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The Songfactors' Choice: Concept Albums


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*ALL MEMBERS OF SONGFACTS ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE * Join us, and share your knowledge and your love of the thing that keeps SONGFACTS the community we all know and love, MUSIC ! The basic guidelines are simple.... :)

* The Songfactors' Music of Choice is decided by your nominations and votes. For each edition we'll ask that you nominate 1 OR 2 selections that meet the guidelines for that edition.

* With each nomination, we ask that you give us a review, a few thoughts or just a description of how your selection makes you feel. No one is being graded on their writing here. What we want is for you to share your knowledge and feelings about the music you love.

* Each edition will run about 3 weeks or so (or simply, until done). At the end of that time, we'll ask you to vote, and you know how that works! These lists will number 5 or 10 (we'll let you know), so we'll ask that you compile your list of choices for the final Songfactor's Music of Choice. We will tally them, just like The Songfactors' Choice Top Ten, 1 through 10 (5). At the close of voting, we will have our Songfactors' Music of Choice.

* Be as creative with this as you'd like. We want to encourage an exchange of thoughts, so this will be a place to learn about and enjoy the nominations, as well as the final choices. The guidelines will change with each edition.

So, let's start


**** If, like me, you're saying to yourself, "Self, just what is a concept album?" and "Do I really know any concept albums?", well wiki's got the answers, and the answers will probably surprise you. They surprised me, I know more than I thought I did. So, I think we've procrastinated long enough, let's get moving. Oh, and for the answers to those burning questions, just click:

What is a concept album?

Do I actually know any concept albums? (list)

NOMINATE AWAY NOW!! :thumbsup:


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I'll embrace my inner fogey and nominate 2 British concept albums that I like a lot:

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by The Kinks

The story is based on Davies' brother-in-law Arthur, who emigrated from England to Australia with his wife Rose—Ray and Dave's older sister, and the subject of the song "Rosie Won't You Please Come Home" from the album Face to Face—in the early 1960s. The lead character, Arthur, is a carpet layer whose family's plight in the opportunity-poor setting of post-war England is depicted. The songs describe the England that Arthur once knew, the promise of life in Australia for one of his sons, the emptiness of his superficially comfortable life in his home, "Shangri-La", the resolve of the British people in World War II, and the death of his brother in World War I, among other things.

Side 1

"Victoria" – 3:40

"Yes Sir, No Sir" – 3:46

"Some Mother's Son" – 3:25

"Drivin'" – 3:21

"Brainwashed" – 2:34

"Australia" – 6:46

Side 2

"Shangri-La" – 5:20

"Mr. Churchill Says" – 4:42

"She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina" – 3:07

"Young And Innocent Days" – 3:21

"Nothing To Say" – 3:08

"Arthur" – 5:27

S. F. Sorrow by The Pretty Things

S.F. Sorrow's narrative is different than others in the Rock Opera/Concept Album genre: while Tommy and Pink Floyd's The Wall relay their concept through the lyrics of their songs, The Pretty Things tell the bulk of the story through small paragraph-like chapters which were printed between each song's lyrics in the liner notes of the LP and the CD. These explanatory notes were also read aloud between song performances by Arthur Brown during The Pretty Things' only live performance of the opera.

Like Tommy, S.F. Sorrow opens with the birth of the story's protagonist at the turn of the 20th century. Sebastian F. Sorrow is born in a small nameless town to ordinary parents in a house called "Number Three." The town is supported by a factory of some sort, referred to as the "Misery Factory." ( S. F. Sorrow is Born ) Sorrow, an imaginative boy, has a relatively normal childhood until it ends abruptly when he needs to get a job. He goes to work with his father at the Misery Factory, from which many men have been laid off. This might make S.F. the object of hate in a sense that he might be a scab in the story, or perhaps the young boy who is taking some older man's job, and he comes into his sexual adolescence during this period. ("Bracelets of Fingers")

Sorrow's life is not yet over, though. Joy still exists for him in the form of a pretty girl across the street. "She says good morning" to him every day, and he thinks about her constantly. This is the factor that keeps him going despite his childhood's abrupt ending. The two fall in love and become engaged, but their marriage plans are cut short when Sorrow is drafted. ("She Says Good Morning")

Sorrow joins a light infantry and goes off to fight in a war, possibly World War I. Sorrow sinks into a daze, living out the entire war in a funk. Soon the sounds of gunfire and artillery become the rhythm to his life in a daydream. He survives the war and settles down in a land called "Amerik" (obviously referring to the country America, because the first words of the song Balloon Burning are "New York"). Sorrow's fiancee travels by a balloon, The "Windenberg" (Hindenberg) to join him, but it bursts into flame at arrival ( Balloon Burning ), killing all aboard. Sorrow is left alone, his beloved fiancee dead ("Death").

Sorrow drifts into a state of depression that leads him on an epic journey to the center of his subconscious. When wandering the streets, he encounters the mysterious Baron Saturday (a figure from Haitian mythology). The black cloaked–Saturday invites Sorrow to take a journey, and then, without waiting for a response, "borrows his eyes" and initiates a trip through the Underworld. ( Baron Saturday )

The trippish quest begins by taking flight into the air, where Sorrow is driven by a whip-cracking Baron Saturday. Sorrow thinks he is flying toward the moon, which would have been lovely as he always had a fascination with it, but instead he sees that it is instead his own face. The Baron pushes him through the mouth of the face and then down the throat where they find a set of oak doors. Saturday throws them open and prompts S.F. Sorrow inside where he finds a room full of mirrors. ("The Journey") Each one of them shows a memory from his childhood, which Baron Saturday suggests that he studies well. After the hall of mirrors comes a long winding staircase which brings him to two opaque mirrors that show him the horrible truths and revelations from his life. ("I See You")

Sorrow is destroyed by his journey; it leads him to understand that no one can be trusted any longer, and that society will only do away with you when you become old and serve it no longer. ( Trust ) He is driven into a dark mental seclusion where he suffers from eternal loneliness. Much like The Wall, S.F. Sorrow is the tale of a man who has endured hardships which he uses to build into a mental wall that cuts him off from the rest of the waking world, and leaves them without light. ( Old Man Going ) At the end of the album he identifies himself as "the loneliest person in the world." ( Loneliest Person )

Side 1

"S.F. Sorrow is Born" – 3:12

"Bracelets of Fingers" – 3:41

"She Says Good Morning" (May, Taylor, Waller, Alder) – 3:23

"Private Sorrow" (May, Taylor, Waller, Povey) – 3:51

"Balloon Burning" (May, Taylor, Waller, Povey) – 3:51

"Death" (May, Taylor, Waller, Alder) – 3:05

Side 2

"Baron Saturday" – 4:01

"The Journey" (May, Taylor, Waller, Alder) – 2:46

"I See You" – 3:56

"Well of Destiny" (Smith, May, Taylor, Waller, Povey, Alder) – 1:46

"Trust" – 2:49

"Old Man Going" (May, Taylor, Waller, Povey, Alder) – 3:09

"Loneliest Person" (May, Taylor, Waller, Alder) – 1:29

Info from Wiki!

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IIRC Wade already has dibs on a Jethro Tull album, but the one I am nominating isn't quite as good, so it shouldn't cause any votesplitting problems. :grin:


[bigger]A PASSION PLAY - JETHRO TULL[/bigger]

The 1972 release of Thick As A Brick proved that Jethro Tull were truly at the forefront of musical experimentation at the time, since it was a 45 minute long concept album consisting of just one song. What did they do next? Release another 45 minute concept album consisting of just one song the following year, that's what. That album was A Passion Play. :P

The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles (part of the album A Passion Play) - Jethro Tull

^ The above isn't the best part of the album, but you could say it is the most distinctive part, and the only part that has a video clip. :grin:

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The mother of all concept albums:


Thick As A Brick- Jethro Tull


This album defines concept album. In fact, it goes above and beyond by only having one song. Tull frontman Ian Anderson wrote Thick As A Brick in response to critics' calling Aqualung (their previous album) a "concept album". Anderson disagreed with this label, saying

if the critics want a concept album we'll give them a concept album and we'll make it so bombastic and so over the top.
His intention was to "spoof" prog acts of the time.

Ironically, Thick As A Brick placed Jethro Tull amongst the greats of prog rock. It epitomized everything prog: time signature changes are everywhere, the instrumentation is varied, the lyrics are oblique, and, of course, it consists of one 43 minute epic.

The concept even extends beyond the music and lyrics: TAAB's premise is that it's lyrics were penned by a (fictional) 8 year-old, Gerald "Little Milton" Bostock as an epic poem entered into a children's writing contest. The story of his entry, triumph, and subsequent disqualification are detailed in the liner notes, which consist of the newspaper of a small town (also fictional). The lyrics themselves are printed, along with numerous articles, all of them written by Ian Anderson, who has a great sense of humour. This furthers the "spoof" idea, mocking small-town journalism.

All in all, it's a great album, and the concept holds together very well.

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"Operation: Mindcrime" ~ Queensrÿche (1988)


"Mindcrime" is a concept album about a man becoming disillusioned with American society, and joining in a conspiratorial plot to assassinate its corrupt leaders, with spoken dialogue between songs that advances the story and ties the songs together." (Unknown source)

Operation: Mindcrime focuses on an entire sequence that took on the state of mentality through 5 extensively arranged complexes in dealing with society's contemporary issues.

Enter our fellow hero Nikki, an appointed colleague assassin, whose expressive with his adapted knowledge, despite his idealistic self-indulgence & neurotic experiences. The opening portrays him being stabilized by a shielded psychiatric ward, reflecting in his more or less paranormal behavior. It then reveals him evoking his recent trial incidents, before the narrator opens the preliminary issue of legal corruption through the Republican Party & the commercialization behind the political revolution, mostly relevant to the Reagan-era in the White House, & his segregation with our aligned forces throughout the unwaged crisis throughout the early 80's. The narrative desires an improved proximity while holding the American threshold responsible.

The plot then begins to focus on the legislated apprehension of clinical studies & proposed psychiatric treatments in regards with undetermined adolescents, giving them an illicit exchange of their time for penalty. Known as "Operation: Mindcrime", this involves Nikki's encounter with one Dr. X. He's been mesmerized & then invoked on a mission to set forth & eliminate certain religious & legislative figures, based on their differences in views for freedom, as it's presented that justice has come to terms with equality for prosperity, while neglecting poverty all together. Nikki is confronted with subconscious-ness through his dependency & conducted experiments by Dr. X. Nikki now has a message to send forth to society, he begins to lecture his deceived philosophy to crowds of dejected civilians. He implores people to assist him in his massive cerebral-ness for annihilation, but must face this degraded coalition alone.

At this point, the premise starts to thicken and mysteriously unfold with the arrival of Mary, formerly an adolescent whore from Time Square. The highly respected & prestigious, yet cautiously litigious Father William, who has promised her salvation, has taken her under his wing. Instead of the pledged chastity she was expecting, the Priest captivated Mary into her customary lewd conduct. "Spreading the Disease" corresponds with the topic of infidelity of the church, mostly involving confrontations with promiscuous nuns, as well as evangelist corruption & lucrative tasks, which was informed in the earlier chapter, composing of a few verses, despite the implication of this vision invoking on different such matters.

The Holy Father introduced Mary to Dr. X at the age of maturity. She instigates his services & requirements; he persuades her into seducing Nikki, who has turned morbid by relying on the church to assert him of his homicidal sins. This is the part of the storyline that I find particularly elusive; He orders Nikki to murder her in fear that she knows too much about his operation. After Nikki has set onward to the church, Mary finally meets her colleague & immediately falls in love with him, he's now declined to propose his mission, regardless of his compelling appointment, which is described all throughout the middle section of the investigation. While this portion of the album (The Mission through Suite Sister Mary) envisions the most vivid image of the set, it still leaves the tactical focus obscured.

After uniting together in pre-matrimony, they decide to escape from Dr. X's immoral master plan, & set off to exchange vows & live freely together. He declares to murder Dr. X in as an indication of retribution, for the arrangement to demise Mary. He directly travels to Dr. X's furtive lair, to abandoned his tasks & relinquishes himself from any more harm, only to contradict himself with his profound tranquilized dependency. A variably insignificant suggestion of medicinal neglect is explained here. Following the storyline, I have assumed that it be mescaline related, other sources have pointed it to be heroin induced, as told in the ninth track "The Needle Lies"

Her years of neglect & abuse have isolated her completely from contemplation; she began to develop diverse emotions towards him. Mary despised his utilization with drugs, as well as the fact that she was apprehensive towards his slaying of Father William, whom she had an unbreakable trust & bond with, when she found his corpse laid still in the churches sanctuary. Her compassion for Nikki still survived the devoted crimes he committed, as she was dependent on his love.

This is the second part of the story that I don't quite understand, and as your question asks "Who or What killed Mary?" From what I have comprehended based on the commencing lyrics to "Electric Requiem" he finds her at the Alter where they used to make passionate love, with a rosary wrapped around her slit throat. There are three possible suspects, Nikki, Dr. X, or suicide. Nikki can be excluded, as he is distraught by the circumstances. This leaves the other two as probabilities. Dr. X is more liable of the two, as the haunting tone echoes: "Even in death you still look sad" as if he's observing while unseen.

Nikki then sets out into the streets in a frantic matter, while shouting "Mary! Mary!" He has progressed a severe case of psychosis-syndrome influenced by Mary's death. Unable to find justification, he renounces love entirely, as he no longer believes. He is left to drown in a puddle filled with sorrow & remorse that he reflects for his previous companion, while inquiring for balance in his own prospect. The vicinity of this conclusion adversely engages in the deals of fatal structure, at the same time as elude from mourning & regret.

Finally, the story is wrapped up, as it sets back to the very beginning where Nikki was secluded at the hospital before retracing what occurred. While summoning the events that provoked his lunacy, he looks at his own reflection in the truthful mirror, starring into the eyes of a stranger; he doesn't recognize himself anymore. Nikki's trivialized by the entire episode, grieving for himself, trying to make amends to relieve the situation. The closing recalls passages from the preceding highlights throughout the album.

My notion is that this is the most adequate concept album, literary wise. While a good deal of this story is based on the predicted concerns of George Orwell's legendary book "1984", it is innovative in its' own right. It was once ruled that concept albums don't work in metal, this album not only confirmed that it is in fact possible, it went above & beyond. Operation: Mindcrime's assertion embarks upon on nearly every subject that plagues mankind. The adaptation of the audio-novel is somewhat confusing as it doesn't entirely retrace the steps behind its main character or condition, giving it a 3rd person perspective that informs of the establishing point to the predicament & leaves the listener to predict the aftermath. Despite its challenging assembly by legendary producer Peter Collins (Rush, Alice Cooper), the entire thought seemed to go unnoticed in America. Critics & Fans alike didn't feel the modern phase was the acceptable premise for politics & religious convictions in glam rock. Geoff Tate's attested 6-octave vocalized lyrics & the brilliance behind the guitars, as well as percussion, construct this material as unsurpassed talent in comparison to anything else released throughout the entire hair-band genre.

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I´m nominating two albums:

"In The Court Of The Crimson King" - KING CRIMSON



"Berlin" - LOU REED


But I´ll have to wait till the weekend as I don´t have time or computer now to post anything about those two LPs.

Though those albums are not in the wikipedia list, they are considered like "concept albums". I

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The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

And the Spiders from Mars


A 1972 rock opera by David Bowie. A concert film of the same name directed by D.A. Pennebaker was released in 1973.

The album presents the story, albeit vaguely, of "Ziggy Stardust," the human manifestation of an alien being who is hoping to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of its existence. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses of drugs and sex, and by the fans he inspired.

In interviews, Bowie has said that the real-life inspiration for Ziggy was chiefly Vince Taylor,[10], though the lyrics hint at Jimi Hendrix ("played it left hand ... jiving us that we were voodoo") and the character was likely a composite.[11][12] Bowie claimed that the name came from a tailor's shop in London called Ziggy's.[13] He later told Rolling Stone it was "one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter 'Z'." "Stardust" comes from one of Bowie's labelmates, a country singer named Norman Carl Odam, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy.[14] Bowie covered a Legendary Stardust Cowboy song, "I Took a Trip (On a Gemini Spaceship)" thirty years later on Heathen.


1. "Five Years"

2. "Soul Love"

3. "Moonage Daydream"

4. "Starman"

5. "It Ain't Easy"

6. "Lady Stardust"

7. "Star"

8. "Hang on to Yourself"

9. "Ziggy Stardust"

10. "Suffragette City"

11. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"

This is probably one of the most obvious concept albums in rock history. It became an icon, and more then any other album this was linked to David Bowie. It topped the UK charts and made a good place on Billboard.

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"Berlin" - LOU REED


A very tough album... dealing with sordid life, drugs, loss, suicide...

"Caroline Says I"

"The Kids"

"Caroline Says II"

"The Bed"

and I say oh oh oh oh oh what a feeling...

"Sad Song"

Jack Bruce – bass; except "Lady Day" & "The Kids"

Aynsley Dunbar – drums; except "Lady Day" & "The Kids"

Bob Ezrin – piano, mellotron, production, arrangement

Steve Hunter – electric guitar

Tony Levin – bass on "The Kids"

Steve Winwood – organ & harmonium

From wikipedia:

The album is a tragic rock opera about a doomed couple that addresses themes of drug use and depression. Upon its release, the response of fans and critics was not positive as many were expecting another upbeat glam outing. Despite lukewarm reviews the album reached #7 in the UK album chart (Reed's best achievement there). Poor sales in the US (#98) and harsh criticism made Reed abandon the album and in subsequent years he rarely played any 'Berlin' material in his live shows. Over time many have come to consider 'Berlin' to be among Lou Reed's best studio albums as a solo artist.

Musically, Berlin differs greatly from the bulk of Reed's work, due to the use of heavy orchestral arrangements, horns, and top session musicians. Instrumentally, Reed himself only contributes acoustic guitar.

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"In The Court Of The Crimson King"


"In The Court Of The Crimson King"

"21st Century Schizoid Man"

I Talk To The Wind"


From wiki:

In the Court of the Crimson King (an observation by King Crimson) is the 1969 debut album by the British progressive rock group King Crimson. The album reached #3 on the British charts. The album is certified gold in the United States.

The album is generally viewed as one of the strongest of the progressive rock genre, where blues-oriented rock was mixed together with jazz and European symphonic elements. In his 1997 book Rocking the Classics, critic/musicologist Edward Macan notes that In the Court of the Crimson King "may be the most influential progressive rock album ever released."[2] The Who's Pete Townshend was quoted as calling the album "an uncanny masterpiece".

An extension of the concept album idea could be seen in a series of albums which all contribute to a single effect or unified story. This was the original plan behind the first four albums by King Crimson... In the Court of the Crimson King for the Air Element, In the Wake of Poseidon for the Water Element, Lizard for the Fire Element and Islands for the Earth element.
(from this site)

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How long until nominations close? I really would like to be able to participate. If I do I'll have to nominate today or late next week or the following week- end :crazy:

I will try to throw something in today but if I can't, is late next week to late?

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"The Wall" ~ Pink Floyd (1979)


The Wall's overriding themes are the causes and implications of self-imposed isolation, symbolized by the metaphorical wall of the title. The album's songs create a very loose storyline sketching events in the life of the protagonist, Pink. Pink loses his father as a child (Waters's own father was killed in Anzio during World War II), is smothered by his overprotective mother, and is oppressed at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers, each of these traumas becoming "another brick in the wall". As an adult Pink becomes a rock star, his relationships are marred by infidelity and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, Pink finishes building the wall and completes his isolation from human contact.

Pink's mindset deteriorates behind his freshly completed wall, with his personal crisis culminating during an onstage performance. Hallucinating, Pink believes that he is a fascist dictator, and his concerts are like Neo-Nazi rallies where he sets his men on fans he considers unworthy, only to have his conscience rebel at this and put himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to "tear down the wall" in order to open himself to the outside world, and apologizing to his closest friends who are hurt most by his self-isolation. At this point the album's end runs into its beginning with the closing words "Isn't this where..."; the first song on the album, "In the Flesh?", begins with the words "...we came in?" – with a continuation of the melody of the last song, "Outside the Wall" – hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters's theme.

The LP's sleeve art and custom picture labels by Gerald Scarfe tied in with the album's concept. Side one had a quarter of the wall erected and a sketch of the teacher. Side two saw half of the wall erected and a sketch of the wife. Side three had three-quarters of the wall erected and a sketch of the character of Pink, while side four had the wall completely erected and a sketch of the prosecutor. Bob Ezrin played a major part in taking Waters's demo material and clarifying the storyline by writing a script, which even called for additional songs to complete the plot.

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