Date: Time immemorial.
Venue: Your head.
Crowd: Potentially 0 if you screw it up.
Punk crushes societal boundaries. Lays waste to the bureaucratic nanny state that controls and dictates our every day, neutered existence with rules and regulations. Anarchy remains the last great vestige of hope in an otherwise regimented life.
So, naturally, there are strict guidelines you must adhere to when deciding on the track order for your band’s new album. We call these simply; The Album Rules.
Generation after generation pass these rules down unthinkingly. The Underdogs did not create them. Our forefathers, and their four fathers (and so on, and so on) before them birthed these timeless principles. When putting together your new album, follow these rules lest it be cursed and destined for your local charity store.
Tracks 1, 2 + 4
These must be your singles. The three songs you want most in the earholes of your adoring public sit here on your album, and nowhere else. These are the gems you will release. But for the love of all that is Joe Strummer, NEVER ever release them. There’s nothing punk rock about a single release. You may as well be Britney.
BONUS: Your band earns extra points if you can begin track 1 and 4 with audio from an obscure, preferably black and white, movie.
Your quirky track resides here. It will generally be in an odd time signature. It will always be written by your bass player.
Track 5 is where you bury the bodies. This is the song that you wrote at the last minute to boost the number of tracks so your fans didn’t feel steamed at paying more pounds than there are songs.
BONUS: Legitimise the songs existence by giving it the same name as the album.
It doesn’t matter what song you out here. Every music fan since time immemorial, bar none, skips Track 6. It’s the Bermuda Triangle of music. They just heard the nonsense you served up at Track 5. This song has no hope. You’re better off leaving it blank.
No song on your album will be better than this one. Seven’s the key number. It’s generally when your fans will start to tune out and start thinking about better albums. Cram your best song here so they don’t miss it.
BONUS: Extra points for crowbarring Bill Hicks audio into the Middle 8.
The eighth song on your album is genre specific. If you’re a metal band, you’re going to want to put your heartfelt ballad here. Ska band? This is your instrumental. If you’re a punk band, this song must be about alcohol, the opposite sex or driving at inappropriate speeds. Every other song is a thinly veiled critique of the current government, so you must give the fans a break. Sing about parties.
After the first three singles (that you didn’t release) go triple platinum, the record label (which you’re not signed to) will insist on capitalising and releasing a fourth (which you MUST not release). Enter: Track 9. It’ll be a good song, but everyone will know the barrel has been scraped.
Track 10 is where you bury the other body that wouldn’t fit in Track 5’s shallow grave. This is where you must hide the Courtcase Waiting To Happen TM. Every punk band has a track identical to a NOFX song. Put it here.
NOTE: Since you cannot sue yourselves for plagiary, NOFX are exempt from the Track 10 rule.
Choose a sexual position, food stuff and/or swear word. Write a song about it then place it here.
Should never exist. It is known fact that every album ever written only has 11 tracks. If you happen to write more, congratulations. Record them, then put them in a folder ready for a B-Sides album. When the time comes, you must burn that folder. No one wants to listen to your B-Sides.
The most important thing to remember when choosing the order of your songs is that no one cares. Happy recording!
Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr