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Old 01-10-2009, 10:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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As far as i can see the album format isn't sacred so much as it is necessary. If you take them out of the equation what do you have? Bands continously releasing singles or releasing single songs off of their website? It's impractical and a certain specialness is taken away.
How is it impractical and lacking a "certain specialness"? Some great artists (especially in the soul/R&B fields) have never made great albums. Chuck Berry, Johnny Ace, etc. Even bands like the Who are best represented by their singles. One could make a case that "old school punk" (i.e., 1975-1979 or thereabouts) owes its reputation to singles, not albums.

After all, the "album" format is a fairly recent innovation. Traditionally, songs had to stand on their own. Now one can chalk up a mediocre song to being part of the bigger picture.


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But, when you do listen to an album that really comes together, and the different songs combine to create an atmosphere that resonates throughout the entire album, then it is incredibly satisfying.
Oh, definitely! But, for me at least, I only get that orgasmic (sorry!) satisfaction when the songs themselves stand up. Listening to Skylarking all the way through, I feel somewhat cheated at the end. If I skip Mermaid Smiled, well, the final experience is totally different, in a good way.

If I find myself losing interest in an album, sometimes I'll even skip one of my favorites if I'm not in the mood for it. No sense in boring myself and getting irritated with an album just for the sake of continuity.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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How is it impractical and lacking a "certain specialness"? Some great artists (especially in the soul/R&B fields) have never made great albums. Chuck Berry, Johnny Ace, etc. Even bands like the Who are best represented by their singles
I hate to be nitpicky, but I personally think that Chuck Berry is best represented by some of his albums, particularly Chuck Berry Is on Top and St. Louis to Liverpool.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I think that the best albums are ones that flow perfectly and have no bad tracks. The Blue Album and Pinkerton by Weezer are perfect examples of this, as is Origin of Symmetry by Muse.

Still, I think I would take a collection of great songs with no flow over a collection of mediocre-great songs with great flow.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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How is it impractical and lacking a "certain specialness"? Some great artists (especially in the soul/R&B fields) have never made great albums. Chuck Berry, Johnny Ace, etc. Even bands like the Who are best represented by their singles. One could make a case that "old school punk" (i.e., 1975-1979 or thereabouts) owes its reputation to singles, not albums.

After all, the "album" format is a fairly recent innovation. Traditionally, songs had to stand on their own. Now one can chalk up a mediocre song to being part of the bigger picture.
It's impractical because as far as i can see modern music works around the album format. It dictates how they tour, how they afford studio time and musically, for some, how they develop as artists (that could be argued against though). I know singles were a bigger format years ago and still with most pop artists but overall for most artists the album is where it's at.

Regarding albums being special, think of all the thousands of albums that are celebrated against the number of best-of's that are celebrated.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I can go either way. I appreciate some bands for their individual songs and some bands for their albums. One thing I think the album bands really have going for them for me though is that I love being able to immerse myself in for an extended length of time like you can with a unified-sounding album. Sometimes a single song just isn't a long enough experience for me.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I know a lot of people who hate CDs if only for the reason that they make skipping songs so easy; it seems that there's a certain type of music fan who dismisses the shuffle function as pointless. They also tend to consider compilations not "true" albums, even when said comps include a wealth of non-album tracks.
i've also found these are typically the kind of music fans that believe the only 'pure' music out there adhere to the styles they grew up with.

the only time the album format becomes 'sacred' if you will, is in the case of a concept record where the pieces flow into each other with cohesive intentions and recurring themes, where individual pieces just don't sound right when played randomly. as has been stated earlier in this thread it's a hit or miss prospect. then again i find you need to know more about the artist than just their music to fully grasp and enjoy their concept albums.

i don't want to start an analog vs. digital battle here but another big factor to me is the physical element of the album. it's something that's completely lost on people who've never listened to anything besides cds or mp3s, just the physical act of having to flip over the record to get hear the other side becomes part of the listening experience. it completely changes the flow of the album for the listener.

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It's impractical because as far as i can see modern music works around the album format. It dictates how they tour, how they afford studio time and musically, for some, how they develop as artists (that could be argued against though). I know singles were a bigger format years ago and still with most pop artists but overall for most artists the album is where it's at.

Regarding albums being special, think of all the thousands of albums that are celebrated against the number of best-of's that are celebrated.
gotta disagree with this. if anything the 'single' is getting stronger and more significant thanks to digital distribution where listeners pick and choose their songs. the individual songs don't need to be a commercial single but it's still single songs that make the sale now. i think the album format peaked in the 80s when AOR stood atop the mainstream heap.

it's not to say albums aren't significant anymore, but just like vinyl records, it's becoming a niche market.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:28 PM   #17 (permalink)
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gotta disagree with this. if anything the 'single' is getting stronger and more significant thanks to digital distribution where listeners pick and choose their songs. the individual songs don't need to be a commercial single but it's still single songs that make the sale now. i think the album format peaked in the 80s when AOR stood atop the mainstream heap.

it's not to say albums aren't significant anymore, but just like vinyl records, it's becoming a niche market.
I totally agree with this. But on the other end of the spectrum I've also wondered if the decline of the album will lead to compositions that break the constraints of the CD and vinyl formats by being much, much longer.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:49 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I totally agree with this. But on the other end of the spectrum I've also wondered if the decline of the album will lead to compositions that break the constraints of the CD and vinyl formats by being much, much longer.
you mean like one shot discographies like you find or most torrent sites? or like that 200 year long piece of music that recently had something like it's 8th note played? hehe

personally i like the physical constraints of an album, especially vinyl over compact disc. the CD is great for compilations but generally speaking a 74 minute album is usually packed with filler. with records you had 44 minutes to say your piece, it's long enough to provide the listener with a rewarding experience but short enough that they don't have to make a substantial time commitment.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:10 PM   #19 (permalink)
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you mean like one shot discographies like you find or most torrent sites? or like that 200 year long piece of music that recently had something like it's 8th note played? hehe

personally i like the physical constraints of an album, especially vinyl over compact disc. the CD is great for compilations but generally speaking a 74 minute album is usually packed with filler. with records you had 44 minutes to say your piece, it's long enough to provide the listener with a rewarding experience but short enough that they don't have to make a substantial time commitment.
While the overall length of an album has certainly grown since the advent of the compact disc, I feel that there is the same amount of filler. The artists are usually pressed for more singles than before (three to four is the norm nowadays) but the proportion of filler to decent material has stayed relatively constant.

However, the structure of an album has certainly changed since vinyls were phased out.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:15 PM   #20 (permalink)
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you mean like one shot discographies like you find or most torrent sites? or like that 200 year long piece of music that recently had something like it's 8th note played? hehe
Heh. Well I was thinking more along the lines of the second option but the first option makes sense too.

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personally i like the physical constraints of an album, especially vinyl over compact disc. the CD is great for compilations but generally speaking a 74 minute album is usually packed with filler. with records you had 44 minutes to say your piece, it's long enough to provide the listener with a rewarding experience but short enough that they don't have to make a substantial time commitment.
I just like the option to be able to do whatever. And for the first time we have a popular format where someone could write a two hour song that doesn't need to be split up to fit on two discs or anything. I could see this being really cool for live recordings too.
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