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Ghosts On The Record
December 16, 2013 1:44 PM   Subscribe

It used to be that a CD or good old fashioned 12" vinyl would simply play, and your only indication of when it was about to end would be the album tracklisting printed on the sleeve. Hearing another song start up just as you thought the album was finished and got up to change the record was always an unexpected thrill - a surprise encore in your bedroom, a sort of reward for listening right through to the end. Yes, the iPod and its many variants have transformed the way people listen to music, but as someone who grew up waiting excitedly when an album finished to see if there was an extra hidden treat at the end of an album, I'll always see the death of the secret song as the sad flipside of its success.

Not surprisingly, the origins of the hidden track can be traced back to The Beatles. 1969's Abbey Road included the 23-second long Her Majesty (incidentally, also the shortest song in the fab-four's repertoire). However, two years previous a looped 'inner groove' track played after A Day In The Life at the end of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, arguably the prologue to the hidden track. The inner groove, also known as the double or parallel groove, continued to be used as one of the best and most creative ways to hide tracks throughout the original heyday of vinyl. It necessitated dropping the needle in exactly the right place at the right point on the record, often infuriating the listener, and was used most memorably by Monty Python on their album Matching Tie & Hankerchief:
One side of the album had two completely different sets of tracks, and you never knew which one you'd get until you played it... Also, the record sleeve didn't even list the album's tracks, presumably so that there was no fucking way you could prove to your friends that you weren't lying about what you heard. On top of that, both sides were labeled "Side 2," making things even more maddening.
On their 1995 album Disco Volante, Mr. Bungle used the parallel groove to take the idea of hiding a track a step further. 'Spy' was originally recorded without the knowledge of bassist Trevor Dunn, but he found the tapes and added his own voice into the song, which was tucked underneath the album's 3rd track, Carry Stress In The Jaw.

With the CD came the Pre-Gap, essentially data inserted before the first track on an album. It's unclear exactly who invented this - Wikipedia's list of pre-gap songs includes a few that pre-date the birth of the CD with Billy Joel's 52nd Street, but they were likely added upon reissue. As far as I can tell, the distinction goes to Anal Cunt with their deliciously dirty cover of Hello, I Love You. For some reason Blur's Think Tank album is often used as the main example of pre-gap usage with the track 'Me, White Noise', but there are many more creative examples, including Public Enemy's 'Ferocious Soul', Nine Inch Nails' '10 Miles High', UNKLE's 'Psyence Fiction Intro', Blind Melon's 'Hello, Goodbye' and Kanye West & Mos Def's 'Good Night'.

The CD era also seemed to give rise to the glory days of the hidden track, beginning in 1991 with Nirvana's Nevermind. Endless, Nameless, starting 10 minutes after the album's final track, is 6 minutes of distorted noise interspersed with two sections of shimmering melody, and introduced a whole new generation to the concept. In 1993 Janet Jackson had a secret song called Whoops Now that was the first of its kind to hit the charts. And in 1999, Lauren Hill achieved a milestone with a Grammy nomination for her hidden track Can't Take My Eyes Off You, a cover of the Frankie Valli song.

One of the most creative hidden tracks ever recorded can be found on Tool's 2006 album 10,000 Days, although you have to look beneath the surface. Generally referred to as 23 Days For Marie, it requires mixing three different tracks off the album overtop of one another. There are many versions available on youtube (this is my personal favorite), but some would argue that the spirit of the concept can only be found in mixing your own version according to your taste.

Of course, no discussion of hidden music would be complete without a mention of backmasking. The simple concept of reversing sound was once again popularized by The Beatles on the track Rain, a b-side of Paperback Writer pre-Revolver, though the invention of backmasking dates much further back to Thomas Edison. But it was another track by The Beatles, 1968's Revolution #9, that would remain etched in the public mind for its use of backmasking after becoming a central figure in the whole 'Paul Is Dead' theory. Perhaps because of its connections to Aleister Crowley's "Occult Law Of Reversal", and its later use in the film The Exorcist, backmasking faced its share of moral criticism in the 1980s (previously, previously, ylsuoiverp). Yet it refused to die: on their 1995 album My Brother The Cow, Mudhoney included a hidden track called woC ehT rehtorB yM, the entire record played backwards.

A few lists:
Wikipedia
TV Tropes
Am I Right

Loudwire Best Heavy Hidden Tracks
XXL Keep Listening: 20 of Hip-Hop’s Best Hidden Tracks
A Journal Of Musical Things Top 10 Hidden Tracks of New Rock

So anyways, what about that 2011 death theory? It would appear that while the peak of the hidden track passed sometime in the 90s, it is still far from being a memory. The last few years alone have seen examples from Arcade Fire, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Moby, Beach House, Justice, Eminem, Röyksopp, CocoRosie, and, yes, Paul McCartney.
posted by mannequito (76 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite

 
bonus link that I couldn't quite fit into the post - Rare ’70s Electronic Music Is Hidden in The Hunger Games
posted by mannequito at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whereas today, we have secret albums.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:51 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This demonic laughter appeared at the end of Sepultura's Chaos A.D.. Leaving the room after listening to the album and not hitting 'stop' has freaked out more than a couple of folks at my summer camps and college dorms.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2013


One of the most creative hidden tracks ever recorded can be found on Tool's 2006 album 10,000 Days, although you have to look beneath the surface. Generally referred to as 23 Days For Marie, it requires mixing three different tracks off the album overtop of one another.

Reminds me of Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, which consisted of 4 CDs to be played at the same time, in different sound systems, which was kind of scaled down version of The Parking Lot Experiment, which consisted of 40 cassettes being played in 40 cars at the same time.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:54 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


and was used most memorably by Monty Python on their album Matching Tie & Hankerchief

Back in high school, a friend and I were huge Python fans, and listened to every record we could get our hands on, including MT&H. I can't tell you how many times we had listened to that thing. One thing that we always commented on was how short one side seemed to be. We just thought it odd.

Then, one day, we were listening to MT&H for the umpteenth time and laughing our asses off yet again, when one of us bumped the turntable, the needle skipped, and we were suddenly listening to a record we had never heard before. Freaked us out.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:55 PM on December 16, 2013 [26 favorites]


My vinyl copy of London Calling had a sticker on it telling you that Train in Vain was the last track so it wasn't exactly well hidden.
posted by octothorpe at 1:56 PM on December 16, 2013


My wife has a CD from small-time local bands that was marketed as a 140 or 144 minute CD, because the right channel was one set of songs, and the left channel was another set of songs. Bonus points for being creative, negative points for making it kind of annoying to play in most situations.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, which consisted of 4 CDs to be played at the same time, in different sound systems

And recently re-issued on vinyl, which seemed quixotic, but I suppose they know their audience.
posted by cjelli at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2013


you're the secretest song on the album, secret song

the fare collector's drinking lighter fluid and says he'll tell our parents

posted by Countess Elena at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wasn't Eurotrash Girl sort of like this on CD, being located a very large number of short blank unlisted tracks after the last listed song?

Or was I merely hallucinating?
posted by aramaic at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Parallel tracks formed the basis of the puzzle record, popular in the 1930s. One of the more advanced applications is this five-groove horse race record.
posted by Longtime Listener at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


recently re-issued on vinyl, which seemed quixotic, but I suppose they know their audience.

Yes, lovers of catchy stunts with money to drop, like the people who will pay $150 for a USB drive embedded in a gummy skull.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2013


aramaic: Wasn't Eurotrash Girl sort of like this on CD

Cracker had a few such hidden tracks on Kerosene Hat, with the normal tracklist ending at #12, and the next audio tracks being 15, 69, 88, and 99.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're correct, Euro-trash Girl is track 69. Also, the hidden tracks on Kerosene Hat are not included on the BMG pressing, which was a real bummer when I happened to buy that version at the used record store.
posted by aaronetc at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2013


I forget which Beck album it is, but long after the last track a whole bunch of noise starts up, like a loop of someone shouting into a mic, loudly. I always found it unpleasant.
posted by oneironaut at 2:12 PM on December 16, 2013


Blind Melon's 'Hello, Goodbye'

FWIW, that ain't the pre-gap song. That's just a prologue to the album that wasn't designated a track for whatever reason, and instead plunked in at 0:00 of "Galaxie." To get the actual pre-gap song, you have to pause track 1 on the CD, and 'rewind' back beyond zero. (But not too far, or it goes back to zero...) This is what you'll find.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which is worse? An acceptable song followed by ten minutes of silence, or ten minutes of silence followed by an acceptable song?

I call these "did-I-nudge-my-iPod songs". "Oops, did I accidentally pau--no, it's that effing track again. Right."
posted by KChasm at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents' 1987-vintage CD player was not quite Red Book-compliant, unlike the rest of our household's players. So it was a shock to me when I pressed play on the Songs in the Key of X CD and didn't hear Mike Post's X-Files theme. Instead, I heard this.

Those way-at-the-end hidden tracks on Kerosene Hat are badass, along with the ones on Nevermind and Broken.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The unlisted final track on the B side of Pete Shelley's 1983 XL-1 was an encoded program for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The loud punk song Fogtown hidden at the end of Michelle Shocked's Short, Sharp, Shocked is always jarring after the twangy folk of the rest of the album.
posted by octothorpe at 2:20 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe I've never heard of a "parallel grooved" record until just now. *mind blown*
posted by wallabear at 2:24 PM on December 16, 2013


Just remembered I used to add tracks to pre-recorded cassettes (tape over the top tab slots) when one side had some extra blank time.
posted by davebush at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Forget that Zaireeka parking lot nonsense, if you're going to mention the Flaming Lips' secret "bonus" tracks, you can't forget the 29:16-long clock radio alarm style horrorshow at the end of Hit To Death In The Future Head.

Protip: Do *not* fall asleep to HtDitFH.
posted by whuppy at 2:32 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, the Nirvana secret track, that was fun. I didn't learn about it until I was at the beach with friends, "Beach Week" for our high school graduating class. I had perched myself on the porch overlooking the Atlantic while I read a book and listened to Nirvana in the background. Midway through my leisurely task, friends arrived to tell of frightening behavior of some other seniors from another school, which amounted to stalking and harassment. I joined the crowd to listen in, forgetting my book and more importantly, Nevermind playing in the background.

Right as the tell of harassment hit its most fearful peak, the aforementioned distorted noise started playing loudly on the stereo, causing nearly everyone to startle in response. I was instantly accused of plotting the whole thing out as a joke, which, I suppose credits my reputation for having a sense of humor, if not the quality of that sense of humor. In that regard, thank you not, Nirvana, for that surprise.

My favorite secret track, however, came from the Dave Matthews Band. It was a year before the first tale above, and I had been relocated to England from Virginia. At any other point in my life, I think I would have found the affair fantastically fun, but at this point in my life, it was the first time I had moved in memory, and been away from the community of friends that I had belonged to sense Kindergarten. It was 11 years of bonds and friendships, which at the time, constituted the majority of my life. I was not happy at all.

Thus, in the small hamlet of Oxshott, a location, less a town, which featured a framing shop, two pups, a gas station, a pharmacy/post office/general store, and a realty office, I found myself marooned in the midst of summer. It was a heat wave of a summer, as the local weather people claimed, which actually would have made a rather pleasant Virginia summer. In the Surrey hamlet, as the days progressed, the weather was wanting in regard to storms. It rained, yes, but there were no house shaking thunderstorms that swayed and danced with the trees outside, whipped the windows with rain, and nothing to make you stand both fearful and intrigued by the window watching it all come pouring down. There also was little to the noise of night, no locusts or tree frogs, that I had grown accustom to over my life.

So there I lay in my bed one night, miserable (and quite the ingrate) for my circumstances and surroundings, listening to one of the audible connections I had to my hometown, the Dave Matthews Band. Absorbed in my pitiful thoughts, I paid no attention to the last song concluding and stared absently at the ceiling. It was, it seemed at that moment, just one more hour of company with the angst of a teenager to go along with the darkness when suddenly I heard thunder. I heard it again and again, familiar thunder, the rolling drumming that I had become absent from the moment I had stepped off a plane at Heathrow weeks earlier. It faded out and was replaced by the sound of rain, a steady and gentle rain, which in turn faded out to the noises of the night. I doubt that if I had invented a time machine, popped up in the studio and secretly inserted the clips of a summer thunderstorm at night, I could have done it any better.

I honestly don't know if the storm and the rain and the other songs of night were recorded in Virginia, but it was close enough, and for all the while I lay a rather moody teen in Surrey, completely blinded to the all the potential of living in a foreign country by silly homesickness, that surprise track brought a definite peace of mind to me that night and for other nights, too. It remains my best surprise track.
posted by Atreides at 2:33 PM on December 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


There's been at least one LP consisting of nothing but lock grooves: 101 Lock Grooves, though I seem to remember there being a slightly higher-profile release of the sort around the same era. The wikipedia page on lockgrooves has a decent runthrough of some of the more famous ones: The Who Sell Out, Stereolab's 'Lock Groove Lullaby' from Transient Random Noise Bursts with Announcements, and my possible favorite is from Renaldo & the Loaf: 'Boom Boom Crash Crash', the end of side one of Songs for Swinging Larvae. I have some fun psychedelic-enhanced memories of letting this one play at full volume for hours on end as a teenager.
posted by item at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Sugarcubes' Christmas Eve / Christmas Day 12" of Birthday (featuring the Jesus & Mary Chain) is another fine parallel-groove release.
posted by mykescipark at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2013


Lee Ranaldo's "From Here to Infinity" is all lock groove tracks.
posted by davebush at 2:58 PM on December 16, 2013


My personal favorite lock groove is still the end of Evol. I had recorded the record onto a cassette for listening to in the car, and because it runs only like 35 minutes, I ended up with 10 minutes of lock groove at the end of the tape. I could swear that a piano came in at like minute 7.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:16 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite secret track growing up was Stone Temple Pilots' "My Second Album", if only because it was such a cheesy break from the buzzy guitars of the rest of Purple. I thought it would be hilarious to karaoke in front of my high school, and I am so, so glad I was too shy to follow through on it lest I be eaten alive.
posted by Turkey Glue at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2013


though I seem to remember there being a slightly higher-profile release of the sort around the same era

RRR 500?
posted by anagrama at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2013


Nirvana's Nevermind had been on sale at the Electric Fetus in Duluth for about 4 hours when I bought it and rushed home. It was my turn to do the housework, so I plopped it in the CD player, turned the stereo to 11, and went to work. I was doing the dishes when the regular CD quit. After about 10 minutes Endless, Nameless started up and scared the shit out of me.

My roomate came home that night with his CD be bought at Walmart, and his did not include the hidden track. He also bought Jane's Addiction's "Ritual de lo Habitual" - and in contrast to my CD case with the artwork, his was a plain white cover with the first amendment on it.

Never by CDs at Walmart, man. Just don't do it.

I wanna say that the NIN EP "Broken" had a hidden track
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:32 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the last cassettes that I ever purchased was Pink Floyd's Relics. In many ways this whole album was a ghosted. The problem was that somehow the recording got... mangled in production. I know this because I had heard other people's copies of it before. Originally I thought the whole album was silent, but I kicked up the volume and I could hear very faintly the sound of the track from the opposite side of the album... backwards. Arnold Layne was not the first song that you would hear, but instead it was the last on the second side. Instead, you heard a strange version of Bike that started late on the tape and instead sort of stamped downward "I want to ride my bicycle" to the leading "Bi-cycle" but in reverse.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:33 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wonderful, awesome post and comments!

Just to add one to the melange- "Waiting for the Wind to Blow Down the Tree in my Backyard" from Widespread Panic's Ain't Life Grand ('94).
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 3:38 PM on December 16, 2013


How about the hidden record trick - undocumented singles or eps tucked inside albums. A couple I recall getting were the live Hollywood High ep inside Costello's "Armed Forces" and another live ep inside a Joe Ely album. Always fun discovering those.
posted by davebush at 3:42 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another record with three parallel grooves is the 4th side of Laurie Anderson / John Giorno / William S. Burroughs ‎– You're The Guy I Want To Share My Money With.
posted by larrybob at 3:47 PM on December 16, 2013


Wonderful post!
posted by rosary at 3:52 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite album for hidden nonsense is Course of Empire's Initiation. There were three unlisted tracks:
  1. A boring conventional hidden track in the lead-in to track 1,
  2. Unlisted screeching guitar feedback between the second-to-last and last song, and...
  3. If you played the screechy bit in mono, it cancelled out and you got a third hidden song (inaudible normally)!
posted by neckro23 at 3:56 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Protip: Do *not* fall asleep to HtDitFH.

Or leave it playing while you cook dinner.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:07 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt, you are (kinda) correct: Broken had covers of Adam & The Ants' "Physical (You're So)" and Pigface's "Suck." Initial pressings had two discs, with the covers on an 80mm disc. Later pressings had one CD with the hidden tracks at 98 and 99.

"Uhh, I'm not actually a pedant. My species is Homo Correctus."
posted by infinitewindow at 4:25 PM on December 16, 2013


another pregap track: This is the old dude, Howie J Reynolds, and you're listening to Less Than Jake
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:25 PM on December 16, 2013


In college, my roommate was really into pop-punk, and she was listening to NewFound Glory. Sticks and Stones. Anyway, this album in particular has a hidden track, but between the "last" song on the CD and the hidden track, there is just silence. A LOT of silence. She and I were doing homework and not paying attention, and then she had to leave for work. By that time we had completely forgotten the stereo was on.

So then, like 5 minutes after my roommate left, all of a sudden I hear a scream, followed by a very distorted voice repeating "Someone's in your house!!!!!!!" Never have I been closer to heart failure.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:29 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember loading up Kerosene Hat in CDex to rip it and thinking 99 tracks! holy shit! I still like that album a lot.
posted by maggieb at 4:32 PM on December 16, 2013


My first encounter of a multi-track record was Mad Magazine's "It's A Super-Spectacular Day". It was a song that was always the same for the first half, but branched into 8 separately wacky endings. It took quite a few playings to finally hear all of them.
posted by 1367 at 4:40 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Locked groves, and reverse cuts have long been a thing in the techno scene. Back in 1999, Ron Murphy, cut a series of double grooved records, using what he dubbed "NSC-X2 Groove Technology".

E-Dancer ‎– Velocity Funk / Banjo / The Move (Remixes)
Suburban Knight / Chameleon / Dark Energy ‎– Hidden In Plainsight EP
DJ Bone ‎– Riding The Thin Line
Jeff Mills ‎– Apollo EP
Gerald Mitchell ‎– Groove Within The Groove
Ectomorph ‎– Destroy Your Powercenters
Silicon ‎– Groove Tech EP
X-Ile ‎– Private Dancer
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:43 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, re: backmasking, you can't get any better than Mindless Self Indulgence's song "Backmask". Here it is forwards . . . and here it is backwards. (100% NSFW).
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:45 PM on December 16, 2013


If you want to read my amazing comment, you'll have to scroll back to before the start of the thread.
posted by Len at 4:54 PM on December 16, 2013


NEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAYNEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAYNEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAYNEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAYNEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAYNEVERCOULDSEEANYOTHERWAY
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:07 PM on December 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Similar to hidden tracks on CDs were the normal audio CD portions of Dreamcast GD-Roms. I think there was a collection of them somewhere but I can't find it at the moment.
posted by 23 at 5:52 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents' 1987-vintage CD player was not quite Red Book-compliant, unlike the rest of our household's players. So it was a shock to me when I pressed play on the Songs in the Key of X CD and didn't hear Mike Post's X-Files theme. Instead, I heard this.

I've owned that CD basically since it was released and I never knew about that track until just now.

Is there a way to rip pre-gap tracks to a computer?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:00 PM on December 16, 2013


Don't forget They Might Be Giants' "Token Back To Brooklyn", a secret track that's so secret that you can't even get it on the MP3 version of the album it appears on, Factory Showroom.

(On the CD version it's Track 0, just rewind from Track 1 to hear it.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:02 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


nine inch nails - "broken" had secret tracks on track 98 and 99.

i remember reggie and the full effect's CD "under the tray" for being a hidden disc, entirely :)
posted by raihan_ at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2013


Another thing about Token Back to Brooklyn is that it makes James K. Polk the 11th track, and he was the 11th President.

TRIVIA~!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Awesome post! My small contribution: The James Gang's LP Yer' Album has locked grooves at the end of both sides; side 1 ends with 'Turn me over', side 2 ends with 'Play me again'. Only worked on manual turntables. Actually kind of irritating, now that I think about it, especially if you'd zoned out to that epic stoner jam, Lost Woman, only to be roused by some a-hole telling you to turn the album over.
posted by Bron at 6:59 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post is so cool!

I had no idea the pre-gap was used as much as it was. The only one I ever had was the band Cavity's Somewhere Between The Train Station And The Dumping Ground that had a whole live set recorded either in Madison, WI or Ann Arbor, MI where the singer was under the influence of some various substances and managed to ramble somewhat nonsensically during all the points he wasn't screaming the lyrics. I always had the best time trying to decipher what he was saying. I would love to find a copy of that set.
posted by ndfine at 7:06 PM on December 16, 2013


I call these "did-I-nudge-my-iPod songs". "Oops, did I accidentally pau--no, it's that effing track again. Right."

For a long time now I've carefully loaded CD tracks in .wav format into Audacity, snipped out the silence, created two separate tracks, and then converted to .mp3 for iPod use. It makes things much more sane, on some level.
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mono Puff, side project for They Might Be Giants' John Flansburg, has a hidden (pre-#1) track on its second album, It's Fun to Steal. The track is called, "Hidden Track", and it's kind of creepy, as it's a digital voice talking about how it's trapped in the hidden track and it's very cold there.

Dramarama, on its album Vinyl, went one better on the hidden track. The final song, "Steve is Here" is not only not listed on the sleeve, but it's sliced up so that instead of being one 68-second track it's 68 one-second tracks. I first discovered this after I loaded up my CD player and hit shuffle, and would get a small bit of music and then the CD player would change.
posted by Legomancer at 6:08 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there a way to rip pre-gap tracks to a computer?

My only experience is with the OS X audio conversion tool XLD, which can read and include the hidden track-one audio (HTOA) with track one. The resulting file then can be split with a sound editor if desired.

The Hydrogenaudio comparison of CD rippers lists several programs for Windows which have HTOA detection of some sort.
posted by D.C. at 6:09 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The REM album "Green" has an unnamed last track. It made mixtape-labelling verrrrry tricky.

Just now Wikipedia has told me that the song is copyrighted as "11," which is no damn help to me, twenty-five years later.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:12 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I forget which Beck album it is, but long after the last track a whole bunch of noise starts up, like a loop of someone shouting into a mic, loudly. I always found it unpleasant.

Mellow Gold.

It has a really relaxing final track that is very easy to doze off to. Then a few minutes later, noise, sirens, shouting, etc. That wasn't very nice, Mr. Hansen.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:26 AM on December 17, 2013


I enjoyed the novelty of hidden tracks the first few times, but by the mid to late 90s, this was just way out of control. Trying to skip all those tracks to get to "Supernaut" on Broken was infuriating.

Some CD players wouldn't play the pre-gap tracks, either. I think nonsense like hidden tracks and exclusive-to-10-dollar-european-CD-single tracks were a huge factor in rise of MP3s. I like your music and I want to hear it, don't make it so damn difficult for me to do that.

On the other hand, I do sometimes miss the thrill of the hunt for rare music nowadays. Grass is always greener, I guess.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:25 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let us not forget the crickets on the pickup groove on Brian Eno's "Before and after Science". Another one I stumbled onto was what sounded like a angry critic complaining (very quietly) at the end of My love explodes By the Dukes of the Stratosphere (XTC). On one of the tracks of the same album (i think) in the needle pickup track there is the phrase "go f++k yourself with your atom bomb" the phrase is played backwards at an uneven speed.
posted by boilermonster at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2013


Mono Puff, side project for They Might Be Giants' John Flansburg, has a hidden (pre-#1) track on its second album, It's Fun to Steal. The track is called, "Hidden Track", and it's kind of creepy, as it's a digital voice talking about how it's trapped in the hidden track and it's very cold there.

I had no idea. Guess what I'm doing when I get home?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:29 AM on December 17, 2013


Matching Tie and Handkerchief was a 'porky prime cut', “Porky” being George Peckham, a British lacquer-cutting and mastering engineer.

Cutting this on a lathe would be hard enough if the two tracks were an identical length, but one is 23 seconds longer than the other (several rotations at 33 RPM) so each track had to be cut so that it ends and joins the run out groove without crossing over any audio from the other track.
'(Monty Python's) Matching Tie and Handkerchief album was a bit of a bastard,' he chuckles. 'Mike Palin came down and said he wanted to cut this one track with a double groove so you put the record on and depending which groove the needle fell into, you'd get one of two tracks. Ten goes that took. A right bugger of a red eye job. I think I wrote, 'Dear Mum, Please Send Another Cuppa Down, Still Cutting The Python LP, Love Porky XX' on that one.'

Of course theres nothing new under the sun - Wikipedia has a list of Multisided records going back to 1901.
posted by Lanark at 10:57 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Machines of Loving Grace album 'Concentration' had a couple interesting hidden tracks. One was a standard extended last track, almost entirely silent but every few minutes some quiet echoing voice would say 'don't fool yourself', which was very perplexing the first time I let the album play through and didn't change it after the last song. However, the *really* interesting hidden track was between two songs on the CD - another clip of sampled rambling speech, however it would only play on certain CD players, if you let one song play into the next, and the track timer would become a negative value that counted down. However, if you skipped straight to the track either before or after this oddity, the hidden bit wouldn't play - I believe it was some odd tinkering with the TOC values on the disk that allowed it to work this way. Very mysterious..
posted by FatherDagon at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I remember seeing "Porky prime cut" on some Nurse With Wound and other United Dairy albums, but I never knew who that was until now. Thanks Lanark!
posted by malocchio at 11:59 AM on December 17, 2013


Ah, the Machines of Loving Grace...I miss those guys. Yeah, I'd sometimes forget that the CD was still spinning in the player and half an hour later that voice saying "don't fool yourself" would scare the crap out of me.
posted by malocchio at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2013


Lanark, thanks for the pointer to George Peckham. Here's a segment of his memories about his time at Apple (the other parts can be found indexed here)
posted by larrybob at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I call these "did-I-nudge-my-iPod songs".

The CDs that had hidden tracks created by putting a large number of silent tracks in between the last 'real' track and the 'hidden' one are much, much nicer from a modern iTunes/iPod-compatibility perspective than ones that just had a lot of silence at the end of the last track and then suddenly another song.

NIN's hidden track(s?) on Broken were of the lots-of-blank-tracks variety and as a result they're in iTunes just fine. But some other bands' tracks that used the silent-gap technique are basically lost to me (unless I want to muck around in an audio editor or just download a propered version) since I've inevitably tweaked the "end time" in iTunes to cut off the hidden track so that it'll go to the next song without a bunch of dead space.

I wonder if Reznor anticipated stuff like iTunes and decided to do his bonus track that way on purpose, or if it's just a pleasant coincidence?
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:28 PM on December 17, 2013


One trick that I do sometimes for hidden-after-silence tracks that I do that are any good, is rip the track, then put the end time in iTunes at the end of the real song, hit "convert to mp3" -- which will only give you the first song, lopping off the end. THEN, take that original track, untick "end at", and tick "start at" with the starting time of the bonus track, and then do "convert to mp3" again, and there you go.

This isn't perfect, since it does involve re-encoding stuff, but it's a relatively quick fix for something where you want the bonus track, but want to do a minimum of screwing around.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pop punk of the 90's history: Boris the Sprinkler, a pretty ridiculous band from Green Bay, WI, released one of their albums with a couple of hidden tracks (I can't remember which off the top of my head). The very last track played the album in its entirety.

The reason? Their local bar would put their albums in the jukebox, and then people could play the whole album for the cost of one song. Needless to say the album didn't last long in the jukebox once this was discovered.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:42 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whoa, missed this thread. Love this sort of arcana.

My favorite is the endless loop at the end of the lead-out groove on the vinyl version of Peter Gabriel's 2nd solo album. The song White Shadow (really one of Gabriel's overlooked masterpieces how ever you look at it) ends with the same synthesizer drone it starts with, but if you had a turntable that didn't pick up automatically, the song simply never ended.

I didn't find out about it until I put the album on side 2 late one night, then fell asleep midway through. When I woke up the next morning, the drone was still playing.

Sadly, the CD version, by necessity, fades out.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:13 PM on December 22, 2013


My favorite hidden tracks were:

The one between tracks 5 & 6 of Tom Petty's "Full Moon Fever" CD, which indicates that it was inserted in fairness to vinyl and cassette listeners, as they would have to get up and flip the album or tape at that point.

Postscript on the Pet Shop Boys "Very" which is a standard "2-minutes-of-silence-followed-by-a-song" hidden track, but it's Chris Lowe singing it, which is a bit of an oddity in itself.
posted by neilbert at 8:25 AM on December 23, 2013


Matching Tie and Handkerchief was a 'porky prime cut', “Porky” being George Peckham, a British lacquer-cutting and mastering engineer.

One of the less exciting things I've done in my game development career, was write the tool that constructed the archives that contain all the data for a game. Each archive has a few hundred files, all carefully positioned by hand, to minimise the time the disc head spends seeking. A process I figure is not dissimilar to cutting a record. You need a deep understanding of the media, and an appreciation of the properties of the material you're whose essence you're imprinting it with. I spent a lot of time with my ear to the devkit, because the only way to be sure that the drive head is tilting, and not seeking, is to listen to it.

Anyway, the files in those archives all start at sector boundaries, which means that there's padding that needs to go between the end of the previous file, and the start of the next sector. Something has to go in there. A bunch of zero's would be boring. So in the padding of the first layer of the original PS2 versions of God of War and God of War 2, is the repeated text "An inpHilltr8r prime cut."
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:42 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a complete list of proper Porky prime cuts over at Discogs.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:48 AM on December 24, 2013


Which I see was already linked. Ooops.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:49 AM on December 24, 2013


My favourite ghost track is the untitled no 13 on Queen's "Made in Heaven" LP. An experimental game or a soundtrack to Freddy's ascent to heaven, according to some fans at least, this piece of ambient music was Queen's longest track ever and ends with Mercury crying out "fab!".
posted by helion at 6:05 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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