Nobody talks about albums anymore
I was sat with my Dad recently, rhyming nonsense over a pint or two, but I remember him saying “Nobody talks about albums anymore”.
I gave my usual, over hyped, over enthusiastic response to how digital downloads was a technology that leant itself to the track, and how much better we all are not having to spend our cash on fifteen tracks when all you want is two. The music industry recognise this, land the killer track Mr Cee Lo Green and you are at The Grammy’s and The Brits.
But what about the album? The technology that asked for a story. Two sides of musical escapism, where each track is carefully positioned before the next one. And when an album gets it right, they become (became) the must have item; the thing we all talk (talked) about. What’s The Story Morning Glory – Oasis, Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana, Bad – Michael Jackson, The Freewheelin’ – Bob Dylan. I could go on and on, but the tough question is to name a great album from the last five years.
They could well be there, but they don’t roll off the tongue. The track is more prominent, although more transient. Here today, gone tomorrow. Its value has some how been lowered, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. With lower value comes greater variety. The album was of a time and a technology, but to the artist there is real creative potential in telling a story, bringing music together to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. To the listener, there is more to absorb, to take your time over.
To my Dad, I say pick up a copy of ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks – Plan B‘. I’ve been listening to this album over the last couple of weeks. It is an album to talk about, composed as a whole, relaying a story, and until yesterday (The Brits 2011), I had thought this was the story of Plan B or Ben Drew. It isn’t. It is only his imagination and storytelling. That now said, it might even be worth buying on vinyl, just to hear the snap, crackle and pop and to really take the time to listen to this creative whole.