Let It Play a Little Longer

Did anyone have a chance to listen to the most recent Katy Kafé with John?  This month’s edition was slightly different in structure, in that Katy didn’t really talk with John about the band at all.  Instead, John spoke at length about what he believes to be his version of a “perfect album” – David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.  Truthfully, I loved this diversion from what we’ve gotten used to being “the norm”.  I mean, how many times can you really ask the band for a scoop on the album – especially when none of them really want to give up any precious information just yet?  No, it was time to find something new to chat about, and I appreciated that John was more than willing to share his insight.

It is important to note that everyone has their own standards for what makes a perfect album – and John is very quick to emphasize that his choice of Ziggy is simply what does it for him.  I would imagine that for many of us, our choices would likely be very different.  This is likely very much the same as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and no one is really wrong.  There can be no wrong answer about what you think is a perfect album, which makes the topic that much more interesting.  I think the proper point here is that regardless of the album(s) chosen or why, the spirit and emotion is very similar.

John believes that a perfect album will take him on a ride. There is a real sense of a beginning, middle and end.  I very much got the feeling that listening to music is an escape of sorts for John, and I can appreciate the idea of being taken on a music journey.  He mentioned how making albums today is very different.  Back in the earlier days of vinyl, prior to the invent of CD – albums were shorter. 10 songs.  45 minutes, maybe 20-25 minutes a side.  Certainly one could sit through an entire side of music.  Then when CDs came along, the album length grew.  No longer could you count on being able to set aside just 45 minutes to enjoy a full album. Many were an hour or longer, and who can really set aside that much time without leaving the room, only to return and realize you never did listen to the entire album?  And now, with mp3’s, many people don’t even buy full albums any longer, so the effect of having that full journey or story told in an album appears to be a lost art to many in the industry.  (Obviously….I might add.)

From there, John goes into a slight description of each song.  I won’t dare to replicate the beautiful tales he weaves – I feel strongly that this is a Kafé worthy the cost of DDM membership.  I found myself, rather, thinking about what my own perfect album might be and why.

Katy asked John if he had more than one answer for his perfect album, and John seemed to indicate that yes, there was more than one in his collection.  She replied that her husband, Brian, had more than a few in his – and John seemed surprised by that.  As I mentioned  above, I don’t think there are really any right or wrong answers here.  Each of us has our own sentiments for what makes an album truly “perfect” to our ears and hearts.  So I began thinking of my own collection and what I would consider “perfect”.

I am very much right with John when I say that the album has got to take me on a ride.  I need to feel something when I’m listening.  There are a great many songs and albums that I very much enjoy and are likely among my most favorite, but for one reason or another that music can fade into the background – it doesn’t quite take me places or make me think the way that others might.  I like to listen to music intelligently, considering the words, the music, etc.  Then there are other days when I just want the music in the background.  I don’t necessarily want to “work for it”.  But for me, the music that I count as perfect is the music that I need to sit with, digest and actively experience.

So I have a  few albums that I would count as “perfect” in my book. They aren’t even albums that I listen to all that often – in fact some of these I haven’t sat with in a year or more, but when I do, I know that I’m getting quality.

Tears for Fears – The Hurting  This is not an “easy listening” album. I think that to get the full effect, you had better be present – and I don’t  just mean physically, I mean mentally. The ride with this one isn’t necessarily beautiful. It’s dark, it’s moody, it’s even violent in parts, but there is something about this album that really says all of the things that I think music should say.  I almost never listen to just a song or two from this album, in fact – I think the only way to really listen is to do it from start to finish and savor the whole way.

Styx – Paradise Theater An unlikely choice for this Duran Duran fan, huh?  I can’t help it.  I love this album.  It is Art Rock, it is American in all of it’s glory, it’s got the tale end of that 70s rock thing going for it, but it’s a story and I simply love the journey.  I never listen to a single song off of it unless I put the album on the turntable – which is rare, to be honest, but whenever I listen to it, I honestly think to myself that this is how every single album should feel.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band In all fairness, I could have picked a few other Beatles’ albums.  They are the one band that I feel has made more than one perfect album (for me).  I love this album to pieces – I’m singing or humming along happily with one, feeling moody with another, and that to this day I’m still trying to really understand what the lyrics mean.  On the other hand, I think that Revolver (another album) is every bit as good as this one, and that maybe I think it fulfills the intellectual side of me just a teensy bit more….but then I think about the White Album, and realize that I might not really be able to choose properly here.  I neglected to choose that one here simply because of it’s length. It’s tough to sit through the entire thing from start to finish. On any given day I might say one album over another and never really have my answer, but that’s why I love them all. The Beatles knew how to make an album, likely better than anyone else.

My list is not complete, mind you. These are merely the first few that came to mind…and given that we all know Duran Duran, I thought it might be time to expand from there.  Give it a try, let me know what you come up with.

-R

9 thoughts on “Let It Play a Little Longer”

  1. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is def. on the top of my list. I’ll have to listen to the Kafe, but some what he is saying, with regard to the perfect album having a beginning, middle and end sounds like a Concept album (which I consider Ziggy). I’d add Pink Floyd’s The Wall, to the pile as well.

    (And I want to test the comment feature on the new blog… no more anon comments!) (It would not connect to twitter… but I will try at home, because the network at work is notoriously sketchy… to be continued!)

    1. I am not sure if he really meant that concept albums are perfect – goodness knows that I know of a few that aren’t up to my standards, but I did have a similar thought when I was thinking about my idea of a perfect album. Some of the ones on my list (it’s a pretty short list) that come to mind are not really concept albums – but I still feel like they meet the idea of having a beginning, middle and end. I think what he may have meant though is that the album might not start off with the lead hit or single. Maybe it starts off kind of beckoning you in with something less conspicuous and in your face, but at the end of the album, you feel like it ended as it should have or something. I mean, to every person they’re going to have their own understanding of what makes an album perfect – maybe for some people none of this matters. They just want really good, hard hitting music the whole way through. There’s no wrong answer.

      You are right, we (well, I) cut the anon comments. You can certainly come up with a fake name, and we absolutely encourage that, but you do have to provide an email address. There may be a point in time where we get rid of that, but for now – it’s there. I just feel that if someone wants to come on here and bitch, then they should probably have the balls to stand up for themselves and their opinions. Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s our blog! LOL *skips away happily*

      I don’t know why it wouldn’t connect to Twitter – I haven’t heard that complaint yet, but it’s only day 4. Let me know. -R

  2. Ooh, perfect albums – great discussion! Some of mine are:

    The Lexicon of Love – ABC. My all-time favourite album outside of Duran, I think. Perfect in every way and definitely my go-to album for a break-up!

    If I were to pick a Beatles album it would be a hard choice as Rhonda said, but I think Abbey Road *just* nudges it over Revolver for me.

    Prefab Sprout’s first album Swoon works as a whole for me in the way that their others don’t. Also, A Happy Pocket by Trash Can Sinatras and 16 Lovers Lane by the Go-Betweens have a very similar in effect. It’s something to do with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, isn’t it?

    There are definitely certain albums in my collection which when I hear one track from them on random on my mp3 player I am forced to put on the whole album and listen properly.

    1. Those are GREAT, Bryony. Part of the reason I like these sorts of things is that I’m prompted to go give new music a listen! I forgot all about Abbey Road (!! What was I thinking?!?) – you’re right. That is a fantastic one. I need to listen to those today…

      I think you nailed it when you say that the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. That’s a great way of wording it. -R

  3. Outside Duran my perfects albums are:
    “A Night at the Opera” from Queen.
    1980’s album from Peter Gabriel (referred as “Melt”).
    “Graffiti on the Train” by Stereophonics
    “Band on the Run” by paul McCartney

    1. Very interesting choices, Patrick! I like Band on the Run – I wouldn’t have thought of that one, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Graffiti on the Train in its entirety – I will have to give that one a listen for sure. Thanks! -R

  4. My perfect albums? As of DD (and “DD’s family”, so to speak), the most obvious pick would have to be Rio; I love Arcadia’s and Power Station’s 1985 albums.
    The Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club
    Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
    Nirvana’s Nevermind
    Madonna’s Ray of Light
    Coldplay’s X&Y
    U2’s Pop

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