w(hole) albums? | The Popjustice Forum

w(hole) albums?

Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by type:epyt, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Dunno if this has cropped up anywhere else but i found this online with a contribution from Mr PJ ...


    So what do people think? ... Should we listen to music in it's intended form or just leave the coffee flavoured tracks in the box ...

    (there was a similar discussion elsewhere but no idea where to find it ... Likely hidden in a random thread about GA's pant colours ...)
  2. I grew up listening to whole albums on vinyl and tape, but there would always be certain tracks that I'd go back to and play on their own (which wasn't as easy to do then!)...like with Please; I'd play Two Divided By Zero, Violence and Suburbia a lot at first, but also the whole album at other times.

    The thing here is that, and again this may be "the past" speaking, but not many newish albums are worthy of listening through from start to finish. Not only are they often too long, compared to the 70s or 80s (where 40 minutes was common), but they weren't made with the same mindset as today's music. You can't compare Dark Side Of the Moon or Hounds of Love with Good Girl Gone Bad; the latter's just a string of great singles and then varying degrees of filler...pop song after pop song. It doesn't matter which of them is track 8, or track 13, or track 2.

    Overall, when I get time to play a full album, I do get much more out of the experience than just putting an iTunes playlist on; but as I said earlier, it's also down to the album in question being worthy of sitting through in one go.

  3. I always give an album a full runthrough when I've just bought it and then rip it to my iTunes. If I really love the album I'll play it on loop in it's original order, I mean the songs have each been put in their position for a reason!

    I also find it more relaxing listening to an album in it's original order for some reason.
  4. EG's point about album length and quality pretty much matches my own thoughts ... But then i also HAVE to download the bonus tracks from all the formats and add them onto my ipod so i'm pretty much condoning it ...

    So when you match this with Mr PJ'sthoughts about modernity in music i've come to theconclusion that modern albums should be treated as magazines rather than the book analagy given in the article ... But then how many magazines from our past do we still own?
  5. It is deeply embedded in me to treat music as something sacred . . I feel guilty if I put on an album and don't listen to it all the way through (unless I have something particular stuck in my head).

    I have to hold the CD by the edge and replace it (label side up) in the jewel case after it has come to an end, I absolutely can't bear it when I go round other people's houses and they have scratched boxless Cd's lying face down all over the place.

    Mine are filed away in alphabetical order by surname (if used by the artist on the spine) or by band name (ignoring the word "the").

    I have my own special way of breathing on a cd (to get dust off) and have been known to travel from room to room (holding a CD by it's edge) in search of a garment of clothing made from thin cotton "T" shirt type material to rub it in a special way.

    Kate Bush is sacred to me, I absolutely cannot listen to an individual track by her . . it always has to be a full album at a time.

    If at all possible, when I am in a shop . . I take the CD out the case and hold the playable side up to the flourecent lighting and look at it carefully from every angle to make sure their are no scratches/ dust specs . . sometimes their are and I put it back and do the same with the next copy until I get to one that is fine.

    I also check for indentations to the open page end of the CD booklet to ensure it has not been scrunched along the edge.
  6. Tribal Spaceman

    Tribal Spaceman Staff Member

    I can't believe someone suggested Kanye West as a classic album. I don't even count him as music.

    I do these things too.
  7. Oh god, I do most of these too...some I have stopped doing, due to the fact that some CDs are not going to show up in new or used stores much anymore, so I put my fussiness aside and take what I can (to a degree! I'll accept some marks, if the overall look of the disc is clean). But my treatment of them, and how I use/listen to them, remains the same.

    I regularly update the cases if some are getting tired-looking. I'll even buy a new copy if something about it has been spoiled by accident. I order mine according to release date (yes, by actual week if I know it), this recreating whole moments in time simply by looking at a shelf.

  8. I like that article and your posts. I thought I was the only one who listened to records from beggining to end, with no interruptions. I too feel guilty if I go directly to the singles or catchier tracks. I normally listen to the record in the CD (I may download it in the iPod … I don't ‘download’ from the internet because I feel I will loose the tracks if my computer breaks, which has happened before) and, as English is not my native tongue (as you can tell), if the booklet has the lyrics, I may read them along (of course, I don't do that if the record is by the Black Eyed Peas).

    - I love it when records have 10 or 11 songs and last about 45-50 minutes and there is some narrative feeling to it (like, it happens, for example, with the Pet Shop Boys or Suede records). I think fillers can make sense in some records because they add to the narrative if the sequence is OK (see George Michael's "Older". The songs may not all be perfect but they make sense in the context).

    - I love it when you buy a record and you don't "get it" on first listen and you have to go back back back until you felt familiar with it (see Kate Bush's 'Hounds of love', a lot of Bowie and Roxy records, Soft Cell's 'The art of falling apart', etc.) Now, everything has to have immediate appeal or people would not download it.

    - I like the re-emergence of vynil, they look great. I’m going to put my copy of ‘The lexicon of love’ in a frame.
  9. There's no one right answer to this, but there definitely is such a thing as an track that only works, or works better, in the context of the album. For example 'Waste of Space' on the Delays' 'You See Colours' sounds all the more beautiful when its freshness and gentleness act as a contrast to the rush of the rest of the album that's come before it.

    If you only listen to single tracks, you miss out on that. But you don't need that to get a lot out of music. And if you make your own playlists, and you pay careful attention to your track order, you can get effects of your own that are just as good.
  10. JadeFan

    JadeFan Guest

    I have rarely listened to a whole album from start to finish; I find it really difficult. I just listen to tracks people have recommended through reviews and gradually make my way around an album.
  11. SBK


    I saw Peter talking about this on BBC Breakfast yesterday.

    I really think it does depend on the artist / album. Some albums these days are thrown together so quickly, its hard to sit through certain tracks.
    But generally as a rule if I buy an album, I'll listen to it in full a few times before I single out tracks.
    There are a few albums I can listen to fully without skipping...

    As for my CD habits, I'm quite precious about my CD's, I don't buy half as many as I would like to but I hate people messing with them, Someone messed with my STEPS singles at a party put them out of order and now I'm missing the remix (limited) CD - FUMING.
  12. Maybe a compilation of short stories would be a more appropriate analogy than a Dickens novel? Somebody receiving one for the first time may read them in the order they're printed, but in general there's no reason why this should be necessary, and they'd ignore literophiles bleating on about READING SHORT STORIES OUTSIDE OF A LARGELY ARBITRARY ORDER CULTURE and leave them to smugly read with their $25 billion digital uncompressed book reader for optimal visual clarity.

    I feel an interest in pop music and a dedication to the album format are almost mutually exclusive. Pop tends to be very single-focused, and rarely plays host to concept albums (at least as I think of them; I know there are people who consider Chemistry a concept album for reasons beyond my comprehension). There are albums that make sense to take in all at once, but they're not the norm, especially not in the Popjustice sphere – personally, the only one I've ever had any desire to listen to in full more than once for any purpose other than fishing for growers is not-terribly-PJ-friendly The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, and even that has curious tracklisting anomalies (songs where the protagonist arrives at the decision to commit suicide, and actually commits suicide, are interrupted by the story of him going out to insult a prostitute and moan about insects in her vagina for some reason) (yes, you can always rely on Trent Reznor for an uplifting listen). The vast majority of albums discussed round here, even the ones we all get particularly excited about, are just a bunch of songs thrown together at random. Circus by Britney Spears, for example, has no common theme or sound, and a tracklisting that seemingly goes out of its way to be inappropriate – Kill the Lights' "we interrupt this program of dance music" intro following Out From Under, twee child-dedicated ballad My Baby following Lace and Leather with not even a second between the lines "your one and only pleasure, all decked in lace and leather" and "TIIIINY HAAAANDS, YES THAT'S YOOOOUUUU". The only way an album like this could be rationally compared to a Dickens novel would be if he were writing from the perspective of an unstable sexually aggressive schizophrenic.

    Anyway, maybe pop releases being delivered as incoherent pick-and-mixes is better for individual songs – what if Hold It Against Me was ditched because it didn't fit with some narrative about Britney leading a revolution against a corrupt government run by evil cyborgs amidst a post-apocalyptic dystopia, or was neutered of its chainsaw bass because she wanted it to be part of a sombre acoustic collection? That said, the suggested tracklisting on the front page would be a cracking concept album. I hope someone at Jive is paying attention, Popjustice might just have saved the format.
  13. SBK


    I think you're confusing the topic, an album doesn't have to be a 'concept' album for one to enjoy every track from beginning to end.
  14. It does tend to be the rock albums that benefit from this, so it is bound to be of limited interest to PJ readers. It's simply because there's more of a tradition in rock of bothering to make an album that hangs together, and of considering that worthwhile music can be made that isn't four minutes long or less.

    Some pop acts do do it, though. Saint Etienne are a good example - the spoken bits in Finisterre seem almost deliberately put in to sabotage people's iPod playlists.

    Not that I'm criticising acts who don't want to craft an album-as-single-work. It all depends what you're interested in. If you want to make a coherent album, great. If you want to make a collection of great songs that don't link together, also great.
  15. They've always done it, right back to the debut album in 1991...long before iPods and playlists.

    So maybe not a good example!

  16. JadeFan

    JadeFan Guest

    Mr PJ was on BBC Breakfast??
  17. SBK


    Yeah, He put Aphrodite (the track) on in the background too... not sure if this was to emphasize his point about skipping to the best tracks and listening to what you like.
  18. JadeFan

    JadeFan Guest

    Cool. Do you know if it's online anywhere?
  19. I'd like to listen to more whole albums, but the number of albums on which I, hand on heart, like and enjoy every single track stands at about 5. If you include the ones with one track I don't like, maybe we're talking 8ish.

    At the end of the day, I'm not going to listen to a song I don't like just because it's part of a 'classic' album, i.e. I subscribe to what I take to be the PJ ethos.

    I also agree with what somebody said above me - if you really take your time in constructing really great playlists, those are every bit as good as a well-sequenced album. Chronological ones can take you back in time, similarly themed or presented songs can sound brilliant listed together when you're in the mood for them etc.

    I also concur with the comments re: the single being more important in pop music. Yes, yes, yes. SINGLES4LIFE
  20. I'm glad there are other people like me out there. I love it when an album is cohesive and . Sometimes, like with Flesh Tone and Confessions on a Dance Floor, you're kinda forced to listen to the whole album due to the blending of the tracks and no gaps.

    I don't think there's a "right" way to listen to songs, some people prefer one or two songs per album, some prefer to have the whole album...I just like the journey an album takes you on and seeing the range of emotions displayed!
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