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The demise of the album
Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:45 am
I just had a conversation earlier in the week with a friend who was lamenting the demise of the album - overall album sales are way down from years ago - only to pick up this morning's newspaper and find an article about that very thing. Please take a few minutes to read the article linked below and share your opinions.
Rege Behe. "The demise of the album is a sign of the times". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jan. 28, 2007.
Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:23 pm
Call me old fashioned, but for me, it's all about the album. Top to bottom, start to finish, random shuffle after that. It's always been that way and always will.
I remember making a new friend at Kerrville one year, his first time to attend the festival. As we soaked in astounding artist after artist on the main stage, he looked over and said, "where's the filler?" I bring this up because as consumers of recorded music we have grown accustomed to an album with a few good songs and a bunch of filler. It's half the reason I'm drawn to artists like EP. The albums were always strong, song after song, very few weak tracks, if any. My wife has a phrase for a song on an album she could take or leave....saying, "that's a throwaway for me."
Far too many "throwaways" on records out there in the mainstream. I tend to stick with music where the artist has thought long and hard about the song and how it fits on a record. Where it fits in the track listing. Artists who grew up in the age of the album, who care how it all comes together. It's kind of sad to think it's becomng a lost art. I guess technology has taken hold, it's just too easy to grab only the songs you like, and place them on your ipod. It's way too impersonal for my liking.
When napster was new, a friend in Texas was into it BIG TIME, and told me to give him a list of all my favorite songs and he would download them and burn them into a CD for me. I couldn't do it. I did not want a bunch of great songs with no real connection to the artist or his/their vision for the album. No liner notes...no lyrics offered...no photos from the studio....no word of thanks to all who helped...no telling who played on the song, or sang the background harmonies.
Geeze I'm old fashioned. Oh well.
Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:42 am
Interesting points of view there. I have to agree with both the journalist and Paddy that the "best" listening comes from the collection of songs in an album. The progression is important, even if only consciously noticeable when it's absent...
Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:57 pm
I've been thinking about this whole thing....and I can't help but think our society has "progressed" to the point that quiet and/or reflective time is passe. I mean, how many folks make time to simply enjoy sitting and listening to a record album? Or simply sitting still. Everything is done on the run and/or in motion and/or while multi-tasking. Folks listen to our iPods while exercising, while traveling, while lying on a beach. (I wonder if book sales are down?) I guess folks could put an entire album on an iPod....but I suspect most probably download 1 or 2 "radio" songs from an album and that's that. I wish we knew how many complete albums are downloaded...in addition to the ones sold in stores, etc. But the other side of that is that some artists have their music ONLY accessible online. But...you know....I bought alot of 45s when I was a teen....not necessarily a whole album....but if the artists who I liked back then had given away "free" 45s, (like on MySpace), I probably would have been first in line. Maybe giving it away isn't such a good idea. Time will tell, I guess, if MySpace is hurting or helping careers. It's a good way to get your music out there - reaching ears you wouldn't otherwise reach....but maybe giving it away, negates a reason to buy... I just don't know. I do know that it makes me crazy that hard work doesn't seem to be valued as much as it once was.
It would be interesting to hear what EP thinks about the demise of the album.
Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:32 am
For what its worth I guess I’m would be considered to have a "younger perspective" and well, I like albums!
In fact, I go out of my way to buy CDs and have yet to download a song or an album from iTunes (or any other online music download store). For me there is something about holding the CD and seeing the album art that is so special, I can't imagine not being able to do that when I first listen to a CD. It would change the entire experience of the music.
I admit that after I have listened to an album enough times that I know exactly what song is coming next and am singing it before the song has begun, I occasional switch my CD player or computer to random. But then I always realize the beauty of he order that they were in to begin with.
I think that there is something magical about appreciating the order of the songs and knowing/loving an album so much, and that makes anticipating the next song that much more meaningful and special.
Though I understand why many people download the "hit" songs and not the rest of the album and that people in general are not taking the time to appreciate the album any longer, it isn't right for me.
I think it is also a reflection of the kind of music that one chooses to listen to. Much of the "popular" music doesn’t require much thought to create (with all due respect, I hope I don’t get in too much trouble for saying that her, but I guess I'm pretty safe), it doesn’t stimulate much thought for the listener and it isn't as meaningful as most of the music that people posting and reading this site would chose to listen to.
I think that the more literate, thought-provoking and meaningful the lyrics are, the more important the overall album is. I believe that the listeners generally understand and appreciate that.
Then again, what do I know?!