Friday, October 14, 2022

WIRTW #646: the “conceptualized” edition

A "concept album" is an album that tells a story through a single instrumental, compositional, or lyrical narrative or theme. The songs bind together through that theme and hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than individually.

Debates rage over what album qualifies as the "first" concept album. You can make an argument for Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small HoursPet Sounds by the Beach Boys, or The Mothers of Invention's Freak Out!. Conventional wisdom, however, gives that title to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the 1967 masterwork by The Beatles, in which the band assumed the alter ego of the titular band.

Rolling Stone just released its list of the 50 greatest concept albums of all time. I've always loved concept albums. The storytelling. The themes. The idea of the sum of the whole being greater that its individual parts. I have great memories of sneaking off to the woods during my summer at overnight camp to listen to a bootleg cassette of The Wall front to back, over and over and over. The Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia were my entrée into my lifelong love of that band. I would spend hours reading the liner notes of my Lamb Lies Down on Broadway CD to try to understand Peter Gabriel's bizarre story. 

Anyhow, borrowing Rolling Stone's idea, here's my list of my top 11 concept albums, ranked not by greatness, impact, or importance (they all fit that bill), but in order of which I'd choose to listen to, front to back, over and over and over.
  1. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  2. Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  3. Curtis Mayfield – Super Fly
  4. The Who — Quadrophenia and Tommy (I couldn't pick just one)
  5. The Kinks – The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  6. Pink Floyd – The Wall
  7. Green Day – American Idiot
  8. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
  9. Marvin Gaye – What's Going On
  10. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should read, too.

Hired as salary but paid hourly when working under 40hrs — via Evil HR Lady, Suzanne Lucas

Judge shuts down LGBT guidance — via Employment & Labor Insider

Is Your Organization Inclusive of Deaf Employees? — via Harvard Business Review

New Frontier in COVID-19 Vaccine Litigation — via Employment Law Lookout