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The Death Of The Album 1954 – 2009


Chris Difford once claimed Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours Of the Morning” was the first record album as we know it. And he might be right. Produced by Nelson Riddle and recorded in three long sessions it was a series of songs on the theme of unrequited love.

And so it began.

Vinyl was the perfect size for the album: 15 minutes each side, long enough to expound on a sound but not so long as to be impossible to fill.

Vinyl and the album marched hand in hand through the 70s and many a masterpiece followed and if I have always felt two and a half minutes is the perfect length for a song the album proved me wrong time after time after time.

But 80 minutes wasn’t the right length. It was too long, longer than the longest double and since the CD was 80 minutes musicians were being forced to fill the void. Hip Hop filled it with remixes and skits, rock with alternative takes and out takes and everybody filled it with material that should never have seen the light of day.

In other words, albums sucked because there was zero quality control.

And worse, greedy record companies were uping the price to $20 a pop -more expensive than a DVD in many cases.

From the mid-80s to the early 00s the consumer was screwed, the single was dead, the albums were expensive and people like me would go on a Tuesday to my local store and invest $100 for 5 cds, 90% of which were an embarassment.

Than Itunes saved the music business.

If I send a $100 on a Tuesday now, I get, say, 2 albums and 65 songs. My taste is widened, if I like enough songs from an album I might by the entire album, but, as in the case of the new Cam’ron, the fourth and the fifth song were so bad I passed.

Sure, if it is a Stevie Wonder or Bob Dylan, I’m going to buy the album because I am just as interested in their failures as their successes, but for the most point I’ve skipped out on Cam’ron’s skit’s #1, #2, and #3 as I did by not buying “Crime Pays”.

And so the album is dead and unless a musician can justify the outlay people are not, and shouldn’t, plonk down their money. Last weeks # 1 on Billboard album charts sold 88,000 copies.
It’s over guys. You wanna get real paid you’re gonna have to justify it.

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