In the digital age, almost everyone streams or downloads, or does both. In this same age, vinyl is completely back. Two things that seem totally different and almost can’t go together, are happening next to each other.
The behaviour of the streaming and downloading person is quite clear: only the hits are played and downloaded, and other songs get only a few seconds to proove they are good. That’s the time someone listens to another song, so if the intro is not good, the song is skipped. That made me think: would the album actually die in the coming years? There seems no reason to make all those other tracks, since only a small group is there to listen to them. And let’s be honest: not a lot of people actually speak their mind on these album tracks. Therefore, it would almost seem logical to make songs that can become hits and not albums, because that would only cost a lot of money.
Luckily, there is hope for the album. The group that is buying vinyl records is growing steadily. Vinyl is back and big business! And it has one positive side: it’s very difficult to skip a song without damaging either the record or the needle, both are not recommended. This group consists of people who want quality for their money and also feel playing music is something special.
Albums are something great: they show what an artist can do more than just in the hits. Take for example Genesis. The hits are all short, but the longer songs on their albums are also great. Autobahn from Kraftwerk (if you ever hear it) is cut to four minutes, while the full album track is a true ride from more than 22 minutes.
But let’s also not forget artists are trying to tell us a story with their songs. Some albums are merily a collection of songs, but the concept album needs all the songs (hits and album tracks) to tell the full story. The Wall from Pink Floyd is just a great example. Take the songs apart and they tell a nice story, but together they form a powerful work.
Back to the start: is there a future for the album? Probably, though the public might change to a narrower public of people who want to hear more from artists. At least there is the hope that artists just want to create a complete work with a full story, and the only thing they need is a complete album.
So what is your view? Is the album dead or more alive than ever?
In 1987, Level 42 released its seventh studio album, and one of the singles is the title track. It was a number 6 hit in the UK, and that’s not strange: there were some UK singles that had a fault in the pressing, making it skip some times. In the US, the single did number 83. It made them famous in quite some countries that they had not yet reached. The song was there already in 1986, live with different lyrics. Enjoy
Level 42- Running In The Family
This song was Joe Jackson’s first single ever! He released it in 1978 as the first single of the album Look Sharp! The song would hit the charts in 1979, when the album was released. Joe Jackson said he first heard the title, and then started thinking about the content with the pretty girls who meet monsters. Later live versions would also be hits, and often you hear the live version on the radio rather than the studio version. Enjoy
Joe Jackson- Is She Really Going Out With Him?
I think it’s one of the best bands that existed: the Doors. In 1967 they released their album People Are Strange, and the title song reached number 12 in the US. The song shows how the Doors were fascinated by the European cabaret, and the content of the song is about drug users, the hippie culture or outsiders in general. A great song, enjoy
The Doors- People Are Strange
Jason Mraz released his fifth studio album this year, named Yes! The song of the day is the third track of this album, and it is not an official single (as far as I know). Therefore, I could not find any chart positions. However, it’s a great song and it once more establishes Jason Mraz as a good singer, this time acoustic! Enjoy
Jason Mraz- Hello, You Beautiful Thing
There was a lot of new talent this year, but the established names also made music. Eric Clapton, for example. He invited his friends Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Tom Petty, Don White and Willie Nelson to play a tribute to JJ Cale with him. The result is really fantastic, the album even went to number 1 in the Dutch album charts! Enjoy
Eric Clapton & Friends- Call Me The Breeze
Sweden is completely back! It seems to go in waves, with some years less music, and then in one time a lot of good music comes from Sweden! Just like these two girls, who form the folk duo First Aid Kit. They had their first success this year, though they did not appear high in the charts. Their new album, Stay Gold, sold very good, and on that album is one of the best songs from last year, if not the best song! It’s enchanting and very very very good! Enjoy
First Aid Kit- My Silver Lining
Yes, a seventies hit today! And one with a strange story. The song was intended to be the lead single of the album Voulez-Vous. However, it never appeared on the album! In recording and mixing the song, ABBA was not happy with the sound of it. They could not find what was wrong, and after some months, they decided to still release it. That’s why it was not included on the album. Whether they liked it or not, the public had no problems finding the single and buying it. In most countries it entered the Top 5 after some weeks, and it has even charted as number one in some countries! I think it’s a great song, maybe one of their best. Enjoy
ABBA- Summer Night City
A more recent summer song today. The song was made in 2001 and is the second single of the second album Manu Chao made. It’s a Spanish song, of which I do not understand a word, and in the chorus French is spoken. The music used in the song is the same in two other tracks of the album, which makes one fade into the other. This really brings up the summer feelings! Enjoy
Manu Chao- Me Gustas Tu
I woke up this morning with the total lyrics of this song in my head, including the music and the intro. I have strange moods, sometimes, and I can’t tell why it was just this song. However, their album, which is on CD at home, is a very good album, although it only has 6 songs on it. One of these songs, the first one, is the song which was one of their biggest hits. In the nineties, they had another big hit, but they never had as much success as with their first album, which featured a lot of hits. Enjoy
Loïs Lane (In America Loïs L.)- It’s The First Time