I was listening to one of my 90s CDs yesterday, and I was reminded of something we’ve lost with the move away from CDs as the primary source of music.
In the 80s, album CDs were just copies of the LP, limited to 45 mins. Then came the realization that a CD holds 80 mins and albums could be longer.
One of the side effects of this was the rise in the 90s of…hidden tracks! Songs not listed on the sleeve at the end of the album. These could range from a single extended track with minutes of dead air in the middle (I’m thinking of Endless Nameless on Nirvana’s Nevermind at the end of Something in the Way after about 9 mins of silence) to an extra numbered track that may be consecutive or even dozens away.
NIN’s Broken had the cover song Physical as track 98 on it.
I was listening to Cracker’s Low and after a dozen tracks you notice the CD says it has like 96 on it. You go through dozens and dozens and then get to one of their biggest hits, Eurotrash Girl. It wasn’t listed on the sleeve, but was also the only hidden track I can think of that got a music video!
Now albums are more just a label slapped on a song in addition to artist and name. It’s kind of sad.