxy Music’s Avalon
Track seven: ‘Take A Chance With Me’
1983: Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Track seven: ‘Human Nature’
1984: Prince’s Purple Rain
Track seven: ‘I Would Die 4 U’
1985: Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love
Track seven: ‘Under Ice’
1986: Paul Simon’s Graceland
Track seven: ‘Under African Skies’
1987: David Sylvian’s Secrets Of The Beehive
Track seven: ‘Mother And Child’
1988: Prefab Sprout’s From Langley Park To Memphis
Track seven: ‘Knock On Wood’
1989: The Blue Nile: Hats
Track seven: ‘Saturday Night’
So how do the track sevens stack up? It has to be said, most do seem to have something ‘Suede-like’ about them, something wistful, melancholic, or, in the case of the Talking Heads, Human League and Kate Bush tracks, positively menacing. Brett would probably approve.
But are they the ‘best’ tracks from their respective albums? No. You could possibly make a case for ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Saturday Night’* but you’d certainly be going out on a limb.
So there you have it. Obviously Mr A was talking out of his a*se. Next time: Peter Andrex’s ‘track four’ theory. B*llshit or not? YOU be the judge…
*Er… Wait. Wasn’t one of Suede’s best singles also entitled ‘Saturday Night’? Whoa, daddy…
(Other examples/alternative theories always welcome…)
4 thoughts on “Brett Anderson’s ‘Track Seven’ Theory: A Special movingtheriver.com Report”
The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster has a book named “The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll”. One of his rules is that “The second-last song on every album is the weakest”. Makes sense – you want to push your weaker material to the second side but finish with a bang.
Track 7 theory makes sense in that in a typical vinyl-era album it might often be the first track on side 2.
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Right, I’m going to read that book… I love this kind of stuff. I know what you mean, but actually I think track seven would usually have been the second or third song on side two, something to give the audience a breather. I’ve just had a quick look at Suede’s output, and my favourite track on the debut album is definitely track seven: ‘Sleeping Pills’. But it doesn’t work for me on ‘Dog Man Star’ or ‘Coming Up’: seventh tracks are ‘New Generation’ and ‘Starcrazy’, respectively…
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It depends what era Anderson’s talking about I guess. In the 1960s albums were generally shorter – a lot of Beatles albums have track seven on side one.
The 10 Rules is kind of a hook for Forster’s book – it’s mainly a collection of articles he wrote. It’s interesting anyway, especially when he tackles Nana Mouskouri, although it has a big focus on contemporary Australian music. He’s an excellent writer too – studied literature at University.
I’ll definitely check it out.
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