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Today's Musical Question: Power Play

Dave at Garfield Ridge asks the burning question:

what are the best power openings to rock songs? Not necessarily the same chords as those found in the rest of the song (although in the case of "Unchained" they are the same), but which songs kick ass from the very beginning? Which ones get you pumped just from the first five or ten notes alone?

Dave's answer is Unchained by Van Halen and I'm going to agree with him on the sole basis that I just so happen to have Unchained in my head as it was the last song I listened to in the car.

Although that answer won't stand more than ten minutes before I come up with forty more.

And go share your answers with Dave, too.


I'm gonna get so flamed for this, but "Smokin'" by Boston.

Also, of course, "Smoke on the Water".

Can't You Hear Me Knocking, by the Stones.

Runners up:

Jumping jack Flash
Honky Tonk Woman
Start Me Up

That's why Keith Richards is the king riffmeister.

Ah, can't forget Joe Perry, either:

Walk This Way
Train Kept a Rollin' (ok, Jeff Beck)
Last Child
Mama Kin
Well, anything on the first four albums

Oh Oh Oh!!!

Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coo by Rick Derringer!

Beautiful Girls from Van Halen II

Back in Black

Stop me!

And I second Smoke on the Water

Can't forget Iron Man by Black Sabbath

Mississippi Queen by Mountain

Rock Candy by Montrose

I. Must. Stop.

I've got about 16,000 songs in my iTunes folder, and probably 5 percent of them deserve a place on this list. My head will asplode!

The drum intro to Painkiller by Judas Priest

Well, ok, one more:

Voodoo Chile by Jimi

Evenflow (Pearl Jam)
Enter Sandman (Metallica), although a little long
Funk #49 (James Gang)
Helter Skelter (Beatles)
Don't Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
When I Come Around (Green Day)
Welcome to the Jungle (Guns 'n' Roses)
Hash Pipe (Weezer)

Oh yeah, I might get flamed on a few, but it's all good.

Eruption - Van Halen

Can't Find My Way Home (Electric Version) - Blind Faith

Have a Cigar - Pink Floyd

I can't decide between:
Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin


Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Yyz - Rush

Aqualung - Jethro Tull

Oh God, how could I forget about Purple Haze!

"Sting Me" and "Remedy," by the Black Crowes.

"Wild Flower" by The Cult.

"Ocean Size" by Jane's Addiction.

"Hello There" by Cheap Trick.

"Brown Sugar" by the Stones.

Shit, I just realize all of these (except "Remedy") start out with a single guitar for a couple of measures before the drums kick in.

Slow Ride, man. Fog-fuckin'-hat.

I definitely second the following:

Brown Sugar (sorry Keith)
Teen Spirit
Purple Haze
Funk 49

And I gotta add:

Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf

I'll see your "Magic Carpet Ride", Mark. And I'll raise you a "Sunshine of Your Love". Can't believe I forgot that one too.

"Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix
"Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie
"Iron Man" by Black Sabbath (not the classic dah, dah, dah-nah-dah part, but the ominous groaning that precedes "I am Iron Man!")
"Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (one of only two Stones songs I like)

Oh, and "Of Sins and Shadows" by Symphony X.

Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins.

Frankenstein (Edgar Winter)
Roundabout (Yes)
Hells Bells (AC/DC)
Sympathy for the Devil (Stones)
Heartbreaker (Pat Benetar)
Interstate Love Song (STP)
Aeroplane (Chili Peppers)
Down With the Sickness (Disturbed)
Get Away (Godsmack)
Free Ride (Edgar Winter)

and I second Slow Ride (Fog Fucking HAT!)

Ok jo-fo, I'll see your Sunshine, and raise you a

White Room
Born Under a Bad Sign

And how could anyone forget:


Mississippi Queen - Leslie West

Pinball Wizard (Who)
I'm Free (Who)
Baba O'Reilly (Who)
We Will Rock You (Queen)

Impressive array of songs there, Mark. You must be a musician. I am having trouble pulling any more out of my ass, but.....uh-oh, here it comes...


Life's Been Good to Me (Joe Walsh)
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin) - though there's technically no intro
American Idiot (Green Day)
Fell On Black Days (Soundgarden)
Vasoline (Stone Temple Pilots)
Plush (Stone Temple Pilots)
Sad But True (Metallica)
Fire (Jimi Hendrix)
All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix)

I can't think of any more, but perhaps you'll inspire me further.

Smoke on the Water or Baba O'Reilly.

Oh, great "Who" stuff Mark.

Them Bones - Alice in Chains

No Excuses (Alice in Chains)
Shameless (Ani DiFranco) - though not exactly rock
Give It Away (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Black Dog (Led Zeppelin) - though there's technically no intro

Well, there's that soft throat-clearing sideways pick-scuffing on the low E string that precedes the vocal intro, which builds anticipation and thus serves as an intro just fine.

Which reminds me of the song that served as the inspiration for "Black Dog": "Oh Well" by (Peter Green-era) Fleetwood Mac, which opens right into a smoking riff.

Come Together (Beatles)
Bitch is Back (Tina Turner version)
No Matter What (Badfinger)
Ladykiller (Lush)
Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes)

Tie Your Mother Down - Queen,
Walk In The Shadows - Queensryche,
She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult,
Little Dreamer - VAN HALEN

No particular order; hearing any one of them still makes me want to put on new shoes!

Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
American Woman (Guess Who) - after the lame-arse bluesy intro, that is
Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress (the Hollies)
Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis Group)


I'll see your American Woman and raise you a No Sugar Tonight (Guess Who)

Rock and Roll--great choice.

Epic (Faith No More)

Now that I've got your attention, Michele, will there be some kind of vote for best intro, or top five or something?

If so, I would urge you all to unzip your copiies of Sticky Fingers and spend some time with my first choice, Can't You Hear Me Knockin'

Yeah, as if I could settle on only one best. Riiiight.


"American Woman (Guess Who) - after the lame-arse bluesy intro, that is"

Ah, damn! And I was beginnin' to like you! Although my day job for 20 years is stodgy lawyer dude, I spent the '90's gigging twice a week at local L.A. blues clubs, and blues guitar is still my passion. Ya can't dis where we came from, dude!

Today - Smashing Pumpkins

QOTSA - No One Knows
QOTSA - Feel Good Hit of the Summer
Ramones - Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Tragically Hip - New Orleans is Sinking
White Stripes - Black Math

(oooh, I'm gonna catch hell for these)

You're In Love - RATT
Lay it Down - RATT

Jimmy Olsen's Blues (Spin Doctors)
Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind)
Working Man (Rush)
Control (Puddle of Mudd)

and, oh my god, I just listened to this so I've got to repeat it:

Rock Candy (Montrose)

How can we ignore Kiss???

Cold Gin

4 Non Blondes: Superfly


Mr. Brownstone
Sweet Child o' Mine
Welcome to the Jungle


Jungle Love (Steve Miller)

Grrrr... when will this end???

ZZ TOP must haves:

Waitin for the Bus
La Grange
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Heard it on the X
Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings

Thanks for the link Michele, much obliged!

So aside from All Along the Watchtower, Rock and Roll, and Sunshine of Your Love, all already mentioned, I'm throwing in the following (although I may have missed them if already mentioned):

Paranoid - Black Sabbath
Layla - Derek and the Dominoes
All Day and All of the Night - The Kinks
Anarchy in the UK - The Sex Pistols
Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
Hey, Hey, My, My - Neil Young

Let's see, here. Intros. No particular odor.
Not in order, either, and all off the top of my bean, after several beers. (What better state to judge Rock tunes, after all? And remember, I come at the question from an old-school DJ's perspective. The purpose of a great intro was to grab the radio listener's attention, and idetinfy the tune quickly.

Iron Butterfly: Inna-Godda-Dav-ida; perhaps the most recognizeable guitar line in all of Rock.

Rare Earth: Hey, Big Brother; The build-up is classic, and when that big B3 Hammond cuts loose you KNOW you're in trouble. The accoustics in the old Motown studios didnt hurt the sound, either.

Spencer Davis Group: Gimme some Lovin'; Same answer, pretty much.

Derrenger: Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo; THe intro labels the song for what it is; great high-schol gym rock.

AC/DC; Back in Black; Like, I've gotta actually describe that one?

Chicago; Toss between "Make Me Smile", "I'm a man", and "Beginnings" Say what you will about JWG as a producer... the man knew how to get that attention getter out there.

Doobies; China Grove. Pin the meters from the first cycle.

ELO; Ma-Ma-Ma-Belle; Elemental R&R, from someone I consider a flat out production genius.

Golden Earing; Radar Love. A great attention getter, but doesn't nearly reveal the power the tune itself has.

Guess Who; Hang onto your life; A realllll attention getter, and actually more than a little jarring... then again it was meant to be, given the song subject.

G&R; Sweet Child: Great intro. In fact, the intro was better than the song, I'm afraid... and that was the best the band ever did. (OK, I know, I'm gonna get hit with that one.)

Rod Stewart:Hot Legs; You know you're in for a party tune, two seconds in.

Huey Lewis: Heart of Rock and Roll. If you can't beat mix that one in, check your pulse. You may be dead.

Humble Pie: Hot and Nasty; Some of the hottest organ I've ever heard. Sadly, the song falls flat after that. For that matter, so did the band.

Journey; Stone in love.

Jr Walker and the All-Stars, or Stevie Winwood's "Roll with it". Doesn't matter, it's the same song.

Molly Hatchet's cover of "Dreams I'll Never see" Long slow build. When I played a rock bar, years ago, I used to set it up so that the very begining was playing at room volume. Given I was playing with around 2kw of audio in those days, I just about blew the front windows out of the place when it got going, 2 minutes later.

Enough for now.

Lesley and Bithead:

You embarrass me; how could I have overlooked all those???

Gotta add War Pigs, either Black Sabbath or Faith No More.

Sweet Jane - Lou Reed

so many classics in here

I rest my case

"Heartbreaker" Led Zep

Rock the Casbah -- THE CLASH!!!

An odder one...

What I Say -- Miles Davis, from the album Live Evil. ROCKIN' FROM THE GIT GO.

There's so many, but honestly. Smoke On the Water? It's simplistic and the first thing any kid learns on his guitar only because he can play with one finger. Overrated, in my opinion, especially when compared to others on this list.

And because I was thinking about Pantera when I wrote this, I'll add:
I'm Broken - Pantera
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica

I Feel Free by Cream and Omaha by Moby Grape.

Ziggy Stardust

What's wrong with you people? Probably over 200 songs have been submitted here, and no one lists Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman"???? I'm not saying that the song is necessarily on my "top ten played" list, but that vamp is probably the ultimate rock vamp ever written. Four notes, and that beat is absolutely locked into your head. There cannot possibly be a single aspiring guitar player in the Wester Hemisphere who hasn't taken those eight notes and played them over and over at top volume until Mom threatened to take away the amps.

Yea, but they're all playing the Van Halen version.

Rush: The Spirit of Radio
G&R: Welcome To The Jungle
Judas Priest: Electric Eye
Iron Maiden: Number Of The Beast
Iron Maiden: Wasted Years
Iron Maiden: Aces High
Motley Crue: Looks That Kill
Motley Crue: Live Wire
Ozzy Ozbourne: Crazy Train
Rollins Band: Hotten And Hotter
Extereme: Warheads
Queen: Gimme The Prize

Must. Stop. Now.

Digging into the older stuff;

BS&T: Smiling Phases; There's a horn section that could, as Duck Dunn once put it, turn goat piss into Gasoline... and it shows.

Kinks; You really got me; Knitting needle speakers and all

3 dog night: Liar; Enough bass to rattle my old man's 66 chevy trunk lid, even with the old AM-only radio.

Clapton: Cocaine;

Beatles; Ticket to Ride;

Diamond's "Cherry Cherry".

Louden Wainwright III: Dead Skunk; You knew it was gonna be weird from the first note.

Must. Stop.


Rush- Force Ten

Billy Thorpe- Children of The Sun

Disturbed- Down With The Sickness
(come on, it's absolutely overpowering, and despite Disturbed's other flaws, thats the ultimate metal opening sound)

And for the obligatory Van Halen suggestion -Jump

AIC: "Man In The Box", "Would?", "Angry Chair".

Rush: "Hemispheres", "2112", "Tom Sawyer", "One Little Victory", "Working Man", "Superconductor", "Animate", "Spirit of Radio", "Freewill".

Arlo Guthrie - "Alice's Restaurant Massacree"

I can't believe nobody's pulled out SRV:
"Shake for Me"
"Love Struck Baby"
"Pride and Joy"
"Mary Had a Little Lamb"
"Couldn't Stand the Weather"
"Little Wing"

Temple of the Dog - "Hunger Strike"
They Might Be Giants - "Don't Let's Start"
Van Morrison - "Brown Eyed Girl" (!)
Violent Femmes - "Blister in the Sun"
Bauhaus - "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
Bob Mould - "Stand Guard"
The Clash - "I fought the law"
Johnny Cash - "Hurt"
Muddy Waters - "Rolling Stone"
Screaming Trees - "Nearly Lost You"
Soul Asylum - "Somebody to Shove"

I'll second would? by AIC