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Old 07-12-2017, 01:11 PM   #1
Jonny Come Lately
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Default Are there any albums where you think...

Over the summer holidays I've been listening to a number of the albums in my collection and it's got me thinking about how they provide such different listening experiences, not just in sound but in quality and consistency. Some albums are 'top heavy' with the best songs at the front, some are very consistent, others are very up and down in quality. So based on my experiences, I was interested to see if anyone else had ever made any similar observations about the 'balance' of tracks on a record.

I therefore ask out of curiosity if there any albums you own or have heard where you find that:

1) You like just about every song on the album, but you donít think there are any standout tracks

2) You love almost every song on the album, but there is one song you donít like

3) You much prefer the first half of the album to the second half

4) You much prefer the second half of the album to the first half

5) You think the album starts and ends weakly, but is strong in the middle

6) You like about half of the album and dislike about half of it Ė you generally either really like or donít like most songs, with few tracks falling between the two extremes

Feel free to answer as many of them at a time as you want - if for example you can think of albums where you much prefer one half or the other but can't think of one that is strong in middle, you can skip that question or leave it for later. I've tried to make this as inclusive as possible (hence why I describe 'half' of an album rather than 'side', so as not to exclude post-vinyl era albums) already thought about my answers to these and will post them later.
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Interesting topic, JCL. I'll have to give it some thought, except for #2. My choice for that is Hemingway's Whiskey by Kenny Chesney. I love every song except for one, "Small Ya'll" which is kind of formulaic with a it's-been-done-before vibe.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Regarding Lindsey Buckingham's solo work:

1) Out of the Cradle almost fits in this category for me. I like the album as a whole a lot. "This Is the Time," "Countdown," "Wrong," "Soul Drifter," and "Surrender the Rain" stuck out to me in the first few listens, but now, I just like to listen to the album from the beginning to the end w/o skipping. The songs don't stick out as much as they used to, but if I were asked what are my favorite tracks on it, it would still be them.

2) Under the Skin's weakness that I often skip is "Not Too Late" because I really don't like the beginning verses. Too much whispering in the singing. Without that, I would love the album more.

3) Law and Order - I really like the first 5 songs a lot and the last song, "A Satisfied Mind," but I don't really like the last half too much.

The other 3 albums don't fit in the categories that you provided as easily. Hope to hear about your picks for these categories soon!
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Some very interesting thoughts already. I hadn't thought of trying to find an example of each from one artist's discography, although I do mention more than one example from some artists. It's particularly easy for someone like Neil Young, where not only does he have so many albums, but they range in quality from brilliant to 'what was he thinking?'!

Here's my list:

Quote:
1) You like just about every song on the album, but you donít think there are any standout tracks

Comes A Time by Neil Young is probably the best fit for this in my collection. Iíll happily listen to any of the songs on this album, but it doesnít contain any of my favourite songs by him. My favourite songs would be Goiní Back and title track, but although I like them a lot, they wouldnít be in my top 20 Neil songs.

2) You love almost every song on the album, but there is one song you donít like

Making Movies by Dire Straits is the obvious one for me. The album is superb overall, but I really donít like the closing track Les Boys. I actually left it off my iPod as the other six tracks are great and the album feels better and more cohesive without it.

To a lesser extent, I would also say Led Zeppelin III, where I really like every song except for Hats Off To (Roy) Harper, which I donít care much for. Unlike Les Boys example, I do find Harper listenable, but I wish theyíd included the superior Hey Hey What Can I Do instead.


3) You much prefer the first half of the album to the second half

Pink Floydís More Soundtrack album Ė most of side one is decent, and it has a couple of pretty good songs (Cirrus Minor and Cymbaline). Side two, however, mostly consists of unmemorable instrumentals and is far weaker than the first half, let alone peak Pink Floyd.

Iíd also suggest Coda by Led Zeppelin, where side one has some good material (Weíre Gonna Groove rocks) but I can take or leave virtually everything on side two.


4) You much prefer the second half of the album to the first half

I might be in a minority here, but I much prefer the second half of Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits. With the exception of Money For Nothing, I donít rate the other hits on the first half that highly, whereas I love the war/conflict-themed songs on side two, especially the title track.

Iíd also say Neil Youngís American Stars n Bars, where I like the country songs on side one but I donít consider any of them to be classic Neil, whereas side two boasts Like A Hurricane, which I think just might be his single greatest song, and I also find the other material more interesting than side one.


5) You think the album starts and ends weakly, but is strong in the middle

Pink Floydís Obscured By Clouds Ė I donít care for the closing instrumental, and although I like the opening two tracks a bit better I can live without them. By contrast, the songs in the middle of the album from Burning Bridges to Stay (tracks 3-9) are generally very good.

6) You like about half of the album and dislike about half of it Ė you generally either really like or donít like most songs, with few tracks falling between the two extremes

The album that epitomises this for me is Building The Perfect Beast (sorry Don!). On one hand, Boys of Summer is a classic, I love Month Of Sundays and I also like Youíre Not Drinking Enough, Not Enough Love In The World and Sunset Grill. Unfortunately, I donít care for Land of the Living and thereís three tracks I really donít like (Man On A Mission, the title track and Driving With Your Eyes Closed). I can never quite decide whether I like All She Wants To Do Is Dance or not. The only Ďmehí track for me is You Canít Make Love.
I will admit it's probably easier to think of examples for some of these than others (in particular, I think there are more 'top-heavy' albums with a better first half than second half than the other way around). It's ultimately subjective though - I know there are people who completely disagree with me about Brothers In Arms, for example.

Last edited by Jonny Come Lately; 07-14-2017 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 07-16-2017, 02:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Thanks for sharing JCL! I'm no expert on Neil Young whatsoever, but I'll check out "Comes a Time" since you said it's consistently good. I'll give "Making Movies" a listen as well, and those two will be on more priority than the others you mentioned at the moment.

For Building the Perfect Beast, I don't like You're Not Drinking Enough, Drivin With Your Eyes Closed, Man with A Mission (of course), and the title track. The title track isn't totally lost on me, since I do like some parts of it. I like You Can't Make Love, since I can hear Buckingham's guitar style and background vocals. His vocals are hard for me to hear, unless I'm paying attention. I like the rest of the album though.
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Old 07-16-2017, 05:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonny Come Lately View Post
Making Movies by Dire Straits is the obvious one for me. The album is superb overall, but I really donít like the closing track Les Boys. I actually left it off my iPod as the other six tracks are great and the album feels better and more cohesive without it.
JCL, you've reminded me of the first time I heard Making Movies. I was crammed on the back seat of a car, on a guys day out. Really great album. I may have been familiar with a single or two but I enjoyed the whole thing immensely. There was a lot of discussion and singing along going on. "The crack was good" as Van The Man would say. I also distinctly remember the cries of derision and the rush for the eject/fast forward button when "Les Boys" started. I never did get to hear that song.

Albums that come to mind are Glenn's The Allnighter. I liked the whole album, until I became familiar with the lyrics to Better In The U.S.A. . It was initially a favourite but now I can't listen to it without cringing.
Same with Joe's ILBTs from You Bought It you Name It. Although the cringing embarrassment was instant. I really cranked that album up the first time I played it! I've accepted Joe's explanation for it but I wish it was included as an optional extra. It annoys me to hear Walsh fans extolling it's greatness. It was meant to be offensive trash that's not worthy of being put on a record and that's exactly what it is.

Lastly Joe's Songs For a Dying Planet album. When I heard it was coming out (13 months after Ordinary Average Guy which was not a favourite), I scoured the radio shows that I'd heard Walsh songs on in the past, hoping to hear a preview track. When I heard Fairbanks Alaska, I hated it. Three minutes of unfunny, egotistical boasting with a half-assed AC/DC riff and synthetic drums. . I despaired

I suppose Joe's publicist wanted to continue pushing the 'rock guy with the funny lyrics' thing that had worked once with Life's Been Good when Fairbanks Alaska was chosen as the lead off track.

When the Songs For A Dying Planet album actually came out and Fairbanks Alaska became track two of a complex concept album, It became a different track.
I initially wasn't very keen on the album's opening track, Shut Up either. After hearing Joe boasting on Fairbanks Alaska, I now hear him being obnoxious and intolerant during Shut Up.

After such unpromising beginnings, the album suddenly takes off on a musical journey with long instrumental passages, informal song structures, tempo and key changes, thought provoking and emotional lyrics, unexpected nuances and sounds with a few subtle references and reminders of Joe's classic albums of the early seventies. All the stuff I love about Walsh albums, which caught me quite unawares . By track eleven, I was welling up during the extended intro of album centerpiece Decades, by theclose I was left stunned and breathless.

I'm no longer averse to listening to the two opening tracks. Intolerance, selfishness and self obsession are all fine topics for an album about destructive global concerns.

Joe's albums have taught me that it's better to endure album tracks that you're not that keen on, rather than skipping them. They're all part of the album listening experience imho.
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RudieCantFail View Post
For Building the Perfect Beast, I don't like You're Not Drinking Enough, Drivin With Your Eyes Closed, Man with A Mission (of course), and the title track. The title track isn't totally lost on me, since I do like some parts of it. I like You Can't Make Love, since I can hear Buckingham's guitar style and background vocals. His vocals are hard for me to hear, unless I'm paying attention. I like the rest of the album though.
The song Building The Perfect Beast has a fabulous intro. I think it was used as the theme tune for an American Football show on British TV back in the 80s, or at least on the program's promo trailer. Like U2's Where The Streets Have No Name, the actual song doesn't live up to the intro.imho.

Driving With Your Eyes Closed was a great concert opener. I remember all the stage lights switching far right to announce and illuminate the entrance, sexily slinking on to stage through some saloon doors, of Don's backing singers. (labeled 'The French Girls' on the tracks, album sleeve credits) It was perfectly in character for their "talk, talk, talk and talk" chant.

I didn't expect any such theatrics from a Henley show.

I think all the songs are good, even the very uptempo, Man With A Mission but the sounds of the whole album is horribly 80s.
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

I'll tackle no. 2, and cite "Sgt. Pepper" by The Beatles. I like every song except "Within You, Without You," and that's based primarily on song length. The other one I almost don't like is "Good Morning." Lazy songwriting, John. Some people have criticized "64," but it's a complete effort, whereas "Good Morning" just sounds kind of like that was the best they could do at the time. I'd have liked to see it replaced with "Strawberry Fields."

Bless George's heart. "WYWOY" has a lot of really good things to say, but it's just too long. It's better than "Blue Jay Way," but not by much. I understand why they included it, but there were some other songs he did that had the same sound, but were better suited for the album, IMO. He had some written, like "Love You To" that made it on Revolver, but could have as easily gone on Pepper. If it had about 90 seconds lopped off, it would have been a better fit to me. Yeah, that's me, messing with a classic. LOL.

I listened to the remastered release, and I liked what I heard. Pepper was my first Beatles album, and it still rewards careful listening.
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

1. Poco - Head Over Heels

4. Herman's Hermits - There's a Kind of Hush All Over the World
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Old 07-19-2017, 06:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: Are there any albums where you think...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RudieCantFail View Post
Thanks for sharing JCL! I'm no expert on Neil Young whatsoever, but I'll check out "Comes a Time" since you said it's consistently good. I'll give "Making Movies" a listen as well, and those two will be on more priority than the others you mentioned at the moment.

For Building the Perfect Beast, I don't like You're Not Drinking Enough, Drivin With Your Eyes Closed, Man with A Mission (of course), and the title track. The title track isn't totally lost on me, since I do like some parts of it. I like You Can't Make Love, since I can hear Buckingham's guitar style and background vocals. His vocals are hard for me to hear, unless I'm paying attention. I like the rest of the album though.
Although I like Comes A Time and find it consistently good, TBH it's the not the Neil Young album I'd recommend a newcomer to begin with (I'm guessing you haven't heard any of his albums - feel free to correct if this isn't the case), in part due to the lack of real standout tracks. The ones I'd suggest to begin with are After The Gold Rush and Rust Never Sleeps. The latter is my favourite, but the former is probably the best introduction to his work. As an alternative, I think his compilation album is Decade, which offers a pretty good summary of his music from the late 1960s and early/mid 1970s is probably the best one (Making Movies, on the other hand, I'd certainly recommend as a starting point for Dire Straits - the only album I like more by them is the less accessible Love Over Gold).

Regarding Building The Perfect Beast as an album, we seem to be fairly similar in our likes and dislikes with the exception of You're Not Drinking Enough (I don't dislike You Can't Make Love, it just isn't really a favourite - I must listen more closely to see if I can pick out Lindsey's vocals though, I knew he was on that song but haven't). I don't really know why I like You're Not Drinking, as it's not something I can personally relate to. I think it's the music and production rather than the lyrics - it's a bit more bluesy/country and less electronic than most of the other tracks - although I quite like the 'all the whiskey in Texas' bridge too. With the title track, I think it was an interesting subject matter for Don to tackle, but I don't like the music or the 'building, building' vocal parts which makes it difficult for me to enjoy listening to it. Looking at it in a positive way, I think on balance it's probably better to have an album with low points and high peaks than one where there's no really bad tracks but pretty much everything is mediocre (as opposed to the situation described in #1, where all or almost all of the songs are good).
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