Monday, March 26, 2007

Funeral for the Album?

Apparently (according to the NYTimes) no one listens to Albums anymore what with the iTunes and the ability to create your own playlists. More importantly, no one is buying them. The record industry is not happy about this. They don't seem to be happy about anything these days. They have started to sign acts to 2 song deals. Kinda like the old days of 45 records and B-sides, only there are no B-sides here - only hits or misses.

I have thought a bit about the difference between a greatest hits album / compilation and buying an album with a hit on it. Most times all you want are the songs that you know you are going to like. The rest of the album is pretty mediocre.

But sometimes an artist will sneak one by you - gem, something really special. And sometimes an artist puts out a really really solid album or even an amazing album. The kind of album where every track is strong. Where you just have to listen to the whole thing from start to finish - to do otherwise would be a crime. Sometimes you get a really amazing and cohesive album in which every song a part of the story or a piece of the picture.

After I bought "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (on Cassette) I was afraid to buy any other albums by Elton John because GYBR was soooo good. Every track was stunning. How could anything else live up to this?

Obviously there's the Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club"

Other great albums:
(Entirely subjective and unscientific list that demonstrates my age and level of shlocky cheesiness.)

The Counting Crows' "August and Everything After" is just gorgeous.
Joni Mitchell's album "Blue."
Marc Cohn's self-titled first album.
The Shin's "Chutes Too Narrow."
Tracy Chapman's self titled first album.
Peter Gabriel (1980), "So," "Us"
Tori Amos "Little Earthquakes"
U2 "Joshua Tree"
Sting "Nothing Like the Sun"
Pearl Jam "Ten"
Enya "Watermark"
Yes "90125"
Fleetwood Mac "Rumours"
Green Day "Dookie"
Indigo Girls - for me they have done this four times:
The self titled, "Nomads Indians Saints," "Swamp Ophelia," and " Rites of Passage"

Mentioned today by DG on his LJ - Paul Simon "Graceland"

To that I would add his album "Hearts and Bones"
And maybe, Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

This is the tip of the iceberg. I know I have overlooked a lot here. What are your favs?

My hope is that reports of the death of the album are premature. That there are artists in popular music with the talent, the vision, and the ambition to reach beyond the 3 minute song. To conceive of the album as more than a collection of songs. To conceive of the album as having potential as a form worth exploring. And that there is an audience of listeners hungry for what they have to offer.


At 12:51 AM, March 28, 2007, Blogger Depth of Fish said...

Guns n' Roses: Appetite for Destruction
Natalie Merchant: Tigerlily
Def Leppard: Pyromania
The Cranberries: No Need to Argue
Beastie Boys: License to Ill
Led Zeppelin: I, II, III, IV, and Physical Graffiti
Pink Floyd: Delicate Sound of Thunder
Depeche Mode: Violator
Collective Soul: aelf-titled
Shakira: Laundry Service
The Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker
Candlebox: self-titled (and completely underrated)
Death Cab for Cutie: Plans
John Legend: Once Again
Marina V: Simple Magic

And so much more... so very much more. I'm now contemplating going back to purchasing albums now, so your post worked.

At 8:27 AM, March 28, 2007, Blogger MomVee said...

Billy Joel "The Stranger," "Glass Houses," "Nylon Curtain"
Wilco "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
Ryan Adams "Cold Roses"
Rufus Wainwright "Want One"
Cyndi Lauper "She's So Unusual"
Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"
The Police "Synchronicity"
The Clash "London Calling"
They Might Be Giants "Flood"
Bruce Springsteen "Born To Run"
XTC "Skylarking"
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians "Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars"

At 1:06 PM, March 28, 2007, Blogger rfthmp! said...

The Cure, "Disintegration"
Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"
Pavement, "Wowee Zowee"

(I obviously smoked too much dope during my teenage years).

At 3:53 PM, March 28, 2007, Blogger ldbug said...

I think it's so cute you call them "albums" ;-P

(I know all hard core music-lovers do btw..)

At 11:30 AM, March 29, 2007, Blogger Kat E said...

ldbug, what do you call them? I mean, doesn't "album" refer to the actual work (not the media)?

Anyway, I couldn't think of much to add to this list, except some more Pink Floyd ("Dark Side of the Moon", "The Wall"). And maybe NIN "Downward Spiral".

I played "August and Everything After" over and over and over again while I was in college--so now it's one of those albums that when I hear one of the songs, I am knocked over the head with all kinds of emotions and connections. Kind of like when you recognize a certain smell, you know?

At 12:19 AM, March 31, 2007, Blogger ergo said...

depth of fish: Great picks. Pyromania!!!! Wow.Nice to get a DCC album recommendation. I've been meaning to pick one up.

momvee: Flood! I love Flood!

rfthmp!: I think you are in good company on that one.

ldbug: Ah, Youngster, your comment makes me feel like the museum piece that I am.

Kat E: I know just about every track from "Dark Side of the Moon" but I can't recall ever listening to it as an album. I think the youngsters were calling them CDs for a while.

I wrote lots of bad love poems while listening to "August and Everything After." So now the album reminds me of torturous unrequited love.

"Every time she sneezes I believe it's love" Y'know?

At 7:43 PM, April 02, 2007, Blogger keNYC said...

RIGHT...ON!! albums rule.

neil young--on the beach
pavement--slanted and enchanted
sonic youth--daydream nation
wu tang--enter the wu tang (36 chambers)
beastie boys--paul's boutique
guided by voices--bee thousand
dinosaur jr--youre living all over me
oasis--whats the story (morning glory)
tom waits--rain dogs
the boss--born to run
sooz kim--my other dissertation

plus thousands of others that i cant think of right now...

At 2:27 AM, April 06, 2007, Blogger ergo said...

kenyc: if you love me,
you got to love my album collection!


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