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Double Albums. The Good And The Terrible
I’m sure there are a great deal of people, (likely born after 1990) who have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about when I say “Double Album”. Chances are most people from that age group have been downloading music since they first started listening and likely don’t know what a full-length album is. That being said, Double Albums in theory are a treat for any listener or fan of an artist. You get the chance to hear twice as many tunes than you normally would from an artist you love (essentially). In reality however, the chances of an artist putting out nearly 30 tracks of incredible, non-forgettable, music with repeat listens is pretty slim. 9 times out of 10 you realize that the artist is likely using their b-sides for side 3 and 4.
I will add this disclaimer, because I know the main argument I will get will be concerning this. *This post is not focusing on live Double Albums, but will focus on studio albums. I’ll save that for another post as I don’t want to even try to compare live albums to studio albums.
The Beatles – White Album
It really was the first Beatles record that each individual member started to craft their own writing style and display genius throughout. From beginning to end you get a wide variety of musical styles that keeps the listener with a thirst to hear what’s next.
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
The final album of new material before his death, Electric Ladyland is basically the climax of Hendrix’s career. This Double Album is an outstanding piece of work. If you’re not a Hendrix fan, or if you have been living under a rock, Electric Ladyland is the album that will make you come back again and again for more.
Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Sure you can make the argument that Andre 3000 and Big Boi each wrote a solo record under their moniker Outkast. But fuck it, it’s under that moniker so i’m going to consider it a Double Album. Coming out of the success of Stankonia, Outkast had some major shoes to fill. This Double Album is an eclectic set of tunes from both artists with Big Boi delivering his southern funk/hip hop sound and Andre 3000 providing his jazz/rock/funk infused sound. Not only an incredible Double Album, but one of my all-time favourite albums.
Foo Fighters – In Your Honor
In Your Honor is divided into two parts, heavy on side a/b and acoustic-mellow on side c/d. This record was on the cusp of the ‘Terrible’ list. For YEARS I thought the side c/d from In Your Honor was completely unlistenable. I always thought Foo Fighters were a great rock’n’roll band when they were blasting heavier tunes, but when it came to acoustic-mellow tunes, they just didn’t resonate. I personally wouldn’t consider Dave Grohl the best lyricist, so when you focus a record on acoustic-mellow tunes, you expect the lyrics to shine through, but they don’t. Recently I started to dissect the songs on side c/d, and song-for-song, it’s great music and something you can listen to for the music (not the lyrics). Have a listen, see if you agree.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This is basically the last big kick for The Smashing Pumpkins. After this record, it basically all went to shit. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a testament that Billie Corgan can write good tunes, and enough good tunes to pack a Double Album. From beginning to end, this is a record I can sit down and listen to and actually enjoy. I can’t say the same about the travesty that came after this, but if the Pumpkins were to throw in the towel (originally), this would have been the record they should have went out with.
Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
Following The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor took an extended 5 year break writing soundtracks for video games and producing movie soundtracks before getting back in the studio to record The Fragile. This Double Album hits on both sides of the spectrum including ambient tones to crashing guitars. A sound that could only be presented as a Double Album.
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
This Double Album by Biffy Clyro actually inspired this post. It’s been a while since I have seen a band release a double album and when I heard Biffy were planning on doing this, I was excited and a little worried. There is that danger that surrounds releasing double albums where there is a strong possibility it could be filled with garbage, but I can assure you this record is incredible. This is the record that should start a resurgence of double albums. It proves that if a band has the songs to back it up, double albums are an incredible experience for any listener. Check out Opposites now!…and if you’re from America and you don’t know who the fuck i’m talking about, start here.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
This record basically cemented the fact that The Red Hot Chili Peppers should have thrown in the towel after their Californication record. It’s tough enough trying to get through a listen from beginning to end of a single record of the Chili Peppers, but to drag this into a Double Album was an awful idea. There isn’t much depth to the Chili Peppers, and that’s fine, but 122 minutes of the Chili Peppers makes me want to slit my wrists.
System Of A Down – Mezmerize/Hypnotize
System Of A Down released Mezmerize and Hypnotize as separate records with the intention of it being a Part 1 and Part 2 in a series of 2. Not quite a “Double Album” in the traditional sense, however basically a Double Album in the sense of it having a theme and recorded at the same time. This was the beginning of the end for System Of A Down. They broke through with the Toxicity record and later went in the studio to record this Double Album. It was a major shift in sound from their previous efforts as the guitarist/lead songwriter Daron Malakian took on a more prominent role as the second lead singer. The draw of System is the singer Serj Tankian. His voice has a sound that is unmistakable System Of A Down and is very unique for the hard rock genre, but when Malakian started taking on this role, System started to sound like any other band of the genre.
Metallica – Load/Reload
Metallica’s Load/Reload is basically the same idea as the System Of A Down Mezmerize/Hypnotize records. Released as single albums but in reality they are part of a Double Album. Load/Reload marks a very significant period for Metallica. When you look back and think “what the fuck happened with Metallica after the Black Album?”, the answer is Load/Reload. A Double Album that was such a drift from the Metallica of the past that it’s basically unlistenable. Then came St.Anger, but that’s a different sad story. All I have to say is, thank god for Death Magnetic.