In the days when compact discs and tapes ruled the world, hidden tracks on albums were like secret gifts from your favorite bands. Off the liner notes, not in the original track listings, and totally unassuming, sometimes tucked away after minutes and minutes of silence on a disc.
With the way music is disseminated now, it's harder for bands to keep that air of mystery and keep a song hidden. Most of our previously hidden tracks are spliced from the minutes of silence and posted as downloads on torrents, or made into attached parts of an album.
Maybe the first hidden track we noticed was "Endless, Nameless" on a copy of Nirvana's Nevermind. The cut was not like anything on the album that unreeled before it, and it was kind of scary (OK, for a third-grader in 1991) to hear after the 12 bits of tuneful grunge that came before it.
After we found "Endless, Nameless" we looked for hidden tracks on every album we bought, immediately after we bought it, or sought out other secret cuts on all of our friends' albums. That's how we found that creepy computer and backwards talk at the end of Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar on track 99.
One of the most controversial hidden songs was Guns 'N Roses' cover of Charles Manson's "Look At Your Game, Girl" on the end of 1993's The Spaghetti Incident?, the band's covers album. You can find the Manson tribute at the end of Fear's "I Don't Care About You," at about the 2:18 mark.
The most successful hidden track is probably Lauryn Hill's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," off her lone solo studio album to date, 1998's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. The album ran 14 songs long, but her version of Frankie Valli's 1967 single was tacked on at track 15, and became a chart hit in 1999.
If you have a good pair of headphones or system in your home, you can catch Phil Collins faintly singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" at the end of the last track on Face Value, "Tomorrow Never Knows." We could barely hear it, but then again, we are in the front of massive concert speakers 300 nights out of the year.
At the tail end of Stone Temple Pilots' 1993 sophomore album, Purple, comes "My Second Album" - sung by Richard Peterson, not Scott Weiland as might be assumed. The lounge cut lampoons hidden tracks as a whole, and the line "twelve gracious melodies" is seen on the cake shown on the back of the album. And yes, we know too much about STP.
And lastly, The Clash's "Train In Vain" from London Calling is not a hidden track in the traditional sense, as it was finished and put on the album after the sleeves were sent to the printer. It was a mere case of bad timing. Great track, but it's not better than "I'm Not Down." This is where we would put a winking smiley face, but we won't because we are men.
Alanis Morrisette, "Your House" (Jagged Little Pill)
Kings of Leon "Talihina Sky" (Youth & Young Manhood)
Dr. Dre "Bitches Ain't Shit" (The Chronic)
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My Chemical Romance "Blood" (The Black Parade)
Aerosmith "What It Takes/Untitled Jam" (Pump )