Album, the word may evoke a creaky, leather-vinyl, cardboard tome with faded Polaroids, instamatics, and school portraits. It may remind one of a black gold-based vinyl disc spinning at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. It does not always remind one of a smaller, shiny disc full of digits unleashed by a laser. But all are albums; they are collections which is what the word means. So even a playlist is an album. For me music is a vital part of the word album. As many know the music industry continues to die a slow death. The single has returned with a vengeance. Pushing eight or more songs in conjunction with the one or two songs a consumer wanted is harder to do. Some might argue that most of those songs were crap anyway, and they are often correct. Still, there are albums, concept albums, that defied this model. Those albums were works of art. The musicians took you somewhere as they told a story. The Beatles and Pink Floyd leap to mind as strong examples of this approach across several albums. In jazz Miles Davis did quite well. More recently, The Smashing Pumpkinsâ€™ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is quite good.
So here is my question: who else has created a true concept album? Put differently who else has created a perfect album which means you rarely, if ever, skip a song when listening to the album? I am sure there are recent examples and I have missed them. In addition, I am sure that there are older ones I have missed.
Here are some of mine; please share yours:
Abbey Road, The Beatles
Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
Hounds of Love, Kate Bush
So, Peter Gabriel
Aja, Steel Dan
Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits
Hotel California, The Eagles
Sea Change, Beck (another close call that I may revise)
The Flat Earth, Thomas Dolby (odd one, requires several listens to see how the less known songs make sense)