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    • CommentAuthorAnanzitusq
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    Every album by Coheed and Cambria.
    • CommentAuthorAlexGBYMR
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009 edited
    King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader. Space monster comes down, observes world, raps.
    The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas. And I quote "fourteen songs about seven people, two houses, a motorcycle, and a locked treatment facility for adolescent boys."
    Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Towards the Red Sun (I think this counts, it has an over-riding arch if nothing else) The great leap forward.
    Zao - The Funeral Of God. God packs up and leaves, the world goes to shit.

    ETA: The Decemeberists - The Hazards of Love. Long story involving fawn/men, a homicidal rakish fellow and various others.
    • CommentAuthorltwill
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    marillion- script for a jester's tear
    marillion -fugazi
    actually all the marillion before fish left.
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    Mastodon certainly deserve credit for keeping the concept album alive and viable.
    If we're talkin' Mountain Goats concept albums I would say "We Shall All Be Healed" is more dear to me than "All Hail" (though I like that one too).
    Also, there was a band called Nero that put out "The Dune Concept Album" on Temporary Residence years ago.
  1.  (6685.25)
    Deltron 3030
    (Dan the Automator, Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Kid Koala)

    (They'd later team up on the first Gorillaz album)

    take a listen here
  2.  (6685.26)
    Ziggy Stardust is the classic: well-done and immaculately produced and engineered, so it tops my list. Disintegration might not be a concept album in a strict sense, but it gets its point across better than most concept albums, and is quite perfect, so that’s #2. I put most of The Wall at #3, but the last four tracks aren’t so great and Waters’ vocals are just godawful throughout so it just can’t have a higher slot. Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Albums was their best work (and last good album); not about mopey teenage stuff, and musically adventurous.

    Wagner’s ring cycle really represents the ultimate concept album, but I’m not going to pretend I listen to any of those operas from beginning to end more than once a year. He really should have passed over Cosima Liszt and found a wife who could have edited the hours of redundant conversations out of the librettos.

    I’m kind of surprised how many people are still listening to The Downward Spiral. When I try listening to the old NIN albums now the angst comes across as campy, even comical, and I can’t take it seriously. I was honestly surprised to see that Reznor’s final live shows are dominated by his 1990s whinges and not his later, better work.
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    I'm interpreting Concept Albums as a pop music thing, so no compositional wholes a la Mingus' Black Saint here.

    eels - Electro-Shock Blues
    David Bowie - 1. Outside
    Lou Reed - Berlin
    Lou Reed & John Cale - Songs for Drella
    Parliament - Motheship Connection & Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome (and the whole damn mythos)
    David Sylvian - Secrets of the Beehive

    I've yet to decipher the last one, but it's always felt like a particularly intriguing puzzle to me.

    I echo the mentions of Marvin Gaye.
  3.  (6685.28)
    @ Ryan Catcher. 2nd on Deltron 3030. that was gonna be my input.
  4.  (6685.29)
    Amazed that Warren, with his hatred of prog rock, has left this thread up... though of course not all concept albums come from prog, it's something of a staple.
    (And I fucking love them.)

    Here's an obscure one for ya - Rigel 9. Music by David Bedford (with guest appearance from Strawberry Switchblade), words by Ursula LeGuin. It's about a first-contact team meeting a species which communicates only through song.
      CommentAuthorPaul Sizer
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009 edited
    Here's my picks that I feel fit the definition of a "concept album":
    1. Unifying theme through all songs
    2. Narrative that runs through all the songs
    3. Unifying musical components
    4. Works better as a collection of songs, rather than singles

    Kraftwerk: "Computer World" (welcome to the new technological world)
    Marc Almond: "Tenement Symphony" (Almond's imaginary Broadway play)
    Blue Nile: "Hats" (A weekend of longing and hope)
    Julee Cruise: "Floating Into The Night" (Soundtrack to David Lynch's "Industrial Symphony" and "Twin Peaks")
    Heaven 17: "The Luxury Gap" (Dancing through the shit of the Thatcher/Reagan era)
    Janet Jackson: "Control" (Fuck you Mom and Dad) or "Rhythm Nation" (a little(!) ham fisted social commentary, but damn near perfectly sonic pop)
    Vanessa Daou: "Zipless" (all songs use the poetry of Erica Jong)
    Prince: "Sign O' The Times" (My pick for his most complete, stand-alone album that runs a cycle of themes)

    Rip away, I know some (or all) of these choices will be viewed as blasphemy... I can take it!
    • CommentAuthorThe Brad
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    Bowie's trilogy of Stardust, Sane, and Diamond Dogs I think count as concept albums.

    Would Tom Wait's music be considered concept albums? A large chunk of them seem to fit that category. Frank's Wild Years, Swordfish Trombones, Rain dogs, Blood Money, Alice, etc.

    Third (fourth?) the Marvin Gaye. Curtis Mayfield had some albums that i think are of the concept variety. Back To The World and Superfly.
  5.  (6685.32)
    I was honestly surprised to see that Reznor’s final live shows are dominated by his 1990s whinges and not his later, better work.

    That's why I just can't enjoy NIN anymore, especially live. I much prefer post-rehab but all the fans still clamour for the old stuff and Trent seems to want to keep them happy with the live shows.

    People are listing a lot of albums that I wouldn't have really thought of as concept albums. To me it's like there are 'Themed Albums' and then there are 'Concept Albums'. Like Anti-Christ Superstar might have been Manson trying to make a concept album, but I certainly wouldn't call it one. The only NIN album I could call a concept album would be Year Zero, and I don't know if I really buy Lateralus being a concept album.

    Anyway, concept albums:
    Leviathan, Blood Mountain, Crack the Skye - Mastodon
    Deloused in the Comatorium, Frances the Mute - The Mars Volta. I think these two are the TMV albums that come across as the most 'concept-y' and are the two that I still give the most play.

    Honourable mention (aka themed albums or something):
    The Inevitable Rise & Liberation of Niggy Tardust - Saul Williams
    The Shape of Punk to Come - Refused. The tracks are tied together like a concept album might be, but otherwise I don't think it really counts... Unless vague anti-establishmentism is a concept.
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009
    Many of the ones here have already been named. Iced Earth(where most of their albums tend towards concept, it seems), to Pink Floyd, to others. Just to say something that I don't think has been said yet, I quite like Emerson Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery.
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009 edited
    Recently I'd certainly say The Inevitable Rise & Liberation of Niggy Tardust, and Dr. Sizer's pick of Sign O' The Times is a peach.

    Probably my favourite concept album that hasn't been mentioned yet is The Afghan Whigs Gentlemen. Although there are a bunch of those kind of albums, following a relationship to its ultimately doomed conclusion - Gentlemen is a really solid gripping concept, and just staggeringly nihilistic at times. Black Love is worth considering too, but the concept isn't as tight. It still paints a pretty vivid picture of a hot summer in a city with gangs, violence and (interracial) sex.

    Some of Richard Thompson's albums carry that vague relationship-concept-album conceit (Mock Tudor and You, Me, Us for example) but the actual characters of the songs generally vary too much for you to call it a concept album of any sort.

    Hamell on Trial's Chooch Town is a great concept album as well: characters cross between songs, are mentioned in different tracks, whole songs are devoted to different viewpoints of the same incident - and all set around a bunch of losers, musicians and small time crooks in some desolate suburban sprawl. He even gets away with including some personal songs by including himself as a peripheral character in the world.

    I absolutely love the Beaty Pill EP - The Cigarette Girl From The Future, which I'm pretty sure the writer claimed was a concept about a cigarette girl from the future coming back to see our world and something, something... Actually, I can never really discern much in the way of a plot, but I love it. At the end, does the cigarette girl die? Or is that someone else that the cigarette girl is with?

    And, the emo-ish indie-rock might turn off a bunch of people, but I love the concept of Say Anything's ...Is A Real Boy. It's the story of a vain, shallow, neurosis-laden indie-rock singer who is cursed to only speak the truth and pour all his deepest secrets out in his music. It's a cheap concept that allows him to do a bunch of misanthropic, bitter, expletive laden indie songs, but it has some very funny ideas in there.

    And My Chemical Romance! The Black Parade! He dies at the start and then looks back on his life in a suitably angst ridden way. Purists may disqualify it because there are a few tracks where I can't see their connection to the over-arching concept, but it still bears mentioning.

    OH! OH! OH! I almost forgot! Subtle, who are just one of the greatest bands in the world right now, have done a three album series of concept albums that have to be my number one choice for this list. Over the course of The New White, For Hero: For Fool and Exiting ARM is one long story, supplemented by character bios in some of the liner notes and I think that Doseone made a whole website to flesh out the world even more.
  6.  (6685.35)
    Electric Light Orchestra's TIME.
  7.  (6685.36)
    @ MagicSword. I completely forgot about Niggy Tardust. that album is fucking great and "Gentlemen" too, also a good call.

    @Corey Waites. I think you might be equating only albums that tell a story as concept albums where I would say that your "themed albums" are concept albums since the theme in is a concept which the album revolves around rather than just a collection of songs, but each to their own.
    • CommentAuthorThomDunn
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    ...Is a Real Boy is a phenomenal album, undoubtedly, but I still have a hard time stomaching it as a "concept" album. I love the music he writes, but Max Bemis is one pretentious fuck, and from what I've read, the "concept" is that it's about him, fictionalized, and his vaguely defined fictionalized journey through growing up in/hating the scene around him, and dealing with heartbreak and problems as he tries to succeed in a fictionalized rock band. All of which is entirely true and personal, and if every personal song contributes to a "concept" album, I think there'd be a lot more of them. You wouldn't necessarily know about the narrator's neurotic Terret's-esque problem unless you read an interview; you'd just assume that Max Bemis is a (brilliantly) cynical (but still obnoxiously pretentious) songwriter.

    The Weakerthans are a Canadian band that I absolutely adore, and their album "Reconstruction Site" has a neat conceit: the first, middle, and last tracks--"(Manifest)," "(Hospital Vespers)" and "(Past Due)," respectively (and I'm always a sucker for parantheses)--are all sonnets (lyrically) and employ the same main melody while the accompaniment changes, and together the tell the story of a man dying in a hospital. Sad but beautiful.
    That same album also features, "Plea From a Cat Named Virtute, " the first of two songs told from the point of view of a cat whose owner is suffering from serious depression, and the cat doesn't understand why the owner is acting the way is she, and doesn't know what to do to help. The story is continued on their album "Reunion Tour," after the owner has committed suicide and left the cat all alone in "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure." It's heartbreaking, but beautiful, especially in the way that John Samson captures the naivety of the narrating cat and her inability to understand the complexities of human emotions.

    Does Sufjan Stevens count for any this, too?
    • CommentAuthorThomDunn
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009
    Also, the only EP recorded by my old band was a psuedo-concept album, loosely based around "Catcher in the Rye." This was a complete accident (I, it was intentional because we were literary rock and roll stars), of course, which leads me to believe that a lot of concept albums come about the same way. Our piano player was reading the book while we were recording, and it was also our drummer's favorite book (to the point that he could pick out the exact page on which his favorite passage fell, in every edition of the book), so we decided to call the album "If You Really Want to Hear About It." At this point, it somehow went over our heads that one of the more anthemic tracks referenced Holden Caulfield in the chorus, so in the opening noise/feedback section of one the slower, sadder songs, we had some girl we found record the lines, "Don't ever tell anyone anything. If you do, you just start missing every body," which made the track about a thousand times more eerie and depressing.
    • CommentAuthorRobson
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009
    sgrsickness listed most of my favorites (the Bowie, Numan, and, yes, the Idol), but I'd add:

    Gary Numan, Pure
    Sunn O))), Monoliths and Dimensions
  8.  (6685.40)
    Opeth's "Still Life"
    The Mars Volta's "De-Loused In The Comatorium"
    and "Frances The Mute"
    Ministry's "Rio Grande Blood"
    and "The Last Sucker"
    Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral"
    Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"
    Porcupine Tree's "Fear of a Blank Planet"
    Radiohead's "OK Computer"

    Venetian Snares' "Doll Doll Doll" and "Find Candace"