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Albums that must be listened to front to back in their entirety


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With the itunes and spotify model for music consumption, most people are not listening albums from front to back anymore.  But there are some albums that are greater than the sum of their songs.  Probably anything you could classify as a "concept album" would qualify, but there may be some less obvious ones.  I'll take two off the board.

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Well I can tell by the submission of fucking "Achtung Baby", that we're not talking about concept/thematic albums that are also enjoyable to listen to front to back, but rather just albums that we prefer to listen to for awhile.  Big difference IMO.  It was a good record, but you can shuffle those tracks up any way you want and it's doesn't matter.  To be fair, you also mentioned "What's Going On", probably the greatest concept album in its genre of all time.  

I'd, just off the cuff, have to add "The Band" (self-titled), "Smile" (not my cup of tea, but a very strong concept album), and "Wish you were here" 

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I appreciate the contributions.  There are a few here I haven't listened to front to back, so I'll have to change that!

One that I am not sure anyone else will mention is Led Zeppelin III.  For decades I was mostly just aware of "Since I've Been Loving You" and "Immigrant Song".  I had heard most of the others on various meta Zep playlists, but didn't make much note of them. After going through a Zep kick recently, I listened to the album front to back and have a whole new appreciation for all the songs -- especially those on the 2nd side.

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5 minutes ago, Lobo said:

Well I can tell by the submission of fucking "Achtung Baby", that we're not talking about concept/thematic albums that are also enjoyable to listen to front to back, but rather just albums that we prefer to listen to for awhile. 

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Well, there IS a difference between an album that essentially a collection of singles and something with more of a story arc.  Rush tended towards the latter, with several obvious examples, but in this particular case I think the track order is required:

Rush Hemispheres.jpg

 

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Listen to Bloodshot and tell me I’m slacking. 
raw, bluesy bar music you can’t live without.  That is unless you’ve never heard it.  People have no idea how good early J Geils Band was. 
 

fuck. Start All Over Again is worth is all by itself. 

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1 hour ago, TexasBeta said:

Love every song on this album. Last with Bon.

 

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Now try Powerage. HtH is indeed awesome but Mutt Lange cleaned up too many rough edges. Bon's vocals and lyrics on Powerage are amazing and run the gamut of emotions. And Malcolm and Angus are on fire. Kicked in the Teeth has my favorite solo and Down Payment Blues has the coolest riff ever conceived 

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You raise an interesting issue though.  No one buys albums anymore.  Or do people download/stream entire albums?

Whether an album was worthy of a front-to-back listen is one thing, but I almost always found that I liked one or two songs from the album better than the ones that got airplay.

And I guess airplay is a thing of the past.  Substitute youtube hits?

Being a retrogrouch, I still love my radio.

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14 minutes ago, Goredho said:

To me the criteria for this thread is what are the albums where you are missing something if you just listen to the hits that came from the album.   What that “something” is is subjective.

That’s how I took it — what are the great albums that lack any real dead weight.

In defense of the point about Actung Baby, while not necessarily a “concept album,” I do think it was wisely arranged from the first track, Zoo Station, all the way to the last, Love is Blindness, with some great ebb and flow in between.

Same with Darkness on the Edge of Town. I love how it kicks off with Badlands and ends on a somber but promising note with the title track (which incidentally is one of the songs I listened to repeatedly during my divorce).

And finishing What’s Going On with Inner City Blues was just flat out fucking genius.

So I also chose my albums because I think they sound great listening in the order of the track listings.

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Continuing on the woolgathering/scattershooting.  Although I almost completely lack artistic talent of any kind, I have always understood that most albums are more than simply a collection of artist output.  The selection of works, the play order on the medium, the art and liner notes aggregate to form an integral work.

Not sure it was always this way, though.  Prior to the 60s, I'm thinking most records were, in fact, merely collections of artist output over a period of time, maybe loosely categorized.  Perhaps I am wrong, but I don't think I am too far off.  I am speaking of the time when most record sales I think were 45 rpm singles.

So we have entered a time in which most listens are the equivalent of 45s. I'm not even sure anything can be considered a purchase anymore. Is there a market for albums anymore?  Will artists continue to produce them?

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TwiceHorn brings up a good point. Sheryl Crow has announced she will no longer release albums--only singles--and I suspect many pop acts will follow. But most record company contracts are based on the artists releasing x-number of albums over a defined period. Perhaps that model has been thrown out the window as well. 

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43 minutes ago, South Austin said:

That’s how I took it — what are the great albums that lack any real dead weight.

In defense of the point about Actung Baby, while not necessarily a “concept album,” I do think it was wisely arranged from the first track, Zoo Station, all the way to the last, Love is Blindness, with some great ebb and flow in between.

Same with Darkness on the Edge of Town. I love how it kicks off with Badlands and ends on a somber but promising note with the title track (which incidentally is one of the songs I listened to repeatedly during my divorce).

And finishing What’s Going On with Inner City Blues was just flat out fucking genius.

So I also chose my albums because I think they sound great listening in the order of the track listings.

Totally agree man, was just busting chops because I just thought we all outgrew U2 years ago.  Just projecting my old man/get off my lawn-ness.  But let's be fair, if you're gonna name a top-to-bottom great album by U2, it's cliche to mention, but it's certainly Joshua Tree.  That album is a journey in the greatest sense of the word.  And yes, there are top-to-bottom records with few weak spots, if any...that play well start to finish because of the content and the ordering, like "Full Moon Fever."  Then there is the other school of thought we've discussed on here, the concept album which really is a story within a story.  

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7 hours ago, WhatTheBuck said:

The obvious exception is John Lennon's Double Fantasy. I burned a disc with all the Yoko songs removed. That makes it a really good, short album. 

Holy shit that's a great idea, and easier to do now with Spotify. 

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On 5/22/2020 at 12:01 PM, Goredho said:

With the itunes and spotify model for music consumption, most people are not listening albums from front to back anymore.  But there are some albums that are greater than the sum of their songs.  Probably anything you could classify as a "concept album" would qualify, but there may be some less obvious ones.  I'll take two off the board.

DarkSide.jpg?w=980&q=75

 

The beginning and end of this discussion imho.

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On 5/22/2020 at 9:45 PM, Dennis Taylor said:

Now try Powerage. HtH is indeed awesome but Mutt Lange cleaned up too many rough edges. Bon's vocals and lyrics on Powerage are amazing and run the gamut of emotions. And Malcolm and Angus are on fire. Kicked in the Teeth has my favorite solo and Down Payment Blues has the coolest riff ever conceived 

Riff Raff.  Good fucking God.

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On 5/23/2020 at 5:25 PM, Bogeywon said:

Nirvana never mind 

nirvana unplugged

alice in chains unplugged

Nevermind is the complete opposite of this qualification to me. I don't see why you would need to listen to it in order or even listen to a few of the tracks at all. It's basically an album full of singles. Between Polly and On a Plain there's not anything notable. 

Then again, I think Nirvana is a little overrated.

Some others for consideration -

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On ‎6‎/‎10‎/‎2020 at 11:34 AM, ztejas said:

 

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As big of a Springsteen fan as I am (avatar checks out), classic rock stations made the song Born to Run unlistenable to me, even years after tuning out traditional and satellite radio. 

But this is still a fantastic front-to-back album.  And the vastly underrated and quietly understated Meeting Across the River followed by the epic of Jungleland, which has the best saxophone solos in the history of rock-and-roll (say otherwise and I will cut you), is one of the better album endings of all time, in my very humble opinion.

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