Has there ever been a song that dominates our memory of an album more than ‘Imagine’? The title track from the second studio album of John Lennon was so simple – just that gentle piano line – but effective, John Lennon pleading for world peace becoming by far his signature solo song.
The album it came from was pretty good too but that’s mostly forgotten: co-produced by Yoko Ono and Phil Spector, it takes in a lot, discussing love and freedom, politics and philosophy, Lennon even finding time to attack his old Beatles companion Paul McCartney in one track. Rolling Stone named it number 80 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Today, September 9th, marks the 50th anniversary of Imagine by John Lennon, released back in 1971. And that got us thinking about other title tracks that have become far more famous than the albums that spawned them.
Take a look at some other albums synonymous with their title tracks below!
Television – ‘Marquee Moon’
Love Classic Rock?
Get the latest Classic Rock news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
The debut album by New York’s Television arrived in 1977 and has since become a seminal record in the development of post-punk. The title track is the best-known from the album, a long and thunderous piece stretching for over 10 minutes, with winding guitar lines and a truly charismatic lead performance by Tom Verlaine.
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born in the USA’
A classic example. The Boss’s rip-roaring, tub-thumping anthem, both an ode to and critique of his home country, has gone down as one of these rock songs of all time. Ranked 257th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time, it’s also, depending on who you ask, Springsteen’s signature song. The Boss is so great, in fact, that he could have had another on this list with ‘Born to Run’.
The Clash – ‘London Calling’
Manic punk energy from the off, The Clash begin their third studio album with the title track, starting as they mean to go on – loud and aggressive, wiry and wired. Joe Strummer howls his way through the politically-charged track as only he could, goading his audience to react. Sheer punk genius.
Prince – ‘Purple Rain’
Add knowing how to close an album to the list of things Prince was supreme at. This absolute showstopper brought to an end one of the defining records of the 80’s, the type of song that gets anyone bellowing out at the top of their voice. ‘Purple Rain’ was, of course, also the title of the film that the album soundtracked, which is also not too shabby.
N.W.A. – ‘Straight Outta Compton’
“You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge”: what a confident way to start your debut album. Dr. Dre and co. weren’t messing around on their 1988 record, aiming to show just what West Coast rap was all about. The rest of the songs after the title track would be similarly lacerating with their in-your-face intensity, one of the reasons it’s regularly cited as one of the greatest rap records of all time. Another title track that also shared its name with a film.
AC/DC – ‘Back in Black’
The title track from the Aussie legends’ seventh studio album was the finest track in an album of unbelievable quality. The first album featuring lead singer Brian Johnson is still one of the biggest selling albums in music history, each track possessed of a hard rock rhythm that can be rocked out to in any setting. That title track though: riffs that could roll on and on, you feel, forever.