ending with a "!"
December 15, 2019 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for music albums with killer final tracks.

I'm looking for examples of albums where artists have saved the loudest, most sprawling, heaviest, or emotionally powerful songs for last. albums bookended in a way that, when the music stops, you more or less get the sense that nothing else could be said.

I have a few prog-centric examples, but any genre is fine.

Learning To Live by Dream Theater; final track on Images And Words; album link

Every Step Of The Way by Santana; final track on Caravanserai; album link

Let's Call It Love / Night Light by Sleater Kinney; final two tracks on The Woods, but I think they were recorded as a single take; album link, starts off very loud

individual song recommendations are great, but I am ideally looking for whole-album recommendations, the kind of thing that you would listen to front to back.
posted by One Thousand and One to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What leapt to mind as soon as I read your question: The late, lamented heavy psych band Zen Guerrilla have an album called Trance States in Tongues that closes with an absolutely ferocious version of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream."
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:04 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dr John's Gris-Gris ends, and does it ever, with I Walk On Guilded Splinters.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:13 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz ends with the 25-minute track "Impossible Soul", after which you definitely can't say he left anything in the tank.
posted by btfreek at 8:13 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

The second side of Abbey Road by the Beatles.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

The last two tracks on the US version of The Stone Roses are I Am the Resurrection and Fools Gold.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Find the River closing out Automatic for the People
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:25 PM on December 15, 2019

Oooh! Immediate gut answer: final track on The Replacements' Let It Be. Answering Machine

(and a bonus live take that underscores its rawness. yeesh that song.)
posted by elephantsvanish at 8:56 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Electric Ladyland - "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
The Doors - "The End"
Beatles - Revolver - "Tomorrow Never Knows"

Beck's Mutations goes through a handful of well-crafted folksy numbers and ends with the hidden psychedelic freakout track "Diamond Bollocks".

Prince's Purple Rain ends with "Purple Rain"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:59 PM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss”
posted by kerf at 9:34 PM on December 15, 2019

Electr-O-Pura by Yo La Tengo is a bunch of fairly short pop-ish songs (e.g. Tom Courtenay) that ends with the epic, sprawling, and just extremely good song Blue Line Swinger.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:39 PM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

The album “Z”, by My Morning Jacket, ends with the song Dondante. It’s an incredible song.
posted by gt2 at 10:05 PM on December 15, 2019

* Answering Machine by The Replacements from Let It Be
* Beautiful Girls by Van Halen from Van Halen II
* Me In Honey by R.E.M. from Out of Time
* A Few Small Hours by Shelleyan Orphan from Century Flower
* Tenderness by Parquet Courts from Wide Awake!
* Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards by Billy Bragg from Workers Playtime
* Ben's My Friend by Sun Kil Moon from Benji
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:07 PM on December 15, 2019

Operation: Mindcrime
posted by humboldt32 at 10:23 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

“I think I lost my headache” by QOTSA
posted by ageispolis at 10:42 PM on December 15, 2019

Several Cocteau Twins albums come to mind: Treasure, Head over Heels, Heaven or Las Vegas. Also Sonic Youth’s Evol, Daydream Nation, and Washing Machine.
posted by mustard seeds at 10:47 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

For whatever reason, this Foo Fighters song off of The Colour and the Shape came immediately to mind.
posted by billjings at 10:47 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, quieter, but fits the emotional criteria - a pure-gold full-listen through record: Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

Final cut: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, pt IX.

Emotionally and musically a fully satisfying final section - a denoument - with the ending chord, a Picardy Third: the absolute 'happiest' resolution in Western music.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:48 PM on December 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh also Prince: Parade and Sign o’ the Times.
posted by mustard seeds at 10:52 PM on December 15, 2019

I peeked in a personal Top Albums playlist to see which final tracks seemed to qualify. I picked a few:

Judy and the Dream of Horses off of If You're Feeling Sinister

He Would Have Laughed from Halcyon Digest

Rip Off from Electric Warrior

Black Diamonds from Big Thief's Capacity

Sara, a Bob Dylan song that stands out among his catalog, not just the album, finishes Desire
posted by Rinku at 12:27 AM on December 16, 2019

3 very different examples...

Navras by Juno Reactor, final track on Labyrinth (manages to be even more over the top than the already bombastic tracks "Conquistador II" and "Mona Lisa Overdrive" earlier on the album).

Until we Meet the Sky / Epilogue by Solar Fields, final 2 tracks on Until we Meet the Sky (a sprawling, swelling, drawn out crescendo; to me the epitome of an album that has to be listened to in one sitting for its full effect).

Groundation Chant / Grounding Dub by Groundation, final 2 tracks on Young Tree (another end of the spectrum; not a musical statement, more of a beautifully stretched-out journey to silence).
posted by protorp at 1:02 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Rock n Roll Suicide is the last track on Ziggy Stardust.

Also, The Bewlay Brothers is the last track on Hunky Dory.
posted by rd45 at 1:16 AM on December 16, 2019

Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt from The Mars Volta's album Deloused in the Comatorium.
posted by neushoorn at 2:09 AM on December 16, 2019

The last lines of These Arms Are Snakes’ “Drinking From the Necks of the Ones You Love” are to that song what the song is to “This is Meant to Hurt You”, the EP on which it appears.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:29 AM on December 16, 2019

Fugazi's "Repeater" ends with Shut The Door, one of their all-time best.
Yes's "Fragile" finishes with Heart of the Sunrise.
The last song on Led Zeppelin II is "Bring It On Home" which in my opinion is the hands-down best on the album and one of their all time greatest.
"Foxtrot" by Genesis ends with their insane 22-minute opus "Supper's Ready."
Similarly, Pink Floyd's "Meddle" ends with the 23-minute "Echoes," which is an all-time jam.
"Red" by King Crimson ends with "Starless."
Third Eye, the last song on "AEnima" by Tool, might fit the bill here too.
"Days of Future Passed" by the Moody Blues ends with "Nights in White Satin."

Seconding Seasons in the Abyss!
posted by saladin at 4:00 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Fear Factory - Obsolete. Final track is Timelessness. Don't count the bonus tracks as the are just bonus tracks. The arc of the album is tracks 01 - 10. Timelessness is great because after all that fast thrashy metalcore mahem, Timelessness comes as a slow, no-percusion-no-guitar emotional meditation on the darkness. One of the best albums of the 90s, often overlooked.
posted by glonous keming at 4:52 AM on December 16, 2019

Scissor Sisters' Night Work finishes up with "Invisible Light". If you're a fan of Scissor Sisters, it's a great final track made only better by Sir Ian McKellen's spoken bit ¾ of the way through.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:25 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hollywood, the final track on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Ghosteen, has a record side all to itself. Love in the time of climate change apocalypse.
posted by avocet at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2019

Deftones Gore. The last track is Rubicon.
posted by dbx at 8:06 AM on December 16, 2019

Lou Reed, Rock and Roll Animal
Final Cut: Rock & Roll
posted by j_curiouser at 8:14 AM on December 16, 2019

The album (), by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós, is a slow build from an ethereal and dreamy start to a thunderous, crashingly awesome end, punctuated by the hilariously titled Popplagið (meaning "pop song").
posted by number9dream at 8:17 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lemonade builds to the stunningly good three-song sequence of Freedom, All Night, and Formation. The rest of the album is a political and philosophical question, and they're the answer — and also the three most intense tracks.

Let It Bleed ends with You Can't Always Get What You Want.

Road Movie to Berlin is kind of a parody of this sort of thing that also kind of works as an example of this sort of thing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:47 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Morning Rise off Heartworm by Whipping Boy
posted by runincircles at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2019

I also came here to say The Replacements & Answering Machine, but since that's taken I'll throw in Warren Zevon's 1976 self-titled. The last track is Desperadoes Under the Eaves, which is heartbreaking, and -- at least for my money -- the best song about being a down-and-out drunk in LA circa 1970 that exists. (It's a pretty specific genre, but it's maybe the best genre?)
posted by voiceofreason at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

the entire nuyorican soul album is amazing but the final track by george benson is fucking stellar

you can do it (baby)
posted by poffin boffin at 10:11 AM on December 16, 2019

Jawbreaker - Bivouac (last track on Bivouac)
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:24 AM on December 16, 2019

Four Leaf Clover is the last song on Old 97’s album To Far To Care. https://youtu.be/V9yOkNQxDQs
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2019

This is a fun question.

"Train in Vain" on the Clash's London Calling album (40 years old this week!) is a great single. It doesn't fit in with the last side of the album, though.

I love "The Anchor Song" at the end of Bjork's Debut.

I want to echo "Shut the Door" by Fugazi. This is not just one of their great songs, but one of the great songs of the 90s, I think.

"Maybe I'm the Only One For Me" from this year's great and tragic Purple Mountains record.

"Does Not Suffice" on Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me is just a real great song.
posted by kensington314 at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2019

This is almost polar opposite of your question, but the final side of the Minutemen's "Double Nickels on the Dime" is labeled "Chaff." Anyway, it's a strong end to a great record. "Love Dance," the last song, is not a great song, but it does leave the feeling of nothing more to say, and then the album itself ends on the band members' car motors running, a motif throughout the album.

I have also always felt that the way the Stones' Exile on Main Street ends on "Shine a Light" and then "Soul Survivor" is really strong.
posted by kensington314 at 1:44 PM on December 16, 2019


"Main Man" from T-Rex's Slider.
posted by kensington314 at 1:47 PM on December 16, 2019

The Decemberists' album The Crane Wife ends like this for me, with the song The Crane Wife #3.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2019

The Buzzcocks' Love Bites ends with the stunning and furious instrumental "Late for the Train."

Kepler's Missionless Days is extremely chill all the way through until the second half of the last song, "Elemental: Blood or Water" which really goes off.

Mogwai's Happy Songs for Happy People ends with the crashing, shiver-inducing "Stop Coming to My House" which is one of my favorite examples of the Mogwai "type". For that matter they tend to have pretty powerful closers across the board.

Portugal the Man's In a Mountain In a Cloud ends with "Sleep Forever," a great slow-burn track that my friend did the video for (but in that, it's mashed up with a second song).

The Intelligence's Males ends with the title track, which is a great one but also ends with a lovely static freakout.

Crystal Antlers ends their self-titled album with the raw "Parting Song for the Torn Sky," which although it kind of lifted its bassline from Comets on Fire's "Blue Tomb" IMO, is still pretty incendiary.

Sonic Youth's "The Trilogy" ends Daydream Nation, and while it's more like three songs in one it's a hell of a ride.

Saxon Shore ended It Doesn't Matter with a pretty furious version of an old track "Secret Fire, Binding Light," that ends after five minutes but distortion lingers for 10 more. Can't seem to find it online.

That's all I can think of right now! Definitely mining this thread myself too, thanks for a productive discussion!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:07 PM on December 16, 2019

Two come to mind:

XTC 's The Wheel and the Maypole ends Wasp Star (which is also the band's last album) and Paul McCartney's Ram ends with the excellent Back Seat of My Car.
posted by gfrobe at 7:12 PM on December 16, 2019

One of my favorite ska albums, Tantra Monsters "Tantra Monsters," ends with the excellent, uncharacteristically heavy "Ultra Monkey."

Arcade Fire's "Funeral" ends with Rebellion (Lies), one their best songs.
posted by Clambone at 8:04 PM on December 16, 2019

The Who - Who's Next - ends with Won't Get Fooled Again
posted by Homer42 at 9:33 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

The 4th (and final) movement from Beethoven’s 9th (and last complete) symphony is a standout, though some have complained otherwise.
posted by klausman at 10:37 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Matches' first album, E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals, is a collection of upbeat pop-punk-ish songs, but closes with an untitled song that's usually referred to as "Scratched Out." It's quiet, indie-ish, a little dreamy, and beautiful.
posted by radioamy at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2019

For some reason this question throws me back to a pretty specific time, back when I'd make cassette mixes and the idea of a strong finale held special meaning. Fun!

Stone Roses is already mentioned; it's one of the greatest closers no matter if you have the UK (Resurrection) or US (Fools Gold) version.

Charlatans (UK) - Some Friendly: Sproston Green
Dead Milkment - Beelzebubba: Life Is Shit
Deep Purple - Machine Head: Space Truckin'
The Dream Syndicate - The Days of Wine and Roses: The Days of Wine and Roses
Echo & The Bunnymen - Ocean Rain: Ocean Rain
Fleshtones - Hexbreaker!: Burnin' Hell
posted by rhizome at 2:47 PM on December 17, 2019

I love the first Crowded House album and I LOVE the way it ends with That's What I Call Love.
posted by kristi at 9:43 PM on December 18, 2019

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