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An album is a packaged collection of related things. The most common types of albums are record albums and photo albums. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Album

From singles to albums (and back again)

In the Sixties, rock became the dominant musical form in America. And with the shift from singles to albums, which allowed for the marketing of personalities, it also became big business. The gilded formula froze into place. Today, scouts beat the bushes for young talent, squeeze a quick album out of the band, and put them on the road. "New" material is stressed. Albums featuring cover tunes of classics, as in the early Rolling Stones records, are discouraged. --Camille Paglia, 1992

The MP3 era is anew a singles era.

Genre-creating albums

In addition to critical acclaim and popular appeal, some albums are recognized for the creation (or codification) of entire genres or sub-genres of music. These albums have been uniquely influential within their own musical tableaux even if they copied or "borrowed" from other sources that did not happen to achieve mainstream success. These albums are generally recognized as having had an effect on many types of music by the critics.

* Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind symbolically signaled the end of the hair metal ballads and bombastic anthems of the 1980s and the ascent of grunge rock and alternative rock as the dominant form of rock music in the 1990s. The opening track, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and its accompanying music video that depicted a high school pep rally gone awry, received massive airplay in late 1991. Nevermind brought an underground sensibility to the mainstream, radically altering the musical landscape to allow for immediate hits from other Seattle bands, like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. It continues to receive immense critical acclaim.

* De La Soul’s release of the landmark album, 3 Feet High and Rising, is often viewed as the stylistic birth of alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap) —mixing unique sampling sources (such as The Turtles, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan's "Peg", and Johnny Cash) with hippie-ish lyrics and a lighthearted sense of humor. With its inclusion of pre-recorded bits from outlandish sources, the album foreshadowed the self-referential sampling kaleidoscope that would soon envelop hip hop (and pop music in general). It received unanimous acclaim from all quaters for its innovation, including NME (One of the greatest albums ever made), Village Voice (the Sgt. Pepper of hip hop), and Spex (also #5 on the top 100 Albums of the Century). The album was also included in Rolling Stones' 200 Essential Rock Records. When Village Voice held its annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising was ranked at#1, outdistancing its nearest opponent (Neil Young's Freedom) by 21 votes and 260 points.

* Dr. Dre's 1992 debut album The Chronic, is widely recognized as being the apotheosis of West Coast Gangsta Rap, and having popularized such modern hip hop production staples such as sampling, melodic accompaniment, and background vocals. The album brought the genre now known as G-funk to the mainstream — a genre defined by slow bass beats and melodic synthesizers, topped by P-Funk samples, female vocals, and a slurring lyrical delivery referred to as a “lazy drawl”. The Chronic is also responsible for launching the careers of several legendary figures within the hip-hop community, including the Snoop Dogg. The Chronic’s success established Death Row Records as the dominant hip hop record label of mid-1990s, and established G-funk as the most popular sound in hip hop for several years following its release (with Dre himself producing several major albums that drew heavily on his production style). The Chronic was included in Vibe's "100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century Vibe", listed in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's”, and ranked#8 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s".

* Eric B. & Rakim's debut album, Paid in Full, was captivating, profound, innovative and instantly influential; heralding the sound that would form the basis of new school hip hop. The album showcased Rakim’s multi-syllabic lyrical delivery which would be subsequently adapted by numerous rappers. Prior to the release of Paid in Full, hip hop lyricism still had strong ties to rapping's roots in improvisatory toasting, being in very regular meter and rhyme scheme, with simplistic lyrics and a steady and heavily prounounced rhythm. Rakim, however, introduced the idea of a rapid, continuous, free-rhythmic flow, based around multisyllabic rhyme structures (incorporating internal rhymes and sophisticated metaphors). Furthermore, Eric B.'s innovative distillation of James Brown samples ushered the "godfather rap" period, which witnessed the extensive sampling of R&B and soul music as instrumentals for hip-hop songs. While certainly not a genre-creator in its own right, the album, nevertheless, introduced new conventions that redefined hip hop music while the genre was still in its infancy. The album Ranked#19 in Rolling Stone's "50 Coolest Records", was included in Vibe's "100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century", and was ranked as the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV.

* Bob Dylan's 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home has been called the world's first folk-rock album, and is the first album ever to combine a folk music sensibility with an electrified band. It contains some supremely influential songs, including "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," and it went on to shape the work not only of musicians such as The Beatles and Paul Simon, but also of Dylan himself.

* London Calling by The Clash, while certainly not a genre-creator in its own right, is generally held to be responsible for the mainstream popularity of punk rock and therefore the ancillary popularization of such bands as The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks among many others. It contains several highly influential punk sounds, including the (in)famous "wall of noise" borrowed from the Sex Pistols, and samples from classic radio progamming. It is perhaps the most widely covered punk rock album of all time, containing such perennially popular tracks as "Train in Vain (Stand By Me)," "The Guns of Brixton" and the title track. London Calling also has one of the most famous album covers of all time, a photo by Pennie Smith of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar against the stage - an act that would become synonymous with punk and rock music in general.

* The Sun Sessions by Elvis Presley is perhaps the most influential pop record in history, responsible for the popularization and acceptance of rock and roll music as a genre. It helped launch Presley as one of the most influential musicians of all time, and was partially responsible for a huge shift in the culture and practices of American youth and, indeed, youth worldwide. As John Lennon put it: "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

* The soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever, released in 1977 is responsible for bringing the nascent disco scene into the mainstream. Songs on the album were recorded by various artists, including KC & the Sunshine Band ("Boogie Shoes"), Walter Murphy ("A Fifth of Beethoven"), and David Shire ("Manhattan Skyline," et al.). However, the most significant singles were performed by The Bee Gees, including "How Deep Is Your Love?," "Night Fever," "More Than A Woman," "Jive Talkin," "You Should Be Dancing," and perhaps the most famous and beloved disco song of all time: "Stayin' Alive." The soundtrack remains the quintessential disco record, and is one of the few works of disco music that continues to be influential (and commercially viable) today.

* Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin: Released in 1969, Led Zeppelin, commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin I, brought hard rock to the mainstream. It hinted at heavy metal, and their hard blues sound influenced many bands that were to come in the next few years. A huge success, it was the first step in the path of one of the most successful and influential rock bands of all time. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_albums_that_have_consistently_appeared_in_top_lists [Jan 2006]

Freakout (1966) - Frank Zappa

Freakout (1966) - Frank Zappa [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"This is the voice of your conscience, baby..."

Freak Out! is the debut album of Frank Zappa and his group, the Mothers of Invention. Released in 1966, it was one of the first double album sets, showcasing Zappa's lyrical talents for demoralising American politics while also making fun of the prevailing counterculture in the latter part of the decade. With both broad and subtle strokes of humor, it paints a picture of an American public in thrall to the opiate of the media, shifting from one prefabricated empty craze to the next with frenzied mindlessness, under the grim supervision of a vague but all-powerful authoritarian intelligence. "Who Are the Brain Police?", asks Zappa. Underlying the whole album is Zappa's trademark tweaking of sexual and scatological taboos.

Freak Out! is an amalgamation of everything typically Zappa, from R&B, doo-wop and standard blues-influenced rock to orchestral arrangements to dissonant, bizarre inanities and avant-garde sound collages. The album features vocalist Ray Collins, along with initial guitar player Elliot Ingber, (who later joined Captain Beefheart's Magic Band), bass player Roy Estrada and drummer Jimmy Carl Black. All orchestrations are arranged by Zappa and featured heavily on many of the songs. Suzy Creamcheese, Zappa character, makes her debut with this release. As one of the first integrated albums, with all songs centered on a common theme, it heavily influenced The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freak_Out%21 [Jan 2006]

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