Yes, that David Gilmour.
Anyways, there was a post on Gilmour’s blog a few months ago that provoked quite a little storm: Chopping up albums.
Basically, the point Gilmour makes is that many albums are really meant to be listened to as a whole and shouldn’t be split into individual tracks at record companies’ whims. Read the whole thing to get the full sense of his argument, but I think the excerpt below gives a good sense:
I’ll go first: Blood on the Tracks‘ frenetic ‘Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’ by Bob Dylan. There, I said it. (Forgive me, Bob.) More often than not, it gives me an instant headache. As does Don Henley’s ‘Man With a Mission’ (from Building the Perfect Beast). But I can skip these songs when my head is feeling particularly delicate and they remain part of two of my favourite albums regardless. Granted, when purchased, there was no option to pick and choose each song, nor to preview them freely at leisure. However, I still feel that today’s wider choice is mostly irrelevant to me when it comes to downloading music, and surely this should be all the more true when it comes to concept albums.
In fact, of Pink Floyd’s more obvious concept albums, you’d be hard pressed to find a track that does not segue at either its beginning or end.
Can you imagine ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ not turning into ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’? Or ‘Overture’ from The Who’s Tommy not concluding with the joyous announcement that ‘It’s a Boy’?
I’d enjoy sharing your examples of the perfect song segue, if you care to.
So, lots of questions to end the week with and perhaps to aggravate you well into the weekend, but I have (almost) managed to refrain from asking whether we should condone public flogging as the only punishment befitting the heinous crime of savagely butchering Dark Side of the Moon.
Now, there’s a thought… Dare I suggest that maybe EMI got off lightly?
On the other side, is Cory Doctorow:
No one thinks about albums today. Music is now divisible to the single, as represented by an individual MP3, and then subdivisible into snippets like ringtones and samples. When recording artists demand that their works be considered as a whole — like when Radiohead insisted that the iTunes Music Store sell their whole album as a single, indivisible file that you would have to listen to all the way through — they sound like cranky throwbacks.
The idea of a 60-minute album is as weird in the Internet era as the idea of sitting through 15 hours of Der Ring des Nibelungen was 20 years ago. There are some anachronisms who love their long-form opera, but the real action is in the more fluid stuff that can slither around on hot wax — and now the superfluid droplets of MP3s and samples. Opera survives, but it is a tiny sliver of a much bigger, looser music market. The future composts the past: old operas get mounted for living anachronisms; Andrew Lloyd Webber picks up the rest of the business.
Personally, I still buy CDs, I still like albums that have a unified sound. But…you’d have to pry my iPhone/iTunes out of my cold dead hands.
How about you? Gilmour or Doctorow or can they somehow coexist?