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In Appreciation of the Album

We’re only beginning to understand the implications of Steve Jobs’ demand that iTunes be allowed to sell individual songs instead of bundled albums. The record industry, frightened to death by the spectre of illegal file-sharing, caved. The concept of the album as a unified piece of art with a series of songs meant to be heard in a specific order was torn asunder.

As people began to buy individual songs for 99 cents and $1.29, the popularity of the album began to decline. And with that, so did revenues to artists.

Yet there’s still much to be said for the idea of an album, records that demand to be heard song-by-song, in-order in a single sitting. So here’s the question: What are those albums? As a thought-starter, Robert has passed on his personal list. What’s yours?

1) Urban Hymns, The Verve

2) Bang, World Party

3) Day for night, The Tragically Hip

4) Between 10th and 11th, The Charlatans

5) Second Coming, The Stone Roses

6) Thirteen, Teenage Fanclub

7) Momentary Lapse of Reason, Pink Floyd

8) 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia, The Dandy Warhols

9) The Joshua Tree, U2

10) Pablo Honey, Radiohead

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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3 thoughts on “In Appreciation of the Album

  • I’d get along with Robert well hah.

    Not $1.29, but the UK had a single-culture long into the late 90s, right? And those were typically $4 equivalently? I used to ebay British ones … only band on this side of the pond I followed that seemed to care about singles was NIN.

    On that note, top 10 albums unranked

    Ashbury Heights – Three Cheers for the Newlydeads
    Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – God Fodder
    Pop Will Eat Itself – Dos Dedos Mis Amigos
    Pop Will Eat Itself – This Is The Day… This Is The Hour… This Is This!
    Seabound – No Sleep Demon 2.0
    Ulrich Schnauss – A Strangely Isolated Place
    Pursuit of Happiness – Love Junk
    Stone Roses – Stone Roses
    Primal Scream – Screamadelica
    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless tracks this stuff for me too, but it’s not hyper accurate because albums are tracked by number of tracks played, and my profile was only really active since 2007.

    • Oops, guess NIN didn’t make the cut haha. I’m happy with that list of ten.

  • I love (and miss) the concept of “Album” – which, like a photo album (which I also miss), is put together to be enjoyed in sequence to not only provide meaning, but to convey emotion – it’s not that we can’t enjoy the snapshots, or songs, as separate entities… it’s just that it’s much more satisfying when it’s viewed or listened to the way the curator has intended. Can this idea also be applied to the concept of mix-tapes (or playlists) – with the sequence being just as important? I digress. Here’s my list – a small sample of my favourite albums that are best enjoyed in an organic sit-down:

    – Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven – Love & Rockets
    – King of the Road – Fu Manchu
    – Boys and Girls in America – The Hold Steady
    – Five Days in July – Blue Rodeo
    – The Evil Powers of Rock n Roll – Supersuckers
    – Day for Night – The Tragically Hip
    – Beautiful Midnight – Matthew Good Band
    – Let it Bleed – Rolling Stones
    – L.A. Woman – The Doors
    – Dirt – Alice in Chains
    – Angel Dust – Faith No More
    – Apocalypse Dudes – Turbonegro
    – Check Your Head – Beastie Boys
    – Diamond Dogs – David Bowie
    – The Unforgettable Fire – U2
    – Saturation – Urge Overkill
    – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion The Black Crowes
    – Freedom – Neil Young
    – Gentlemen – The Afghan Whigs

    … of course, I could’ve done an entire list based on Rush – the masters of the Album. In particular, Farewell to Kings followed by Hemispheres, for the pure beauty of Cygnus X1 book one closing FTK and Cyrus X1 book two opening Hemi. As well, the underrated Grace Under Pressure holds up well to a continuos listening. As does Signals. And 2112. And Clockwork Angels. And… well, you get the point.


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