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Concept Albums We Like

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  • Concept Albums We Like

    I've just listened to Princess Superstar's My Machine, which is a rap/electronica story about a megalomaniacal rapper who has her brain downloaded into the future so that she can clone herself 10,000 times and replace all of the other celebrities... and hilarity ensues! Actually, it does. Superstar is very funny, and there are far fewer "dull bits" than you might expect from an album clocking in at 1 hour 17 minutes. It's certainly more fun than Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals. What struck me while I was listening to it was how much invention and humour had gone into the future world she created for her story, and how it was far better than a lot of "science fiction" you'd find on the book shelves or the cinema screen.

    So, I thought I'd start a thread where everyone can hail their favourite "concept albums", and try to scrape back some dignity for this much maligned medium! :)

    [I only have a vague understanding of what a "concept album" should be, so let's keep the definition loose, please and thank you]
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

  • #2
    'S.F. Sorrow' by the Pretty Things. As far as I can tell (or as I interpret it) it's set in an Oswald Bastable type future. And follows the eponymous hero through his life. Love it! Especially 'Balloon Burning.'
    You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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    • #3
      Re: Concept Albums We Like

      Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
      [I only have a vague understanding of what a "concept album" should be, so let's keep the definition loose, please and thank you]
      In the spirit of shining a light in dark places, may I offer:

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_album

      Usually, in popular music, an artist or group releases an album consisting of a number of unconnected songs that the members of the group or the artist have written, or have chosen to cover. In a concept album, on the other hand, all songs contribute to a single overall theme or unified story. Given that the suggestion of something as vague as an overall mood often tags a work as being a concept album, a precise definition of the term proves highly problematic.
      I suppose I'd differentiate between 'narrative' concepts albums where the albums attempts to tell some sort of story and (for want of a better term) 'thematic' concept albums, where the artist seeks to explore a, er...theme.

      In the former category, I'm afraid I probably start and end with Bowie's Diamond Dogs album mainly because it had such an impact on an impressionable 14 year-old. Favourite track: 'Candidate'.

      In the latter, I'd probably opt for Different Class by Pulp. I'm not sure I can precisely define the theme the album strives to 'tell', but I know it when I hear it. :D Favourite track: All of them!
      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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      • #4
        this count?

        Does a concept band count?
        Any album put out from it would have to be a concept album.
        I am impressed with Gorillaz. Both albums have a few decent songs
        For a buncha fake toons they rock hehe

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        • #5
          Re: Concept Albums We Like

          Originally posted by demos99
          In the former category, I'm afraid I probably start and end with Bowie's Diamond Dogs album mainly because it had such an impact on an impressionable 14 year-old. Favourite track: 'Candidate'.
          I'd second that one, but then Ziggy Stardust was a bit of a concept album too, and I'd add that to the list as well. Then there's Berlin by Lou Reed, which despite the sadness and even sickness of the concept is so fucking beautiful it cannot be denied. And for all the bombast, nobody could outdo Townsend at the game - both Tommy and Quadrophenia are genius.
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          • #6
            Re: Concept Albums We Like

            Ah, Wikipedia... good for what ails you! Thanks for that Demos. I think we'll go with both definitons, and even throw the Gorillaz in for fun too! They have done some great songs, and I'd agree that they are linked by the "concept" behind the band. Also, Jamie Hewlett rocks, so yay for him!

            I believe that Del Tha Funky Homosapien, who often raps as "Russel" for Gorillaz, also collaborated on a sci-fi rap concept album called Deltron 3030. RZA, from the Wu-Tang Clan had a sci-fi alter ego called Bobby Digital, but I haven't heard any of these albums. It just seems that there's a crossover between rap and sci-fi... but considering the popularity of computers within the genre, that isn't so surprising. A S&S rap concept album is perhaps less likely, but there are probably a few out there.

            Originally posted by demos99
            In the latter, I'd probably opt for Different Class by Pulp. I'm not sure I can precisely define the theme the album strives to 'tell', but I know it when I hear it. :D Favourite track: All of them!
            Also This is Hardcore, which was Jarvis's "mid-life crisis" themed album... and a very good (if somewhat depressing) record. "My name's not Jesus, but we have the same initials... I'm the one, who stays home and does the dishes..." Sadly the review copy I have won't play on my computer, so it has yet to be iTuned. :(

            Originally posted by Dead-Air
            And for all the bombast, nobody could outdo Townsend at the game - both Tommy and Quadrophenia are genius.
            I've seen them both as movies, but never listened to them as albums, so I'm probably missing out. I believe I have W.A.S.P.'s cover version of "The Real Me" though!

            :oops: I'll get my coat.
            "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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            • #7
              Obviously the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is one of my favourite concept albums. Most of their albums are concept albums in some way. Concept tours can be pretty cool too (I'm thinking of Hawkwind's Chronicle of the Black Blade tour here!).

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              • #8
                Re: Concept Albums We Like

                Originally posted by Dead-Air
                Originally posted by demos99
                In the former category, I'm afraid I probably start and end with Bowie's Diamond Dogs album mainly because it had such an impact on an impressionable 14 year-old. Favourite track: 'Candidate'.
                I'd second that one, but then Ziggy Stardust was a bit of a concept album too, and I'd add that to the list as well. Then there's Berlin by Lou Reed, which despite the sadness and even sickness of the concept is so fucking beautiful it cannot be denied. And for all the bombast, nobody could outdo Townsend at the game - both Tommy and Quadrophenia are genius.
                Ah yes, Ziggy Stardust - how could I have forgotten that? Or Aladdin Sane which was 'Ziggy goes to America'. :)

                Bowie has continued to dabble with 'concept' albums in recent years; Outside is/was supposed to the first in a series of concept albums that would eventually tell a overarching story, but four albums have come out since then (Earthling, ...hours, Heathen and Reality) so who knows when the second one will appear (if ever)? :?:
                _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Pretty much any album by the Moody Blues, though I'd specifically call out To Our Children's Children's Children and Legend of a Mind. These are concept albums which make you think. Their concepts are generally a bit dense.

                  I'd be a terrible Seattlite if I didn't mention Operation Mindcrime by Queensrأ؟che. That album rocks ass. Pretty much a dark and political story told with killer hard rock.

                  Styx did a couple, Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here, both of which I liked but which met with serious public criticism. Some argue Kilroy killed the band's career.

                  Originally posted by HawkLord
                  Obviously the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is one of my favourite concept albums.
                  Beat me too it, Hawklord. Only I'd have said that the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is the concept album to beat all concept albums. Period.
                  "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
                  --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PsychicWarVeteran
                    Originally posted by HawkLord
                    Obviously the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is one of my favourite concept albums.
                    Beat me too it, Hawklord. Only I'd have said that the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is the concept album to beat all concept albums. Period.
                    PWV, I'll see your "the classic Pink Floyd concept album The Wall is the concept album to beat all concept albums" and raise you a "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is the concept album to beat all concept albums. :P
                    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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                    • #11
                      Fair enough. :)
                      "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
                      --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by demos99
                        "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is the concept album to beat all concept albums. :P
                        I keep seeing adverts for that on TV. I think it's being re-released, but whether or not there's anything "new" about the new version, I couldn't say. It did make me a bit curious, but unless it's got rapping on it, homey don't play dat... er... yes... :( :oops:
                        "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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                        • #13
                          'New World's Fair' is on Heavy Rotation on my CD player (goes without saying, really)

                          Hawkwind's 'The Chronicle of the Black Sword'/'Live Chronicles' is a favorite, as is 'Space Ritual Alive.'

                          Blue أ–yster Cult's 'Imaginos' is cool. 'The Heavy Metal Origins of World War I.'
                          Madness is always the best armor against Reality

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                          • #14
                            I particularly like Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters by the late, great, Bob Calvert.

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                            • #15
                              Tod Machover has an incredible electronic opera adaptation of Phillip K Dick's arguably greatest novel Valis. I think that may be my favorite "concept album". I played it on the radio one night in it's entirety at 4 A.M., and I got calls for months later from people who wanted to know what it was.

                              UPDATE: I just found a quicktime video from the MIT Media Lab from this opera!: http://web.media.mit.edu/~tod/Tod/valiscd.html
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