Ammanas

Top Concept Albums (music)

12 posts in this topic

I have always liked the idea of a entire musical album being united and would like to hear from others their favorites. I will share my top three

1. The Alchemy Index by Thrice. Each element (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) is represented by a CD and the Earth Album is acoustic guitar, Fire is loud with electric guitar etc..The last song on each CD is each element actually speaking to the audience. The entire thing is brilliant.

2. The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. It tells a long story regarding two lovers, a evil queen, a forest and shapeshifting.

3. Ok Computer by Radiohead. Each song is about a different person in a science fiction universe with the last song about someone getting into a car crash and the first song about someone being saved by a airbag in a crash and the sheer joy of being alive.

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I’m not 100% sure if this counts, but the race for space by public service broadcasting. The artists got access to all of the old newsreels, and radio announcement during the space race, and the end result is beatiful

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Lately I've been digging Pink Lemonade by Closure in Moscow. It's the sort of album I can get to the end of and then want to listen to again because the end is so cathartic and refreshing. The concept is a bit wacky and lighthearted but all the songs are pretty killer. The style is a cool mix of funk and prog-rock with some electronic/pop influences.

The Dear Hunter Acts are all amazing in how interconnected they are. Melodic themes are constantly reprised and reworked and new melodies tend to be foreshadowed. A lot of that stuff is pretty subtle so it leaves more to discover with every listen. The story is one of the most cohesive I've listened to, which is pretty remarkable because it currently extends over five albums. I also don't think there are many genres these albums don't delve into.

Avantasia albums like The Scarecrow and Ghostlights are really cool power metal albums with some of the theatrical drama of Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell. Although I find I don't necessarily notice the story is happening. Metal Opera I and II have the story at the forefront, but those albums are pretty cheesy even though there are some killer songs like Reach Out for the Light and Farewell. 

The Wall by Pink Floyd is my favourite concept album of all time. It just takes me on such a beautiful journey every time I listen to it. I'll extend my recommendation to include Roger Waters' solo albums as well, such as Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Amused to Death and Is This The Life We Really Want?

Nightfall in Middle-Earth by Blind Guardian is a must for fans of Lord of the Rings. It roughly followed the events of the Silmarillion.

Dark Matters by The Devin Townsend Project is a fun, goofy, over-the-top, theatrical romp, featuring aliens warring over coffee beans. The album also has a 2000 piece choir singing on it which is pretty cool.

Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater is really good. It was the first album that got me into prog-metal. The story is a murder mystery about a guy trying to figure out how he was killed in a past life.

Misplaced Childhood by Marillion is a really good mid-80s neo-prog, pop-rock concept album. It can get broody and over-verbose at times but there are some beautifully uplifting moments. Very emotional and evocative, but still somehow good to play Skyrim to.

The Similitude of a Dream by the Neal Morse Band. Neal Morse is a genius at creating concept albums and this is probably his best.

Imaginaerum by Nightwish. Theatrical, gothic and dramatic. This was an instant favourite for me when I first listened to it.

The Whirlwind by Transatlantic. The whole album is technically one 78 minute long song. It's a cool revival of that classic 70s prog-rock sound.

 

I guess that's a semi-exhaustive list of my favourites that I would recommend. I didn't originally plan to list so many, but when I get started I can't stop haha

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6 hours ago, Kureshi Ironclaw said:

 The Wall by Pink Floyd is my favourite concept album of all time. It just takes me on such a beautiful journey every time I listen to it. I'll extend my recommendation to include Roger Waters' solo albums as well, such as Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Amused to Death and Is This The Life We Really Want?

You're missing Roger's best album, Radio Kaos! ;)

My favorite Floyd concept album would have to be Wish You Were Here. I also quite enjoy Animals and the Final Cut.

Seventh Son by Iron Maiden is great fun. I also include Powerslave as a concept album since it seems like there is a theme common to all the songs. 

Gotta include the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. 

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I thought all the concept albums I'm familiar with had already been listed, but I just remembered The World/Inferno Friendship Society's Addicted to Bad Ideas, which follows the life and films of actor Peter Lorre.

Perhaps I should also give a mention to Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown.  I tend to prefer the songs on American Idiot, but if Wikipedia had not informed me that American Idiot was a concept album I would not have realized it on my own.

Edit to add: I’m embarrassed to have forgotten This Is For Our Sins by lowercase noises.  His The Swiss Illness may also qualify, though it seems more loosely tied together.

An even later edit to add Empires by VNV Nation, which is organized to follow supposedly universal aspects of the ways empires rise and fall.

Edited by daschaich
Forgot one
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On 4/20/2018 at 6:51 AM, Snipexe said:

I’m not 100% sure if this counts, but the race for space by public service broadcasting. The artists got access to all of the old newsreels, and radio announcement during the space race, and the end result is beatiful

I wish I had followed up on this last year... Over the weekend I finally got into Public Service Broadcasting, listening repeatedly to their 2017 album Every Valley after one of its tracks popped up in a Spotify playlist.  This concept album traces industrial decline through the specific example of the Welsh coal mining industry.  PSB's M.O. of putting news, interviews, advertisements, etc. to music seemed sort of gimmicky to me at first, but this album really works for me.  I especially like the variety in the sound as the album passes through the different stages of the story history.  (This is a nice track-by-track summary.)  There are also bona fide lyrics for several of the tracks (some in Welsh), with guest vocalists including James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers.

I have not yet checked out The Race for Space or the rest of their back catalog, but I expect to in the near future.

 

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Ludo - Broken Bride :

Boy meets girl, dragons, prehistoric furry creatures, and the zombie apocalypse: is a rock concept album.

The story’s focus is Thomas Liridon, how he meets and falls in love with his wife Oriel (a radiant Gabrielle McClinton). Unfortunately, she dies of unspecified causes, and he bends the laws of space, time, and physics to bring her back. 

Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow

"The first half is the creation and ultimate division of the world. The second half is the story of destined love and the world being reunited as one." The Fueled By Ramen product page describes the album as follows: The album tells the story of a world divided in two by the selfish actions of a powerful and egotistical, yet insecure angel. After generations of darkness, the world is eventually brought back together by the love and sacrifice of a couple brave enough to fulfil their destinies. This album contains vocals from bands such as Saves the Day, Say Anything, The Matches, Portugal The Man and The Dear Hunter.

The Dear Hunter - The Acts

There are 5 acts currently out with a 6 being planned. The acts tell the story of a boy, or The Dear Hunter, born at the turn of the 19th century who will live a life of pain and meet an untimely death. Act I serves as a prologue to this story. ... The rest of the album revolves around the boy growing up and establishes his naivety/innocence. This band can do no wrong.

 

 

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

This is by far my favorite concept album. The tracks on the album are chronological, and each track is a small vignette from the historical movement of great Britain from a major colonial power to a subordinated world power, essentially just another mouth in the Consumer driven economy. This is also one of those rare albums where you want to listen to the whole album because every track is great. This also has 3 of my favorite songs of all times:

Some Mother's Son - Possibly the prettiest anti-war song ever made.

Drivin' - Song about the joys of carefree escapism.

All the troubled world around, seems an eternity away. And all the Rent collectors, debt collectors, all will be behind us, they'll never find us, cuz we'll be dri-i-i-ivin'.

And one of my favorite songs by the Kinks, She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina.

She's bought a hat like princess Marina, to wear at all her social affairs. She wears it while she's doing the laundry, she wears it while she's scrubbing the stairs. But you will never see her at Ascot, she can't afford the time or the fare, but she's bought a hat like Princess Marina so she don't care.

 

Rain Dogs by Tom Waits

This one is more of an atmospherically cohesive concept album, and like a lot of Tom Waits work these songs are all tales sympathetically told about the down but not yet out, the strange characters at the fringes, the dispossessed and/or insane. This is another album that doesn't have a single bad track and it also has some of Wait's best lyrics, like:

It's 9th and Hennepin, how come all the prostitutes have names that sound like donuts?

The downtown trains are full of all them Brooklyn girls, they try so hard to break out of their little worlds. You wave your arms, they scatter like crows, they have nothing that will ever capture your heart, they're just thorns without the rose, be careful of them in the dark.

Auntie Maim has gone insane, she lives in the doorway of an old Hotel. And the radio, is playing Opera, all she ever says is go to Hell. Uncle Violet, was a pilot, made a million during world War 2, but he's a tight wad and a cheapskate and he'll never give a dime to you. Uncle Phil can't live without his pills, he has emphysema and he's almost blind. But we must find out where the money is, get it now before he loses his mind.

 

I See a Darkness by Bonnie Prince Billy

This is another loose concept album, the first song is A Minor Place, and that's kind of where this album is. All the songs are in a minor key, and thematically the songs are all pretty dark. This is another album where every song is great, and the song Raining in Darling is one of the prettiest songs ever made, and really encapsulates the bleak yet hopeful feeling that runs through all the songs. Johnny Cash did an amazing cover of the title track, I see a Darkness, for the American recording sessions.

I'm Writing this on my phone, I'll edit this later and add some links.

Edited by hoiditthroughthegrapevine
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Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful

The whole album is about the evolution life. Every song shows a different aspect of life, from songs focusing on the beauty of nature (Alpenglow), over those inspired by poetry/ books (My Walden, Edema Ruh). But they all are about evolution and life. The album concludes with a song called "The Greatest Show on Earth" which covers everything from the first living beings in the ocean until life as it is today.

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My favourite concept album of all time is Alchemy, by dire straits. Alchemy is just their greatest hits, except they changed them, and made them all even more amazing. They were already insanely popular before the album was released, but after, their fan base went insane. Alchemy also includes my favourite version (of the versions they played) of the coolest song ever, the sultans of swing.

Romeo and Juliet is another favourite of mine in that album.

Edit: I'm not sure this actually counts. Meh.

Edited by Embrisk
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Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns is my favorite (and probably only) concept album. Happens to also be my favorite album by them. 

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Ayreon is a band that only makes concept albums, and usually they're about something sci-fi. Most of their albums actually connect to make to a huge overarching sci-fi story spanning thousands of years and multiple planets. They have their own cosmere! The albums don't take place in order; the most recent album, The Source, actually takes place before any of the other albums. The albums are very prog metal, with bits of folk and electronica. There are always many guest vocalist playing the different characters, such as James Labrie (of dream theater) and Hansi Kursch (of blind guardian). Lovers of prog, folk, metal, and sci-fi might really enjoy this band.

From Ayreon, I suggest listening to The Source and 01011001 first.

Edited by Ghost of Perdition
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