Thursday, March 23, 2006

MUSIC: Perfect Albums

I heard something off Boston's first album on the radio today, and it made me think that there isn't a single song on that album that you won't hear on the radio. Literally every track on that record gets regular radio play. (At least it does on the dinosaur rock stations I listen to.)

So I wondered -- how many albums can you say that about? And then I realized: I've gotten posts out of much weaker premises than that. So -- let's try to find out!

I'm calling these "Perfect Albums," although that's exaggerating. "Radio Perfect Albums," maybe. Basically, any album that doesn't have one single song you would be surprised to hear on the radio; an album where you could point to any title on the track list at random, and if the radio played it right that second, you'd think, "Yeah, that makes sense."

And we start with:

Boston -- Boston. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I've heard "Something About You" on the radio. Already my post is flawed! I'm sure I have heard it; I just can't remember how it goes right now.

The Who -- Who's Next. You had to know this would be on here. I've previously declared this to be the greatest rock album of all time, and I certainly have not wavered in that belief. This is the definition of a perfect album. Just look at the track list. LOOK AT IT!!

"Baba O'Riley"
"Love Ain't For Keeping"
"My Wife"
"The Song Is Over"
"Getting In Tune"
"Going Mobile"
"Behind Blue Eyes"
"Won't Get Fooled Again"
Not one song that is less than great. And certainly not one song you won't hear on the radio.

The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper. There are possibly one or more other Beatles albums that would fit in here, but this is the most obvious, and the most radio-played. Also interesting (to me, at least): this album contains two songs that are always played together on the radio; you never, ever hear "With a Little Help From My Friends" on the radio without "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" immediately preceding it. The only other example of this kind of thing I can think of is Queen's "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions." Even "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" sometimes gets played without "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" leading into it. Although "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse," come to think of it, almost always are played together.

And speaking of which, I would include Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon here, but the instrumental tracks don't really get played on the radio. I have heard, rarely, "Speak To Me" and "On the Run" played as bookends to "Breathe," but I don't think I've ever heard "Any Colour You Like" on the radio.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience -- Are You Experienced? According to Wikipedia, there are major differences between the US and UK versions of this album; the UK version drops the three hit singles Hendrix had released before the album was put together ("Purple Haze," "Hey Joe," and "The Wind Cries Mary") and adds three different songs. Well, that's just dumb. I'm talking about the US version here, obviously. I've actually gotten a little burned out on this album, and find it hard to listen to anymore. Probably because of its radio-friendliness; if I could go a few months -- or even one damn day! -- without hearing a song from it on the radio, I might grow to miss and re-appreciate it. Fat chance.

AC/DC -- Back in Black. This one kind of snuck up on me. Looking at a list of best selling albums on Wikipedia, I found this one at #5. That's in the US; worldwide, it is supposedly the #2 selling album of any kind ever. EVER. AC/DC. I would not have expected that. Yet, looking at the track list -- one radio hit after another. Not one song I wouldn't expect to hear any day of the week. It really is pretty damn awesome, isn't it? So, if this is #2 worldwide, what's #1? This is:

Michael Jackson -- Thriller. Remember when Michael Jackson used to be an awesomely talented recording artist and performer, and was almost completely not crazy? You hear these songs a lot less often these days, for obvious reasons (crazy!), but at one time every track could be heard on the radio.

Fleetwood Mac -- Rumours. This one I'd call a maybe. Only because I can't immediately bring to mind the song "I Don't Want To Know." I don't know if that means it doesn't get any airplay, or if it's just the fault of my decaying brain. But I know every other song off this album gets played on the radio frequently.

Tom Petty -- Full Moon Fever. Another maybe. It seems like I've heard all these songs on the radio, but that may just be because I've listened to this album a bajillion times, and in my mind the songs all still sound fresh to me, as though I just heard them on the radio yesterday. I don't honestly know if I've ever heard "The Apartment Song" or "Alright For Now" on the radio. I know I've heard all the others -- even "Zombie Zoo."

Led Zeppelin -- some damn album or other. I'm not familiar enough with Led Zeppelin anymore to bring their songs to mind just from looking at the track listings -- maybe I never was. Fact is, I'm pretty damn sick of Led Zeppelin. They're overplayed, and overrated. But I'll bet at least one of their albums would fit in here. Whether it's I, II, IV, or Houses of the Holy, I couldn't say. I'm sure one of you can tell me. And when you do, if you feel the urge to defend their greatness to me -- resist it.

I don't really have anything very recent on this list, do I? Trying to think of an album that fits this list that's been released since 1990 has me coming up blank. Nirvana's Nevermind was my first thought, but as many singles as it had, there are still a lot of songs on there that never got any airplay. Pearl Jam's Ten? Nope. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill? Not quite. If you can name one, let me know.

And tell me if I've missed any other older ones. I'm sure there are a few. I was surprised at a couple bands who don't appear here; the Rolling Stones, for example, never recorded an album that comes even close. But don't mention any more Beatles albums. We all know, like, every song from every album gets played on the radio; I just wanted to name the top one.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by