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The Making of a Great Album

By anaesthetica in Culture
Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:26:29 AM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)

In the age of mp3s, music videos and singles, the album is losing its place. Before the album became the standard unit of distribution, groups only had to come up with a single or two. They would tour the country playing that single on TV shows, or at big events. But with the EP and the LP bands suddenly had to produce more, and fit it neatly onto two sides. And with the CD, there was only one side really.

It seems that albums are increasingly just collections of singles, with no overall feel or themes, musical or lyrical, binding the songs together. That being said, what is your favorite album of all time, and why?

I have always been partial to concept albums, not just because the songs themselves are good, but because I marvel at the effort that must have gone into their composition. But good concept albums are growing increasingly few, and the album itself as a musical format seems to be in decline. But what is it exactly that makes an album great as an album, rather than just a bunch of songs all on one CD or LP?

Dark Side of the Moon
Arguably Pink Floyd's greatest work, Dark Side of the Moon is a shining example of an album where the music, lyrics, concept, and sound samples all integrate into a cohesive whole. It does have its throwaway track (On the Run). But overall, each song is able to stand on its own, while at the same time contributing to the theme.

There are many interpretations of Dark Side of the Moon, which can easily be found through google, but all generally cite similar concepts: insanity, money and division. These themes are explored both in sound clips (some supposedly taken from random beggars the band recorded, others taken from cash registers) and in the lyrics (see songs like: Money, Us and Them, Brain Damage).

Musically the whole album re-uses themes, and flows from one song to the next through an arrangement of songs such that the key of one song naturally resolves to the key of the next. The first half of the intro track, Speak to Me, is a aggregation of many of the sound clips and vocal elements throughout the whole album, creating a chaotic and concentrated climax to start off the album. A literary parallel can be seen with Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in which he includes a nonsense poem at the very beginning of book that includes all the major themes that would later be explored throughout the rest of the story.

The third track, Time, is a great song in its own right, rated by some as containing of the top five greatest guitar solos of all time. It begins with a lengthy intro, moves into the song, and ends with a reprise of the second half of the first track, Breathe. The reprise of Breathe flows into Great Gig in the Sky, both songs having complimentary keys. The vocals of Great Gig in the Sky were part of the samples at the beginning in Speak to Me. Money, the song that follows Great Gig, also uses samples that were foreshadowed in Speak to Me.

Us and Them is a long song, developing the themes of the album further, and ends by going into Any Colour You Like, which can be seen as a coda to Us and Them, or perhaps an instrumental bridge between Us and Them and Brain Damage. Brain Damage and Eclipse are the final two tracks, but really function as a two-part song, kind of like a heroic couplet finishing off the album. The Beatles did the same thing twice on Abbey Road, creating three short songs that really functioned as one song: Mean Mr. Mustard > Polythene Pam > She Came in Through the Bathroom Window and Golden Slumbers > Carry That Weight > The End. The reverse is often done, fusing several songs into one—again the Beatles did this with Happiness is a Warm Gun and I Want You (She's So Heavy), and more recently Radiohead has done this with Paranoid Android.

Back to Dark Side, not only do the lyrics, concept and music cohere throughout the album, it also (according to some accounts) synchronizes with The Wizard of Oz when the two are played together. I've done it, and it definitely works at least once through the album. People say that Waters was very politically concerned, and thus the connection between the themes of Dark Side and the political allegory of Wizard of Oz was the motivation behind the synchronization of the album with the action in the movie.

Dark Side of the Moon illustrates the fundamental advantage of albums over singles (or singles collections that are passed off as albums for that matter). With a lot of work (and probably a lot of drugs) it's possible to create many layers of meaning, to tell a story not only with lyrics, but with music and overall themes and references to other works. Joyce, the most eminent modern writer, was a master at extended allegory and symbolism. Pink Floyd may be no Joyce, and Dark Side no Ulysses, but how can it be said that a collection of singles can be greater than one truly coherent and layed album, where the songs belong with one another?

Antichrist Superstar
Marilyn Manson's flagship work, one could say it's a great album merely because of the coherent, extended, layered and complex distaste people have for both him and this album. But if one is able suppress his or her frustration with Manson's image and the not-so-dulcet sounds of industrial rock, it is plain to see that Antichrist Superstar is a great modern day album.

The entire album is a story, divided into three parts, chronicling the ascension of the Antichrist. The first part, "The Heirophant", sees the narrator as a young man frustrated by the world around him. The second part, "The Inauguration of the Worm", sees the boy grown into the Rock Star, the celebrity, the public figure. And the final part, "Disintegratory Rising", finds the narrator transformed into the Antichrist. The songs in each section pertain to the particular time in the narrator's journey. The lyrics of each change over the three sections: from personal thoughts and relationships, to public relationships and sentiments, to epic events and prophecy.

While it doesn't have the same level of layering that Dark Side possesses, Antichrist Superstar does tells a much more coherent and structured story, has a musical consistency throughout (most likely due to the skills of Trent Reznor acting as producer), contains a subtantial amount of mythology, references to philosophy (Nietzsche mostly), numerology, and has social, religious and personal themes present in every song. While almost every song can stand on its own, each forms a part of a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of its songs. Perhaps this is what makes an album truly great.

It is worth mentioning that every major release by marilyn manson is a concept album, Portrait of an American Family, Mechanical Animals, Holy Wood and the forthcoming Golden Age of the Grotesque all revolving around a personal transformation and musical theme. So too do many Nine Inch Nails albums (Manson being Trent Reznor's star prodigy) including Broken, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, have a distinct story, narrator, and musical coherency.

Album Sides
In the age of CDs, there are very few albums that even bother to structure their album with two sides in mind. The only two I could think of in my collection are Odelay by Beck, and Three of a Perfect Pair by King Crimson. On Odelay the second half clearly begins with Where it's At, but there is little substantive musical or thematic division between the two sides. King Crimson's Three of a Perfect pair is hardly a concept album, but each side has a distinct character. King Crimson, popularly known for its frustrating inclusion of extremely experimental pieces, and amazing interplay between its stylistically opposite guitarists (Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew), consciously separated the two sides on Three of a Perfect Pair such that the first side contained their accessible pieces, and the second side was comprised of their experimental songs that few people wanted to hear anyway. In some ways this tool available to bands has been destroyed by the CD, but double CDs can still perform this function, albeit on a larger scale. The Fragile by NIN is a two-disc album, in which each disc has its own distinct musical and thematic character, and tells a different part of the narrator's story.

Why the Album?
Essentially, why is the album important at all? Songs are the basic unit of music, and so perhaps songs should be judged upon their own merit. It is easy to argue that an individual song could be greater if unencumbered by the need to include musical bridges, transitions, reprises, lyrical themes, an entire chapter of a story, or extraneous symbolism and references.

I think the essence of examining what makes a great album is simply that the songs themselves contribute to a spectacular whole. The LP album, something that was essentially the product of technology rather than musical necessity, has become a format in which bands have the option of creating something more than simply a series of songs. Few seriously compare a book of great short stories to one long novel, and say that the greatness of the former can equal that of the latter. Look at Joyce: his collection of superb short stories, The Dubliners, doesn't carry anywhere near the same weight as Portrait of the Artist, although the two are relatively close in length.

Is the Album Dead?
Technology like the mp3, and new distribution models (Kazaa, gnutella) are making the album obsolete. People are much less willing to grab entire albums, and sift through the filler to find the singles that they already know they like. It's much easier to download a single and put it on a playlist, or a mix cd, and forget about the rest of the album. Perhaps this tendency has to do with the so-called MTV culture of limited attention-span and instant gratification that seems to be the focus of so many concerned investigative reports. Perhaps this has more to do with music company marketing schemes, propelling their manufactured stars to the top of the charts with one or two hit singles placed on an album of filler.

That being said, perhaps there's a different culture of music-making than there once was. There seem to be far fewer popular or known bands that invest the time in creating an album that tells a story, or maintains a coherent musical whole. Before the EP and LP bands only needed to produce the hit single or two. The early Beatles albums, when the LP was still not being utilized as an album, actually bear a lot of similarity to the pop records of today: quickly released, one or two hit singles, formulaic song writing, the rest of the record full of filler songs. The Beatles changed their outlook with the release of Rubber Soul, and many other bands started releasing coherent albums around this time as well. Perhaps it has something to do with the advent of the 60's storytelling culture, exemplified by Bob Dylan, where albums were there not for singles, but to really say something.

Today, the pop music formula is stronger than ever, and the bands that create albums with a cohesive musical whole are unknown or largely disliked. Groups like the Flaming Lips, who released the concept album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or Beck, each of whose albums is made with a distinct musical style different from the previous, are not widely played or widely known in many circumstances. It goes without saying that groups like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and Tool, all of whom release albums that are conceptual and musical wholes, are not widely liked.

One reason may be that in making an album, rather than a collection of songs, the songs themselves don't stand as well on their own, and are not as accessible for radio or MTV play. Another possibility is that their relative obscurity, or state of rejection from the mainstream, enables them to experiment a little bit more than other bands can within the current musical climate.

A Great Album...
I've given some examples of what I think constitutes a gret album, and the various elements these album have. The questions still remain: can an album be greater than the sum of its songs? Is the album still a viable format? And what makes a for a great album?


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The Album...
o Is technologically obsolete. 6%
o Ought to be a whole. 63%
o Doesn't matter as long as the songs are good. 13%
o Really only exists on vinyl. 8%
o Is culturally obsolete. 8%

Votes: 46
Results | Other Polls

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The Making of a Great Album | 274 comments (262 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
I rate each song (2.66 / 3) (#1)
by A Proud American on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:34:49 PM EST

I rate each song by itself really without worrying about what else is on the album.

Assuming every song is of the same genre of music, a good album is one in which at least 90% of the songs are melodic, and at least 50% of the songs are good and easily memorable.

The weak are killed and eaten...

I'm totally the opposite (none / 0) (#39)
by srichman on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:04:14 PM EST

Huh, I'm totally not like that. For me, a good album must make a nice package. This is an obviously vague and subjective concept, but some important traits that define it for me are:
The songs shouldn't be all over the map; rather they should support a common artisit message. Note that this definitely isn't the same thing as "concept album." For instance, in an interview today on Pitchfork, Keith Fullerton Whitman explains the difference in approach and substance in the work he releases under his given name and under his Hrvatski alias. If he were to mix half of a Hrvatski album and half of a Keith Fullerton Whitman album, the result would be decidedly incohesive, despite the songs all being by the same artist and in the same (general) genre.
The songs shouldn't be so (stylisitcally/thematically/emotionally/etc.) similar that halfway through the album, I'm so sick of being overloaded with some characteristic of the music that I turn it off.
The songs should flow well into one another. What this means is again subjective and varies depending on the type of music, but a good rule of thumb is that an album should sound much better played in its natural order than in "shuffle" order. There are many cheap tricks you can do to achieve this effect, such as crossfading or letting a track or two from one song linger at the beginning of the next, but I'm thinking more in terms of intelligent choices in content and track order (e.g., to use the analogy of a DJ, I'm interested in a DJ who picks good songs in a good order and thereby takes me on a stylistic/thematic/emotional journey, not just a DJ who can cut mad transitions and beatmatch like nobody's business, though the latter technical considerations are undoubtedly important too).
I appreciate that this is a personal thing, as I've met many people like yourself who are much more interested in the strength of individual songs than in the above considerations. People like yourself, as the author of the story mentions, are becoming much more prevalent, as they're now able to obtain mp3s of just their favoriate songs and fashion 1000-song playlists that consist solely of these best-loved hits.

The key point at which I noticed I was not in this camp is when I realized that there are some bands that I like very much, but whose greatest hits collections don't do much for me (or, at least, I like their normal albums better than their compilations). It isn't that the songs on the greatest hits collections aren't my favorites; they are. The reason is because greatest hits collections tend to violate the above principles. Often I get sick of hearing one hit after another, and want a little filler to give my head a chance to relax (balance). Often the compilation comes off a bit too hodgepodge (cohesiveness and continuity) and I find it distracting.

Of course, I like 7"s too, and own a fair number. I just really hope the album doesn't die.

[ Parent ]

Frampton Comes Alive (3.00 / 3) (#2)
by graal on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:36:04 PM EST

...comes to mind immediately. Most of the stuff I'd suggest will fall into the 'Album-Oriented Rock' category, so I'll wait until a few more Olde Farts weigh in.

For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

I think you said it yourself (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by Rogerborg on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:43:08 PM EST

The album is on the way out.  It's an artificial creation made to fit a particular piece of hardware.

Vinyl is dead, tape is on life support.  DAT was stillborn, DVD-audio was aborted, minidisk is the idiot savant kept locked in the cellar.  Even CD has developed a nasty hacking cough, although CD-R has given it a shot in the arm.

Albums are still where the money is, but I can't see that lasting beyond the next five years.  Yes, I know people said that 5 years ago, but sales have been dropping, and I don't believe that's all down to the global economy.

So, interesting question, but I don't really have an answer, not having bought - or even leeched - an album in the last ten years.

Oh, one exception.  The soundtrack to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.  So, theme albums then.  

The very fact that a TV producer/scriptwriter/director can knock up a full album for (counts) eight lead vocalists, and produce 45 minutes worth of music video to go with it incidentally as part of his normal production schedule really shows how bloated and self important the music business has become.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Soundtrack (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by anaesthetica on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:53:47 PM EST

I find soundtracks really interesting as well, especially when there's someone taking an overall creative interest. I think for coherence the Natural Born Killers Sountrack is well done, as is the Lost Highway soundtrack (although those two choices belie my musical bias towards Trent Reznor).

Also, the Queen of the Damned and Spawn soundtracks were quite interesting, despite the horrible movies they were coupled with. Half the QotD soundtrack was scored by Jonathan Davis of Korn, but each track he did was sung by someone else. The Spawn soundtrack was entirely collaborations between artists, with each band composing a new song with a member of another one of the bands, or being remixed by someone else. Soundtracks have a lot of potential to be experimental, simply because bands won't lose their fanbase if they put something weird on a soundtrack.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Scores not soundtracks (none / 0) (#61)
by leviramsey on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:48:30 PM EST

I hate your standard soundtrack album. But I'm a sucker for a score. Perhaps it's because the score is the ultimate form of the concept album...

[ Parent ]
Movie Score | Video Game Score? (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:45:32 AM EST

The movie score that I absolutely can't get enough of is the American Beauty Score. If you ask for a more perfect 30 minutes of music, I'm not sure you'll find it. It is interesting what composers are able to do when they're not given free reign over song length, or mood even. Being forced to tie their music to a storyline makes their project harder, and I think when they succeed it may be even better than what they would have done if they weren't constrained in the first place. That being said, I find a lot of the incidental music in movies to be quite derivative (violin swell for emotional scene, slow piano for lonely scene, drum n bass ripoff for fast scene, etc).

Besides American Beauty, other scores that I love are the Amelie score, Pi score, and Resident Evil score.

Also, on a side note, when musicians score video game soundtracks some interesting things can happen. Check out Trent Reznor's score for Quake III. Very tight.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Video game soundtracks (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by Gully Foyle on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:23:27 AM EST

Homeworld is worth a mention. The main theme by Yes is terrible, but there's a choral version of Barber's Adagio for Strings on it which is worth a listen.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Battlezone! (none / 0) (#182)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:08:25 PM EST

Really, really nice music, blending orchestral and electronic and nicely fitting in with the depressing damage limitation feel of the game.

I quite like some of the tracks from Dungeon Keeper and Half-Life too, but they're not so good as a whole.

Going back, nice themes include:
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge
The Chaos Engine
Monty Mole
Lemmings 2
Pinball Fantasies: Stones and Bones table

[ Parent ]

http://exotica.fix.no/tunes/unexotica/ (5.00 / 1) (#243)
by it certainly is on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 10:26:37 PM EST

go hear them all again today.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Know of a way to play them on a PC, though? n/t (none / 0) (#250)
by meaningless pseudonym on Sat Mar 15, 2003 at 09:37:29 AM EST

[ Parent ]
deliplayer (5.00 / 1) (#251)
by it certainly is on Sat Mar 15, 2003 at 02:09:16 PM EST


kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Thanks! (none / 0) (#252)
by meaningless pseudonym on Sat Mar 15, 2003 at 06:54:37 PM EST

I'm not investigating at this time of night but thanks very much :-)

[ Parent ]
I assure you, it rocks. (none / 0) (#253)
by it certainly is on Sat Mar 15, 2003 at 08:11:52 PM EST

Even though the Deliplayer authors can be bitchy at times, their deliplayer is really good for the PC user. Just download the lha files you like from unexotica and point deliplayer at them, you don't even need to unpack them.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Re: Soundtracks/Scores (5.00 / 2) (#132)
by Silh on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:27:15 AM EST

Unfortunately, I find I have the same problem with movie scores/soundtracks.  There are one or two good songs on there, usually built around one or two main themes, and while the rest isn't exactly filler, it often isn't great music either. A lot of the time this is due to pieces which play with an action scene (eg. frantic John Williams style), or pieces which provide mood without being particularly melodic (eg. most of the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within music).  The only soundtrack which I have that I could listen through from start to finish and say that I enjoy every song would be Conan the Barbarian (Basil Poledouris). It has neither a song which particularly stands out, nor a particularly great performance either, but each song on the CD can stand on its own as a piece of music while maintaining the overall theme throughout. Plus it has two of my favourite choral sequences in Riders of Doom and Battle of the Mound.

Other soundtracks which come close to this mark: The Last of the Mohicans (Trevor Jones, Randy Edelman; 1992 release; I haven't heard the 2000 rerelease which has a different selection of songs so can't comment on it), and Braveheart (James Horner).

That said, the only other CD's which I actually enjoy listening through from beginning to end are classical, and by certain composers (usually Baroque eg.  Handel, Corelli). I'm not much for popular music; most of it doesn't agree well with my tastes.

[ Parent ]

I like scores that are a lot of variations (none / 0) (#160)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:34:22 PM EST

...on a theme. Leitmotives are awesome. I avoid looking at a score as a collection of "songs"; a cue is not a song, merely a sort of movement of a symphony or an opera.

I have a major soft spot for David Arnold's work (most famous for scoring the Bond films, Independence Day, the instrumentals for Godzilla, Stargate, and Shaft). He's very skilled at doing different genres of music for his scores (compare Last of the Dogmen which is almost pure romantic orchestral to Die Another Day, which takes symphonic drum and bass to new heights).

[ Parent ]
MD (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by Dresen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:16:35 PM EST

The MD market is still seen as plenty viable by hardware manufacturers like Sony. Even though it only fulfilled half its potential (it was originally planned as a pre-recorded release format like CD, as well as a rewritable data storage medium like zip disk) - MD as a household music-storage format is still going strong.

The advantages are: smaller, more reliable, much more featureful player/recorders; the resilience and small size of the disks themselves; the long play time with ATRAC3 without the need for special discs; and the whole editing thing. In fact MDs (like DAT) are widely used within the music business (studios, broadcasters, etc).

Forgive people.
[ Parent ]

Forgot to put in.. (none / 0) (#12)
by Dresen on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:21:11 PM EST

..a link about ATRAC3.

To be fair, MD hasn't been very successful in the US. But it's pretty common in Europe and even more so in Japan.

Forgive people.
[ Parent ]

I found a new sig... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:17:59 PM EST

I'm stealing it from you... :-)

Vinyl is dead, tape is on life support...   minidisk is the idiot savant kept locked in the cellar.

Do you mind the edit?

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Not an artificial creation (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by sien on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:20:34 PM EST

An album is not an artificial creation, it is a reasonable fit for people's attention spans.

An hour to an hour and a half is a good size for a piece of music. It is similar to the length of a movie.

[ Parent ]

Music as art... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by SleepDirt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:31:12 PM EST

It sounds like you're simply predicting the death of the album based on record sales. The album concept is central to many forms of music. Some artists are always going to want to group together tracks to create a larger work of art.

I could see pop music moving away from the album format, simply because your average pop band doesn't have enough talent to release 50 or 60 minutes of good music but in virtually every other form of music the album concept remains very strong.

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." - Hunter S. Thompson
[ Parent ]

CD is *not* dead, Vinyl has a niche following ... (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by what the on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:25:10 PM EST

The rush to DVD-A/SACD is nothing more than the latest attempt to inflict copy-protection on customers by a profit-margin terrified industry. Sony (developers of SACD and MD) has proved it gives not a flying one about it's customers these days: The Civil War Inside Sony

and the audiophile angle from r3mix.net below.

CD doesn't have a low enough signal to noise ratio. The new DVD super audio is a huge improvement.

Reality check: CD was invented to be perfect sound without waste. The 90db signal to noise and dynamic range provides a noise floor that is lower than you can get from any analog source in the recording studio today. The air current in the room of the recording studio is louder than the noise floor on CD. When you use ANY microphone, you will pick up the room air noise. This means that CD already does a better job than we need it to. I already run into problems where CDs can record sounds too loud for analog equipment to safely amplify. If DVD audio is to be believed, then you could record a dynamic range wide enough to capture a jet engine's loudness. This is not possible to reproduce on current analog equipment without distortion and serious damage to your hearing. Again, CD is perfect. Current recordings on CD barely use any dynamic range. Most modern music has a "compressed" dynamic range. Constantly loud and rarely uses a sound below -15db on the level meter. This is a mastering problem. The mastering engineers master modern music for radio play to get their song louder than their competitors so people will pay attention when their song comes on. Take any 1980's or early 1990's CD and put it in your CD player, then listen to the volume. Now take a modern rock or pop music CD and play it. The volume of the modern music is always near or at the MAXIMUM peak level possible. The dynamic range squeezed out. Now, simply put in the older 1980's or early 1990's CD and turn up the volume on your stereo. You'll notice how much BETTER the older recordings sound. There is IMPACT in the drums. Details in the sound. It's more realisitic sounding overall. The older (but still modern) recordings are easier on your ears at louder volume and seem more natural. This is how the CD medium sounds at its best. Do not listen this way on PC or boombox speakers. You need a decent stereo or good headphones to hear the difference.

[ Parent ]

Nice try. (1.00 / 1) (#49)
by Hired Goons on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:06:08 PM EST

But when you quote from a guy who has repeatedly been shown to be full of crap, you lose.
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
[ Parent ]
Who are you quoting? (none / 0) (#99)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:27:04 AM EST

Did I say CD is dead?  If you want to leverage a technical argument that doesn't disprove something that I didn't say, then do it in your own thread.

Also, regarding vinyl's niche following, can you quote new sales figures (as distinct from 2nd hand ones)?  Just because it's still twitching doesn't mean that it's not a corpse.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

r3mix.net is horrible. (none / 0) (#193)
by woem on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:12:36 PM EST

Do not go to r3mix expecting anything approaching accuracy. It's well known in psychoacoustic discussion circles as being inaccurate. Try Hydrogen Audio for a more objective stance.
i either +1fp or -1. no exceptions. i ♥ turmeric.
the only class that should be discriminated against is the stupid.

[ Parent ]
So.. (none / 0) (#195)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:19:56 PM EST

You can tell the difference between SACD and CD?

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Never said that... (none / 0) (#217)
by woem on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 01:31:29 AM EST

What I did say is that r3mix.net is often unreliable. For this datum, however, it is accurate, although the reasoning behind it is questionable.
i either +1fp or -1. no exceptions. i ♥ turmeric.
the only class that should be discriminated against is the stupid.

[ Parent ]
Once More, With Feeling (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:32:22 PM EST

Ah, the Buffy musical. Proof that with enough coaching and engineering, anyone can be made to sound like they're almost a decent singer, if they're important enough.

I'm just kidding, of course I love the musical ep. SMG, you give ME something to sing about!

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Well, that's my point (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:43:10 AM EST

It's depressingly easy to manufacture talent.  

Although, unlike most boy/girl/crewz bands, they did start with 2.5 decent vocalists (Tony Head, Amber Benson, half of James Marsters) and only one total cripple (Alyson Hannigan).

Actually, I was convinced that Amber Benson was dubbed, because her singing voice is so unlike her character's speaking voice.  Turns out that she's just one of those pesky actors who can actually act.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Amber Benson (none / 0) (#169)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:18:15 PM EST

Turns out that she's just one of those pesky actors who can actually act.

Good thing they put a stop to that before it spun out of control...

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Vinyl LIVES! (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by Hired Goons on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:08:31 PM EST

I wonder if you realize that the only format where sales have increased for the last few year is...

Yep, you guessed it.
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
[ Parent ]

Terribly sorry, my mistake (none / 0) (#103)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:36:27 AM EST

And those sales figures would be....?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

right here. (4.50 / 2) (#142)
by joshsisk on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:44:45 AM EST

Sales figures from the RIAA. Vinyl sales up by 15.8% from 2001-2002.

Note that this probably doesn't include the underground punk, hip-hop and electronica markets - all of which have heavy vinyl sales.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Oh good gravy (none / 0) (#249)
by Rogerborg on Fri Mar 14, 2003 at 10:09:07 AM EST

$5,243,000,000 on CD album.
     $13,500,000 on vinyl album.

Consider me chastised.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

mmm, gravy. (none / 0) (#258)
by joshsisk on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 10:33:44 AM EST

The original poster never said that vinyl sales were more than CDs, they simply said that they were one of the only categories to undergo a sales spike, which is true.

Being sarcastic about the fact that you were wrong just makes you seem like a poor sport.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

$13.5 million? (none / 0) (#261)
by Rogerborg on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 12:07:22 PM EST

I work for a tiny company that wiped its corporate arse with smaller contracts than that.  A 5% increase in hee-haw is still hee-haw.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Again... (none / 0) (#263)
by joshsisk on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 02:47:36 PM EST

The original poster said there were sales increases in vinyl, and you disputed that fact. Those figures prove the poster's statement to be accurate.

Just because you are a high roller and think $13+ million is pocket change, doesn't mean that the original poster was not correct in his or her statement.

A 5% increase in hee-haw is still hee-haw.

15.8% percent, actually.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Quote me (none / 0) (#264)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 07:42:56 AM EST

Where exactly did I dispute the rise in sales?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

several lines up... (none / 0) (#265)
by joshsisk on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 09:51:03 AM EST

...right before you said "Consider me chastised." in response to me posting the sales figures.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Miscommunication, sorry (none / 0) (#269)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 01:03:49 PM EST

I said "Vinyl is dead", not "vinyl's sales figures are dropping".

I accept that the figures have increased slightly in the last year.  I still assert that it's dead.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

well, in case it's not obvious... (none / 0) (#271)
by joshsisk on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 04:38:36 PM EST

...I disagree.

I know people who make their living pressing vinyl, I know bands who make lots of money selling vinyl, etc. I'm releasing a record on vinyl in the next month and I already have most of the run presold, which means guaranteed profit.

It's a niche market, to be sure, but not dead.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Who gives a monkey?? (none / 0) (#266)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 09:59:07 AM EST

So CDs sound better than records, or records sound better than CDs. I don't care. You can sit around laughing about how I listen to big black coasters, and I'll sit around playing those black coasters.

But then there a large number of albums that have never been pressed/remastered on CD. Regardless of whatever sounds better, or what sells better, or what DJs are using these days I want to get my hands on the most music possible. For that I need to have a record player and a CD player. And use both. Vinyl has a lot of life left in it yet.
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]

Vinyl Dead???? WTF? (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by the77x42 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:50:40 AM EST

I spend at least $30 a week on vinyl. About $15 per TRACK (one/two tracks on a record).

I'm a DJ... There are dozens of vinyl shops in the Vancouver area. Vinyl is my blood, the shops are my clinics.

EVERYTHING that you hear on the radio right now is on vinyl. Most have dozens of remixes out on vinyl. Vinyl is still huge. Why? Because it is easy to manipulate and sounds better than CD's.

Wha? Better than CD's you ask? Yes. With my Technics SL1200M3D decks and Stanton cartridges, I can play you something that has no frequency clipping, has purer bass, and sounds more spacious than any CD has to offer.

CD's are to vinyl as VHS is to Betamax. BUDGET.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]

Good for you (4.00 / 2) (#100)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:29:50 AM EST

You keep telling yourself that you can hear the difference, and that's it's got nothing to do with comparing a $3000 system with a $30 CD walkman.

Got any sales figures (for new media, not 2nd hand)?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Certainly true for Australia (none / 0) (#117)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:28:43 AM EST

Vinyl album sales increased in Australia last year. I think it'd be incredibly difficult to reliably track second hand purchases of vinyl or cds. And aren't the sensible/rich kids buying turntables rather than guitars these days??. Remember: if you want to listen to Leonard Nimoy's Music from Outer Space you gotta get the record.
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
I posted sales figures above. (3.00 / 1) (#143)
by joshsisk on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:50:00 AM EST

You can hear the difference between vinyl and CD, in certain types of music more than others, however. Vinyl has a "warm" sound, it's hard to describe. I can tell the difference, sometimes. I think it depends, though, whether the music was recorded digitally or analog.

Nothing I've ever heard sounds as good as several-inch wide analog tape, like they use in a pro recording studio, though.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Little experiment (5.00 / 1) (#145)
by xL on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:32:51 AM EST

Something I've always wanted to try out on the "vinyl sounds better" crowd is if they could spot the difference between a vinyl record and a digital recording of that same vinyl record being played over the same record player. Is it really warmth or is it factually, however pleasant it may sound, just distortion? Perhaps a $25 box containing a DSP running a Vinyl Simulator would increase your enjoyment of CDs?

Also note that older records were produced for vinyl. Producers of the vinyl era knew that their expensive master tape was going to be put on vinyl, knew what sound it added so they compensated in their mix. When CD started coming around, people were so obsessed by its "cleanliness" that even for a long time after digital production emphasized this cleanliness.

The several inches wide analog tape is most likely a multitrack, by the way, per individual track not quite as wide. Multitrack can have terrible problems with proper channel separation. Tape also has effects on the dynamics of the sound. Engineers moving from analog to digital are likely to start out producing with too much or too little dynamics compression due to this effect. Now that every serious studio (and even most home studios) went digital, we're seeing an increase in production quality and a decline in the number of "cold, gutless" digital recordings.

I think in the near future we will see another revolution around the concept of lossy data compression. Some sound data compresses better than other. Sometimes there are ways to pick compression to match the source material best. In audio and in video, massaging the inputs and picking the right compression algorithm is an as of yet recognized art-form. I've got double layer DVD discs with 0 features that look like shit where some discs with 1xDTS, 3x5.1 plus a metric shitload of features look abolutely fabulous.

[ Parent ]

experiment. (3.00 / 1) (#154)
by joshsisk on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:58:13 PM EST

I've listened to the same recording, on the same studio speakers, on the original tape, the vinyl and the cd version. The tape version definitely sounded the best, with the vinyl not far behind. Interestingly, the vinyl definitely didn't sound the same as the tape, but it sounded better than the cd. This could be due to other factors, of course, things out of our control, like issues at the pressing plant, etc... But I have no way of knowing that.

Interestingly enough, one of my releases we had pressed onto vinyl from a CD premaster, and we listened to that A/B style, flipping from the record to the CD, from the same stereo, and everyone agreed that the record sounded better. None of us could understand why, since what was on the vinyl was taken from the CD. I still don't know why that was the case, but it could be misc. external factors, like you say.

My theory (as a non-studio tech person) is that either the process (or perhaps the tech doing the conversion) compressed the sound a bit more than on the CD, so it was a simpler sound and thus felt more "rocking". No clue if that's an accurate assesment, but something made the vinyl version have more of a "rock" sound than the cd... even though the vinyl version was taken from the cd.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

That's exactly what I tried to say (none / 0) (#166)
by xL on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:31:32 PM EST

It's the effects of the vinyl you like, it's not that vinyl can better reproduce the original sound. What if you stuck the RCA output of your turntable into a CD-recorder and did an A/B there?

[ Parent ]
you lost me. (3.00 / 1) (#172)
by joshsisk on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:53:59 PM EST

I never said vinyl can better reproduce the original sound... I said it can sound better than CD. It depends on the kind of music, so I'm told, and the process you use, I would imagine.

I have heard that some people can hear the difference between CD-Audio and analog audio, due to the whole sampling rate issue. But DVD Audio be enough for even those people, and I'm not sure if I'm one of them or not.

I definitely think that, with analog-recorded music, the original analog tape sounds better than either the vinyl or the cd that results, though - at least in my experience.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

This is false. (none / 0) (#194)
by woem on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:18:44 PM EST

Very, very few people can hear the difference between dither and truncation at the 16-bit level. That's bit difference at the lowest level, probably effectively half-bit difference. And even these people cannot do it consistantly. Only through many, many tries and statistical analysis of the tries can they prove this. I'd very strongly doubt these people who claim they can tell the difference between analog audio and digital, unless there is distortion in one of the pathways.
i either +1fp or -1. no exceptions. i ♥ turmeric.
the only class that should be discriminated against is the stupid.

[ Parent ]
analog to digital. (none / 0) (#233)
by joshsisk on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 09:57:34 AM EST

Are you referring to my comment that "I definitely think that, with analog-recorded music, the original analog tape sounds better than either the vinyl or the cd that results, though - at least in my experience."?

Have you ever done a comparison? I have. I've listened to analog masters, then the resulting CD and vinyl. The original masters sounded best.

I doubt this would be the case with digital masters, in fact, in my experience with them I have not heard a difference. But it was the case with analog masters. (The studio I use charges more for the analog room, so most of the bands I work with stick with digital recording).

I would guess it's probably a function of the fact that to produce vinyl or cds from an analog master, you have to record it onto analog, then transfer it to an intermediate medium (DAT or CD-R, or analog tape), which is then sent to the pressing facility, which they then use to make a glass master (for CDs) or a stamper (for vinyl), which then is used to actually use to produce the cds/records.

That's just a guess, but that's a lot of intermediate steps. It seems as though they could affect the final sound - definitely so in the case of the vinyl, but possibly in the case of the CD as well. Regardless, when I have compared analog masters to the resulting, professionally produced vinyl and or CDs, the analog masters sounded the best - all running through the same studio speakers. It wasn't a huge difference, but it was audible in that the original just had a fuller sound.

Again, I think it probably has to do more with the process you have to go through to get a CD made from an analog master, but I never said that it didn't...

I think the whole CD audio quality thing is a lot more flexible than some people think, though... For example, I been involved in a demonstration that showed that you can hear the difference between a CD-R thats recorded at different speeds. My roommate was considering just burning copies of his whole music collection and selling it, so he ran a test... He made copies of Danzig's first album at every different speed his burner could handle and played them all for a bunch of us. The difference between the 16x and the 1x was incredible, which suprised me. I had assummed that, since it was a digital copy, it would sound exactly the same. It did not, at all. The 16x sounded really bad, like a low bitrate MP3. They got better from there all the way up to 1x, which sounded fine.

He eventually decided that the money he'd get from selling his collection would not be worth the time spent copying it all at 1x.

I assume this is either because his burner used some sort of compression at higher speeds, or there were errors in the burn that his burner ignored. If you compared those CD-Rs he made with some pro audio analysis software, I'm sure it would notice that there were differences between each one.

Now, this would maybe not be the case on a professional-grade CD burner, but maybe it would - the studio where I get all my audio work done will only give you 1x CD-R masters, and the pressing facility I use specifically requests 1x CD-Rs as well.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

and by by sounding better... (none / 0) (#234)
by joshsisk on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 10:02:45 AM EST

Yes, I mean "sounding better", not "reproducing exactly". CDs can definitely reproduce better, vinyl changes the sound, a lot. But it can change it in better ways, depending on the musical style. A lot of making studio music doesn't involve reproducing the sound exactly... At least in my experience.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
Yeah thanks for those figures (none / 0) (#257)
by Rogerborg on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 08:42:22 AM EST

So, we agree that vinyl is dead then?

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Uh, nope. (none / 0) (#259)
by joshsisk on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 10:38:25 AM EST

An industry that generates $13 million in sales - and that's just for RIAA releases, discounting the whole independent punk, hip-hop and techno scenes - is dead? I don't think so...

An acquaintance's band has sold around 60,000 vinyl singles of one of their records. That's not Eminem numbers, to be sure... But it's not "dead" either, especially for a band that's never been on MTV or had radio airplay.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

No, but seriously (1.00 / 1) (#260)
by Rogerborg on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 12:05:51 PM EST

I work for a 70-person company, and they regularly turn down $13 million contracts as not being worth their while dealing with.

Also, I notice that vinyl single sales are tanking.  Isn't that what DJ's buy?

I do honestly wish you luck in buying more big black coasters in the future, but I'd also recommend that you digitise those suckers at an insanely high bitrate, because you won't be getting a replacement for any album once it stops being pressed.  IMHO.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

if you say so. (5.00 / 1) (#262)
by joshsisk on Mon Mar 17, 2003 at 02:44:06 PM EST

Also, I notice that vinyl single sales are tanking.  Isn't that what DJ's buy?

As I stated, most hip-hop/techno vinyl is not RIAA-related, and not reflected in these figures. Most techno vinyl is from obscure labels. Hell, so is most techno. It's a market the big labels have mostly ignored, and oddly enough, techno artists that get signed to the majors usually become rock artists within a record or two.

Honestly though, I know little about techno except that lots of people seem to like it, so I can't say too much about that genre.

I do honestly wish you luck in buying more big black coasters in the future, but I'd also recommend that you digitise those suckers at an insanely high bitrate, because you won't be getting a replacement for any album once it stops being pressed.

There are MANY indie record labels that have kept all their vinyl in print for years. Dischord, for example, continues to put their records out on vinyl, AND represses many of their more popular old records when they go out of print.

You can actually get MORE new mainstream music on vinyl today than you could a few years ago, actually... The interest is there, for whatever reason. Best Buy and Circuit City also started carrying record players again a few years ago. For quite a long time they didn't.

I work for a 70-person company, and they regularly turn down $13 million contracts as not being worth their while dealing with.

logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Rarely better than CDs (4.25 / 4) (#104)
by drsmithy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:40:52 AM EST

EVERYTHING that you hear on the radio right now is on vinyl. Most have dozens of remixes out on vinyl. Vinyl is still huge. Why? Because it is easy to manipulate and sounds better than CD's.

Whilst I'll concede that in some circumstances vinyl can sound better than a CD, for the vast majority of consumers it never will (if only due to hardware constraints - let alone being actually able to hear it). And, of course, as soon as you start talking about radio it doesn't really matter if it's coming off vinyl, tape or CD - it'll still sound the same.

You also have to remember that from a *consumer* (not DJ) perspective, CDs are *much* easier to "manipulate".

[ Parent ]

False claims. (5.00 / 2) (#198)
by woem on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:27:54 PM EST

Vinyl has a total range approximately equivalent to 12-bit audio.

See here for an in-depth analysis of the LP's ability to reproduce sound.

Anything you're hearing is error in sound reproduction, not accuracy.
i either +1fp or -1. no exceptions. i ♥ turmeric.
the only class that should be discriminated against is the stupid.

[ Parent ]

How can I explain that I have no inner monologue? (3.25 / 4) (#102)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:34:53 AM EST

Note to self; as (silently) predicted, much angry squealing and hooting was heard from the niches, mostly along the lines of "I'm not in a niche!  I have consumer power!  Power!"

Heheh, those guys are so cute.  Hey, guys, your stereo is only as good as your stylus!

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Album as unit of art... (none / 0) (#110)
by Kuranes on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:55:08 AM EST

...will continue in some form, I'm pretty sure of that.

There's still some consumer love for albums (downloading the whole album etc). Besides, if you put 12 songs together on mp3 and they share a concept, I'd call that an album.

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
"sales have been dropping" (5.00 / 1) (#268)
by jt on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 12:29:36 PM EST

Um, maybe sales are down because the RIAA released fewer CDs than in previous years?

[ Parent ]
Best Albums (4.50 / 2) (#4)
by anaesthetica on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:46:33 PM EST

Like I said, I'm quite partial to concept albums, so the following come to mind:

  • Beatles — Sgt. Peppers
  • NIN — Downward Spiral
  • Pink Floyd — Dark Side of the Moon
  • Marilyn Manson — Antichrist Superstar

Each one has a distinct premise. The Beatles were simply trying to be a band other than themselves. Each song is quite solid, and it was one of the most highly produced albums ever, at the time, creating a flow from one song to the next. Dark Side is about insanity, more or less. And according to some accounts, it also synchs up with The Wizard of Oz quite well (which in an of itself is unbelievable, considering the overall quality of the songs to begin with).

I'm sure I'll get flamed for the NIN and Manson picks, but the two albums both have stories, and both have solid musical themes running throughout the albums. Even if you don't like the music, the effort that went into constructing the mythology or story of each album is worth some respect.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

nin (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by damballah on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:49:32 PM EST

i prefer the fragile (my first nin album) but tds is really good. the rythms, the lyrics, are just so in sync w/ one another...

" I apologize for this long comment. I didn't have the time to make it any shorter. " - Blaise Pascal

" zombie accounts promote an unhealthy interest in the occult among our younger readers. " - [ Parent ]

Pepper Sounds (5.00 / 6) (#32)
by Mr Badger on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:06:32 PM EST

Though I don't know if either counts as the "first" concept album, but there is an interesting story behind Sgt. Pepper's conception. Though you might be interested:

In the mid-60s, singles and not albums dominated the thinking of most artists and record execs. When "Revolver" was released, it was released in the UK as many singles, then the album - which was typical. However, due to a fuck up at the label, it was released solely as an album in the US - with no accompanying singles. The Beach Boys, at the time, were in a sort of rivalry for the title "Kings of Radio Play" with the Beatles. When Brian Wilson heard "Revolver" he amazed that the Beatles had the vision to release a complete album - making the "unit" of music the album and not the single. He didn't know that the Beatles hadn't intended to shift the paradigm; he was unaware that the US release was basically a screw up. He immediately began working on his answer to "Revolver" and, without the other Boys, built most of "Pet Sounds." Unfortunately for Wilson, the label didn't see any value in the aesthetic shift from single focused music to album focused music. Wilson got much of what he wanted, but had to slip the radio friendly cover tune "Sloop John B" into the middle of the record.

Still, the effect on the Beatles was immediate. "Pet Sounds" didn't do so hot in the US, but in the UK the Beach Boys beat out the local hero Beatles in a BBC "artist of the year" list. The Beatles decided to up the ante by producing a more focused concept album - hence, Sgt. Pepper.

The Beach Boys actually started to construct a more experimental concept album in response, but the decay of Brain Wilson's sanity derailed the project. While the Beach Boys stalled out, creatively, the Beatles continued on. Pepper helped mainstream the concept album and prog rock refined the idea.

Don't know if such info would help flesh out your story, but feel free to use it if you think it might.

[ Parent ]

I've heard that (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by CarryTheZero on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:30:22 PM EST

I also heard that when Brian Wilson heard Sgt. Pepper, he cried, realizing that he would never produce an album that was that good. Don't know if this is actually true -- it does sound pretty apocryphal.
More generally, it's interesting to see how cycles of competition can spur artists to produce great work that they probably could not have created without that competitive relationship...I think Matisse and Picasso are another good example of this.

You said I'd wake up dead drunk / alone in the park / I called you a liar / but how right you were
iTunes users: want to download album artwork automatically? Now you can.
[ Parent ]
Beatles v. Beach Boys (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Mr Badger on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:54:04 PM EST

That story might very well be true. Wilson thought Sgt. Pepper was pretty amazing. Though I think it was Brian's deteriorating mental state and tensions within the group that took the Beach Boys out of the competition and not any sense of "giving up." The Beatles all had strong enough creative egos to withstand years of wear and tear, whereas the rest of the Beach Boys were dependant on the creative output of Brian for any sort of growth. Once he started to falter, the entire band suffered.

That said, many current bands have cited the Beach Boy's 70s output as a major creative influence. It is often a far cry from the surf and car rock of their pre-Pet Shop sound. Often overlooked, but worth checking out if your curious.

On a side note - this sort of competition was much healthier for the music than, say, the East v. West rap conflict.

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (none / 0) (#171)
by CarryTheZero on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:47:10 PM EST

I really should try to find a good book about the Beach Boys. From the bits and pieces I've heard, it sounds like it would make a very interesting story.

You said I'd wake up dead drunk / alone in the park / I called you a liar / but how right you were
iTunes users: want to download album artwork automatically? Now you can.
[ Parent ]
Recommend (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by Mr Badger on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:30:03 PM EST

"Heroes and Villains." Don't recall the author's name.

[ Parent ]
One bad track can ruin an album (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by Sze on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:22:29 PM EST

For me a good album is more about having no shitty songs than having a lot of great songs. Sgt. Pepper's is the perfect example. If I had to name the two best Beatles half-albums, it would be the first sides of Sgt. Pepper's & the white album. But then you flip Sgt Pepper's over and you're hit with Within You Without You. Similarly with the white album, after side one you're in total bliss; by side four you're assaulted with drek like Honey Pie and Revolution 9.

If it were 35 years ago and I had to run to the turntable every time I heard the opening notes of Honey Pie, this post would have been a lot more vehement.

[ Parent ]
I know what you mean... (none / 0) (#35)
by Pseudonym on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:43:04 PM EST

I love ELP, except for one annoying thing. On just about every album of theirs there was precisely one crap song. Those who know ELP know exactly what I mean by this.

The one exception was Pictures at an Exhibition, hence its place on my top N list.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
ELPs crap songs... (none / 0) (#157)
by Ricdude on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:28:00 PM EST

ELPs crap songs are usually Lake cranking out more sap than a Canadian Maple Syrup harvest...

[ Parent ]
I agree... (none / 1) (#181)
by Locando on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:00:31 PM EST

But which one is it on their self-titled album? And I think Brain Salad Surgery, as marvellous as it is, is weighted down by not one, but two painful songs directly preceding Karn Evil.

"Every day a little sadder,
A little madder,
Someone get me a ladder."

People are strange.
[ Parent ]

all i care about... (4.50 / 2) (#5)
by damballah on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 01:47:03 PM EST

iam currently enjoying the chicago soundtrack. does that qualify as an album? :)

some albums that i always come back to:
sonic youth- daydream nation
radiohead- ok computer
pj harvey- to bring you my love

occasionally some massive attack, mos def, aphex twin, tori amos, mogwai...

for me, music has a lot to do w/ recollecting emotions. i can hear some song and feel nostalgic of happier times. so maybe a good album has to be in sync w/ my mood at the time in order for me to really enjoy it. what i'm saying is that the fact that it's an album w/ good reviews is almost trivial; u want to connect to the music in a higher level, way behind the sound. music in itself doesn't matter, it's the emotions that it can bring that makes all the difference.  

" I apologize for this long comment. I didn't have the time to make it any shorter. " - Blaise Pascal

" zombie accounts promote an unhealthy interest in the occult among our younger readers. " -

Are You Shpongled? (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by jjayson on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:40:53 PM EST

Shpongle is a collaboration between Raja Ram and Simon Posford, two very big names in the psytrance community. Are You Shpongled? immediately was labeled one of the best psychadelic downtempo albums of all time, and for good reason. Its almost mystical sounds are complex, and they are laid down over a soothing beat that flows from one track to the next. Many of the instruments and sounds are real, while many are processed heavily by computer. For example, the Raja Ram plays the flute that can be heard intermittenly through the entire album and the bird-like noises were actually accidentally captured when they were recording the flute outside at daybreak.

The whole album has a very holistic quality. It takes the listener on a journey through twisted, yet peaceful, sounds. It is hard to describe, and there are only six tracks, so I put the album online!


It is hard to single out any particular track as the best, since they are all superbly done, but Monster Hit, Behind Closed Eyelids, and Divine Moments of Truth (DMT) are my favorite.

Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

Agreed (none / 0) (#19)
by solstice on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:45:27 PM EST

You forgot the best track on that album, "...And The Day Turned To Night"! A 20-minute epic recorded after Simon & Raja watched a solar eclipse. Also be sure to pick up Tales Of The Inexpressible, which I think is even better than Are You Shpongled!

If you listen carefully almost every song has to do with drug use or the effects of drug use, probably a holdover from their Hallucinogen days and tracks like LSD. :)

And please buy their albums!

[ Parent ]
I didn't rip the tracks... (none / 0) (#21)
by jjayson on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:53:18 PM EST

My CD reader doesn't work, so I couldn't rip the song. I had to get these from a friend. I have most of Simon's albums, but I like Are You Shpongled? and Deranger the best. I spin psytrance (and jungle) and have had the please of seeing Simon in person a couple of times.

Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Hmm, interesting downloads (none / 0) (#24)
by imrdkl on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:05:39 PM EST

Did you know that your host is also scam?

[ Parent ]
The names of the other machines in the cluster... (none / 0) (#28)
by jjayson on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:30:02 PM EST

are dupe, graft, cheat, ...

Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
The Music (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by imrdkl on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:48:54 PM EST

Is ok, but I definitely wouldn't pay for it.

[ Parent ]
Albums (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by Frijoles on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:08:10 PM EST

Flow from one song to the next?

Since I listen to most of my music while I program, I prefer the music to flow. Trance is very good at this, IMO. Things like Enigma, Delerium, Ayla, etc. Enigma is a great example. They start off with a sort of intro and move in to the album. Soundtracks are good as well.

Favorite albums (right now):
  • Enigma (all the albums)
  • Delerium
  • Ayla
  • Music for a Darkened Theatre 2
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Oingo Boingo
Yes, I am a Danny Elfman fan. :) Trying out the Shpongle link that someone posted in the thread. So far so good.

The Orb (none / 0) (#53)
by pwhysall on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:10:12 PM EST

The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld.

Two hours plus of ambient genius.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]

When and where? (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by Publius on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:34:29 PM EST

Music is so four-dimensional that I've given up trying to put together an "all-time" favorites list. There's stuff that I just wore the grooves off twenty years ago that I wouldn't consider picking up today, and vice versa. Music, and the way it affects me, is so connected to time and place that my favorites constantly shift position and, sometimes, disappear altogether.

In fact, I'll forego any listing here, since it won't be any value to anyone but me -- and, hell, next week it might not be of any value to me.

Good topic, though...


This place is to writers what cock-fighting is to roosters: if you get out alive, you've had a good day.

My favorite concept album.. (4.60 / 5) (#18)
by SleepDirt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:39:12 PM EST

The Flaming Lips - Soft Bulletin

I'm not sure it's technically a concept album but but it's pretty damn close. Most of the tracks share common lyrical themes, the album as a whole tells a story -- it's developed with lyrics early on but later in the album it's dominated more by musicial themes.

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." - Hunter S. Thompson

Zaireeka (none / 0) (#20)
by sien on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:46:52 PM EST

The Soft Bulletin is brilliant. It's actually funny as well as touching. Have you ever listened to Zaireeka? Is that any good?

[ Parent ]
It's even better... (none / 0) (#22)
by SleepDirt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:01:08 PM EST

Zaireeka is actually even better in some ways. It's much more experimental, a little less coherent. I actually like it more than Soft Bulletin simply because of how damn weird it is.

It actually comes on 4 CD's that you're supposed to listen to all at once. I've never done it but I have a DTS mixdown that is the same basic idea. There's also a regular 1 CD stereo mixdown -- which is great too.

It's really a great album.

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." - Hunter S. Thompson
[ Parent ]

Did you see their most recent tour? (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by egg troll on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:44:49 PM EST

Did you catch them opening for Beck? One of the best shows I've ever been to. I never really listened to the Flaming Lips before then, but that show made me totally dig them.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

[ Parent ]

Dude (none / 0) (#156)
by CarryTheZero on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:13:44 PM EST

That show was TEH ROCK! Did they do the "happy birthday covered in blood" thing when you saw them?

You said I'd wake up dead drunk / alone in the park / I called you a liar / but how right you were
iTunes users: want to download album artwork automatically? Now you can.
[ Parent ]
Yoshimi also fits the mold (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by bbuda on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:58:26 PM EST

As much as I love The Soft Bulletin, I think Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots fits the definition of 'album coherency' even better. It clearly has two sides: the first four tracks are experimental, telling the Yoshimi story, and the final seven are more soul searching and epic in sweep. Yoshimi is one of my favorites for a complete listening.

[ Parent ]
It's [mostly] all good (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by xanax on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:17:29 PM EST

Like visual art, a body of work usually has some kind of thread running through it, even if it is simply the artist that created it. Color, shape, texture, theme can all be used to tie each piece together. Music has all these attributes too and every album has some thread running through it, even if it is a thin one. Every album except maybe that soulless, marketing generated, plastic, big money, no talent, vapid, stillborn, cookie-cutter, synthetic, whiny, predictable, boy/girl band drone, that I hear on AM radio for 3 seconds whenever someone leaves it turned on in the car and I have to fumble with the volume screaming, shit.

Everyones kindness is the same. Everyones evil is unique.
I guess you are a Back Street Boys fan then? :) NT (none / 0) (#134)
by xria on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:55:34 AM EST

[ Parent ]
+1 Cuz I wanna hear about new music :D (2.50 / 2) (#29)
by omegadan on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:04:56 PM EST

Im a musician, so I get to be an ass :D Its ok for regular albums to be an album, but a classic album should be a cohesieve experience, it should be a story, an adventure, and and old friend.

It's impossible to name the best album ever, because there are so many truely spectcular albums ... but if I had to take a stab at some great albums

Soul Cages - Sting
AJA - Steel Dan
Darkside of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Brown Album - Orbital
She - Harry Connick Jr.
White Ladder - David Grey
MP4 - Michael Penn

All of these artists are amazing except for maybe orbital, who made one breakthrough album and never rose to that level again.

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

I beg to differ (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by jt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:23:35 PM EST

Orbital's In Sides is good as if not better than the brown album (aka Orbital 2)

[ Parent ]
I second that (none / 0) (#66)
by evilpenguin on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:45:10 PM EST

You have not had a LSD experience until you've listened to "The Box" with headphones and eyes closed after dropping a few tabs.  You'll realize why it's called "The Box" (think: beats representing corners of a box, like particles tracing an outline, swooshing around inside your head).

It's even good when sober.
# nohup cat /dev/dsp > /dev/hda & killall -9 getty
[ Parent ]

Don't forget (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by jt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:14:47 PM EST

The 28 minute single version of "the Box."  Insane.

[ Parent ]
ok, I'll buy that (none / 0) (#69)
by omegadan on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:09:15 PM EST

Insides is a great album to ... can't argue with that.

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
[ Parent ]

I wasn't gonna comment, but... (none / 0) (#83)
by atreides on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:10:21 AM EST

...while Aja is great, it's not as good as Katy Lied.

MP4 is really good, but Free For All and Resigned are SO much better.

And, just to incite your envy, I'm gonna see Michael on Thursday when he plays SXSW!. Quake with envy, mortal!!! :)

"...heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
[ Parent ]

Some others... (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by Pseudonym on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:55:12 PM EST

I'm only going to mention albums that others have not yet mentioned. Everyone mentions The Dark Side of the Moon, for example. It's the best-selling album of all time for a reason, after all.

Yes, I am a proghead. You therefore may see a pattern here...

  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pictures at an Exhibition. The only ELP album that doesn't have the "one crap song" on it which spoils all their other albums.
  • Queen, A Night at the Opera. I'm shocked that nobody has mentioned this yet, as it's the greatest art rock album ever, period.
  • Genesis, Selling England by the Pound. Actually, most Genesis albums prior to the leaving of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett are pretty good.
  • Deep Purple, Concerto for Group and Orchestra. This single-handedly puts most other "symphonic rock" albums to shame.
  • Paul Simon, Graceland. Enough said.
  • Queensryche, Operation Mindcrime.

I have a suspicion that Silverchair's latest album, Diorama, is eventually going to end up in this list. Not yet, though. It hasn't simmered long enough.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Graceland (none / 0) (#93)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:35:17 AM EST

I'm not so sure that its really a concept album, but it is, imho, the finest rock/pop album of all time. No question. No competition. It's in a class all by itself.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
Concept (none / 0) (#116)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:21:17 AM EST

Lyrically it may not be a concept album, but I think musically it was. Graceland was the first record to bring the 'world music' genre into the American music scene. Paul Simon combined music from South Africa (that had been banned in the US under the misconceived cultural embargo meant to hurt the apartheid regime) with the Zydeco music of New Orleans. The name "Graceland" itself may hint at the musical theme—Elvis being the first big white figure to 'do black music', and Paul Simon drawing from traditional Black South African tunes and heavily afro-caribbean-influenced Zydeco.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Queen (none / 0) (#113)
by Bios_Hakr on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:33:34 AM EST

I'll second A night at the Opera.  That one got tons of play as one of the first CDDAs that I bought.  I never had the chance to hear it broken up as an album, but the CD was awesome.  Prophet's Song and Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon are great.

[ Parent ]
A Night At The Opera and not A Day At The Races? (none / 0) (#184)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:17:59 PM EST

I just can't separate them personally. Yes, Death On Two Legs and The Prophet's Song are superb, but so are You Take My Breath Away, White Man and Teo Torriate.

BTW, am I the only one who tends to sing karaoke to The Prophet's Song?

[ Parent ]

Yeah, OK (none / 0) (#186)
by Pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:35:51 PM EST

I see why you say that, but I still prefer A Night at the Opera as a composition.

BTW, you're probably the only one who can sing karaoke to The Prophet's Song.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Not the A Capella bit :-) (none / 0) (#192)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:11:51 PM EST

Just the rest. It's not _that_ tricky, just need a bit of power to your voice...

[ Parent ]
I'd give it a go (none / 0) (#219)
by wocko on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:35:06 AM EST

I'd certainly have no trouble remembering all the words, but the delayed harmonies would give me some trouble.

Still I'd gladly join you on the mike and die trying!

[ Parent ]

Deserted island. (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by I am Jack's username on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 06:57:45 PM EST

A mix tapes of my favorites would be incredibly hard.

Artist specific: it's hard to wrong with a Beethoven compilation. I'd include good performances of Symphony 7's second movement, Ode to joy's conclusion, the entire Moonlight sonata, Pastoral's Shepherds' hymn, Emperor's first movement, and the Egmont overture.

Popular off-the-shelf CD: Soundgarden's Superunknown (the USA version which doesn't have She like's surprises), soundtrack: Trois couleurs bleu.
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

hasn't been made yet... (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by what the on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:05:04 PM EST

Sorry, just feeling like injecting some optimism into the mix.

wow, this stories totally changed (none / 0) (#213)
by what the on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:57:52 PM EST

since I posted this comment... wtf?

[ Parent ]
Thick as a Brick (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by minerboy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:10:12 PM EST

By Jethro Tull, 1 song, 2 LP sides long, multiple reoccuring themes, can't beat it as a Concept album - its the Story of Gerald, "little Milton" Bostock - a 10 year old prodigy, with a difference

Can't beat it? (none / 0) (#51)
by thejeff on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:09:17 PM EST

Yes, you can.

Passion Play.

[ Parent ]

yeah, well (none / 0) (#127)
by minerboy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:13:45 AM EST

Some people might prefer Passion Play - I liked it, but a little less - depends on how much you like the odd saxaphones.

[ Parent ]
good question... (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by BOredAtWork on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:21:57 PM EST

Hrm... I think Zep's 4th album has to be up there. As does Guns N Roses "Appetite for Destruction", Pink Floyd's "The Wall", The Clarks "Let It Go" (yes, I know you haven't heard of it), Dixie Chicks "Fly", Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and Public Enemy's first album. But they're all still subpar to the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's" and the White Album.

Of course, that just covers the past few decades. Elvis was incredibly influential, and deserves recognition. As do Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Clapton, Frank Zappa, and many others who may not be selling 10x platinum discs today, but caused countless others to pick up a mic, guitar, or other instrument. And the big bands of the 20's deserve a category all their own, they gave rise to Swing, which grew into Rock, which grew into Pop... and they all were rooted in classical music, which goes back even further.

Like I said, a good question! I guess you should define "best" a bit better - do you mean popular? Appealing today? When it came out? Influential among later artists? Influential on society in general?

Why do so few people mention 'Thriller'? (none / 0) (#76)
by bsimon on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:08:58 PM EST

It's interesting that you're the only person, so far, to  mention Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', which is the best-selling album ever (IIRC).

I wonder if it gets so few mentions because 1) Few people actually like it much, despite the sales, or 2) It's a collection of great songs, not a cohesive album, or 3) Nobody even wants to THINK about Michael Jackson.

Number 3 is my guess...

you have read my sig
[ Parent ]

It's a victorian thing (none / 0) (#109)
by xL on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:51:32 AM EST

Many people feel they should be ashamed to admitting they like Michael Jackson, so they keep the album out of view and only spin it when nobody's home. Closet Jacko fans are all over the world.

[ Parent ]
I'm Too Sexy for This Story (4.60 / 5) (#44)
by egg troll on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:30:55 PM EST

I can't believe that no one has pointed out Right Said Fred's magnum opus<U>I'm Too Sexy</U>. I think its safe to say that the world of music was never the same after the shockwaves sent out by that bombshell. Not since Revolver has an album totally altered the paradigm of music.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

Interesting (none / 0) (#187)
by mayo on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:35:58 PM EST

Dear ET,

You are indeed too sexy for this story and your insight is provocative and thought provoking. Somehow I can't help but feel that you have neglected something though. Where is reference to predecessors of Right Said Fred such as Wham and Bros and the prodigious effect they had on music worldwide? Indeed, their music was so profound it acted as a catalyst for a brief period of emergence for openly gay men in Islamic culture which was followed by a sharp increase in stoning deaths. The prospect of getting stoned while listening to music has never been the same since, the connotations of this dark era of music history reverberating to this very day.

[ Parent ]
Some favorites (3.60 / 5) (#46)
by pyramid termite on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:33:41 PM EST

Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Steet
Os Mutantes - Mutantes (2nd album)
Kinks - The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
Mercury Rev - Boces
Laura Nyro - Eli and the 13th Confession
Stephen Stills - Manassas
Orb - Adventures in the Underworld
Amon Duul 2 - Dance of the Lemmings
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Ragged Glory
Hawkwind - Space Ritual Live
Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks 4 (2/13-4/70) and 8/27/72 (download from gdlive.com)
Beatles - White Album
George Clinton - Computer Games
Help Yourself - Strange Affair
The Shaggs - Philosophy of the World (I'm serious!)
David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name
Jethro Tull - Benefit
Public Enemy - Apocolypse '91
Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience
Steve Hillage - Fish Rising
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in it For the Money
Spock's Beard - V
Genesis - Foxtrot
Leo Kottke - 6 and 12 string guitar
Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing at Baxter's
Bob Marley and the Wailers live
Man - Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics
The Band
Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
Rockers soundtrack
The Harder They Come Soundtrack
Both Nuggets Box sets
Clash - Sandinista
The Stooges - Funhouse
Gong - You
Jerry Lee Lewis - the London Sessions
Cymande - Promised Heights
Black Sabbath - Vol 4
Lou Reed - Rock and Roll Animal
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisted
Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues
Can - Future Days
Public Image Ltd. - 2nd Edition

This isn't really a best groups or albums list, but a list of excellent albums that all seem to have something different and special about them that I keep coming back to. Maybe I just haven't kept up, but I'm not hearing many artists that get in the kind of personal or unique space that these albums reach. Much of the modern music I like, drums n bass, techno, house, is music that seems to work best song by song on mix CDs or anthologies. I was tempted to add Eminem's second album to this list, but I'm still not sure ...

Some bands, like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, did a lot of good music, but not, to my ears, any albums that struck me as being special from the rest. Some of the bands on this list did other albums that are also favorites.

Oh, and my nomination for the Worst Album Ever is Vanilla Fudge's Renaissance.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Great album checklist (4.33 / 3) (#47)
by Sze on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:34:23 PM EST

  • Multiple extraordinary tracks
  • Consistency in production and 'feeling'
  • No filler/awkward/shitty tracks
The concept albums which achieve that for me:
Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars (Bowie)
Operation: Mindcrime (Queensryche).

The non-concept albums:
The Velvet Underground w/ Nico (aka the banana album)
Revolver (Beatles)
Rumors (Fleetwood Mac)
Hysteria (Def Leppard)
Superunknown (Soundgarden)
Deja Vu (CSNY)
Beggar's Banquet (Stones)
Siamese Dream (Smashing Pumpkins)

I'll cut myself off there I guess. The new Zwan album has a good chance of reaching this level once it's aged properly.

Best album ever (4.66 / 3) (#48)
by mrnancy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:04:18 PM EST

has to be Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.  It has everything, something of a story to hold it together (Syd Barrett destroyed by the record industry), just the right mix of Roger Waters' depressing lyrics and David Gilmour's beautiful guitar, and it clocks in at under 45 minutes.

Other albums on my list include:
Strange Days - The Doors
Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground
Remain In Light - The Talking Heads
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
London Calling - The Clash
IV - Led Zeppelin
Automatic For The People - REM
Lateralus - Tool
Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan
Revolver - The Beatles

Personally, when it comes to music, I divide everything up into two categories, albums and CDs.  This isn't meant to be a value judgement, there are some great CDs (Whatever and Amen by Ben Folds Five comes to mind) and there are some absolutely god-awful albums, like The Final Cut by Pink Floyd

Lateralus, definitely. (none / 0) (#129)
by brkn on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:11:55 AM EST

If Lateralus isn't an excellent example of a lovingly, artistically and wholistically produced album, then I don't know what is. Powerful, soul-searching songs melted into one another by abstract soundscapes finished up with the magnificent Disposition/Reflection/Triad. Just brilliant.

Assumption is the mother of all fuckups
[ Parent ]
Wish You Were Here (none / 0) (#130)
by wiredog on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:15:25 AM EST

Best Floyd Album. Ever. Followed by "The Wall" ("Live in Berlin" is a great version.)

Talking Heads "Stop Making Sense". Best live rock album.

Beatles: Tie between Sgt Pepper's and Abbey Road. Abbey Road having two distinct sides, even on CD.

Led Zep, "In Through The Out Door".

Dead Kennedys, "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables". Best American Punk Album.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

Live in Berlin? (none / 0) (#188)
by mrnancy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:37:46 PM EST

You like Live in Berlin?  For my money that was the worst performance of The Wall ever, and I've managed to collect just about all of them over the past few years.  The sound quality is the best on the new live official album Is There Anybody Out There?, and my favorite performance is the first live one in LA, released unofficially as Azimuth Coordinator 3.  Just my opinion though.

[ Parent ]
Live in Berlin (none / 0) (#230)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 08:50:20 AM EST

Has Eric Clapton on guitar.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Stop Making Sense? (none / 0) (#222)
by baldnik on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:54:37 AM EST

The Name of This Band... was better.

[ Parent ]
Metallica - Master of Puppets (none / 0) (#131)
by xtremex on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:19:51 AM EST

and Slayer - Reign in Blood.
The 2 finest albums of the genre.

It used to be an on-going joke that in the 80's when you bought a CD player, it came with a free copy of Bon Jovi's Slippery when wet.. It's actually a decent album.
Add Tubular bells and Genesis - Selling England by the pound.

[ Parent ]

Interesting :-) (none / 0) (#183)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:13:34 PM EST

In the UK it was Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms'.

I'm always curious what it is about Master of Puppets to Metallica fans. To me it's got a really flat, empty, dull sound which totally gets in the way. Sound wise I'd rather listen to Load, which is fuller to me. Or S&M, where I remember stopping the CD player _sweating_ after listening to Kthulu and Puppets.

[ Parent ]

Master of Puppets (5.00 / 1) (#206)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:59:13 PM EST

I actually don't consider it to be my favorite Metallica album. That title belongs to Ride the Lightning, which laid the template (Track 1: acoustic intro into thrash assault, Track 2: title, Track 3: heavy (but not fast) bruiser, Track 4: ballad, Track 5: pure thrasher, Track 6: generic hard rocker [that would go on to be rarely played live]... after this, the model falls apart) for Puppets and seems to have a fuller bass sound. The lyrics on Puppets sound better and the instrumental playing seems better. I imagine the sentimental attachment to Cliff Burton, combined with the fact that most of the pre-Justice fans found the band through listening to it. Ride only barely beats it though...

For reference, my opinion on the Metallica catalog:

  • Kill 'Em All: a benchmark of the genre. Every subsequent studio album (except the Black album) owes something stylistically to this one, (thrash sound for the subsequent three albums, the blues sound for the Loads).
  • Ride the Lightning: the first broadening of the sound, with a ballad and more classical arrangements. The high-water mark for the band, and arguably, the entire metal genre. Essentially a concept album about death by nuclear war, execution, battle, suicide, freezing, and plain-old divine action
  • Master of Puppets: see above. A concept album revolving around power (the power of metal, the power of addiction, the power of Cthulu, the power of the asylum/family, the power of the military, and the power of religion).
  • And Justice for All
  • : the best pure songwriting of the catalog. Also, the shittiest production. This is what keeps this deeply flawed masterpiece from greatness. Another loose concept album on government power (abuse of the legal system, censorship, and war).
  • [Untitled, generally referred to as the Black Album]: the bottom of the barrel. Some good songs ("Holier than Thou", "Through the Never", basically the whole second side), but marred by a sludge of derivative arena rock ("Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "Don't Tread on Me").
  • Load: the controversial album with a bluesier sound (if it had come out 20 years earlier, it would be hailed as a masterpiece) and occasional glimpses of previous work. Not without flaws ("Ain't My Bitch", "King Nothing", and a good portion of side two are pretty bad) but the highlights ("Bleeding Me", "Mama Said", and "The Outlaw Torn") deserve to be near the head of the list of great songs of both the 1990's and of Metallica's career. Second only to Ride, Puppets, and S&M.
  • ReLoad: a collection of leftovers from Load (essentially), the lows ("Unforgiven II", "Better Than You") are by far the lowest in the catalog, but there are more highs (though not as high) as in Load. At times, sounds like Metallica imitating other bands/genres (a certain industrial vibe in the tight rhythm section and recording tricks of "Carpe Diem Baby", the classic Aerosmith of "Slither", the late-80s G'n'R of "Bad Seed", the early-90s Alice In Chains (James Hetfield even does a Layne Staley impression) "Where the Wild Things Are", and the Van Halen boogie of "Prince Charming"). If only they had exhibited some editorial smarts and left about 5-10 songs from Load and ReLoad on the cutting floor, and released a double album with the remainder (about 115 minutes), this pair could've been one of the greatest albums of all time.
  • Garage Inc., Disc One: a somewhat eclectic blend of covers that is mostly competent, has one of the best 20-minute sections of the catalog ("Loverman" through "Astronomy"), but true to 90's Metallica form, a couple of "What were they thinking?" songs ("Tuesday's Gone" most notably).
  • S&M: a greatest-hits compilation in disguise (though several of the hits are inexplicably missing), continues the uneven tradition. Possibly the best produced "live" album ever, despite, by all reports, the two shows it was taken from having horrible mixing (the first night, Metallica drowned out the orchestra, and the second night, the reverse occured; these issues were fixed through excellent mixing a few months after the shows by Metallica's traditional sound guy, Randy Staub, and a bunch of experts in recording symphonic music]. Some songs work better than others: the Load-era material works the best overall; being quieter, the orchestra and the band blend together more easily and the orchestra does a great job of fleshing out melodies that are left implied in the originals. Some songs, especially toward the beginning of the first CD, sound awkward and forced.
  • St. Anger: a forthcoming album, recorded with their longtime producer (and, to many old fans, antichrist) Bob Rock filling in on bass, a few brief clips from the control room have been released online. If the clips, and indications from the band are any indication, the generic arena rock sound of the 90's Metallica is less prominent. Nods to nu-metal are possible (photos and sound clips from the studio indicate that baritone guitars are present and that some songs will be very downtuned), as is Lars Ulrich's return to his 80's machine-gun double-bass drumming.

[ Parent ]
Early Metallica does rule (5.00 / 1) (#210)
by lazloToth on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:36:30 PM EST

Esp Master O Puppets and Ride the Lightning. I kind of lost interest around the Black Album.

I see you regard that as a low they bounced back from. At the time MoP came out, it was a new sound for me, it was really exciting for guitar fanatics, and I listened to it over and over again.

[ Parent ]

To my mind (none / 0) (#211)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:40:55 PM EST

Early Metallica and later Metallica are both very good and relatively flawless. However, the Black album manages to combine and amplify most of the flaws of the two approaches.

[ Parent ]
Always an interesting discussion,... (none / 0) (#237)
by meaningless pseudonym on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:59:44 PM EST

finding out _why_ people like some bands and albums.

First, confession. I know _nothing_ of Kill 'em All, only some of Ride the Lightning and Justice and nothing of Garage, inc. I've heard Puppets but not all through for a little while, I own Black, Load, Reload and S&M.

From what I know, Ride the Lightning is nice. Good contrast between speed and slow passages, nice sound. First time I heard those vocals I couldn't believe it was James Hetfield :-)

Sorry if I came across as saying I thought Puppets was your favourite - it just always puzzles me why so many Metallica fans rate it so highly. To me (from memory!) it's slow, overlong and has a flat, tinny sound.

Justice I barely know so won't comment.

Black - unusual balance. Enter Sandman is fun but pure pop. I _love_ Sad But True - the effect on the vocals, the driving beat, the slight vocal syncopation without interfering with the beat. It's just powerful and makes me want to dance whenever I hear it. Through the Never does nothing for me whatsoever - just seems to go on without anything really happening. Nothing Else Matters is a cliche but cool, ditto The Unforgiven. We agree about Don't Tread On Me :-)

Load - I _wish_ they started it with 2x4, with that rolling, bouncing, cascading feel. Gorgeous bass. Ain't My Bitch is just a filler to me, odd choice to start an album. King Nothing is cool, though I love the bass sound they got on the live recording they did at MoS and released as a B-side. Wish they'd done that on the album. Bleeding Me, Mama Said and The Outlaw Torn are just brilliant, Ronnie's not bad. Cure and Hero Of The Day - eww.

Reload: More consistent but not the same highs. Whoever thought Bad Seed was a good idea should be chucked off the band but Devil's Dance, Fixxer, Low Man's Lyric, Prince Charming, Where The Wild Things Are, Slither, Carpe Diem Baby - much, much better. I definitely agree with you that both would have been much better if they'd lopped a few songs off though it's interesting to see that people tend to disagree as to which! Personally I'm happy they did it as two albums not a double, though - as one sitting that could be a bit much. If they wanted to do it as GnR did with Use Your Illusion, though, I wouldn't personally have minded. Actually, scratch that, I love the sleeve art from Reload which we'd have missed if they did that. Musically I'd have been fine but I like the piccies :-)

S&M: I agree, the production is amazing. Blows my previus favourite of Made In Japan away in the production. Recorded over 25 years later so it should, mind you :-) That opening sequence of The Ecstasy of Gold, The Call of the Kthulu and Master of Puppets is just stunning. I even like No Leaf Clover though I'm told that's not a popular opinion :-) Over long, though - the band are clearly tired and running out of enthusiasm by the end and they milked the end sequence on Battery for too long.

Bob Rock's now on bass, though? I didn't know Jason Newstead wasn't any more! OK, I need to keep my ear to the ground more :-) Apparently they've now got Robert Trujillo - http://www.metallica.com/index.asp?item=710

Anyway, will be waiting for June :-)

[ Parent ]

None (2.00 / 1) (#52)
by j1mmy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:09:27 PM EST

I can't think of a single album I like in it's entirety. Some come close, but there's always one or two songs you wish had never been included.

Not totally obsolete (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by fluffy grue on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:15:32 PM EST

"Altered Beast" by Matthew Sweet is most definitely produced as a two-side album (to the extent that in the liner notes, it even refers to them as the two sides). But why hold on to such an obsolete convention from a limited storage media anyway? What's wrong with having one very long side, or "sides" which aren't of equal lengths, or multiple sides entirely?

What I think makes a perfect album is one which can be listened to as a whole, but also as individual songs. Neburu - Motion Picture Soundtrack (not actually a soundtrack to a motion picture) and Hooverphonic - Blue Wonder Power Milk are perfect examples of this.

Most of the time I just listen to my music in "lots of singles" mode (random playlist of all tracks from all my CDs), but now and then I decide to listen to a single album in one "active-listening" session, or as something cohesive in the background while I get lots of work done, or whatever.

I see no reason to lament the fixed format of a 33 LP though. It wasn't that good of a format to begin with.
"Is a hyperlink" is a hyperlink.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.

Cats: Nature's entropy generators


Two sides (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by DavisImp on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:26:06 AM EST

I don't know if anyone has pointed this out yet, but...

People use the "sides" format for the same reason they do anything else musically, to support and to add structure to the art. If a song allows you to express a thought, a side can allow to you express a mood, or a paragraph, or whatever -- in other words, it breaks the music down a little into something more digestible. It gives people a place to pick up in the middle without losing the overall feel of a collected work of music; in my (sadly limited) collection of LPs, i have several records where i enjoy the second side more than first.

If you've ever put a lot of thought into a mix CD, you generally either conciously or unconciously organize the songs into emotional arcs -- mine tend to be "fast/hard -> slower/sadder -> upbeat/happy -> contemplative". I generally find it easier to make these arcs between 20 and 30 minutes, and this seems to match people's attention spans.

Many modern disks can still be divided into distinct halves somewhere very near the middle. One of the sad things about music's movement towards increasingly digital mediums is the loss of musical divisions; even the double album will probably be rendered obsolete by the next very high-density medium to come along.

[ Parent ]
Nope (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by fluffy grue on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:15:31 PM EST

Whenever I've ordered the songs on an album (which I've done twice for independent release albums, the first time on "binary expansion" by theHacker and the second time on my own album "pointed little quill," and which I'm always keeping in mind as I work on my second album "foodsexsleep" which should hopefully have much wider appeal than "pointed little quill" did) I've preferred to go with a pattern of swelling and releasing.

I've never liked albums which go, "Okay, this is the happy half, and this is the introspective half." I much prefer things which reflect my own emotional patterns.

A good example of a commercially-released album which has divisions but not "sides" is Phish's "The Story Of The Ghost." It can be split pretty evenly into thirds, where you have an energetic part, an introspective part, and a loving part.

I just think that albums which have to be squished into "sides" become just as stagnant as the 3:45-long fixed-arrangement songs which have made radio so boring. Verse A, verse B, verse A, verse B, solo, chorus, verse A. That gets stale fast.
"Is a hyperlink" is a hyperlink.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.

Cats: Nature's entropy generators

[ [ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 0) (#208)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:08:31 PM EST

I've preferred to go with a pattern of swelling and releasing.

I prefer albums that do that, that alternate between loud and soft, or happy and sad. Alternating in general is good.

[ Parent ]
Rush (4.00 / 4) (#56)
by leviramsey on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:20:41 PM EST

I'm surprised that an article on concept albums could ignore Rush.

Suffice it to say that the majority of the Rush catalog will get on my list of great albums. There are other bands that are in that category, also, of course. Metallica has put out (including S&M, and Garage Inc. (Disc One)) by my count five great albums (the first three, Load, and S&M) and four barely below great albums (the others). Only Presence misses out on being a great album by Zep (Physical Graffiti is close to missing the cut; I'm one of the few who will call In Through the Out Door great...). Queens of the Stone Age's Rated R is on my list. Monster Magnet's God Says No also qualifies. Apocalyptica's Inquisition Symphony and Cult find their way onto the list, as does Blue Oyster Cult's Secret Treaties. There are a lot of others that I could probably list, based on reputation, but not having heard them, I won't list them.

To my mind, the best album of the last 12 months, without a doubt, is Rush's Vapor Trails. An updating of the pre-Peart sound that at times seems to be Rush's take on Nu Metal, this is one that should not be missed. I am also heartened by what I see as a sly return to rock operas on this alhum in the form of tracks 5-10 ("The Stars Look Down" through "Sweet Miracle"), though the track(s) immediately preceding and following this run could be included without too much difficulty. The only problem with this album is some clipping in places, thanks to aiming for too loud of a sound.

Rush... (3.66 / 3) (#60)
by anaesthetica on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:36:44 PM EST

I didn't ignore Rush really, I just hate them (especially Geddy's voice), so I wouldn't have had anything nice to say about them. It's really better that I didn't try to work them in, because you managed to cover them well enough. Plus the article is quite long already.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Fuck you, Rush rules. (nt) (2.16 / 6) (#65)
by Bacillus on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:37:00 PM EST

[ Parent ]
How could I forget Stone Temple Pilots? (none / 0) (#62)
by leviramsey on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:55:28 PM EST

Shame on me. While not concept albums, STP's last three albums have all been great (not a filler track from the lot). Oddly, I'm not a huge fan of Core and Purple.

[ Parent ]
Rush (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by Bios_Hakr on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:41:08 AM EST

An absolute must hear for any geek is "2112".

Basicly, this guy finds a peice of technology.  This tech can change the world for the better and make people happy.  The government wants it banned.  A war starts.  The war ends.  The new regime is just like the old regime.

Very sad tale, but it makes you wonder if "your" world would (or could) be any different that the one you live in now.

[ Parent ]

Queensryche (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by willj on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:56:58 PM EST

If you haven't heard them you might try them. queensryche.com

My favorite album of theirs was Empire.

[ Parent ]

I've heard a bit o' queensryche (none / 0) (#161)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:42:25 PM EST

The only album I have of theirs is Q2K, which I found to be very good (not great). I've been meaning to expand my Queensryche collection.

[ Parent ]
Concept albums (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by ucblockhead on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:55:14 PM EST

Their big "concept album" was "Operation: Mindcrime", which is...interesting.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
I am aware of that... ;o) (none / 0) (#203)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:54:22 PM EST

It's been in my Amazon recommendations for years now... however, when I buy a CD, it always slips my mind...

[ Parent ]
Live rock / metal (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by meaningless pseudonym on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:21:20 PM EST

If you like S&M, pick up Deep Purple's Made In Japan. Superb.

Also, just for one track, see if you can find Dio's 'Sacred Heart'. The King of Rock and Roll is just brilliant live pop metal.

[ Parent ]

Totally agree (none / 0) (#221)
by wocko on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:43:26 AM EST

Made in Japan has got be my favourite (at least live) album of all time. I just rocks so hard! From Blackmore's powerful guitar work to Jon Lord beating out the melody on the Hammond organ. And of course Ian Paice screeching down the mike. What a voice. Simply awesome.

You just gotta play it VERY, VERY loud!

Another one of my favourites has to be Rainbow Rising. Dio on the vocals and Blackmore on guitar, a great combo. Of course Rainbow did get kinda shit later on with other lineups...but Rising is excellent.

[ Parent ]

Anorak, sorry... (none / 0) (#223)
by meaningless pseudonym on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 03:00:55 AM EST

Ian Paice is the drummer. Ian Gillan is the vocalist.

[ Parent ]
Ah shit (none / 0) (#224)
by wocko on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 03:08:35 AM EST

I meant Gillan and wrote Paice. Speaking of Paice, love that drum solo on The Mule. God, I wish I could play a musical instrument, I really do.

[ Parent ]
Musical instruments (none / 0) (#238)
by meaningless pseudonym on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 03:04:47 PM EST

I play the trumpet and, when jamming, have a nasty tendency to listen to myself and realise I'm playing in Jon Lord's style...

Favourite moments: Blackmore's guitar in Highway Star, those amazing vocals on Child in Time, Blackmore and Gillan playing off against each other in Strange Kind of Woman then Ian's amazing finish, the gorgeous keyboard in Lazy, pretty much all of Space Truckin', especially the finale. And if you have the anniversary edition, Lucille is beautifully done.

[ Parent ]

Consistent expression of an idea (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by driptray on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:26:30 PM EST

My criteria for "great album" is whether the album is able to consistently express an idea. That idea should be totally integrated throughout lyrics, music, and visuals.

So here are a couple of my favourites, and the "ideas" they express:

  • Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica: I've always been interested in music that is destructive, that blows apart "normal" ideas of what music should be. Although punk fulfilled this role for me in my teens, it started to seem too rigid and formulaic, and I began searching for something *more*.

    Trout Mask Replica is the high point of an approach that consistently messes with expectations and conventions. Nothing is as you would expect, and everything is consistently surprising, from the bizarrely poetical lyrics, to the dissonant clashing instruments, to the cover of a "trout mask" (but is it a replica?). Like all my favourite albums, after this was released I wonder how anybody was ever able to make another record.

  • The Stooges - Funhouse: Excess. Total excess. This album represents a cathartic attempt to reach a state of total excess, whether it be drug consumption, hedonism, or a total screeching noise. There is a total absence of restraint here - it's as though everybody in the band is trying to play as loudly as they can, and everyone is trying to let themselves loose totally, to completely lose themselves in their own creation.

    And of course it fails - nobody can quite reach the state of total hedonistic, cathartic bliss that is being aimed for, but it really seems like the The Stooges might die trying. So many bands have attempted something similar (The Birthday Party?), and nobody has gotten even close to this album, which was released in 1970.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
Concept albums (3.66 / 3) (#59)
by engine16 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:30:38 PM EST

are often great, and they are still produced on a fairly regular basis. Phish, for example, recently produced one called "The Story of the Ghost." In addition, The Microphones' new release, "Mt. Eerie" is one. Still, one need not look far to see poor examples of concept albums, the sort where the artist would have been better off recording a variety of songs, for instance, "Numbers" by Cat Stevens. What a pile of crap that was.

I think album sides need not be distinct for the production of a good album. I also think it is more difficult to produce a cohesive album than a cohesive side to an album, and that when the first occurs, it is a more spectacular achievement. To the questions in the essay: the album is not dead, and an album can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Ape Infinitum

Title is required, isn't it? (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by jabber on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:07:33 PM EST

I really appreciate your article, because this is something I've had on the back burner for some time. It's not just the CD, but the skip and random nature of modern entertainment, that has done damage to the popular attention span. Modern pop music is largely little more than cell-phone ring tone fodder.

We seem to be losing not only the attention span necessary to make sense of an hour's worth of musical ideas, but also of the abstract, thematic message that a complete album can bring to the table. In a way, we're losing the sense needed to bring the disjoint together into an artistic whole greater than the sum of its parts.

In the last decade or so, the album has waned in favor of the hook. All that's needed to put out a CD these days is a song or two with a hook. They don't even have to be about anything. They just need to have a catchy sequence of notes or beats, repeated often enough to be recognizable. Bah!

My favorite album of all time is a pretty recent one. Rob Dougan's "Furious Angels" is dark, brooding, energetic and exhausting. It brings together Matrix's "Clubbed to Death" style techno and the melancholy of a smoky bar with a voice a friend of mine described as "velvet, dragged over gravel", and deals with themes I've not seen/heard in any mainstream music. The title track kills me, and the album, when listened through in order, is open enough to interpretation that not only is it a work of art, you get to make it one if it suits you. All IMHO of course.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Ring Tones... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by anaesthetica on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:14:02 PM EST

Speaking of cell-phone fodder the other place posted a story on ringtones digging the music industry out of its hole.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Amen to that (4.00 / 2) (#108)
by xL on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:49:05 AM EST

I've been really irritated by how music players (hardware and software) have this tendency to keep people informed, up to the second, how much longer they are going to have to "endure" what they are listening to. This directly opposes getting enjoyment out of an album as a complete work that you "ride out".

Lots of people I know who want me to listen to a band they like just can't get themselves from skipping tracks halfway in. Our random access nature is really killing this way of enjoying music.

[ Parent ]

Another FA person! Yess! (none / 0) (#246)
by bluefusion on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 09:01:58 AM EST

Thanks for mentioning Furious Angels--I too feel that it is one of the best recent concept albums in memory. Between Furious Angels, Clubbed to Death and I'm Not Driving Anymore, the mood of tension and despair unravels into Speed Me Towards Death... amazing.

"Real? What is real? If you are talking simply about what you can see, taste, touch, hear, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain."
[ Parent ]

Orchid (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by jefflar on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:02:30 PM EST

Right now, yep. definetely Orchid's s/t, Fugazi's "end hits", or Jawbreaker's "24 hour revenge therapy."

The latter is filled with such melancholy angst-ridden songs it amazes me that Blake S. hasn't killed himself yet.

Sgt. Pepper's (4.00 / 4) (#72)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:45:51 PM EST

Sgt. Pepper's is one of the greatest albums ever made and it is of course another concept album. It's funny because I can't really put into words why this album is so incredible. On the surface it's merely a collection of experimental songs bookended by a 'revival concert' theme. But the album is so much more - and this doesn't just involve the music, it is about how influential and totally different the album was at the time of its release. It's about the last note of "A Day in the Life." It's even about the album cover.

Good job including Beck. I'm a big fan so every album of his is great according to me. Another selection for the honor of great album is his 1998 album "Mutations." It's not as well known as Odelay and it's much more subdued. Even Beck made it clear that Mutations wasn't a follow-up to Odelay, that title was reserved for Midnite Vultures. Mutations was something different, a kind of theme album composed of acoustic tracks and produced by Nigel Godrich. The theme, decay, is extremely well-defined - it can be heard in every track. The songs are tied together well, but that doesn't stop Beck from his customary exploration of musical styles including Tropicalia, his tribute to the Brazilian style.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

yea on Sgt. Pepper's (none / 0) (#77)
by khallow on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:09:10 PM EST

I mean, the Beatles actually sound good in this album. ;-)

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Victorian Nostalgia (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by Blarney on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:11:09 PM EST

The main theme of Sgt. Pepper's seems to me to be nostalgia for Victorian and post-Victorian music hall theater. The calliope tape loops and archaic lyrics of Mr. Kite, the sentimentality of She's Leaving Home, and the documentary-esque Indian style of Within You Without You are the most characteristic of this style, but the whole album is permeated by this. When I'm 64 sounds like the sort of thing an earnest young lover would sing in a drama with it's tightly rhymed and metered lyrics, romantic chromaticism and strong cadences. Even the harder tracks have enough theatrical effects that they don't sound like guitar rock although musically they are - for instance, the confessional middle 8 of Getting Better turns it from a rocking song of disaffected youth into a song of man reaching maturity.

The nostalgic emotion climaxes at the reprise of the main theme. It comes in with harder, slightly distorted guitar, the audience cheers on cue, it really makes you feel like you're meeting some old friends you haven't seen in a long time - although you actually only met them 33 minutes ago.

This is the album where the Beatles go back to their true roots. They aren't Zeppelin or the Who or any of the other blues-based bands which are becoming popular at the time - this is a band which started out playing "Your Feets Too Big" and "Sheikh of Araby" in German whorehouses, (check out Live at the Star Club if your ears can handle a noisy low-fi recording) and is finally big and rich enough to be proud of it.

[ Parent ]

Beck (5.00 / 1) (#118)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:31:09 AM EST

As a composer it's almost like Beck has a split personality, releasing two different lines of music parallel with one another. One one hand you have One Foot in the Grave, Mutations, and Sea Change—all quiet, lyrical, and folky. On the other hand you have his more commercially successful releases: Mellow Gold, Odelay, and Midnight Vultures, highlighting his frenetic and tongue-in-cheek fusions of hip-hop, electronica, folk, rock and pop.

Each album does have its own distinct sound, and that's something that really draws me to Beck: his albums feel complete in whatever experiment he's trying each given time.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
album versus song (4.75 / 4) (#74)
by khallow on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:05:58 PM EST

While there's been a lot of talk about albums becoming obselete, the same can be said for songs. Radio (and later video) is a big influence on song length which causes most songs to be consistently about 4-6 minutes in length. In comparison, classical music varied tremendously in length depending on the particular performance medium. Waltzes and marches tend to be fairly long (say 8-15 minutes) while Baroque chamber music often consists of short (even by radio standards) groups of movements.

Symphonies and operas tend to be long since the piece often must carry a night's performance. Also, there were various pieces intended for religious services (particularly Roman Catholic masses) that tended to be two or more hours in length. It seems to be my impression that Wagner constructed operas, marches, etc that tended to be overly long for their genre. If I recall correctly, the ring cycle consisted of three four hour plays and one five hour play. His desire was to see the plays performed in sequential nights, but despite substantial cycling of performers, it just isn't currently possible. Maybe with genetic engineering.

The Spew :-)

Having said that, there are a number of albumlike performances that qualify. Here's a few that come to mind: Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", most of Beethoven's syphonies (I prefer 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th), Gustav Holst's "The Planets", Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" (actually the score from the musical). An amazing collection is the soundtrack from the old 50's Disney movie, "Fantasia" and is probably one of the best movie soundtracks of all time (movie soundtracks being another source of inspiration, I'm thinking "Lost Boys" and "The End of the World" as well as several of the Bond movies, for example).

As far as more traditional music goes, I've been fond of Rush and Pink Floyd for some time. Yes (I have a great tolerance for falsetto :-), Men At Work ("Cargo"), Deep Purple ("Deep Purple"), John Denver ("John Denver's Greatest Hits"), Styx ("Kilroy Was Here"), Eagles ("Hotel California" was ok, but "Eagles" was better), Simon and Garfunkel ("Sounds of Silence", "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme"), Lynard Skinnard ("Second Helping"), REM (all good!), U2 ("War", "Joshua Tree", "Zootopia"), and Boston ("Boston").

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Other good albums, including some hip-hop (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by bbuda on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:08:34 PM EST

There are a few more albums that I think of that come together as coherent wholes:

Many (but not all) of Steely Dan's albums have this trait. None of them are concept albums, but Aja and Can't Buy a Thrill do a great job of keeping the same tones and moods throughout the album, but they don't sound like each other at all.

More recently, Weezer's Maladroit has a wonderful album sound. Part of this comes from it being so much different then their other albums (this is also why it was so poorly recieved).

Weezer sound-alike Ozma wrote one of my favorite albums, Rock and Roll Part Three. The stories are pretty typical teen-angst material, but are put together in a wonderful dramatic arc. The songs are all temporally influenced, with the record starting in June at the beginning of a summer romance, and over ten tracks plunges toward heartbreak in December. The hidden eleventh track, however, hints at the return of spring once more.

Hip-hop seems to be plagued by albums that are collections of singles, but there are a few that stand out. My favorites are Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, which manages to take 'thug' rants and put them together in a compelling album. Underground act Atmosphere did The Lucy Ford EP, a collection of songs about how much the lead rapper, Slug, hates/misses his ex-girlfriend Lucy.

Those are a few of my favorites, looking forward to see what others think.

On the run (4.50 / 2) (#79)
by Blarney on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:17:29 PM EST

That's not a throwaway track. If anything, it's a natural outcome of Floyd's synthesizer experimentation - like Varese set to a beat.

And, though many may not agree with me, I'd think that "On the Run" is perhaps the first techno track in existence. The influences from this song - added to video game songs from the 1980's - are perhaps the main reason why we have techno music today.

maybe, but probably not. (none / 0) (#212)
by tuj on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:54:21 PM EST

>The influences from this song - added to video
>game songs from the 1980's - are perhaps the
>main reason why we have techno music today.

Not to nitpick, but I'd wager that Kraftwerk had a lot more to do with Atkins, Saunderson, and May's early work.

[ Parent ]
You skipped the greatest (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by godix on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:26:59 PM EST

Mozart and Beethoven were doing concept albums centuries before albums were around.

As for more modern ones, Pink Floyd's The Final Cut is definately great, although I realize I'm in a minority on that belief.

Love - A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

The Classics (none / 0) (#119)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:36:54 AM EST

Yes I know Mozart and Beethoven and Bach and Wagner and Tchaikovsky (sp?) et al were doing concept pieces long before the 1950's. Really some of the pieces they created on both conceptual and musical levels were amazing, far exceeding the limp attempts many modern bands make of creating rock (or goth) operas. But they weren't really doing albums per se. I suppose the concept of album really is influenced fundamentally by the technology of the times, because there is no doubt that the great Composers created long conceptual pieces, with stories, lyrics (operatic or choral), and repeated/inverted/extended/overlaid/harmonized/etc musical themes. What I find disturbing is that modern bands can barely even come close to the intellectual and musical complexity of a Bach piece. I guess that's kind of the point of this article.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Is the problem . . . (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by Gumpzilla on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:42:47 PM EST

. . . that they can't, or just don't? Ornate Baroque complexity would probably not sell too well at the moment. For better or worse, mass market music has taken a turn for the simple.

[ Parent ]
Try the late 80s (none / 0) (#205)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:11:50 PM EST

The ornate technical metal that's perhaps best personified by Metallica's 1984-1989 output and Megadeth's Rust in Peace (I'm going to get flamed from every direction... hardcore metalheads and classical fascists are going to have a field day) bears a lot of striking similarities to Bach and Beethoven (Rust in Peace's Lucretia's opening riff is a guitar transplantation of something that Bach might have built a minuet around), for instance. I won't even mention bands like Rush and Dream Theater (as that's too easy a target).

The fact is, the modern genre of music that is the closest to being 'classical', with an emphasis on instrumental composition and technical virtuosity, is metal. There's even Apocalyptica, which just came out with a new album of nothing but originals. The bulk of the songs are pure metal (former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo plays drums on a few tracks) played by three cellos. Highly recommended.

If Bach was composing in the late-80s, he'd've been in a metal band (and not necessarily Skid Row... ;o) ).

[ Parent ]
Metallica (none / 0) (#239)
by anaesthetica on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 06:16:39 PM EST

Although I can't vouch for Megadeth, Metallica's earlier works like Master of Puppets really had a lot of classical influences, especially in the intros and solos. Kirk Hammett really is one of the best guitarists playing today. Their work on ...And Justice For All demonstrates their ability to work in complex time signatures as well, which is something very few other bands can claim (except those with amazing drummers, like Rush, Dreamtheater and Tool). Personally I can't stand Rush and Dreamtheater musically, but from what I understand Dreamtheater does a lot of concept albums.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
No, you're right. (none / 0) (#151)
by Maurkov on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:02:40 PM EST

Roger Waters has an astounding ability to present and explore a (depressing) theme. I just wish he'd start another band with folks who could bolster his shortcomings. That reminds me; seeing as there'll be another war on, I need to dust off my copy of Amused to Death.

[ Parent ]
The Final Cut (none / 0) (#254)
by rusty on Sun Mar 16, 2003 at 02:17:04 PM EST

You are not alone. I've always liked TFC better than any other Pink Floyd album. We are in an extreme minority though, I'm afraid. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
The first concept album... (4.75 / 4) (#81)
by SleepDirt on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:56:54 PM EST

Freak Out!, by Frank Zappa.

It's been lost in the mass media but it's really an incredible album. It was released before Sgt. Peppers and near the same time as Pet Sounds. The basic concept is a bunch of freaks degressing from fun little pop songs into complete and utter madness. IIRC this was the first double LP  rock album ever released.

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." - Hunter S. Thompson

Damn Straight! (none / 0) (#90)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:14:41 AM EST

Yep, it was the first ever double rock album (1966), probably the first ever rock concept album, and unquestionably one of the finest rock albums of all time. And, inspired by your comment, I've just fired the Grand Wazoo (don't have Freak Out in mp3 format).

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
The best (2.00 / 1) (#82)
by tang gnat on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:05:26 AM EST

The latest albums by Eminem and Britney Spears contain a single cohesive thread running through them, yet also containing a superb amount of diversity.

Eminem (none / 0) (#123)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:54:53 AM EST

As much as I hate to admit it, eminem does have a general theme, at least for his last two LPs. Of course he includes his shamelessly self-promoting new single on each, telling the world once again that he's slim-shady. Oh well.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Slim Shady (none / 0) (#190)
by mayo on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:43:02 PM EST

Or is he? If I recall, Eminem seems to sing about Slim Shady as his rapping alter ego in one of the tracks on the Eminem Show. Man that guy has some issues. And some money. Damn.

[ Parent ]
Best Albums (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by stoothman on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:13:18 AM EST

I do not really think much of concept albums, but then I usually do not listen
to an album in its entirety.  I actually find some of the best albums are
instead compilation albums.  These come in two varieties retrospective albums of
a single band and various artists with a single thread tying them together.  Of
the former two of my favorites are the Cure's Standing on the Beach and The
Smiths' Louder than Bombs.  Of the latter, I personally think two of the best
were the two Never mind the Mainstream compilations produced by MTV.

This brings me to the other albums I really like, which are the Unplugged Series
also from MTV.  I enjoy hearing the music stripped down to the bare essentials.
It allows me to concentrate more fully on the lyrics and the music, instead of
the production values of the album.  The best of these was the 10,000 Maniacs
Unplugged.  Though there are some other really goods ones this is my favorite by
far for its simplicity of sound.

What I have on my little CD shelf right now:
The Cranberries - To the Faithfully Departed
U2 - War
Sting - The best of Sting 1984 - 1994
Various - Punk You
Counting Crows - August and Everything After
Nelly Furtado - Whoa, Nelly
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Trolling, trolling at Kuro5hin
For many a blustery remark
Is made for me to grin

First of all (none / 0) (#87)
by Spork on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:35:34 AM EST

"Various Artists" and "Best of" are not albums. Secondly, you might profit from a source of musical input that is a bit more diverse than "hit radio".

[ Parent ]
Why not?? (none / 0) (#126)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:05:16 AM EST

"What's your favourite Beatles album?", "I think I'd have to say - the best of the Beatles". What???, you'd ask him to listen to the "Not quite the best of Sting"??. If you miss VA record then you're missing Woodstock, Wattstax etc. And if you don't include best of's you ain't ever going to hear Strawberry Fields Forever...
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
Au Contraire (none / 0) (#141)
by stoothman on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:42:11 AM EST

Obviously, you have never heard either of the various artists albums I mentioned, so allow me to enlighten you.

Never Mind The Mainstream Vol. 1
Higher Ground (3:23) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sometime To Return (3:30) - Soul Asylum
Fools Gold (4:18) - The Stone Roses
Wasteland (5:42) - The Mission UK
See A Little Light (3:34) - Bob Mould
Under The Milky Way (5:00) - The Church
Carolyn's Fingers (3:07) - Cocteau Twins
World Shut Your Mouth (3:35) - Julian Cope
Mandinka (3:51) - Sinead O'Connor
Kool Thing (4:08) - Sonic Youth
Balloon Man (3:34) - Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
Put The Message In The Box (4:20) - World Party
Dear God (3:37) - XTC
Ana Ng (3:22) - They Might Be Giants
Eye Of Fatima (Pt. 1) (2:38) - Camper Van Beethoven
I Melt With You (3:55) - Modern English

Never Mind the Mainstream Vol 2
Orange Crush (3:50) - R.E.M.
This Is Not a Love Song (4:11) - Public Image Ltd.
Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio? (3:50) - The Ramones
Burning House of Love (3:54) - X
Stigmata (5:45) - Ministry
Everyday Is Like Sunday (3:34) - Morrissey
Head On (4:09) - The Jesus & Mary Chain
Killing Moon (5:45) - Echo & the Bunnymen
Love Will Tear Us Apart (3:24) - Joy Division
Perfect Kiss (4:48) - New Order
Personal Jesus (3:43) - Depeche Mode
Birthday (3:59) - Sugarcubes
Could You Be the One? (2:32) - Hüsker Dü
We Care a Lot (4:01) - Faith No More
Gone Daddy Gone (3:03) - Violent Femmes
Eardrum Buzz (4:12) - Wire

While some of this was overplayed on the radio, a vast majority was not.  And to me at least it seems more diverse than "hit radio".  Next time do some research before you open your mouth and spew forth.

Trolling, trolling at Kuro5hin
For many a blustery remark
Is made for me to grin
[ Parent ]

two large ones (4.66 / 3) (#85)
by adiffer on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:56:11 AM EST

I've got two I like when I'm in the mood for concept albums.  Which one I play depends a lot on my mood.  You should be able to figure out which album goes with which mood, I think.

Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans

Pink Floyd - The Wall

As for why, I doubt I can explain it in words.  Any Yes fan that likes that album (double) knows why and few others are going to understand.  I use The Wall to test my sanity level on occasion.  After listening to it, I know my life doesn't suck and never really has.
--BE The Alien!

Tales From Topographic Oceans (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by Ricdude on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:53:44 PM EST

You really need to block out time to listen to that one.  That was the first Yes album I repurchased on CD.  Again, if you like the album, you know why, and if you don't you'll just go, "huh?".

Believe it or not I actually heard that on the radio (once).  The local classic rock station had a habit of playing a complete album every morning at 2AM, and decided to play TFTO over 4 days, one movement per week.  It was kind of wierd listening to it on the radio, as I was driving home from work that week, but also, vaguely cool, in a wierd sort of way...

[ Parent ]

The Wall (5.00 / 1) (#200)
by floydian on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:46:02 PM EST

You are right on the money with that one. I've often found it hard to explain why listening to The Wall has helped me through some of my pathetic little depressive periods.

You know which track gets to me the most? "Is There Anybody Out There?". It's a short track, buried between great tracks in their own right like "Hey You" and "Comfortably Numb"; however, it just conveys such a deep loneliness, with the saddest guitar solo ever, plus the sound of cars far away in the highway... argh, makes you just wanna break down and weep. And yes, I have, listening to that same track.

[ Parent ]

Goodbye Blue Sky (5.00 / 1) (#218)
by adiffer on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:27:40 AM EST

That one gets me every time.  The threatening bass and seemingly light guitar give  me chills in exactly the ways I'm sure they intended them.

I was born a few months before the Cuban missile crisis, so much of my life occured during the Cold War.  Those references to war and bombs are haunting as a result.

Goodbye Cruel World where the wall is finished comes in a close second for me.  I turned inward as a kid and built my own wall.  If it weren't for one friend, I might have completed it too.  I've paid hard for every brick I've removed since then just as I paid when I first put them up.

I've never had to courage to go see the movie version.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

Two Great Albums (2.50 / 2) (#86)
by d0ink on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:34:24 AM EST

The Clash, "The Clash (US version)": supposedly the UK version is more "authentic" or something, but this version works way better as an album. tight, tough, snarly punk rock cut with great gritty reggae songs.

both sides of the record start off with jumpy, catchy numbers ("Clash City Rockers", "Janie Jones"), build up to the engaging, dancable reggae songs in the middle (including the excellent original "White Man In Hammersmith Palais") and end with singalongable, tounge-in-cheek numbers *"I Fought The Law", and the anthemic "Garageland") this album still sounds fresh 25 years after it was released.

Celine Dion, "All The Way...A Decade of Song": i know, i know, this is a "greatest hits" album, but i'm not about to get my head bitten off trying to choose sides between "Falling Into You" or "Let's Talk About Love" as Celine's best album, also, this *is* kind of a concept album, the concept being: a decade of hit songs!

like the Clash album, this album (actually a CD) has a specific structure. it starts off with Celine's earlier, kind of more lightweight hits, like "If You Asked Me To" and the "Beauty and the Beast" theme song, which is one of the best of the Disney cartoon themes, thanks to its intricate lyrics, which contain a clever double meaning (listen closely to the words and you will also notice the song is about two people having sex for the first time). the album then builds up, via more opera-ish numbers like "It's All Coming Back To Me" to Celine's two big hits, "My Heart Will Go On" and my favoirte, "To Love You More" (i still remember Celine doing that song on this one awards show. there was this female chinese violinist on stage with Celine and i remember wishing the two of them would run off and be lesbians together in the wilds of Quebec). then the album starts to settle down a little, finishing up with some of Celine's more advanced, heavier, adult stuff like "All The Way", finally ending with the reflective "Live". all in all, this record is both super *and* duper. the only way ths album could be improved would be to include the moving song "Fly" from "Falling Into You", but that might be too much goodness for the human brain to handle.

Celine? Aaahrgh! (nt) (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by Kuranes on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:33:51 AM EST

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by xL on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:44:15 AM EST

Is so fed up with Celine and her songs about Lurrrve being on the radio that he started calling me to demand an apology every time she gets airtime, for lack of a dedicated person at the Canadian embassy to apologize on behalf of the Canadian people for Celine Dion. I tried to explain him that Canada is not my fault, but he won't listen. Please help?

[ Parent ]
CELINE FUCKING DION ??????? (none / 0) (#215)
by what the on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:11:44 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Killdozer - UWAUDP = Gretest concept album ever (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by Spork on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:46:06 AM EST

I own all the albums discussed in the article and I feel like I'm able to deeply appreciate the virtues in all of them, but my final, considered view is that the greatest album ever is:

Killdozer - An Uncompromising War on Art under the Dictatorship of the Proliteriat

I am not trying to be funny or ironic or anything. I just think that they accomplished more with that album than any other band has with any other album, ever. I've bought it three times now because I keep losing it since I feel like I have to take it with me wherever I go.

Killdozer? (none / 0) (#89)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:58:06 AM EST

Good Lord man! I haven't heard anyone mention that name in years. I used to have Little Baby Buntin' which had Ed Gein's cat scan on the slip and a cover of Neil Diamond's I Am I Said. Ughh, that brings back painful memories.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
pshaw (none / 0) (#91)
by d0ink on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:20:00 AM EST

best concept album ever? surely that would have to be Anal Cunt's 1997 masterpiece I Like It When You Die

[ Parent ]
Greatest Albums (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by DavisImp on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:58:30 AM EST

Yay, a greatest albums story! Where we all get to gleefully ignore each other's opinions while spouting off about what we like.

That said...

(Note: I'm restricting myself to recent albums. There's older stuff i'm in love with, but the "greatest albums ever" thing would be heavily slanted towards the late 60s and early 70s if i let myself use them. Also, i'm pretty ignor'nt when it comes to pop music before the mid-60s.)

Bjork - Homogenic - i cannot get over this album. Bjork and her collaborators have a talent for pulling making weird noises accessible. Her production is what hip hop would sound like if it had taken a 180 at its inception and decided to be maximal instead of minimal - distorted beats, sexual basslines, sweeping strings, and a pervading sense of melancholy. Her voice takes some getting used to, but it is absolutely gorgeous once you learn to deal with it. On the other hand, i was never able to learn to deal with Axl Rose, so your mileage may vary.

Mum - Finally We Are No One - The best example of glitch music (music assembled from clicks/ cuts/ hisses/ pops/samples/ found sounds, generally more low-key than IDM and more dense than techno) married with pop. It's full of childlike melodies, very simple progressions and very deep complex production that sounds nothing so much like being drowned in noise.

Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights - i really don't know why i like this. I didn't at first, then i started listening to it and i could not stop. A lot of very ambient guitar work combined with a sort of punk rhythmic sensibility (lots of very straight 4/4 rhtyhms). They get compared to Joy Division a lot, for their looks, their use of noise, and their singer's tendency to avoid high tenor.

Cursive - Domestica - or, more properly , Cursive's Domestica if you want to be all Matchbox 20 about it - is the greatest concept album made about young love dying at the hands of domestic life. It's full of wonderful cutting lines and petty unintentional cruelties hiding under false words of love. Surprisingly subtle for such a bitter collection of songs, the words are matched by heavy but off-kilter guitar playing with surprising dynamic and rhythmic range.

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin - bizarre and beautiful. You have to listen to it at least twice to even begin to understand it. Parts remind me of Elton John, parts remind me of Beck, and parts remind me of sappy sixties ballads.

There are others, but those are this week's main ones. If anyone has suggestions for me (other stuff I should listen to), let me know...

this shouldn't be editorial (none / 0) (#98)
by DavisImp on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:36:30 AM EST

but i apparently can't tell the difference anymore. dammit.

[ Parent ]
greater than the sum of its parts (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by theology on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:15:14 AM EST


I don't have to oversleep to be late to work.
Snore. (none / 0) (#232)
by derek3000 on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 09:06:39 AM EST

en tea

Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

The Brown Album (4.50 / 2) (#106)
by daragh on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:43:53 AM EST

By Orbital. Very influential, very flowing and very complete. Minus Input/Output at the end, the best electronic album ever

No work.

not their best work (none / 0) (#149)
by millman on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:48:40 PM EST

"In Sides" was the peak of their career, and is IMO the greatest electronic/techno album of all time. It showed me that techno could have real emotion (not necessarily of the good sort) and real depth. The Brown album is pretty much the greatest dance CD of all time, though. Those are the tracks I want to hear when I see them live. Experiencing "impact" live was absolutely amazing, especially on their last tour.

In a world full of thieves, the only crime is getting caught.
[ Parent ]

I guess I agree in some ways (none / 0) (#245)
by daragh on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 08:39:02 AM EST

I think they are very different albums. My natural instint in this case would usually be to rate insides above brown, but I've been listening to brown a lot lately. The musical structure and detail shown on brown is equal to that on insides when you listen closely, though the tone of the album is very different. I think the brown was more immediately and profoundly influential than insides also.

No work.
[ Parent ]

My favourites (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by Kuranes on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:10:08 AM EST

Just in short with a bit of description, since there's already so much...

Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile
Possibly my favourite of all time, with extensive concept line: Different two CDs with different style; The first track on the first CD is an obvious opener, the last track on last CD a kind of outro; The songs blend into each other, some are thought as one (The Frail/The Wretched are always performed after each other live). And, oh, the quality - I can't find words.

The Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Still my Pumpkins favourite, with both CDs divided into some extroverted/introverted theme. The intro/outro songs are also there (they even sing goodnight to you - what more do you want?). This one contains some of the best songs about love, hate, friendship, beauty and mortality I know. A masterpiece.

Queens of the Stone Age: Rated R
This is more an ironic masterpiece of delving into madness, and, well, the "Rated-R parts of life". If you look at the booklet, there's concept everywhere (this song was rated for...); concept is also obvious in the reprise of the Title Track (Feel Good Hit...) and the very long last song. 'Nuff said.

Other favourites include: Kyuss: And the Circus Leaves Town, System of a Down: SOAD, PJ Harvey: 4-Track Demos, REM: Automatic for the People, Einstuerzende Neubauten: Silence is Sexy.

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
The Fragile (none / 0) (#273)
by Kadin2048 on Sat May 31, 2003 at 02:17:46 AM EST

I'm glad to see someone mentioned The Fragile--it seems to me to be a perfect example of a modern-day album with 'sides.' Of course, the album is a lot longer than an LP...each CD is almost an hour, and each side of an LP is only about 25 minutes max, I believe. (Feel free to correct that; LPs made their exit before I really started paying attention.) But the concept is still there.

[ Parent ]
My favs (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by Bios_Hakr on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:27:14 AM EST

I remember listening to Dark Side of the Moon many times.  I'd add Animals to my favorite list.

Animals starts off with Pigs on the Wing (pt1).  Very sad song about a broken home (government?).  The album goes on to talk about the different people that make up the world.  Pigs, Dogs, Sheep are all disected one at a time.  The album closes with Pigs on the Wing (pt2).  The lyrics of the second part reflect that if your family is strong, nothing else matters.

I'd also add NIN: Downward Spiral.  No specific reason, just that listening to a single song from the album makes me long to hear the rest.

Someone else mentioned Smashing Pumpkins: Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness.  I'd second this as a great album.  No specific reason, but agian, I have to listen to it from beginning to end.

Animals (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:15:34 AM EST

I really enjoy Animals as well. I think that starting with a short introductory song and then reprising it at the end was a clever way to tie the whole album together, a little bit contrived, but it works. The three songs in the middle are perfect examples of multiple songs fused into one. Each song being over 10min long goes through many different themes and comes back to the original. You get the feeling that Pink Floyd didn't do many takes to get those songs right—probably just had a loose plan in mind, jammed the songs out, and later went back and fixed things here and there.

The extended metaphors of the people with different types of animal is really interesting as well. As far as I can figure, the dogs are vicious corporate types, the sheep are the normal people, and pigs i'm not really sure, one idea was that they were academia.

They manage to do a lot with five songs, I'll say that at the very least.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Pigs (none / 0) (#122)
by Bios_Hakr on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:52:27 AM EST

Politicians.  Or at least that is my latest thought...  But knowing how Rodger Waters felt about teachers (The Wall), you are probably right about them being achedemics...

[ Parent ]
Ah, the concept album! (4.00 / 2) (#121)
by 87C751 on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:50:20 AM EST

This has long been one of my favorite forms. Some of my favorites are 'Days of Future Passed' (which may be the first concept album I can recall), indeed all the Moody Blues output through 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour'. 'Seventh Sojourn', though compelling, doesn't quite have the same conceptual feel (and 'I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band ' is an obvious throwaway).

No Pink Floyd reference is complete without mentioning 'Wish You Were Here', the spectacular followup to DSOTM.

Let's not forget Jethro Tull. 'A Passion Play' is so concept that it only has two tracks, as does 'Thick as a Brick'. Another two-track concept was 'Tubular Bells' by Mike Oldfield.

Oh, and pretty much all of Tangerine Dream, though I'm not always sure what the concept is. :)

My ranting place.

The Residents (4.00 / 2) (#124)
by metropacem on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:59:31 AM EST

I'd say The Residents are one of the masters of concept albums. Among others:

  • "Not Available", not to be released until the band themselves had forgotten completely about its existence, is a mini-opera, strange and haunting.
  • "The Third Reich 'n' Roll", nazi-themed, with Dick Clark in uniform on the cover.
  • "Eskimo", acoustic landscapes, telling the tale of fictional Eskimo culture.
  • "The Commercial Album", forty one-minute "jingles".
  • The Mole Trilogy, "The Mark of the Mole", "The Tunes of Two Cities", "The Big Bubble", tells the story of a culture driven from their homes by a storm and forced into a confrontation with another people.
  • "Wormwood", disturbing stories from the Bible.
[Adapted from RzWeb]

My personal favourite? N/A. It's just so weird.

[shiki soku ze kuu]
Yay! The Residents! (none / 0) (#128)
by edo on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:31:31 AM EST

You beat me to it, or I would have mentioned them in this thread.

God they still kick ass after all these years: saw them perform in Amsterdam two nights ago and they rocked.

Concept concerts – what a concept!

My favourite Rez albums are probably Meet the Residents and Our Finest Flowers. Sheer genius.
Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
 - Oscar Wilde
[ Parent ]

The death of the album.... (4.50 / 2) (#125)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:59:49 AM EST

Before I stick in the obligitory list of my favs, a thought. The death of the album came about with the CD. CD's are much too long and do not allow that little break that a record brings. That meant artists started filling the CD up with stuff that would normally be left on the cutting room floor. Don't even start with double CDs. If someone can name a good double CD then I'll give them a thousand pounds. The best albums (with a few exceptions) are a short collection of strong tracks and no filler. Records gave the constraint and framework for quality music to flourish.

The lack of good albums these days has more to do with the lack of good music than technological reasons. MP3 isn't killing anything, musicians and record companies are killing everything. Anyway, what do I know? very little it seems. Here's my favourite albums

1. Nas - Illmatic.
No mention of hip hop below so this list will be weighted. This is a killer, in terms of rhyming and production, from start to finish.

2. Tribe Called Quest - Low End Theory
All bound together by the jazz it samples, another example of a record which you sit down and play from start to finish without skipping tracks.

3. David Axelrod - Earth Rot
Following up two records based on William Blake, Axelrod writes the greatest environmental album of all time.

4. Leonard Nimoy - Music from Outer Space
Oh yes.

5. Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
All hangs together so beautifully

6. The Fall - Grotesque
I think that this is possibly the greatest punk record of all time. Just 40 minutes of excellence and no singles.

He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing

1k please (none / 0) (#133)
by xria on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:45:54 AM EST

The Fragile...i even have 2 copies, one left at work, one at home so if I feel like listening to it at any time day or night I can.

[ Parent ]
IN YOUR FACE! (2.00 / 1) (#136)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:09:43 AM EST

Only got three stars on AMG. Don't know it personally so we'll have to side with them - I retain my cash.
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
Whoever AMG are... (4.00 / 1) (#148)
by xria on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:27:04 PM EST

On the other side:

What the Critics Say...
Rolling Stone (10/14/99, p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...[Reznor's] version of Pink Floyd's THE WALL...[venting] his alienation and misery into paranoid studio hallucinations, each track crammed with overdubs until there's no breathing room....it's New Wave with its finger on the trigger..."
Spin (11/99, pp.179-80) - 9 out of 10 - "...[Reznor's] epic portrayal of the endless, aimless inner din....THE FRAGILE is a good old-fashioned strap-on-your-headphones experience....a concept album....He tries to leap into an ocean of sound, but a breakbeat throws him back on shore..."
Q Magazine (12/99, p.142) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Reznor expertly sculpts his sounds like an electro-grunge Henry Moore..."
Alternative Press (11/99, pp.118-9) - 5 out of 5 - "...relevant as ever....nothing short of astounding....THE FRAGILE is Reznor's bid to be not only successful but also Important. And I think he's made it..."
Mojo (12/99, p.110) - "...an impressively multi-textured, satisfyingly violent sonic workout..."
Entertainment Weekly (9/24/99, pp.142-3) - "...THE FRAGILE feels freshest, and most like a progression from THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL when the music struggles upward toward some sort of transcendence....hard rock simply doesn't get any smarter, harder, or more ambitious than this." - Rating: A-

Its not an album for everyone by any means, but many have acclaimed it as one of the greats, and its a 2 CD album, and it has a strong concept running through it.

[ Parent ]
Not so (none / 0) (#226)
by loveaxelrod on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 04:30:41 AM EST

Amazon is too subjective - they're trying to sell you stuff. Regardless, as a sensible means of measuring the quality of an album let's consider looking at Nine Inch Nails' overall ratings per album, as voted for by "real" people. In both amazon and the All Music Guide it comes way down on the list. And if it can't even be the best Nine Inch Nails album then, son, cheese it. Can you honestly say that (a) you listen to both CDs equally balanced, and (b) there is not one duffer in 2 hours???
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
Honestly... (none / 0) (#229)
by xria on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 05:51:05 AM EST

Yes. On both counts.

Probably I have listened to Left tracks a few more times that Right, but that would be purely because sometimes you get interrupted, particularly at work.

And while I might feel that Star****ers, Inc doesnt fit into the album particularly well, there isnt a bad track on the album imo, although as with everything some are better than others.

The point you made was:

If someone can name a good double CD then I'll give them a thousand pounds.

For me, and note others have mentioned the same album in this thread, The Fragile is not just a good album, its a great album, and I would rate it within my top 5 of all time - it is certainly the album I have listened to most by some considerable margin.

Just call it the exception that proves the rule if you like, although Ive seen a couple of other people mention other 2 CD albums in the thread, I dont know them personally so cant comment.

[ Parent ]
Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie W. (none / 0) (#138)
by rbarchetta on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:19:11 AM EST

Technically a double-LP but now issued on 2 CDs. Not only is it a great double-CD, it's conceptual to boot. The first LP/disc is focused on his childhood. The second covers his adult life, parenthood, in particular.

Fantastic from start to finish. Not a skip-worthy song to be found. The remastered CDs are worth every penny.

Damn, now I wish I had this with me.


[ Parent ]

Easy money (none / 0) (#170)
by Control Group on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:42:11 PM EST

The Who - Quadrophenia

Please make cheques payable to Overly Literal Man.

"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]

Err... (none / 0) (#225)
by loveaxelrod on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 04:24:51 AM EST

Unless you've been breaking the law, Quadrophenia came out before CDs were invented. Ditto the Stevie Wonder. I still retain my cash. Would Songs... be the same if Stevie had had to record two 60min+ sides rather than 4 sides of 20min and 2 of 4 ?? I doubt it.
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
Late response but here nontheless (none / 0) (#247)
by rbarchetta on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 10:59:43 PM EST

I wanted to get back to this sooner than now but that's how life goes. You raise a couple interesting points which I will get to in a minute. First, though, the double-CD you are seeking. Smashing Pumpkins -- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. As with any album (no matter how long or short) I find that I like some tracks more than others. However, there is not one song between the two discs that inspires me to think, "I just can't stand to hear this even one more time," and skip ahead to the next track. Your mileage will surely vary, but here's one double-CD that is solid from start to finish. And, if you're willing to go out on a limb a little, you might accept the idea the Kid A/Amnesiac (Radiohead) and Apple Venus/Wasp Star (XTC) are the modern day version of the double-CD. While not packaged together both sets are obviously related. (Wasp Star is sub-titled Apple Venus vol. 2.) I'm not sure why they were sold separately, probably a marketer's idea, but as I said, there is no denying they are linked conceptually. Now, you may argue that the Radiohead discs aren't good, but I would disagree. They're aren't easy to get into, but they are an interesting break from most music these days. Apple Venus vol. 1 is hands-down brilliant, and vol. 2 is no slouch.

Songs In the Key of Life. If you are asking whether Stevie could have recorded that album now, in the CD-era, the answer is, of course, no. But's it's not because of the CD. It's because the album is a product of the time it was written and recorded. He's not the same person now that he was then. Given that it was originally issued on 2 LPs plus an extra record with four more songs seems to indicate he wasn't out to fill up 4 sides of approximately 20 minutes each. He was out to write songs about that time in his life. I don't think he felt that he had to fill up 2 LPs, it just happened that way (and then some). Would the album have turned out the same if, in the mid 70s, CDs were the favored medium? Assuming that nothing else changed in our culture, I think it would have been similar.

In claiming that the CD is responsible for the "death of the album" I think you are overlooking a much more important factor. A lot has changed in western society since the concept album was in vogue. Current music reflects that. (What does this say about us in the west?) Life is fractured, disjointed and runs at a fast pace. (Note that you abbreviated the album title to just Songs... instead of taking the few extra seconds to type the whole thing out.) I think that comes out in the music today. Not to mention that our attention span started getting shorter long before the CD came about.

And as a bit of a rebuttal to the notion that CDs are mostly filler tracks I offer some evidence to the contrary. I have no trouble finding CDs in my collection that are longer than a standard LP, but have no bad songs on them. A few:

The Cure - Disintegration and Wish
Sigur Ros - ( )
Big Wreck - In Loving Memory Of...
Bjork - Vespertine
Dream Theater - Awake
Queensryche - Empire
Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk

For these recordings (and Songs In the Key of Life, for that matter) I would find that the break provided by the LP would be a disruption, not a service.

On the flip-side, I can also find bands that still release LP-length CDs, despite that the CD could have held twice as much music. A few:

Weezer - Weezer (green disc)
The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious
Fugazi - Repeater
The Strokes - Is This It? (I expected to hate this album. It turns out I was completely wrong.)

The reports that the CD has caused the death of the album are greatly exaggerated.


[ Parent ]

Fair Points (none / 0) (#267)
by loveaxelrod on Tue Mar 18, 2003 at 10:44:25 AM EST

In answer to the Stevie thing, I don't know the album that well but I'm also not convinced that it would have been the same if recorded onto 2CDs. But maybe he did just record x amount of music then think about sticking it on a record. Maybe he didn't. Anyone who knows about the recording of the record could tell us.

The other points come down to musical preferences I guess. I don't much care for the Smashing Pumpkins but I seriously think that making a 2 hour album requires something of a genius. Are you telling me that they'll captivate me for this length of time??, I don't think so. XTC I don't know but Radiohead are surely the strangest band of the late 90s/00s. I've heard snatches of Kid A, and it just sounds like a poor mans copy of early electronica records. Maybe this is just the current trend, since there are no spectacular bands around, the slightly above average (hello coldplay) get heavily lauded.

Perhaps the death of the album has been greatly exaggerated, but I looked forward to this story, hoping that someone would enlighten me with a name I hadn't heard or a record that contained much promise. But it's all the same ol' crap you can read in the latest top 100 albums of all time. But then again, mayhe I'm going through one of those depressive stages of music....bah!
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]

Some more than others (3.50 / 2) (#137)
by xria on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:16:35 AM EST

Most albums have a concept to some extent, just because the artists will be interested in one topic more than others during a fixed period of time, and their muscial style will tend not to vary massively in a short period.

That said there are a number of albums and artists that go a lot further than this, from an album devoted to one general topic like Jagged Little Pill, or Ride the Lightning, all the way through to albums that tell one coherent story whether it be the Ring Cycle, or A Fine Day to Exit.

Personally I always tend to listen to entire albums, and having a strong story running through it just adds one more positive element to a piece of work, as long as it doesnt destroy the integrity of the individual pieces just to make it fit the concept.

I feel icky. (2.50 / 4) (#139)
by jmzero on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:39:43 AM EST

Why must people mess up good music by trying to make it "mean something"?  What a stupid endeavor.  Why try to conquer two Herculean tasks at the same time?  Either make music or write something.

At most, a song should have a certain image it's shaped around, a simple narrative, or just whatever blather works with the song.  However, these can't be the focus of the song - lyrics need to be expendable if the music is going to stay on course (unless the musician is incredibly talented - we're not looking at you Mr. Floyd).  As such, lyrics are very seldom going to make for good poetry - and it makes me sick when people pretend they do.

When musicians have appropriated good writing (such as whats-her-bucket with "Lady of Shallot" a few years ago), you realize just how much you'd rather be reading this poem (while perhaps listening to some good music).  It's like somebody has decided to take a nice painting and outline all the houses with crayons.  It's like when Kenny G decided to vomit all over "What a Wonderful World".  Yep, here's a sad part - why don't you sort of droop your voice down a little and diddle around some sad notes.  Great.

I love music.  I love good writing.  I hate Mr. Floyd, who is passable at the former and a butcher of the latter.  If you're passed 9th grade and you can still sit through "The Wall - The First Movie", then you have no appreciation for either.

By the way, I've called the band Mr. Floyd ever since I discovered how much it irked my Floyd loving friend in grade 10.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

Under the Radar (3.50 / 2) (#140)
by Idioteque on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:40:27 AM EST

Pop music will always have it's 3 minute song, but I think the album is still out there and being enjoyed, just slightly under the radar now.

There are also many more music genres that have redefined what an album is. Many hip-hop releases are an interrelated connection of songs with either no defined boundary between songs or a common theme throughout the album. I think its a safe bet to call the Roots - Things Fall Apart, a great album.

In the techno world, many albums are just an hour long mix of songs. And the mark of a great DJ and a great album is shown by which songs are chosen and how they are mixed together. Here's a some good ones: Paul van Dyk - Out There and Back, Richie Hawtin - Decks Efx & 909, Kruder & Dorfmeister - The K&D Sessions, just to name a few.

And of course in the more traditional sense, Weezer's Pinkerton and Radiohead's OK Computer still seem to fit that great album mold.

I have seen too much; I haven't seen enough - Radiohead
Nobody's mentioned (2.50 / 2) (#146)
by Gully Foyle on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:51:15 AM EST

Beth Gibbons and Rustin Mann - Out of Season.

So I will.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh

i disagree (3.50 / 2) (#150)
by postindustrialist on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 12:52:50 PM EST

it depends on what kind of album. rock i feel is dead, leaving its final breath to give alternative (or as i call it, "adult pop") and popular music a few extra years.

most music anymore is electronic in its nature, either utilizing synths or using techniques (such as creating and looping certain sets of sounds to create a more harmonious, evenly timed sound) in the production room.

not to say rock hasn't done this in the past, your Dark Side of the Moon is a great example of that. right around then (and in fact because of rock albums like that) electronica was just entering its embryonic state.

i digress though. popular music and rock i do agree lose an overall feel of "album-ness" to them, yet pick up any electronic Cd and you'll be hard pressed to say the same. "Outrospective" by Faithless is in my CD player right now. it has a great feel and the songs quite literally shift from one into another. even compilations are different. you pick up a "now" CD that you frequently see advertised for on TV and it's the most nonsensical array of songs i have ever seen, however Hed Kandi did an AWESOME job mixing and compiling their Winter Chill 2 CD. i especially love disk two.

it truly depends on genre.

oooh.. looks likes somebody has anger problems.
question everything.
this sig is only one hundred and fifty characters long and it's still not eno

Rock isnīt dead your bastard! (none / 0) (#159)
by Space Cowboy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:32:21 PM EST

How can you even state that rock is dead? The last couple of years have been nothing else than a revival of rock-music with bands like: The Hives, White Stripes, International Noise Conspiracy, The Plan etc. dig it!

[ Parent ]
oh yeah.. (none / 0) (#189)
by postindustrialist on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:38:29 PM EST

great example.. one hit wonders in a sea of plastic pop. you notice that those "revivals" don't relly last very long?rock as you once knew it is dead
oooh.. looks likes somebody has anger problems.
question everything.
this sig is only one hundred and fifty characters long and it's still not eno
[ Parent ]
Get real (none / 0) (#176)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:15:56 PM EST

Electronica (or techno, or trance, or whatever...) is never going to replace "rock" music because there will always be people like me who simply detest the stuff. Actually my reaction ranges from, "Music? You mean that Muzak sounding white noise my brain has dutifully filtered out for me?", to, "Good Lord, I'd rather have balls clamped in vice than listen to this shit!".

Needless to say, that is just my opinion, but that's the point. As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't involve actual instruments which can, at least in theory, be played in front of an audience -- and, no, a dj is not a musician and a computer is not an instrument -- than it just simply isn't music.  

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
get real??? (none / 0) (#191)
by postindustrialist on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:44:29 PM EST

electronica isn' comprised of just "techno, or trance, or whatever..." it's actually alot harder to classify. you remember a few years back when jamiroquai had a few hits? acid jazz babe.... electronica..you're probably heard set to the background of several movies certain songs you like but know aren't rock.. also electronica.. dido? sorry she does alot of electronica.. so doews her brother rollo of Faithless. ya hear of the sneaker pimps? not classified under rock, under electronica.. rock is dead.. give it up..
oooh.. looks likes somebody has anger problems.
question everything.
this sig is only one hundred and fifty characters long and it's still not eno
[ Parent ]
pfft! (none / 0) (#199)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:31:59 PM EST

electronica isn' comprised of just "techno, or trance, or whatever..."

Uhm, the "whatever" was intended to cover all the twisted little sonic permutations of computer generated tedium you care give a name to. It's all shit in my mind and don't care how you categorize it.

you remember a few years back when jamiroquai had a few hits?

No. The only 2 radio stations I ever listen to are the local NPR affiliates that do a Jazz and a Classical format.

acid jazz babe.... electronica..

As a fan of real Jazz, I take personal offense at the misappropriation of the name.

you're probably heard set to the background of several movies certain songs you like but know aren't rock..

And that's where electronic music belongs, as far as I am concerned. At best it qualifies as an inoffensive auditory dressing, one which might prove a useful tool to the hack practitioners of filmic mediocrity. At its worst electronica provokes in me a sense of disgust I can literally feel at the cellular level.

so doews her brother rollo of Faithless


ya hear of the sneaker pimps?


Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
you must be trolling (none / 0) (#201)
by postindustrialist on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:20:15 PM EST

thanks for playing..
oooh.. looks likes somebody has anger problems.
question everything.
this sig is only one hundred and fifty characters long and it's still not eno
[ Parent ]
Hardly (none / 0) (#202)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 08:48:57 PM EST

You made a stupid comment about rock being replaced by electronica, which I felt compelled to rebuke; in plainest terms, electronica remains a niche genre when measured by the size of its market. Then you insisted on pressing the point and so I let loose with an account of just how much I truly despise the genre (and I'm not alone). I've been able to find examples of every genre of music I can appreciate, to some degree or another, with the sole exception of electronica. Much of it quite literally induces in me a sensation which broaches the level of physical disgust and revulsion.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
you're subject to your opinion... (none / 0) (#216)
by postindustrialist on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 12:36:34 AM EST

but i wasn't saying electronica is the replacement. i was just saying that it's got some nice albums. ii'm saying rock is losing it's popularity and it's dude to more poppy sensations like britney spears and the like. even whenthey pretend to be rock like that avril chick, it's just bubblegum pop and isn't anything but prepackaged stealing from multiple genres to make a quick dollar
oooh.. looks likes somebody has anger problems.
question everything.
this sig is only one hundred and fifty characters long and it's still not eno
[ Parent ]
Great Albums (4.00 / 3) (#155)
by Ricdude on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:13:12 PM EST

My personal criteria for a great album is no more than one "filler" (i.e. crap) song on it.  Some of the ones I really like:

Bands that I think consistently release great albums:

Yes: The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer.  There might be another classic yes album in there, but I can't recall off the top of my head...

Pink Floyd: Ummagumma, Meddle, The Wall, Animals.  

Rush:  Every studio album from Caress of Steel to Moving Pictures, inclusive.

Led Zeppelin: II, III, IV, Physical Grafitti Presence.

Metallica: Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, And Justice For All

Iron Maiden: Powerslave, Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind

Emerson Lake and Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus, and Trilogy.

The Beatles: Everything from Revolver on.

Frank Zappa: Throw about 10 darts at a wall of his album covers.  Pick the rest.

Alice Cooper: Goes To Hell, and about three more I can't recall by name any more, but I can picture the album covers...

Beyond those, there are probably another 50 bands that have managed to create a great album (Def Leppard, Boston, Seal, Public Enemy, and Beastie Boys are the first I can think of) and soundtracks of various sorts (Blade Runner, The Crow, Star Wars, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy) that would make my "Top 100 Desert Island" list.  Trying to reduce it any farther for me is kind of hard...

Miscellaneous comments (none / 0) (#163)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 02:50:50 PM EST

Rush: Every studio album from Caress of Steel to Moving Pictures, inclusive.

Most of Rush's post-MP material is excellent, unless you really like the epics (but if you like the epics, there's not much to like about Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures). Just curious, but what is your opinion of Vapor Trails?

Metallica: Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, And Justice For All

I can't in good conscience call Justice a great album; it has too many production problems to qualify it as such, though I will say that as time has gone by, I've found those problems less noticeable. With production quality like any other Metallica album (including Kill 'Em All), it would be a contender for greatest album ever; the songwriting is that good. I can't argue with Ride and Master, though. I also place Load on the great list and give S&M an honorable mention (it's too close to a greatest hits compilation to put it on the list).

[ Parent ]
Massive Hole (3.66 / 3) (#165)
by Lai Lai Boy on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:27:25 PM EST

Any discussion of the evolution of the "album" that fails to mention The Beatle's Revolver is wholly lacking. Plus Marylin Manson sucks.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

Revolver (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by anaesthetica on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:55:37 PM EST

Personally I love Revolver, and I think it's one of the best albums in my collection. That said, there wasn't enough room to talk about every single important release in the development of the album, and talking about Revolver really wouldn't have added the point I was trying to make about a layering of musical and thematic elements throughout an album. Revolver is a great album, and it has a unified sound throughout, but I'm not sure it's the same as what I was getting at. But I'd be interested in your thoughts on Revolver.

Also: try to spell things correctly when criticizing them. Simple mistakes undermine your credibility.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
Pigface (3.50 / 2) (#167)
by ialdobaeth on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:44:50 PM EST

I'm not sure if I'd really consider them concept albums, but Fook, Notes from thee Underground, and Easy Listening (for Difficult Fuckheads) all are divided into thematically distinct sections. If you listen to any of them on shuffle, the total effect is quite different.

And, as mentioned in another post, Radiohead's OK Computer definitely falls into the category of concept album.

The common people discriminate and make fine distinctions;
I alone am muddled and confused.
- Ch.20 - Tao te Ching

Silicon is the cohesion of pop. (4.00 / 2) (#168)
by stormysky on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:49:53 PM EST

Most people already pegged most of my favourite concept albums, so I'm probably just being redundant listing mine; but, must do something while I wait for the coffee to finish brewing.
Here's a thought though: How many pop albums have ever been concept albums? IE, mainstream recording artists venturing into the 'all songs featuring an intertwining concept' type of album? Offhand, I really can't think of anything, unless we're to look at Christina and Britney as being musical geniuses for their consistency in "Hey, yo, I'm a slut!" themed albums - and they say today's youth can't hold a steady thought for any length of time, the wankers!
Anyway, best 'concept' albums:
Anything by Pink Floyd, after Atom Heart Mother, and before Momentary Lapse of Reason. (Was The Division Bell supposed to be a concept of something, eh?) I loved The Wall far more than DSotM, but The Final Cut, Animals, and Wish You Were Here were definately the Floyd at the top of their game, even though The Final Cut was more or less a Waters solo album. Of course, we can list anything by Waters here, since all three of his true solo projects were concept albums. (There was a cute fan site that had a parody biography on this...) Oddly, I liked Radio Kaos far more than Amused to Death, and, once I get past the 'singing' on some of the PaCoH, love the lyrics. (And Clapton manages to play tastefully for once). I think Waters (and consequently Floyd) hold the title of having the most conceptual albums, and best. (Don't argue with me, Rush fans. :P).
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime: This album blew me away. Not sure how some glamish wannabe rockers could produce a masterpiece like this, but, they did. Empire was good, as well, but the songs were radio friendly, rather than tied together, imho.
Blind Guardian - Nightfall In Middle Earth. Whole album is a reprise of the Silmarillion. I dig it, though I know most people aren't into the whole cheesiness of fantasy metal. Still, a great album musically, if not lyrically.
Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed: Needs no introduction... goes well if one has any acid left to drop after listening to all the above mentioned Floyd albums.
Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory: How could no one mention this one? Kickass music, cheesy and pretentious lyrics, but tied together nicely so that it works.
Iced Earth - The Dark Saga and Something Wicked This Way Comes: Both excellent albums. Actually made me think Spawn was cool (The Dark Saga). The lyrics would be cheesy, except, they work on these albums... the single note run that starts second versish on "I Died For You" is sadder than any violin would have been.
The Who - Tommy: Not my thing, but a good album nonetheless.
In Flames - Reroute To Remain: Sort of concepty... once you can understand the lyrics. :)
Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son: Yes, I know, most can't stand the synths, but this album *ruled*, and is the only Iron Maiden album to really be a single theme (though Somewhere In Time was loosely tied together)

Of course, movie soundtracks are conceptish by default, and people have already listed such gems as Braveheart (achingly beautiful) and Buffy The Musical ("I" like the singing. Must be my low standards for satire), but some others to add:
Snuffy Walden - The Stand: Not just cue music, the acoustic guitar work is awesome on here. One of the first soundtrack CDs I actually bought. Whatever one's thoughts on the movie interpretation (Molly Ringworm was far scarier than Flagg) the soundtrack, erm, stands on its own.
Mark Knopfler - The Princess Bride: Man, the guitarwork on here is amazing... the same melodic themes reappear, tying the various songs together, yet each is unique enough to listen to separately. Probably one of the most under-rated and unknown 'soundtrack' albums.
The Devils Own Soundtrack: Okay, I just dig it for the 2 minute Cranberries song on it, though The Secret of Roan Inish's soundtrack has more to offer.
Finally, The Legend Sountrack... both the Tangerine Dream and Jerry Goldsmith version... I find the Tangerine Dream version far darker, and love it for it.

Looking over my list, I again note the lack of anything really mainstream. Perhaps it's that the sheep have attention spans far too short to appreciate continuity in music, or, more realistically, maybe people just wouldn't take a concept album about King George defacting on civil liberties, by Tatu, very seriously.
We can face anything, except for bunnies.
Amusing one (4.00 / 1) (#175)
by ucblockhead on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:05:29 PM EST

The "concept" album I'm listening to right now:

Les Claypool and the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade's "Animals", which is a cover of Pink Floyd's "Animals".
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Two differant musicians (3.00 / 1) (#177)
by auraslip on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:17:08 PM EST

One is immersed in the act of recording. This person usually has a great understanding of the recording arts. To him the art is in the final product. This usally lends it's self to electronica, which with the rise of cheap electronics has lead to techno becoming popular and widespread. The songs they write are often recorded as they are written. (see bright eyes, radio head, NIN)
and Then their is the performer. They write songs to perform not to record. The art is in the performance, and the recording is just making their performance eternal.(see dave mathews band)
Me, I'm mostly performance. But things are changing, I've got a new computer and logic 5 platinum. It's becoming increasinly easy for me to record something, add synths, midi keyboards, and a drum machine.
my fav's (4.50 / 2) (#179)
by nodsmasher on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:50:02 PM EST

  • NiN - the fragile
  • tool - lateralus
  • radiohead - ok computer
  • dream theater - metropolis pt. 2 seans from a memory

Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
My 2% of $1 (4.00 / 1) (#180)
by Control Group on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 05:53:13 PM EST

The Tea Party - The Interzone Mantras

Impossible to say too many good things about this album - though not a concept album (at least that I can tell), every song flows into the next with calm inevitability. Both Transmission and TripTYCH are also excellent albums, but they outdid themselves with tIM. (I've not been able to get my hands on a copy of Alhambra, though, so I might yet discover a better Tea Party album).

Alabama3 - La Peste

Their first album, Exile On Coldharbour Lane (only known for "Woke Up This Morning," the opening them for The Sopranos) is good, but they clearly weren't taking themselves or their music at all seriously. It's broken up by a few too many inter-track oddities for my taste. La Peste, though, is a much stronger effort; bitterness, melancholy, and whimsy all woven together with a tongue-in-cheek yet biting social commentary. Fantastic album.

U2 - The Joshua Tree

I have to at least mention it, though it's popular enough that I doubt it needs much commentary. Several great songs more than capable of standing on their own ("Where the Streets Have No Name," "With Or Without You," "Bullet the Blue Sky"), but all part of a highly cohesive whole, closing brilliantly with a pair of songs ("Exit" and "Mothers Of the Disappeared") which go together in almost the same fashion "Brain Damage" goes with "Eclipse." I'm up in the air whether I wish the album had included some or all the 9 other tracks that only ended up on singles and the best of...

And an honorable mention has to go to P.W.E.I.'s Dos Dedos, Mis Amigos. I can't point to anything I can identify as brilliance on this album, but it still holds a place as one of my all-time favorite whole-album endeavors.

"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."

The Tea Party (5.00 / 2) (#248)
by nicion on Fri Mar 14, 2003 at 06:08:12 AM EST

Let's not forget their earlier works, "The Edges of Twilight", and "Splendor Solis".  Both are incredible.

[ Parent ]
my fav's include (4.00 / 1) (#196)
by VoxLobster on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:25:39 PM EST

Tool - Lateralus -- an engaging journey of music, I highly reccomend to anyone.

A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms -- kinda like Tool lite, also a wonderful album that takes you from one place to another almost seamlessly.

R.E.M. - Automatic for the People -- this is one of the finest albums released in the 1990's, without a doubt.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream -- God damn, this is just a brilliant piece of work, Billy Corgan is a genius.

That's all for now.

I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

Some of my favourites... (3.00 / 1) (#197)
by Chuq on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:27:39 PM EST

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Oasis - (Whats the Story) Morning Glory?
Blur - The Great Escape
Green Day - Dookie
Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack
Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters
Machine Gun Fellatio - Paging Mr Strike
Eskimo Joe - Girl
Elastica - Elastica
Paul Mac - 3000 Feet High
Garbage - Garbage
Live - Throwing Copper
Moby - Play

Favorite Albums? (3.00 / 1) (#204)
by DJBongHit on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 09:08:04 PM EST

I've got a couple. First, my top five:

Outkast - Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik
Outkast - ATLiens
Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle

The two Outkast albums are #1 and #2 (in no particular order, which I like better at any particular moment in time depends on my mood... they're very different albums), and #3-5 are in the correct order.

After the top five, there are a lot of albums I absolutely love too, but can't be ordered in a coherent list. Some of those are:

Alice in Chains - MTV Unplugged
Alice in Chains - Dirt
Beastie Boys - Ill Communication
Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill
Chemical Brothers - Brother's Gonna Work it Out
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing
Cypress Hill - Black Sunday
Queen - A Night at the Opera
Queen - A Day at the Races
Eric Clapton - Unplugged
Guns n' Roses - Appetite for Destruction
Led Zeppelin - Lots (I don't have the original albums, just a 6-disc "Greatest Hits" compilation, so I don't know what's on each album)
Metallica - ... and Justice for All
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Outkast - Aquemini
Pantera - Cowboys from Hell
Pearl Jam - Ten
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Wu Tang Clan - 36 Chambers of Death
Sublime - Sublime
Sublime - 40oz to Freedom
Tool - AEnema
Tool - Lateralus (damn near made top-five, but it got bumped by Doggystyle)
Tool - Undertow

That's pretty much my "favorite" albums of all time, in no particular order, as I said. I'm sure I missed many, but what can you do?

Also, there's piles of albums which I think are damn good but don't deserve "Top X" status - Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I&II, Stone Temple Pilots - Core, ...


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

Finally... (4.00 / 1) (#207)
by dumb kid on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:07:14 PM EST

I, too, have always liked the concept albums better. There's something about the how the relationship among the songs makes the whole album stronger. The list (in no particular order)-
  • Dark Side of The Moon - Pink Floyd: nothing more needs to be said.
  • The Wall - Pink Floyd: I still find parts of it compelling, but it gets more whiney with time. The live performance in Berlin adds a new dimension to this one.
  • Misplaced Childhood - Marillion: A little over the top, lyrically, sometimes, but still a great listen.
  • 2112 - Rush: Get over Geddy's voice and listen to the music! Nothing beats the lyrical quality of it except...
  • 1812 Overture - Tchaikovsky: Who needs words? Plus, it has cannons!
I could add some other Pink Floyd and Roger Waters albums, but they have been covered enough by others. Some one else mentioned Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. Another great album.

All the songs fit the pattern (none / 0) (#255)
by iclaudius on Sun Mar 16, 2003 at 02:46:28 PM EST

How about Pink Floyd's "Division Bell"? I think its the most clearly conceptualized album of all time: the loss of a partner/friend, and the realization that you are better off in the end than he is.

[ Parent ]
The big list of albums that rule (4.00 / 3) (#209)
by lazloToth on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 10:20:31 PM EST

  • Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
  • Sebadoh - III
  • The Harder They Come (Soundtrack)
  • Radiohead - OK Computer
  • Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground
  • The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
  • Talking Heads - Fear Of Music
  • Public Enemy - It takes a nation of etc.etc.
  • Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers
  • Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
  • Miles Davis - On the Corner
  • Miles Davis - Birth Of The Cool
  • Miles Davis - Get Up With It

And of course, the greatest rock album of all time:

The Stooges - Fun House

Man, last time there was a similar article ... (1.66 / 3) (#214)
by what the on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:03:28 PM EST

People round here seemed to have some taste ...

Really, you lot are scaring me.

Taste requires Substance (5.00 / 1) (#242)
by anaesthetica on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 06:34:19 PM EST

Better not post anything indicating what you like, and why you like it. It's much easier to just throw criticism out there, than have to actually stand up for things you like.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
I invented albums. (3.00 / 1) (#220)
by baldnik on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 02:39:05 AM EST

First off:  I approve of your use of King Crimson as an example in the article.  Unfortunately, 3oaPP sucked.  Have you heard the new one (The Power to Believe) yet?  It's probably the best since Discipline.  Or maybe even Red.

Anyway; my favorite albums:

King Crimson: Red, Discipline, Power to Believe
Talking Heads: Fear of Music, Remain in Light
Don Caballero: What Burns Never Returns
Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Jews: Bill Has AIDS (sorry; shameless self-promotion)
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
AC/DC: Back in Black
Anal Cunt: 40 More Reasons to Hate Us, Picnic of Love
Big Black: Hammer Party, Songs About Fucking
Primus: Frizzle Fry, Suck on This, Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here, Animals
Melvins: Gluey Porch Treatments, The Bootlicker, Colossus of Destiny
Dripping Goss: Blue Collar Black Future
El-P: Fantastic Damage
Frank Zappa: Sheik Yerbouti, Joe's Garage, [insert all remaining albums here]
The Cows: Cunning Stunts, Peacetika, Sorry in Pig Minor
Cheer-Accident: Not A Food
Modest Mouse: The Moon and Antarctica, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
Metallica: Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning
KLF: Chill Out
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets, Before and After Science, Another Green World
Fripp and Eno: No Pussyfooting, Evening Star
Slint: Tweez, Spiderland
Shellac: At Action Park, 1000 Hurts
Ramones: [you all know which ones]
Gordian Knot: Emergent
Peter Gabriel: [the first one]
Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells

There are a shitload more, but I'm trying to keep this short.

King Crimson (none / 0) (#240)
by anaesthetica on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 06:24:11 PM EST

Yeah, I know 3oapp sucked, but it was the only example of something that really overtly made use of the two sides. I really enjoy Discipline, and it has a consistent quality throughout, probably because it was a sort of quickly-made reunion album. I haven't heard the newest one, but I really enjoyed Thrak, for what it's worth.

Also, Talking Heads' Remain in Light is an amazing album. There's something about having this really textured rhythm that makes Talking Heads and King Crimson (in the Discipline era) so interesting. Listening to the songs there doesn't seem to be a consistent flowing chordal rhythm, it's just like there's a lot of notes and beats happening and somehow it makes sense. It's hard to explain I guess.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
I know what you mean. (none / 0) (#244)
by baldnik on Thu Mar 13, 2003 at 06:38:44 AM EST

I can't explain what it is about those albums either.  "Repetition is a form of change", as Eno put it.  It's the only thing I can think of that's anything like an explanation.

As for new Krim:  Definitely seek out the new album.  Think "Red meets Discipline" and you won't be all that far off.  I saw them last week.  Best show ever.

[ Parent ]

most perfect end (5.00 / 1) (#227)
by kraft on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 04:37:42 AM EST

Interesting article, and inspiring comments.

Not perfectly on topic, but I read the other day, that the last song, on the last complete album, of one of greatest bands ever - the Beatles - was the song "The End"*

Considering the impact the Beatles had on pop, I find it so beautiful and poetic, that they finish their career off with these words:

And in the end
the love you take
is equal to
the love you make

* The album was "Abbey Road", but actually the final song is not "The End", but the song "Her Majesty" which was added by a sound technician. Paul McCartney did intend "The End" to be the End.

a signature has the format "dash-dash-newline-text". dammit.

fond memories (3.00 / 1) (#228)
by tincat2 on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 04:51:16 AM EST

i can't add a whole lot here because i can't seem to remember the names of a lot of albums i think are great.i am glad to see a couple mentioned by others,which i always thought were cool,but not many seem to have heard of-the harder they come-velvet underground & nico.one that i haven"t seen,or missed is surrealistic pillow;jefferson airplane,another is their satanic majesties request by the stones which came out about the same time as sgt. pepper and was more to my taste and sentiment.many others i wish i could recall.

& Nico (none / 0) (#241)
by anaesthetica on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 06:32:03 PM EST

Velvet Underground and Nico is a great album, although it sounds really underproduced by today's standards, or by Sgt Pepper standards even. It's very psychedelic and feminine musically, with very circular song-composition. Really kind of disturbing, especially songs like Heroin and Black Angel's Death Song. Definitely an underrated album in its influence on rock and pop.

Perhaps that's what makes an album: cultural relevance. That's a whole different criterion to think about. So many people here have posted lists of albums that they like, or have cohesive wholes. Maybe a truly great album is one that speaks musically and lyrically to its time. Enter Bob Dylan.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

[ Parent ]
FSOL (4.00 / 2) (#231)
by rmb303 on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 09:05:48 AM EST

My favourite album of all time ( with little doubt ) is Lifeforms by The Future Sound Of London. It has a cohesive feel to it, is quite original and, well, I really like it !

album is not dead (repost from edit queue) (3.66 / 3) (#235)
by dTaylorSingletary on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 10:57:00 AM EST

My favorites tend to be the most psychedelic and world-inside-a-box like.

Tortoise's TNT is my very favorite. Entirely instrumental, heavily based in percussion, sweeping, and always inventive, few albums come close in my mind to exposing the mysteries of the universe under the correct conditions. Easily the most innovative album to come out in the 1990s.

The Olivia Tremor Control's Black Foliage is simply incredible. It is as if one were to take the Beatles and the Beach Boys, throw in Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd and an incredible amount of acid and create an album that tops everything done in the 60s and takes it to places it could never previously go. Circulatory System, an off-shoot of the OTC, is also a formidable candidate.

The Soft Machine's Volume 2 is in my top favorites now, with its recurring Pataphysical themes, and the amazing artistry in the musicians abilities.

Pink Floyd's Animals also.

Sigur Ros also produces wonderful album-length works of incredible detail.

Throw Jim O'Rourke, Netural Milk Hotel, and Yume Bitsu in there for good measure.

The album is not dead. So many people are concerned with songs these days, they just don't know where to look. If you rely on the radio, you'll never hear the best stuff being made. Same goes with TV. One has to follow their whims and keep track of things online. The best musicians these days are involved in countless projects, and one need just follow the muscial family tree to find the hidden gems.

Vinyl is not dead, either. Still many solid releases made only for vinyl or especially for vinyl, including the Microphones' Mt. Eerie which is incredibly beautiful & packaged perfectly with hand stitched sewing.    It's the little things that count. An album should assault the listener through every means possible-- not just the music. the cover. the song titles. the names. the abstract, underlying (possibly unknown) intentions...
d. Taylor Singletary, reality technician
music: http://techra.elephantus.com

Some that haven't been mentioned- (3.50 / 2) (#236)
by Waldo needs a bath on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 11:12:11 AM EST

Paul Oakenfold - Bunkka Deep Forest - Music.Detected Snatch - Original Soundtrack -*the* best soundtrack of all time, even better fter seeing the movie... "One Giant Leap" - A Movie technically, but still absolutley wonderful and powerful -Waldo

A few more & some that have been mentioned (3.50 / 2) (#256)
by mike3k on Sun Mar 16, 2003 at 04:47:34 PM EST

I'd definitely add two more Miles Davis albums: Bitches Brew & Sketches of Spain.

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane

Both albums by Sigur Ros

1 Giant Leap

Peter Gabriel's latest, "UP"

Red, Hot + Riot (I would also include everything Fela ever recorded - most of his albums had only 2 songs of over 20 minutes each).

Everything Pink Floyd ever recorded - they fit together as a perfect whole instead of a collection of songs.

Every Beatles album.

Most of Prince's CDs, especially "Purple Rain"

Some non-mainstream albums, and other thoughts (4.00 / 1) (#270)
by dtcook on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 09:03:20 PM EST

(my first K5 comment, and the odds are that few will read it, this article being 10 days old now ... oh well)

I listen to a lot of different sorts of music, very little of it of the sort that gets normal radio play. One album that really stands out for me for the album structure and overall "feel" is The Ancient Domain , by Borknagar (a black metal band from Norway). As one of the first comments said, a good album should have a "flow" to it, and this album certainly does - each song from the first gradually gets more intense, and the fourth song stands out as the peak of the album - the singer switches to a "normal" singing voice (rather than the usual distorted styles of black metal), and the song is quite outstanding.

Another album that I consider a classic - Floodland , by The Sisters of Mercy. While the songs are quite varied (from "epic rock" with choir in This Corrosion to voice and piano only in 1959 ), the album has a very consistent mood, and for me, no bad tracks.

Some other very good albums :
Disintegration , by The Cure
Creed of Iron , by Graveland
Es Reiten Die Toten So Schnell , by Sopor Aeturnus
Weeping Nights , by Elend
Blackwater Park , by Opeth
Various albums by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (although the radio broadcasts of his live performances in Adelaide in 1995 and 1997 are even better than the albums - and of course, being there was better still).

One album that is only one track away from being great - The Mirror Pool , by Lisa Gerrard (formerly in Dead Can Dance, who themselves made some excellent albums). Track 9 on this album is a rendition of Handel's Largo . While this is very nice, it is completely out of character with the rest of the album, which is all exotic and mysterious and interesting. In the middle of that, Handel jars one out of the mood almost completely.

As someone mentioned, consistency is important. I really like Celtic and mediaeval music, but generally only one tempo/intensity at a time. That is, if I'm in the mood for fast, boppy Celtic jigs and things, I don't want to listen to slow Celtic ballads. If I want slow, beautiful mediaeval singing, I don't want to be interrupted by an inappropriate instrumental number. Unfortunately, too many Celtic and mediaval albums fall into a standard pattern, starting with a fast instrumental, then a slow ballad/song, then another fast instrumental, then another slow song, and so on. This format completely ruins the flow and mood for me, and if I'm previewing an album in a shop and it has this format, I generally won't buy it.

yonderboi (1.66 / 3) (#272)
by bauklo on Wed Mar 26, 2003 at 04:32:44 PM EST

shallow and profound

best (none / 0) (#274)
by chashiineriiya on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 11:46:53 PM EST

the best concept album i've ever heard is tommy by the who. the best rnr album i've ever heard is definitely maybe by oasis.... to the person above who rates each song on its own has no idea that a song in context can be everything.

The Making of a Great Album | 274 comments (262 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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