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Are Albums Getting Too Long?


Kramer Ferrington III.

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Albums used to be a lot smaller than they are these days, about nine or ten tracks, due to the size limitations of a vinyl LP.

 

But now, as CDs store more and more data, albums seem to be getting longer. Once upon a time, releasing a double album was a pretty rare event for bands, whereas these days, it's not uncommon to find albums with 18 or 20 tracks.

 

On the one hand, it's good that bands get to showcase a lot more of their own stuff. But I also think there's a lot of filler tracks out there, far more than there used to be.

 

Opinions?

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As much as some stores charge for a CD, they better pack as much quality music as they can on those things.

 

Some of the extras are cool too, like Videos and what not.

 

I think it's better this way. Some of those songs will never be heard on the radio, and more often then not the're better than the radio hits.

 

With albums, the record company would put the tracks they wanted on first, then let the artist have the remaining tracks if any.

 

With a CD, everyone is happy.

 

Still, I miss having that big ass LP so I could see the Artwork and read all the credits and lyric. Those CD booklets have such small print What I really miss is the zippers, pockets, dial wheels, shadow boxes and cool textures.

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i would like to see all CDs come like the reissued AC/DC Cds, a nice cardboard case that opens like an album and includes a booklet that is actually easy to read and contains more than credits for the record company. that is a real booklet not a foldout that sometimes is impossible to fold up the proper way.
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From the header, I was all ready to disagree...but then I read the details of what you meant, and had to agree actually.

 

I think you'r right. In the old days we used to wait for the next album, and pour over the songs. Remember when the Beatles White Album came out, how cool to have SO many songs and so many excellent ones, but even there, there are some filler songs.

 

I think groups maybe often recorded as many, but were more limited, and therefore had to really winnow it down into the best...fights about which ones should be included, and once they got to that point, maybe they tried many versions of a song to see what clicked, and could concentrate on getting the most out of those 9 or 10 tracks.

 

Also it gave them time to rethink the best of the ones that didn't make "the cut" and maybe rework them til they were great, instead of just good.

 

But things like this are hard to really get to the bottom of. It's just a feeling.

====================================================

Check out my original music at

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

 

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,

but not in practice."

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Filler tracks? Maybe there are more filler tracks now, if the band has to come up with 60+ minutes of music, as opposed to 40+.

 

But there were plenty of albums released back in the day that had filler tracks! Why do they issue "best of" albums? Because most albums had one or two great songs and the rest were, well, not great.. or not memorable, to put it better!

 

People who, like the Beatles or Stevie Wonder, who could record album after album of great songs are the exception, rather than the rule!

 

At any rate, it's easy to program your CD player to play only certain songs, and skip the ones you don't like.. or tape them or something.

 

The issue is really whether you're getting your money's worth, isn't it?

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I agree with BluesWithout, there is a habit of having more filler where they feel the need to do 60 minutes worth instead of 40.

 

Another aspect to "filler" is look at artists who had great debuts and then the famous "sophomore slump". Y'know why? Bands take years to get signed and play thousands of gigs, so by the time they get to do album #1, they have their best stuff sorted out (and the process took years and lots of shows).

 

The next album has to be assembled in a fraction of the time (unless you're Tom Scholz). It's very hard to do unless you are truly gifted and talented.

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Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

 

With albums, the record company would put the tracks they wanted on first, then let the artist have the remaining tracks if any.

 

With a CD, everyone is happy.

Well, I'm not.

 

Often, I listen to a new album and unless it's very (and I do mean "very") good, I go through this thing where by the ninth or so track I start looking at the listing to see how much is left.

 

And by about the twelvth I realize I'm bored and play something else.

 

Now, that is not a good thing a) because I get bored (perhaps "fatigued" is a better word) and b) because the band's "impact" (on me, at any rate) is lessened. So nobody wins.

 

I wonder whether it's just me. Maybe I have a generationally defined attention span or something.

 

And I'm not sure that older albums had much filler, really. They had a lot of so called album tracks, but often enough they were pretty good in their own right, just not ideal for the radio.

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For me, anything over 40 minutes is ridiculas. Put forth your best 9-10 tracks and keep the crap to yourself. I would rather pay $18 bucks for an excellent 40 min album than feel all warm and fuzzy thinking i got more bang for my buck with a 60-70 min album and end up not liking 20-30% of it anyway.

Mix of Rock, Metal & Heavy Fusion

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My new band...Melodic Hard Rock

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I almost never like a song the first time I hear it.

 

After listening to the album in the background, I usually find something to like about a song.

 

But I agree, there are a lot of disappointments out there.

 

I'm not sure who is to blame, but don't blame the plastic disk.

 

People make lousy music, CDs don't make lousy music.

 

The most disappointing ablum ( on vinyl ) I ever bought was Concrete Blond.

 

One good song, the rest was crap/filler.

 

No disrespect Kramer, but now a-days, you can preview most of the tracks before you buy a CD. For example amazon has sound clips, and most retailers have preview systems.

 

I usually research a band or album before I purchase. Even back when my only options were Cassette, LP or 8 Track.

 

That Concrete Blond LP I bought. That was a weak moment. It was such a cool song, I thought they had to have more than one in them. I was wrong.

 

Cursed be the one hit wonder that fools me.

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Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

No disrespect Kramer, but now a-days, you can preview most of the tracks before you buy a CD. For example amazon has sound clips, and most retailers have preview systems.

Disrespect? :confused: Uhmm... I didn't think there was any.

 

Well, anyway. There's a diff between playing a couple of 30 second samples on amazon or giving a CD a whirl at a retailer and listening to the same album for 60 minutes.

 

I mean, I really liked Moby's "Play", for example, but there's tracks at the end that I've never made it to. Seems like a shame for both of us, Moby and I. :)

 

 

Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

I usually research a band or album before I purchase. Even back when my only options were Cassette, LP or 8 Track.

No, I'm different. I buy a heap of them at a time, usually second hand from amazon or ebay.

 

 

Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

That Concrete Blond LP I bought. That was a weak moment.

I saw them live in the late 1980s. They weren't that good, really. She's got a pretty good voice, but the band itself was kinda blah.
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Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

I almost never like a song the first time I hear it.

 

After listening to the album in the background, I usually find something to like about a song.

 

A couple of side aspects of this.

 

For one thing, songs that grab you from the "git-go" are often songs that you get tired of after a while (there of course ARE exceptions, but generally). That used to be the beauty for me with albums. You'd buy one, and listen to it for some of the songs, but end up finding out you LOVE some other song that never got radio play, and it stays as one of your favorites much longer.

 

Sometimes a whole album (or CD). Like, I loved Peter Gabriels' "So". But that music was great and also really accessible...I liked it the first time and every subsequent time I heard stuff from it...to a point.

 

Because I like his music so much, I picked up "Up". I got home and put it on right away. Nothing grabbed me. It seemed harsher in spots, and just hard to get into. Started walking (30 minutes) to work, listening to a Discman all the way. One morning I decided to listen to it again. Still found it hard to get into, but something was there. I kept it in the Discman out of laziness maybe. After a few more times, I started hearing really interesting things in there. Eventually, I loved the damned thing. That was over a year ago, and I STILL am discovering small features and details the I find amazing, and interesting, and musical, as well as lyrics that are (seem to me anyway) great stories, with sound effects even.

 

Just love it. It took time, but I like it better all the time. One song, it's like a magic trick, slow...even...then somehow, seemingly suddenly but with no actual point I can point to and say "THERE...is where it starts ramping up" it gets intense as all hell.

 

But back to the point. This is something that I thoguht maybe people nowdays will be missing out on with Ipods and such. That groups used to build up an album...it wasn't just random placement of songs, they sometimes would actually take out a GREAT song over a lesser one, but that served a purpose better (like a set list) in the whole.

 

They built albums up and considered the songs in context, and built an experience. Sometimes even writing a song to server a specific function in the flow of the album. That seems pretty much gone nowdays, that care. Because why go to all that trouble, when some kid is going to just buy the one song he likes on the radio, or play it all in random order?

 

Ah well...my fuddy-duddiness is showing, gotta go.

====================================================

Check out my original music at

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

 

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,

but not in practice."

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the art work with LPs i waaaayy cooler, that kinda obvious though. But yea, i was kinda confused at first, cause you said now that cd's can store more and more data...but i havent seen a cds capacity ever go past 700 megabites and thats been like that for a long time. So maybe there making shorter songs? or the actual sound quality is going down?

But i havent really bought anything new music outside of smashing pumpkins stuff...which there my favorite band so i cant really talk trash about there songs.

 

Little OT but i was listening to the radio today and they played Candle in the Wind, and the djs talkin about Elton and he says "elton had a song in the top 40 every single year from 1970 to 1996" i thought that was pretty cool. Oh and I also heard that SRV played guitar on Bowies China Girl.

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Yes. Wayyyyyyyyyyyy toooooo lonnnnggggggggg.....

 

Few artists can sustain my interest for that length of time.

 

In a lot of ways I miss the time limitation and double sided format of vinyl. Often the song selection process left me with favorite sides of albums. I might never play the other side.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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A cd with 70 magical minutess is a rarity, so I'm more than satisfied with a solid 40 minutes.

The best 70 minute cd's are usually b-side collections in my opinion. I love listening to the stuff that hit a talented artist/bands cutting room floor.

Live long and prosper unless it is a good day to die.
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Originally posted by BluesWithoutBlame:

But back to the point. This is something that I thoguht maybe people nowdays will be missing out on with Ipods and such.

I don't know. Personally speaking, I often listen to whole albums on my MP3 player (I'm listening to one now) and then, when I don't know what to play I just put it on random.

 

Not sure how many people will (thanks to Ipods) actually "miss out" on listening to and learning to love an album.

 

I think they are the people that only used to play the Big Hit Single off any given album anyway.

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

In a lot of ways I miss the time limitation and double sided format of vinyl. Often the song selection process left me with favorite sides of albums. I might never play the other side.

YES!!!!! I've done that too! :thu:

 

I loved the first side of "Songs Of Leonard Cohen" so much that I was always afraid to play the second side, just in case I hated it.

 

Took me years to play it. And uhmm... yeah. It had its moments but it wasn't as good as the first side. :D

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Originally posted by comacoda:

I love listening to the stuff that hit a talented artist/bands cutting room floor.

Not me. There is a reason why that stuff hit the floor.

 

I think that it is sometimes interesting to see/hear what went on behind the scenes, and I can't tell you why, but all of the old Beatles films and tapes interest me to some degree, as do some of the old movie or TV things... but really, even if I buy that junk I don't listen to it more than once or twice.

 

I think that Hendrix is a prime example... they have announced that there is enough material in his vault to release a new album every year from now until.... (whenever the hell thay said it was... it was a long time in the future..) But DURING HIS LIFETIME he was very particular about what was released to the public. HE DID NOT WANT us to hear anything that was not, in his determination, ready. HE knew that a lot of it was wretched excess, and he knew that it was not representative of his best work, nor anything that he wanted us to hear and associate with him. That is why it wasn't released when he was alive.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

I think that it is sometimes interesting to see/hear what went on behind the scenes,

In his book, 31 Songs, Nick Hornby makes the point that the best thing about alternate takes, "lost" songs and so on, is that you get to hear thse bands (Beatles, Stones et al) in a completely new way.

 

Some of us will never have the experience of being there in 1967 and hearing "Like A Rolling Stone" on the radio for the first time. And anyway, some of these songs have become too idolised and holy and all that. So it's good to hear how they could have sounded, and listen to all thse bands being just a bunch of young kids again, on the edge of doing something really great.

 

Well, anyway, he's a lot better at explaining this stuff than I am.

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Dave Mathews, who has been libled here before:), released 'Everyday' in 2000 which was a very polished album and different in production values than some of the bands earlier material. Released free on the internet simultaneously was 'the lilwhite sessions'-scrapped in favor of the commercially released material and production-, which to my ears was better than the uptown sound of 'Everyday'. I'm no DMB fan, but I enjoyed the glimpse into the end of that phase of the bands sound.
Live long and prosper unless it is a good day to die.
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Originally posted by ellwood:

Yep, agree with most. How about 40 mins. of great tacks AND 20 mins of Video format or mpeg or something like showing the band playing the BIG track of the HIT in video..ya so a mixed offering.

That'd be great. As long as there was some innocuous looking messagebox at the beginning asking you if you want the full multimedial experience or would you just prefer the songs?

 

I used to bring CDs to work to listen to on my PC and it used to be SO EMBARASSING when those stupid things started autoinstalling in full screen mode. Especially with some client bigwig watching.

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Originally posted by Pappadopalus:

My opinion:

 

Give me all the crap you got on that CD. I'll decide whether I like it or not.

 

I'm more qualified to determine what pleases me, more so than a record exec or an artisit.

 

Please leave this to a trained consumer.

 

Give me the full lenght uncut 64oz double D extra cheese all you can eat special.

This sums up my feeling, for the most part. Well, maybe not CRAP, but why not let the artists be artists and put out their works for thier fans to enjoy or not at their own choosing?

 

And the earlier statement about giving consumers the biggest bang for their buck- yup!

 

Now, since I mostly listen to prog rock, they have no problem filling up a cd with only a few songs (i.e. Flower Kings, Neal Morse).

 

But I have also seen the opposite happen- where some cd's are only 30-35 minutes. Petra's last one, Tree 63.. and these are 10 song disks, with the average track time being 3 minutes or so. Perhaps a bit too concise for my tastes.

And then there is a bit of a trend to release EP's, as well, with 5-7 songs. If these are a label's attempt to get people to try an artist with whom they may be unfamiliar, that's fine; as long as they aren't charging full-disk price for an ep. And I think the same should apply to a 10 trak disk that has playing time ess than an EP! But I'm not a label exec, just a consumer.

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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Originally posted by Danzilla:

...why not let the artists be artists and put out their works for thier fans to enjoy or not at their own choosing?

 

And the earlier statement about giving consumers the biggest bang for their buck- yup!

 

About the artist: Remember earlier on, where I mentioned that the filter seems to be missing? In ther 'old days' most acts worked their way up, played a lot of live gigs and had a good handle on what pleased theoir audiences and what didn't. This seems to no longer be the norm. So the artists are missing the filter, too. They don't know how to self-edit like they used to.

 

 

"... giving consumers the biggest bang for their buck- yup!"

 

This presupposes that it is all good. I do not prescribe to the thought that more is better. Very often, less is more. Some things have a perfect length, and should not be dragged out. Some statements are well made in a concise fashion, and extending the thought only brings boredom and sleep....... (zzzzzzzz.....zzzzz...zzzz...) uh? what was I saying????.... well, I hope you 'get it'. Moreoften, the extention of a well made artistic statment into the realm of wretched excess and self-masterbation just gets me to change the channel or CD, and very often put aside the disk and never listen to it again.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Ahhh, but Bill. If there wasn't any wretched excess, there wouldn't be any thing to make me feel superior.

 

Also, I find I need the bad to help enhance the beauty of the good all that much more.

 

How would you feel if you were given no choice at all.

 

For example:

 

Record Exec: Here you go Bill, we got this CD dow to the perfect lenght. You are now obligated to listen. Bwaaaa haaaaa haaa haaaaa.

 

 

Bill: Noooooooooooooooo!

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One man's crap is another man's treasure. I am gonna like some stuff tht others don't, and vice versa. Give it all to me, thank you very much, and I'll pick out what I like to listen to.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Picker:

One man's crap is another man's treasure. I am gonna like some stuff tht others don't, and vice versa. Give it all to me, thank you very much, and I'll pick out what I like to listen to.

Todd Runtgren put out an album from which the listener was able to mix the elements. Kinda fell flat.

 

But hey, I'd really enjoy tossing out the six months of retakes and bullshit that gets recorded to make a 3 minute pop song, not mixing it, and letting you guys do it for yoursleves. I can tell you that it bores the shit outta me! :thu:

 

That is another thing that I miss about the 'old days'.... with analog 8 or 16 track, you had to know what you wanted to do, you had to do it and you could not fart around about it. Choices were limited, editing was limited, numbers of effects were limited, so music was made, not accidentally stumbled upon then edited into some listenable format.

 

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Originally posted by Danzilla:

...why not let the artists be artists and put out their works for thier fans to enjoy or not at their own choosing?

 

And the earlier statement about giving consumers the biggest bang for their buck- yup!

 

About the artist: Remember earlier on, where I mentioned that the filter seems to be missing? In ther 'old days' most acts worked their way up, played a lot of live gigs and had a good handle on what pleased theoir audiences and what didn't. This seems to no longer be the norm. So the artists are missing the filter, too. They don't know how to self-edit like they used to.

 

 

"... giving consumers the biggest bang for their buck- yup!"

 

This presupposes that it is all good. I do not prescribe to the thought that more is better. Very often, less is more. Some things have a perfect length, and should not be dragged out. Some statements are well made in a concise fashion, and extending the thought only brings boredom and sleep....... (zzzzzzzz.....zzzzz...zzzz...) uh? what was I saying????.... well, I hope you 'get it'. Moreoften, the extention of a well made artistic statment into the realm of wretched excess and self-masterbation just gets me to change the channel or CD, and very often put aside the disk and never listen to it again.

 

Bill

Yeah...and where does it end? Donæ't edit the newspaper articles dammit, just pint ALL of the reporters notes.

 

Books, con't cut out words, or put chapters in order, just send them on, we'll sort it out at our end.

 

Sculpterers, don't waste time chipping away on that stone, set it up as the block and we'll imagine away the parts that don't "look like an elephant".

 

 

Seriously, I'd much rather hear the albums that the artists that put it together wanted to put it, in the order they think best. I like the whole experience, if I like album.

 

Some artists really don't have a vision though, and those...don't matter so much.

 

Of course, if some folks don't care, that's fine, it's not better or worse than my way, but I would miss out if it were just single songs in no order.

 

I agree about the Hendrix thing too, he WAS demanding about what went out with his name on it from what I've read.

 

It can be interesting though too. I have a Canned Heat compilation where they had an alternate take of "on the road again" and it sounded fine but if you played it, and then the real version...my Gawd...what a difference some tightening up, mixing, and adding that beautifully right sitar make.

 

It's like a behind the scenes look. The alternate is probably how I would have made it, the extra bits that actually do SO much into making it truly wonderful to hear...that's why they are pros I guess.

====================================================

Check out my original music at

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/jacker

 

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,

but not in practice."

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Good points made all around.

 

I think I got used to the 40 minute Album length, and now when I listen to a CD like the great great Sheryl Crow "Sheryl Crow" CD I feel like it goes on for for a couple too many songs, both of which may have been better just left off. It could've been a "perfect" masterpiece without them.

 

So I guess personally I'd rather be fed quality than quantitiy.

Just a pinch between the geek and chum

 

 

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