Trust the Gene Genie

Friday, October 19, 2007

The great album

Many are the ways you can judge an album. And I'm talking about albums, not songs, not bands, not singers. I was listening to Spoon's "Girls Can Tell" the other day when I realized I usually listen to the whole album when I play it. I realized I enjoy every song on the album, start to finish.

So today, rather than judge an album by quality, award-winningness or cultural relevence, we're going to take a look at those albums you can play start to finish and every song is as good as the last. Yep, the rule is you don't skip a single song. Which is a rarity in this day of iTunes purchases and iPod immediacy.

So off the top of my head, this is what immediately came to mind:

1. U2's "Achtung Baby" -- This is an entire album where not a note is wasted nor a lyric thrown away from beginning to end, from "Zoo Station" to "Love Is Blindness." It's amazing to think that just 10 short years later Bono would be singing about monkeys swinging from trees.

2. Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales" -- This one surprised me. I stumbled over it the other day and realized it had probably been six of seven years since I'd listened to the album and going back over the tracks I was amazed that every one was just a really good song. It's follow-up, "Mercury Falling" doesn't have the same depth and from there I stopped buying Sting albums. I think I made the right decision.

3. Spoon's "Girls Can Tell" -- I was trying to decide earlier this year which album I thought was better, "Girls" or "Gimme Fiction" and that's when I realized I always listen to "Girls" start to finish. I don't ever do it with "Fiction."

4. The Push Stars' "After the Party" -- Another surprise for me. But of the four albums I have, this is the only one I'll listen to start to finish. It's also a great example of what the Push Stars do. They write great pop songs.

5. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" -- There's a lot of classic rock albums that contain some of the greatest rock songs ever recorded and still they'll have the random two or three throw-away songs. "Moon" is a great example of an album where every song feels essential. It's hard not to listen to the thing start to finish.

6. Wilco's "Being There" -- This wasn't always the easiest album to listen to. The thicker country elements from the disc used to scare me off. But, as is the case with most Wilco albums, the more I listened to it, the more I heard and the more I liked it. And now I love the thing in all its sloppy entirety.

7. Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" -- Like "Dark Side of the Moon" this is an album that's hard not to listen to start to finish. Every song is like a link to the next. You can't not listen to the whole thing.

8. U2's "Joshua Tree" -- This goes up grudgingly, but even I have to admit that the album does not have a single weak spot. And, when you get past the first three songs, "Joshua Tree" can actually surprise you. "Exit" and "Mothers of the Disappeared" are two songs I can still listen to and hear things I didn't hear before.

9. Midnight Oil's "Blue Sky Mining" -- The album is surprisingly understated. And as you listen to it, you're continually surprised as each song comes up that you know it and that you like it. It's a great album. "One Country" is just an incredible song.

That's probably enough. Feel free to add your own. I'd be curious to see what albums you all listen to start to finish.


urpy said...

I can't think of anything to add, but you wrote about an interesting idea. It's fun to see which albums you picked--some surprised me while others didn't.

Ronifer269 said...

I would have thought you'd take Soul Cages over Ten Summoners. The later reminds me too much of High School and Kelli Benyon.

The Joshua Tree reissue is coming out with some new songs...any interest?

ThomG said...

Replacements, "Tim"

TheRobRogers said...

I love "Soul Cages" but never got into it like I did "Tales." And maybe that's what's really behind this list. About two-thirds of these albums are records that I virtually wore out in high school. Clearly there's a subconscience nostalgia factor here.

Scott's Blog said...

I've thought about this very concept at times. Here's mine:

Def Leppard "Hysteria"
Guns N' Roses "Appetite for Destruction"
Metallica "Metallica"
Saturday's Warrior Soundtrack (The original)

Sort of kidding on the Saturday's Warrior thing.

It's actually rare that I own an album. I'm pretty much a pick and choose guy at this point.

And, I think we must have very different tastes in music.

Phil Fountain said...

OK, here's my list...gotta go with:
Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and "John Wesley Harding"
Leonard Cohen's "Ten New Songs"
"Paradise And Lunch" Ry Cooder
I gotta put Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky" and the new Radiohead "In Rainbows" on this list.
"Moondance" Van Morrison
"Pink Moon" Nick Drake and I'll close it with Moby Grape's first album. Not a clunker among 'em.
By the way, great blog!

Dan said...

What about Quadraphenia? That's an album that holds together.

Bryan said...

I'm totally late to this party, but here are mine:

U2: Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree

REM: Automatic for the People

Cat Stevens: Teaser and the Firecat

The Beatles: Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's

Interpol: Antics, Turn on the Bright Lights

Shannon and Carey said...

1.Cold Play - Parachutes
2. Eagles - Long Run
3. Any Grateful Dead for me

Have you listened to Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks?

You seem like you would like it. Pig Lib is the one I can listen to over and over. It reminds me of my husband.
Shannon in Austin

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