Friday, January 18, 2008

Favorite Albums Exemplying the Quality of "Albumness"

A new feature has been added to the blog: “Favorite Albums Exemplifiing the Quality of Albumness.” Listening to music through albums presents differences from an alternative of lets say a mix of your favorite songs. I believe music should be listened to in albums rather than randomly. Its purely an opinion, but I think a perspective that can lead to a greater understand and appreciation of the artist or the work. One view of an album is that it should have something different to say from the rest of the work. Each artist’s album should come at you from a different angle whether it be musically, lyrically, or some different message. And within this album there should be some unifying themes that tie it all together (once again either musically or lyrically). A great album should be as The Who say an “amazing journey”—an experience from front to end which creates greater musical experience somehow from just listening to songs in isolation. It also shows great thought and intention behind the work—a sort of orchestration or mastermind behind the work. A sign of a great album is that if you took a song by the same artist from a different album B and put it in album A it wouldn’t make sense—and indeed might ruin the album. In other words the album stands out from the rest of the artist’s work. Well in homage to the idea of “the album” I have arranged a list of albums which I considered to epitomize “albumness.”

(*As a disclaimer some of my favorite artists won’t make the album list even though some of their albums are my personal favorites, yet they don’t necessarily display “albumness”)

This list is subject to change of course. There will certainly be additions. One album in particular that stands out to me is “Quadrophenia” by The Who. The Who tried in both “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” to create a sort of “rock opera.” These albums are narrations two adolescents, Tommy and Jimmy. “Quadrophenia” may be considered superior through its complexity of themes (four themes interwoven throughout the album representing the four bands members as well personality traits in Jimmy) as well as musical complexity. It tells the story of a movement in England in the 60s between Mods and Rockers. Whether or not the story interests you or not, its uses artistic expression to tell something real, which I highly value. “Quadrophenia” has a bit of a niche following and if you’re interested you will find much information about its story throughout Wikipedia and its links. But anyways, enjoy the list of albums and, hopefully, have some musical experiences a cut above the norm.

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