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Concept Albums
I love concept albums, i find they set a better mood for the album as a whole a lot better than just a 10 track ep.

Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater is fantastic. Widely recognized as one of their best.

They had a few other "concept" albums, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is one gigantic song for the second disc and deals all about insanity. Train of Thought was just a "balls to the wall" album. Octavarium had 8 songs, each written in different Keys.

I believe Sgt. Peppers is accredited as being one of the first Concept albums. which i don't really understand except for the fact that Sgt Peppers opens and closes the album.

An album I've talked about on these site the last few days is Black Ribbons by Shooter Jennigs. It wasn't well received but i'm in love with it!

Sola Scriptura by Neal Morse is one of my all time favorite albums. It deals with the life of protestant reformationist Martin Luther. ( I don't know about you guys out there but where i come from religious music has a bit of a stigma to it, never mind that this album is a perfect 10 in my books)

Steve Morse created a cool concept for 2 instrumental albums. Instead of doing covers of his favourite artists, he wrote originals that sound like that are done by ZZ Top, Cream, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, etc. Really cool stuff.

Real Illusions: Reflections by Steve Vai has it's moments.

Blood on Ice by Bathory is pretty epic. If you're into metal, check this one out! you can't get more metal than a high energy metal album about VIKINGS!

Coheed and Cambria use mulitple albums to tell a very elaborate Sci-Fi story. Which the singer is putting to comic books or graphic novel thing? I dunno, not much into them.

if you check out any of these let me know what you think!
Iota Wrote:This is by far the best that The Mars Volta have released. Every other album sounds pretty much the same.

I think they upped it with Francis the Mute but I pretty much agree with the latter comment, didn't stop me buying them all though
There are a several worthy concept albums in the rock / metal genres that I don't believe have been mentioned:

SAVATAGE - Streets
AVANTASIA - Metal Opera 1&2
AYREON - The Human Equation is my fave, but just about everything from Arjen Lucassin is conceptual. If you are unfamiliar with Ayreon, check it out. Arjen is an amazing composer and he pulls influences from many different areas and genres from The Beatles to heavy metal.
If you confine the phrase "concept album" to r&r, you are too often confining yourself to the utterly pretentious. Jazz albums with a somewhat looser definition often are concepts--a blues-based album from someone not usually considered a blues-based player would certainly qualify. But expanding: Jazz albums often state their intentions in the title--Miles Davis had a series variously titled Walkin'/Relaxin'/Cookin'/Workin'/Steamin'--any confusion about the beat and the moods he was playing? Oh, I'm sorry you were looking for grand over-arching themes, correct? I did use the word "pretentious" but that could be aimed at Richard Wagner and Beethoven too--they realized it better than our contemporaries but then musical geniuses aren't quite abounding these days, are they? John Williams and a couple of others come close but nobody, NOBODY in the rock realm. I'd be delighted to be shown how incorrect and misguided I am...Please share music links when responding.
A "concept album" does not have to be prog rock, nor does a prog album have to be a concept album, but prog and concept albums go together like... you know what.

There are what I call true concept albums, where the entire album, or most of it, is telling some kind of story or setting a kind of scene. Examples include:

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed
The Beach Boys - SMiLE
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase.

plus many others already listed in this thread.

Then you get what I call "theme" albums - not so much presenting a single narrative as being a set of songs with similar mood and similar themes, to give a particular mood to the entire album. "Murder Ballads", by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, already mentioned by someone else here, is a perfect example. Steven Wilson's album "The Raven that Refused to Sing (and other stories)" is another good example: six songs, all of which are some kind of ghost story, but the songs bear no real relation to one another. Midnight Oil did a number of albums like this: Diesel and Dust has many songs about relations between black and white Australians, Red Sails In the Sunset addresses issues of nuclear energy and nuclear war, etc.

When I listen to an album, the music is the most important thing to me. I can happily enjoy an album of completely unrelated songs, if the songs are good songs. However, if the whoie thing feels like a well executed concept or theme, that can enhance enjoyment - the icing on the cake, as it were.

My criterion for classifying an album as a concept album or a theme album: A concept album would lose a lot by playing the tracks in random order rather than the assigned running order. Days of Future Passed would sound ridiculous heard as afternoon followed by morning, then night, then evening. With a theme album, it might not matter so much - though that depends on the nature of the music rather than any lyrical content. It would hardly matter which murder ballad you heard before which other murder ballad.
quite a few of Dream Theater's albums have been conceptual in nature...

some country artists have also made "concept" albums as in, a central theme running through the album...
Marty Robbins, Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash for example, off the top of my head...

I guess this one from Johnny Cash from 1960 could be considered one of the earliest so called "concept albums" of the rock era:

[Image: 220px-JohnnyCashRideThisTrain.jpg]

from Wikipedia:

Ride This Train is the eighth album by country singer Johnny Cash. It was originally released in September 1960 (see 1960 in music) and re-issued on March 19, 2002, (see 2002 in music) with four bonus tracks.
It is considered to be Cash's first concept album. The album is billed as a "travelogue", with Cash providing spoken narration before each song to give context, in several cases playing historical characters, such as John Wesley Hardin, and describing different destinations around the United States visited by train. The songs themselves are not generally railroad-themed.
aha!, I just Wiki'd "concept albums" and came up with this article:

[h=3]1940s–50s: Origins[/h][Image: 220px-Frank_Sinatra_Metronome_magazine_N...r_1950.JPG]
Frank Sinatra, 1950

Singer Frank Sinatra recorded several concept albums prior to the 1960s rock era, including In the Wee Small Hours (1955) and Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely (1958).Sinatra is credited as the innovator or originator of the concept album,[SUP][6][/SUP] beginning with The Voice of Frank Sinatra (1946), which led to similar work by Bing Crosby. According to biographer Will Friedwald: "Sinatra sequenced the songs so that the lyrics created a flow from track to track, affording an impression of a narrative, as in musical comedy or opera. ... [He was the] first pop singer to bring a consciously artistic attitude to recording."
^^ "In the Wee Small Hours" is often cited as the first real example of a concept album.
anyone ever hear of this one?
Welcome to the Great MD wcr ! I enjoyed the concept album post ! Sounds interesting...minimal music !
 The ultimate connection is between a performer and its' audience!

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