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Old 01-09-2009, 06:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is the album format sacred?

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.

While I can see where they're coming from, and certainly many albums operate best when listened to in sequence, I really believe that skipping tracks helps one to appreciate a given work. There are plenty albums (or album sides) that I love that I'd never have appreciated had I listened to the entire things all the way through; chalk it up to a faulty attention span or a skewered way of appreciating music, there are usually two or three songs that act as my gateway drug into a given album. No, those songs are, in fact, rarely the singles or the "big" songs.

It might seem foolish to say, but for me at least, this even applies to something like Tommy. I'm not interested in hearing "Tommy, can you hear me" or "see me, feel me" a thousand times each in the course of an hour. Annoying interludes that only function to advance the story and endlessly repeating phrases only distract from the great songs (Sally Simpson, We're Not Gonna Take It, Cousin Kevin) on that album.

This doesn't mean that I never listen to albums all the way through; in fact, the opposite is true. Still, if I'm not in the mood for a certain song, I don't hesitate to skip it.

I guess my position is that I'd rather have twelve great (but unrelated) songs than twelve medicore songs that fit together.

Obviously, there's no "right" or "wrong" here (as with most music related topics), just value judgments. Discuss...
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you're a truly brilliant artist then you should have brilliant albums, one's that i can listen to fully in one go and appreciate not only for their music but other factors such as a message or concept or the artwork, etc. Even some of my favourite albums have tracks i don't like but it doesn't matter because it takes nothing away.

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.

I think this only really applies to 'proper' music fans though. I'm sure loads of people are happy with Limewire and an Ipod.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Obviously an album that has all great songs that stand alone and one that has all ok songs and is a cohesive album are both good albums for different reasons. It's much easier for me to enjoy an album that has no need to skip. I too don't really like segues that bore after the first listen. I think the problem with cds isn't that the listener can skip rather that some artists bank on the fact that the listener has the ability to do so and makes a very poor 20 song album with only half of the album being necessary.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think that the importance of a cohesive album is overstated, most of the albums I listen to don't benefit that much from being treated as one whole, especially rap albums which seem to put less focus on it than rock.

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.

So I always listen to albums all the way through the first couple of times, but after that I'll start skipping songs. Like Waspstar said, there are often 'gateway songs' that draw you in, and your appreciation spreads from there.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well I'm a fan of listening to whole albums and I definitely appreciate the cohesive flow which goes with many of them. Unfortunately I don't have the time to listen to albums in full nowadays.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm an album man, along with Seltzer I'm often pushed for time, but I never skip a track, and I find it incredibly difficult to stop listening to an album once I've started. For me the album format is sacred, it is the best way to distribute and experience music. However I don't hate CD or digital format, becuase I honestly don't care how others listen to their music.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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To me, the best album is one where every track sounds like a single. I don't care about flow and cohesion, I want one stand-alone gem after another.
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Old 01-09-2009, 09:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaspStar View Post
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.

While I can see where they're coming from, and certainly many albums operate best when listened to in sequence, I really believe that skipping tracks helps one to appreciate a given work. There are plenty albums (or album sides) that I love that I'd never have appreciated had I listened to the entire things all the way through; chalk it up to a faulty attention span or a skewered way of appreciating music, there are usually two or three songs that act as my gateway drug into a given album. No, those songs are, in fact, rarely the singles or the "big" songs.

It might seem foolish to say, but for me at least, this even applies to something like Tommy. I'm not interested in hearing "Tommy, can you hear me" or "see me, feel me" a thousand times each in the course of an hour. Annoying interludes that only function to advance the story and endlessly repeating phrases only distract from the great songs (Sally Simpson, We're Not Gonna Take It, Cousin Kevin) on that album.

This doesn't mean that I never listen to albums all the way through; in fact, the opposite is true. Still, if I'm not in the mood for a certain song, I don't hesitate to skip it.

I guess my position is that I'd rather have twelve great (but unrelated) songs than twelve medicore songs that fit together.

Obviously, there's no "right" or "wrong" here (as with most music related topics), just value judgments. Discuss...
That's why you don't listen to concept albums that put at the forefront some sort of narrative, like The Wall or, as you mentioned, Tommy. There's too much filler.

But there are albums that ARE sacred, with a sequence of songs impossible to skip, like In The Aeroplane Over the Sea or Loveless.
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roygbiv View Post
But there are albums that ARE sacred, with a sequence of songs impossible to skip, like In The Aeroplane Over the Sea or Loveless.


Guess we'll leave those distinctions up to you to decide what's sacred and what's not.
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Guess we'll leave those distinctions up to you to decide what's sacred and what's not.
Oh come on now... :P
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