Pretentious,moi? Concept album heaven and hell
A frequent interview cliché goes: “This is not a concept album.” Concept albums somehow got a terrible name, dismissed as drug-addled exercises in pretentiousness. Strange, especially considering some of the best albums of all time are indeed, concept albums…
- David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
An alien falls from space, becomes a rock star and tries to broadcast a message of hope to the world. Ultimately, poor Ziggy becomes destroyed by sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and fan worship. Only Bowie could conceivably pull this madness off.
- The Beatles: SGT Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
After getting the monkey of touring off their backs, The Beatles ran riot in the studio. The conceit that the band had turned into a somewhat cheesy Las Vegas-style act was brilliant, especially when that band could deliver as fully formed a classic asA Day in the Life concluding their historic set of jaunty pop.
- Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
The High Kings of the concept album, Roger Waters suggested making an album based on the things that “make people mad”. The lead single Money is certainly more pertinent than ever before. Dark Side also documents the beginning of the sad mental demise of Syd Barrett.
And a few unmitigated disasters
- Lou Reed — Metal Machine Music (1975)
- Terence Trent D’Arby — Neither Fish nor Flesh — A Soundtrack of Love, Faith, Hope and Devotion (1989)
- Goldie — Saturnz Return (1999)
- Kula Shaker — Peanuts, Pigs and Astronauts (1999)