Friday, March 12, 2010

Let's hear it for the album

Pink Floyd have struck a blow for the album. In the age of the track-by-track, pick n mix digital download, the finest purveyors of concept albums in the history of the genre have won a case preventing EMI from filleting their best work and selling it track by track.

It means if you want Wish You Were Here, you have to buy the whole thing and not just your favourite song from it.

It seems to me, however, that the album is actually very much alive and well. For my birthday I acquired the lean and lovely debut album by Lonelady on CD which comes with a track listing indicating side A and side B. And when you listen with that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Immaterial would open the second side of the album.

This week I've been listening to the stunning new album from Gorillaz which has an obvious beginning and middle and end and demands to be listened to in the order of the track listing. It's not an album made for shuffle.

The Decembrists Album, The Hazards of Love, one of the best releases of last year, is clearly a concept album and demands to be listened to in the order in which the tracks appear on the CD.

Such works are more than just the sum of their parts, more than a collection of songs thrown together in random order. Listening to them from start to finish is to be taken on a journey, invited to see the connections that are made as songs are put in a particular order. So, let's hear it for Pink Floyd.

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