[I originally posted the following Listomania back in September of 2009, but let's not bring the whole burning of Atlanta thing up after all these years. In any event, I think it's still a kind of interesting topic to ponder; as is my wont with these vault plunderings, I've done some rewriting and changed an entry or two. I should add that I find it curious that back in the day I did not even attempt to slip in a Smashing Pumpkins album. -- S.S.]
Best or Worst Post-Elvis Rock or Pop Concept Album!!!
Self-explanatory, I think, but for purposes of clarity, when I use the term "concept album" I simply mean a record in which some overarching theme, however tenuous, is discernible. As a result no arbitrary rules this time, although I should think you'd be ashamed to nominate a generic greatest hits package.
And my totally top of my head Top Six is:
6. Marty Robbins -- Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
From 1959, a genuine crossover classic; "El Paso" is the best known cut, but the whole album works. That's Robbins on the cover, BTW, and in case you didn't notice he's doing Richard Boone as Palladin from Have Gun, Will Travel.
5. The Turtles -- Present the Battle of the Bands
The concept here is that the Turtles play each cut in a different style, from surf to country to hard rock, in post Sgt. Pepper guise as other bands. It's not really pursued all that rigorously, but since it features "Elenore" and the above gorgeous take on the early Byrds outtake "You Showed Me," I've always cut them a little slack.
4. Fucked Up -- David Comes to Life
A sort of post-modern rock opera set in England in the '70s and '80s.
You know, I rather like the idea (rather than the reality) of this band, and I once saw Damian Abraham, the lead singer of this bunch interviewed on my orthicon tube a few years ago, and found him surprisingly funny and politically very astute
That said, I'd rather have my eyes gouged out with a melon-baller than watch the guy shirtless in a live gig.
3. Garth Brooks -- ...in the Life of Chris Gaines
Brooks in his bizarre incarnation as a supposedly legendary 90s alt-rocker. I don't care if the damn thing sold two million copies -- it's a prime contender for biggest What the Fuck Was He Thinking? album in music history.
2. The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Yeah, yeah, yeah -- I know it's over-exposed (so is Bach's B-Minor Mass) and some people think it's a period piece (those people are just being difficult.)
Sorry, it's the tits. Deal with it.
And the most memorable for whatever reason High Concept rock or pop album obviously is --
1. The Paragons and The Jesters -- The Paragons Meet the Jesters
The very first (after the fact) thematic rock compilation (1959), and thanks to the brilliantly art-directed leather bar juvenile delinquent cover photo -- let's face it, Lou Reed based an entire esthetic on it -- still one of the most iconic.
Alrighty then -- and who would your choices be?
[h/t Joy Brodsky Thurston]