« Top Five Artists To Whom More People Should Listen To | Main | Top Five Musical Heroes »

Top Five Albums Kept Away from the Shuffle

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish

Before I begin: I assume that this is specifically those albums which work best as albums. Those albums which derive power from their construction, and work best if you listen to the whole thing. The stuff left off the shuffle, but which I like anyway. Which means, mostly, cast recordings.

  • Evita. By the time we get to “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”, it’s actually moving. Really. No, not when Madonna sings it, obviously.
  • The Rocky Horror Show. Not the Picture Show, which is fine, and all, but the original NY stage recording, which hits the musical parodies perfectly. It’s easy to forget, with all the ridiculousness around it, that the show itself is really very clever and funny, and the cleverest and funniest thing about it is the way it lampoons song styles.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In particular, I have to hear this from start to finish, because if I listen to the one-disc ‘highlights’ version, I get all cross.
  • Quadrophenia. Oh, I actually have this on shuffle, along with everything else, but it is so much better to listen to the whole story. In fact, I used to get annoyed at having to switch CDs, back in the days when actual physical CDs were required to listen.
  • Little Shop of Horrors: This is mostly a start-to-finish album for me because if I only listen to one or two songs, I’ll have strains of all the others stuck in my head all the next day.

Your Humble Blogger is, as you surmise, not a big fan of concept albums. That is, I have nothing against the idea of the concept album, which I like a lot, but there aren’t very many actual concept albums I like a lot. I’ve been shuffling my music for three years, more or less, and in that time, I haven’t felt the need to listen to very many albums from start to finish.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


Leaving out soundtracks to theater musicals:

Joe Jackson, Blaze of Glory
Pink Floyd, The Wall
This Mortal Coil, Filigree and Shadow
Jane Siberry, No Borders Here
Paul Simon, Graceland

I often prefer listening to an entire album, because I have a lot of incompatible musical genres on iTunes and I'm not good with smart playlists. But these are albums that I prefer listening to in whole and in order, rather than doing a shuffle on the album, the artist, or the genre.

college radio. that is the model for everything. shuffle it all together and the more times your head explodes the better.

what might i listen to alongside the mad rush of incompatible noises: live shows - both soundtracks and concerts. i don't care about the sequence of concept albums, but i do care about the sequence of albums where the songs cross-fade. compilations in order of recording date, or that friends put together. oh wait, things like song cycles, movements of symphonies and such, those go in order. the track divisions are logistical, right.

okay um...

de la soul is dead
by de la soul. this is because the read along storybook in between songs is hilarious and they comment on the quality of the songs in the story. yes, there is a cartoon to read along with. yes yes yes.

abbey road
by the beatles. i don't care how anybody listens to sgt. pepper but the flow of songs inside and outside of the closing medley is something to experience.

tabla tarang - melody on drums
by pandit kamalesh maitra et al. this is an intoxicating experience that builds through three 10-minute pieces into a 45-minute hypnotic daze. unreal.

daydream nation
by sonic youth. i just don't think you get the feel for their feedback rock without listening to tons of it. this is a great set.

viva! la woman
by cibo matto. already mentioned, this piece of electronica-whatchamacallit has incredibly good use of negative space between songs and during. it really clicks.

I might have included Abbey Road, only really it's just a few songs that I feel I should put together as one track; the rest can go shuffle.

i know what you mean. me i'm a little afraid of having "maxwell's silver hammer" and "octopus's garden" pop up somewhere. they're less independent than songs like "yellow submarine" or "lucy in the sky".

So of course I had to pull up iTunes and play Maxwell's Silver Hammer. It's just one of those songs that I can go for months without hearing quite happily, but if it has been months and someone mentions it, I need to play it. Dunno if I could create a top 5 list of songs that are most annoying in that particular way, though.

Another category this whole exercise has brought to mind is albums you would get rid of except for that one song you like. (Less likely to be a factor as the digital music thing takes over.)

I'll start: _One Step Ahead of the Spider_ by MC 900 Foot Jesus, kept around for "Buried at Sea." I don't think I've managed to listen to any of the other songs on that CD all the way through.

You know, this brings up my datanerd confession; I'd love to be able to run reports on the table (and even more to have it be relational, so I could really run reports).
For instance, I'd love to know the albums with the highest average song rating, the albums with the highest percentage of songs rated more than three, or with songs rated five. Or the albums with the most songs rated less than three. Or the artists with the most albums that have one or no songs rated two or lower. Or the artists with the lowest and highest averages, and percentages of outliers generally.
And, of course, if the thing were relational, I could set up shuffle playlists to not play two tracks off an album in the same day, or to play one-hit-wonder songs more frequently, or to play an hour of just one-hit-wonders, or whatnot.
And if it were relational, I could wait ten minutes in between tracks, too. Hmph.

so right now i have 3 music databases.

the songs in the digital jukebox. a clunky flat file organized by source country. not all are on disc.

the discs on the shelves on the wall. equally clunky, equally flat, organized by hemisphere and then by artist name. more fun to browse this though because of the pretty pictures and all the good liner note writing and stuff. not all are ripped.

the albums in the filemaker database - discs got, to get, and for reference. not so clunky but still a flat file because it syncs with another, clunkier database on a handheld computer.

keeping the two computer lists lined up means good data entry habits. it's very unlikely that these three will ever come together on a combination of devices that doesn't try to sell me things in between songs.

however, having a gigantic list of desired albums in my pocket makes it easy to find great deals at used record stores.

Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.