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Re: The Last Concept Album

The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 01:36PM
The Geez Rock thread made me wonder about the lost art of the concept album. The last major, recent one I've heard of was from Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider - about a serial killer removing the limbs of his victims so he can build a giant spider. Has anyone listened to it? I've only read about it in music magazines.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 01:46PM
I've heard that Richmond Fontaine's The High Country is below their usual standard.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 01:53PM
Quote

The Geez Rock thread made me wonder about the lost art of the concept album

Pardon me for saying so, but it's a lost art that can remain lost as far as I'm concerned.

There are few things about rock and roll that set me up for a tirade more than the dreaded Concept Album.

The notion killed so many great British Invasion bands. Pound for pound, I'll take the recorded work of The Who, The Kinks, and just about anyone you'd care to name before they started making grand artistic statements via Concept Albums over any of the nonsense they did after they'd abandoned the simple, unadorned two-and-a-half minute pop tune.

Even The Beatles flirted with the concept album. It's a pretty dire phase for them. Is it revealing that their finest Sgt. Pepper-era tune was an unrelated single ("Strawberry Fields Forever")?

I prefer Concept Songs. The Flaming Lips have a few good ones.

"Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World" makes a nice "Exhibit A."

That didn't need an entire album.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 02:19PM
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with a concept album - as with everything else, it's all in execution. Where concept albums go wrong, I think, is when an artist forgets that, no matter what the concept is or how the story is told, it all comes down to the songs - do you have enough good ones to fill out a record? Same as if it's a non-concept album.

I love Quadrophenia not because of the story - I think the story is pretty ephemeral. I love it because I think it's a great collection of songs. Ditto Paul K's A Wilderness of Mirrors (my favorite concept LP), which has a pretty arcane storyline but amazing songs.

Point being, if the songs are good, it doesn't matter whether you can follow the story or not. I don't listen to Tommy to follow the narrative. Tales From Topographic Oceans fails because the songs aren't well developed (for what was supposed to be a Grand Statement, it's incredibly half-assed from every angle).

That said, I will say I prefer concept albums that are collections of songs that share similar themes (a la Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet) over records with plots. But it still comes down to songs over threads.

Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 02:48PM
I've never been able to make heads or tails of what Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther is supposed to be about but I like it.

Let England Shake by PJ Harvey is a recent example of the concept album that's a collection of songs that share similar themes rather than an overarching plot line.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 03:08PM
Ha! I didn't know Van Occupanther was a concept album. Explains all the proggy sounds, I suppose. I like that album (and that band) a lot.
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 01, 2012 03:58PM
HollowbodyKay wrote:


> Even The Beatles flirted with the concept album. It's a pretty
> dire phase for them. Is it revealing that their finest Sgt.
> Pepper-era tune was an unrelated single ("Strawberry Fields
> Forever")?
>

I've never quite figured out what the concept of Sgt Pepper's was about. Unless, the movie encapsulated it. Anyone care to clarify?

Re: The Last Concept Album
May 01, 2012 04:24PM
From what I recall, it was originally going to be from a fictional band named St Pepper etc, with vocalist Billy Shears - a way for the Beatles to get out of their skins and pretend to be someone else for a bit. But they gave up on the concept. So it's a failed-concept album.
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 01, 2012 06:46PM
Yeah, for a band as eclectic as the Beatles had gotten, the concept of "let's play stuff that doesn't sound like us" was pretty meaningless by that point.
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 02, 2012 02:33PM
The Beatles were thinking of making Sgt. Pepper a concept album about their childhoods, hence the recording of "Penny Lane"/Strawberry Fields Forever", but they were pressured to release those songs as a single, so that concept went by the wayside.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 02:00PM
Melissa Auf der Maur's Out of Our Minds from a couple of years ago was a very accurately titled concept album about Vikings, Adam & Eve, sentient trees (I think) and screwing the gravedigger atop the fresh mound of earth covering one's dear old dad. It was all part of some sort of grand multi-media project that included a movie and a graphic novel (neither of which have ever been tracked down by me) and was pretty entertaining in its sheer lunacy.

The last really good concept album that I can think of was the Drive By Truckers' Southern Rock Opera.

Radiohead have always been pretty cagey about whether or not any of their albums are concept albums. Thom Yorke sometimes hinted that Kid A told the story of the first human clone, but he would just as often deny it.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 02:33PM
Isn't Cooper's new one Welcome 2 My Nightmare also a concept record? It's definitely a sequel to Welcome to My Nightmare.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 03:17PM
Fucked Up put out the best punk rock concept album since Zen Arcade 10 months ago! I dont know what its about. Maybe wiki can help:

"David Comes to Life is the third full-length studio album by Canadian hardcore punk band Fucked Up. It was released on June 7, 2011 in North America and June 6, 2011 elsewhere on Matador Records in CD and double LP formats. David Comes to Life is an 18 song epic in four acts.[1] It became Fucked Up's first charting album in the United States ranking at number 83 on the Billboard 200.

The album is a rock opera set in 1970s and 1980s England. The story involves unreliable narrators and meta-narrative plot devices. Drummer Jonah Falco described the album as a love story between the title character David and a girl named Veronica..."

Whatever, it rocks!

Kings X - Gretchen Goes To Nebraska, anyone ?



Post Edited (04-24-12 12:23)
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 03:42PM
"Kings X - Gretchen Goes To Nebraska, anyone ?"

That's a concept album? Excellent record regardless.
zoo
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 06:50PM
"Gretchen" is NOT a concept album. And I'll second that it rocks.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 07:16PM
Then again, maybe it is. This is from Wikipedia, so grains of salt should be taken, but:

"It is a concept album based around a short story written by drummer Jerry Gaskill."
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 08:54PM
When Gretchen came out it was tagged as a concept album in several sources - I know Rolling Stone talked about it being one and I seem to remember an interview with Ty Tabor in Harvest Rock Syndicate where he talked about it as having an overarching story but all the songs could stand on their own, ie, the justification people always give for recording a concept album.

In later years, though, they seemed to downplay any mention of it being a concept album, so Tabor may have just been goofing around and having a Spinal Tap moment with the press.

Also, I was looking online for verification and it may be that I just assumed Van Occupanther was a concept album, based on the song titles sounding like they were supposed to tie together into some sort of coherent theme, and also because I couldn't really see any other reason someone would record a song where a guy insists that he's named "Van Occupanther" unless it had something to do with something else. But I'm not seeing anywhere else online that talks much about it, so I may have just put 2 & 2 together and got 22.
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 08, 2012 01:54PM
is John Gavanti a concept album or a no wave opera?
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 24, 2012 10:03PM
Does "Strange But True" by Jad Fair & Yo La Tengo count as a Concept Album?
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 25, 2012 04:54AM
Just remembered. Sham 69's That's Life.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 11:43AM
What about "Lulu"? I haven't heard it, but isn't it supposed to be an old fart's retelling of Berg's opera about young decadent drug fanciers like its perpetrators were in another century?
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 11:58AM
Madness' last album, The Liberty of Norton Folgate, was a concept album about a London neighborhood.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 01:03PM
And quite a good one, too.
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 05:55PM
Quote

What about "Lulu"?

Yeah, that's a concept album based on the Lulu stories by I don't know who, about an amoral young lady who sleeps her way through Germany leaving a path of ruined men behind her then hightails it to London and gets herself snuffed by Jack the Ripper. The Lulu stories were also the basis for the far, far superior silent movie Pandora's Box starring the sublime Louise Brooks.

Ironically (well, I don't know if it's ironic or not - it may just be Alanisonic), the only tolerable song on Lulu has nothing to do with the concept and is just a ditty that Reed had had lying around for years and decided to tack on as the caboose of the trainwreck - "Junior Dad."
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 06:21PM
Every time I see/hear a mention of the album Lulu, I think of this Lulu:



[www.myspace.com]

[www.youtube.com]

It's not a concept album, 'less good's a concept.

Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 07:18PM




Post Edited (04-26-12 16:19)
Re: The Last Concept Album
April 26, 2012 07:19PM
I always think of the Eddie Hinton song and, in particular, this version
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 04, 2012 10:12PM
And then there's the James Brown concept album, It's a New Day -- So Let a Man Come In. Concept: Booty. Secondary story line: Doing the popcorn.
Re: The Last Concept Album
May 08, 2012 03:54PM
Quote

And then there's the James Brown concept album ... Concept: Booty.

OK. That provoked a violent fit of chuckling. Took me four tries to even enter my password correctly.
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