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Thursday, December 02, 2004

THE DOUBLE ALBUM

At some point during the career of a great band or artist there comes a time when a surplus of material is at hand. One of two things usually happens; they either watershed, or they put out a double album. It happened to the Clash twice, and the second time it resulted in a triple album, ‘Sandinista!’ In ’68 it happened to the Beatles, and the outcome was ‘The White Album’, or ‘The Beatles’ as it is technically titled. I’ve recently blogged what I think of that particular album. Historically though, it is very important because it was the first. In ’72 the Stones hit a songwriting stride, and it resulted in ‘Exile On Main Street’. This would definitely take the number one spot on my ‘all time best’ list, and number two would go to The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ (’79), both of which have made the cut on Fred’s list. The bone of contention, at this point, seems to be over an album that came out in ’73, Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. Though I believe ‘GBYBR’ to a great record and worth inclusion into the top fifty, I don’t think it’s as consistent as either ‘Exile’ or ‘London Calling’. Also in ’79 Pink Floyd released ‘The Wall’, which again deserves it’s place in the pantheon, but it’s not their best effort, just their biggest, much like Elton’s ‘GBYBR’. It is better than Pink Floyd’s first double record, ‘Umagumma’, which can be fun, but it’s a rehash/live stuff type record, and therefore does not fit the bill. U2’s ‘Rattle And Hum’ is a great record, if not cumbersome, and somewhat ill defined. Again, since it features live cuts, it doesn’t count. The double album is somewhat of a dinosaur these days. Cd’s offer longer playtime, and thusly a single record often times out at almost an hour, or roughly three quarters of a double record, and packaging has changed as well, gone are the days of cleaning an ounce of pot on the record you just bought. I suppose, as usual, I’ve left something out, and I rely on you to refresh my memory.

Comments:
GBYBR was the first rock record I ever went gaga over in 1975 as a sixth grader so it is near and dear to me from that respect. About five years ago, I picked it up from my record club on a "buy it and it counts for two" deal (a double CD at that) after not hearing it for 20 years. I can't and won't put it on the same pedestal as Exile, but for Sir Elton, it is his finest hour I think. I can listen to it from beginning to end and not skip a single tune including Jamaica Jerk-off. High points for me in this order are: Seen That Movie Too, Harmony, Roy Rogers, Grey Seal, All The Young Girls Love Alice. Candle In The Wind has been forever tainted, but on it's own is still a great tune. My least favorite is Bennie And The Jets only because it's played on the radio a great deal here in Atlanta and I get pissed because there's so much better material from the record to play. Gus Dungeon was knighted for this record for cripes sake. Excellent musicianship, great lyrics, phenomenal vocal performances (plural), world class production. Yes, Sir Elton borders on complete buffoonery in the last 15 years of his career, but I can ignore this latter era, simply listen to records, and turn off MTV. GBYBR is most definitely worthy of a spot on the top fifty.

Fred, you listening?
 
Did you ever notice that with the demise of the double vinyl LP to the CD, so went the seeds in pot. Really, when was the last time you got a bag full of seeds?
 
Although in this neck of the woods it would seem the days of 'dirty pot' are gone, I can tell you first hand that in DC seeds are still available, and plentiful in the bag.
 
One wee little double that you forgot to mention, and btw one that preceeded the white album, is Blonde on Blonde. Today it makes a single CD of 74 minutes, but a better 74 minutes of rock you'll never find.
 
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