The greatest concept albums ever, as voted for by UG readers, with full album links. Your weekend is ready.
Posted on Nov 23, 2012 03:26 pm
Albums weren't always just a bunch of singles, ready to be plucked and thrown at the masses. They once meant something more significant; a body of art that was meant to be consumed as a whole.
Concept albums are the best example of what an album has the potential to be. If you don't sit, listen and absorb it all, you miss their greatest gifts.
Whether they're based around a careful narrative, or just built around a theme, concept albums can be the most captivating musical experiences available.
On Wednesday we asked you to vote for the best concept albums ever, and as usual they made for a storming list. We've posted the full albums so you can check them out, but be sure to go and buy them when you're hooked.
10. The Smashing Pumpkins "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" (1995)
Two discs, and two themes: day and night. At the time, frontman Billy Corgan told the press he wanted it to be like Pink Floyd's "The Wall" for Generation X. The album is often tender, occasionally violent, but always heartfelt.
9. Rush "2112" (1976)
The story of a dystopian future, set in the year 2112, in a world run by the Priests of the Temples Of Syrinx who control every facet of culture. A man learns to play an ancient guitar, but little does he know the part he plays in the future of the Solar Federation.
8. The Who "Tommy" (1969)
Billed as the first ever rock opera, it tells the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who feels everything as music before becoming a leader of a spiritual movement.
7. Queen Of The Stone Age "Songs for the Deaf" (2002)
It's a pretty loose concept, but it's supposed to chronicle a drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree while scanning through the radio and rocking out.
6. Tool "Lateralus" (2001)
Never has an album concept gone so far behind simple story lines. The secret is unlocked with a little mathematics: the fibonacci sequence (where the next number is the sum of the previous two numbers - 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and so on) represent a ratio often seen in nature. It's worth a Google to find out more, but with this album it supposedly reveals a secret track listing:
6, 7, 5, 8, 4, 9, 13, 1, 12, 2, 11, 3, 10
Try editing it together, overlapping the ambient tracks, and it all lines up. Magic!
5. The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967)
When the Beatles were fed up of touring, they quit and went into full-on production mode for their next album. The results changed the history of recorded music forever, but they were also free to explore the concepts and ideas behind the songs. They invented a fictitious band with new identities, though the concept is essentially forgotten after the first two songs. So as a concept album, it's a failure - but it's an enduring idea, so let's keep it on the list.
4. Green Day "American Idiot" (2004)
Inspired by musicals and The Who's "Tommy" rock opera, Green Day had a go at it themselves to explore the concept of rage versus love with the story of Jesus of Suburbia, a punk-rock freedom fighter, who ultimately commits suicide.
3. Mastodon "Crack the Skye" (2009)
According to their "Making of..." DVD, this album represents the element of aether, the soul and spirit of things, and explores ideas like astral travel, space wormholes and the devil.
2. Dream Theater "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" (1999)
We'd love to summarise the story to Dream Theater's magnum opus, but it's so complex that one paragraph would never do it justice. Picture this: it's about as straightforward as one of their songs. But still, it's an epic and emotional album worth exploring.
1. Pink Floyd "Animals" (1977), "The Wall" (1979) and "Dark Side Of The Moon" (1973)
Pink Floyd are kings of the concept album. I bet they'd rather track numbers didn't exist, so fans have to hear the whole record in its entirety. Well, they'll be very pleased that we've done exactly that with these YouTube embeds. Enjoy!
Thanks for casting your votes. Did your fellow readers miss out on alternative concept classics? Share them in the comments, and discuss more about your favorite album stories.