Concept albums

Do you like the idea of a concept album?


  • Total voters
    11

Stardust

A Blue Sector Mirage
In this thread you can talk and discuss all about your favorite concept albums, such as Night Of The Stormrider and Operation Mindcrime.

Personally, my favorite is The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis. And before you ask, yes, it has a story. But if you're listening for the first time, ignore the story and just listen to the music. The story is weird. Very weird. Don't try to make any sense of it. It'll only break your neck. But when it comes to the actual music, that's when a smile comes to my face. Not only are all the melodies great, the entire album is so freaking memorable. If you're a casual listener, listen to the first disc first. That one includes the most known songs from this album. But that's not to say the second disc isn't great too. It's just...harder to get into. Yeah, I'm leaving it on that. Okay, instead of stating all of my favorites right now, I'd like to talk about the music and how it's different from the other Gabriel-era albums. You see, while it may sound like a Genesis album at first, it's a lot tougher sounding, a lot more mean than than Foxtrot for example. Songs like the title track and Back In NYC. I love it! Okay, before I state my favorites, I'd like to talk about the things I don't like that much about the album. First, there is way too much Tony Banks here. Tony Banks is the keyboard/synth player in Genesis if you were going to ask. Poor Steve Hackett gets pushed into the background. Compared to Selling England By The Pound, there is a lot less guitar, I mean, the difference could not be any bigger! And that's all the problems I have, and it's a minor nitpick! The rest are all positives. Okay, here's my favorites. I'm picking my five favorites from each disc.

First Disc:

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Fly On A Windshield/Broadway Melody Of 1974
In The Cage
Back In NYC
Counting Out Time

Second Disc:

Anyway
The Lamia
The Colony Of Slippermen
The Light Dies Down On Broadway
In The Rapids
It

And that's why I love it so much. And now it's YOUR turn to talk about your favorite concept albums.
Okay, I'll see you later!
 
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Brigantium

General of the Dark Army
Staff member
At what point does an album with a theme become a concept album? Ones with a distinct storyline spring to mind, like Dark Saga, or The Wall, straight off the top of my head, but what about ones with a consistent theme rather than a plot?
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
I'd say the concept is in the conception. Was it intended as a concept album?

The Dark Side of the Moon (to my understanding) was intended as an exploration of madness. Even if I've got the exact theme wrong, there is clearly an intended unity among the tracks. It's a concept album, or at least I wouldn't argue with someone saying so.

And Justice For All has the over-arching theme of "freedom of choice". Hetfield noted this, but also said it was never intended to come out that way. It just happened to be the subject he wrote about, with no advance decision to pursue a single subject. It's not a concept album despite a consistent theme.

The question is: what counts as "theme"? Does it have to be in the lyrics? Dream Theater made Train Of Thought as a deliberately metal album, sticking to a stylistic theme, but I wouldn't call it concept. How about Tales From Topographic Oceans, a double album with 4 album-length epics? Though the epics are unrelated, there is clearly a conception of an epic work here. I'd say Tales is not a concept album, but it's a lot closer than Train.

My favorite concept album (excepting rock operas) is Thick As A Brick. The concept (mocking the pretentiousness of prog) is good, and the music is superb. What really made this one special was the package: reading the full-size St. Cleve Chronicle while playing the vinyl made it a full multimedia experience by 70s standards.

As for rock operas, there are 3 main albums for me: Tommy, Mindcrime, Scenes.

Tommy is still the granddaddy of 'em all. Townshend has admitted that it lacks a proper ending, although I find See Me Feel Me to be a powerful closer. Tommy, and especially The Who playing the whole thing live at every show for two years, set the standard for how a band does a rock opera.

Operation: Mindcrime is solid from cover to cover, with half a dozen songs that are classics individually. What I find interesting is that after all these years, the album is still a grower. Songs like "The Mission" that I once considered filler continue to grow on me.

Scenes From A Memory - I'm a DT fan, I think worshipping this album was in the contract I signed. I love the way they incorporate riffs across different songs to unify the album, like the Who also did on Tommy. I love "Beyond This Life", and always found it to be an attention-grabbing song. The concept of that song (lyrics are a newspaper story) always jumped out at me.
 

Brigantium

General of the Dark Army
Staff member
I'd say the concept is in the conception. Was it intended as a concept album?

The Dark Side of the Moon (to my understanding) was intended as an exploration of madness. Even if I've got the exact theme wrong, there is clearly an intended unity among the tracks. It's a concept album, or at least I wouldn't argue with someone saying so.
What about Animals? It's not an exploration as such, but has the Orwell-inspired social classes theme throughout, and a bit of structure too, with Pigs on the Wing 1 and 2 forming a form of intro and outro. Animals would certainly be a favourite of mine.

In answer to the poll, yes, I do like the idea of a concept album, if the subject is an engaging one and the music works. Even better if the music works as standalone music outside of an album too.
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
Yep, Animals is a concept album by my estimation. You could probably argue that all Pink Floyd albums with Waters are concept albums.
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
For a concept album quite different from metal, try this:
The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday

Warning: sounds very like the Grateful Dead during many parts. If that's not your thing, disregard this post. :cool:

Having said that, find this and give it a try if you want something different for an hour. It's not superb, but it's good and definitely memorable.
 

terrell39

Ancient Mariner
How about Tales From Topographic Oceans, a double album with 4 album-length epics? Though the epics are unrelated, there is clearly a conception of an epic work here. I'd say Tales is not a concept album, but it's a lot closer than Train.

In the CD booklet in the 2003 reissue Jon talks about when he and Steve Howe wrote the material and even though it does not tell a story, it is a concept LP in the sense that the subject matter is all related. The CD is about Jon's interpretation of four classes of Hindu scripture.

I wish I had been old enough to see the tour. They played the whole CD! As a big Yes fan, perhaps that was part of Steve Harris' inspiration for playing all of AMOLAD?
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
Harris has always been a bigger Genesis fan. If you want to speculate about inspiration that old, I'd point to Genesis touring the Lamb in full - a show which we know Steve attended. It's in the the Steve's Diary extra feature on the Early Days DVD.
 

terrell39

Ancient Mariner
Harris has always been a bigger Genesis fan. If you want to speculate about inspiration that old, I'd point to Genesis touring the Lamb in full - a show which we know Steve attended. It's in the the Steve's Diary extra feature on the Early Days DVD.
I remember reading his description of the show as "bloody brilliant"...I think. But I did not know the tour he saw was that old. Cool he got to see Gabriel.

I had a chance to see The Musical Box perform the Lamb live but then I got the flu and couldn't go :mad:
 

JudasMyGuide

The very model of a modern Major-General
I think we all consider "concept albums" those we really want to.

I love the ideological concept of Floyd's Animals (Orwell paraphrased), Wish You Were Here (alienation) and DSOTM (modern life and madness)
I like the albums that are "conceptual", but usually they suffer, because the story's simply not that great (The Wall, Scenes from a Memory, Operation:Mindcrime, Tommy)

I love Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, because the album as a whole really fits together (mental ilness and personal issues, a rather bleak album contrasted with their usual stuff). I love AMOLAD for the same reasons. I just sounds like a complete work to me. Same goes for Octavarium, which no-one seems to consider being a concept album, sadly.

In my book, Somewhere in Time is a concept album, and I love it. It's 80's, electronic, technical Maiden writing songs about different aspects of time, and it's awesome.

I love Misplaced Childhood, because I never bothered to find out anything about the story, but the album just sounds good and the songs sound as if they were conceived together. It's concept enough for me.

Rush's Clockwork Angels is said to be a concept album, but since I never bothered to look up the lyrics, I wouldn't know about that. But the songs really sound like parts of a greater piece and the album's completely amazing as a whole, so there.

To answer your question, I usually dislike those albums mostly considered "concept", because they are mostly about the story and thus the music sometimes suffer (that's, by the way, the biggest concern I have regarding the upcoming DT album). But when the album sounds like a concept album, it elevates it all.
Of course, there are exceptions. Jesus Christ Superstar is absolutely amazing. Story or no story.
 

Welsh Phantom

Ancient Mariner
Some albums I like, which I regard as 'concept' albums:

Dio - Magica
(Ronnie explains the story at the end in a 20 min spoken narrative....only then does it make sense!)

Roger Waters - The Pros and cons of Hitch hiking
(Love it....but not a clue about the story!)

Marillion - Misplaced childhood
(Fairly self explanatory when listening well)

Marillion - Marbles
One of my top 5 favourite albums ever. A loose concept about 'losing your marbles', through trauma, loneliness, fear etc though no continuous story. A highly underrated double album IMO

Here is Ocean Cloud from Marbles ... all about Don Allum who rowed solo across the Atlantic and back. Stunning work IMO.
 

DJMayes

Educated Fool
Dream Theater's Metropolis Part II is a strong contender for my favourite album full stop.

Another one I am a massive fan of is ELO's "Time". Incredibly cheesy but consistent and fun throughout.
 
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