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Releases: Trying to Conceptualize

posted August 22, 2013, 6:16 am by Nathaniel Lathy | Filed Under Music News, Releases | comment 2 Comments

who sell outThe concept album shows ambition by an artist when making a record.
The beginnings of making concept albums in rock’n’roll goes back to the Beatles in the 1960s with Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. There the band didn’t go all the way in stringing the songs together with a theme. The first two tracks are tied together (so are the last two)songs, but then songs stop leading into each other. It seems more like a conventional album.
The Who showed new possibilities for concept albums with the rock opera via Tommy. But the quality of the songs were erratic. And this reality carried over into another concept album a few years later. The band’s most successful concept album came when they didn’t try to relate the songs, but linked them by radio commercials with the brilliant The Who Sell Out.

In the ’70s Pink Floyd may have come up with the best concept album of them all with Wish You Were Here.  Many would say the previous album Dark Side of the Moon about losing one’s marbles was the best album period (chart performance would support this claim). I prefer the tale about a rock star two years later. The band did another story about a rocker named Pink with The Wall. But the latter album strayed from the sound, which made the group spectacular.

The concept album isn’t dead, but then again it’s not as common any more either.  Kendrick Lamar released an album in ’12 detailing his youth experiences called good kid, m.A.A.d city. This was a successful work even showing a song could maintain interest at 12:04 (“Sing About Me, Dying of Thirst”).

Now it may seem pointless harping on album formats in a digital age, where people often download certain songs any way rather than the whole. But if a conceptualized  format can provide motivation for more consistent albums. Then by all means artists should go for it. In pop, art should entertain, but this is easier, if it’s good, as well.


2 Responses to “Releases: Trying to Conceptualize”

  1. Profile photo of CharlesMartel CharlesMartel on September 7th, 2013 10:50 am

    I always thought the first genuine concept album was the Pretty things’ SF Sorrow

  2. Profile photo of Nathaniel Lathy Nathaniel Lathy on September 16th, 2013 6:39 pm

    Well apparently SF Sorrow was one of the first. I’ve never heard of it until you mentioned it. Apparently it wasn’t very popular. And Pete Townshend didn’t cite it as an influence on Tommy. The band does have an intriguing sound, but just listening to a couple of cuts, it doesn’t dazzle. I’m not drawn in by “Bracelets of Fingers.” Some say the story was too sad to have much of following. It does sound preferable to the Kinks Soap Opera.

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