Experiencing a special album

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Something I will likely not experience again is discovering a new album and spending time reading the lyrics, enjoying the artwork and just generally being consumed by the entire package.

Jumping back to 1982, I had heard the first greatest hits album by Queen at a friends house and my gran bought it for me a few weeks later. It was the start of a journey where I ended up owning literally hundreds of Queen singles, albums, books and other items.

What, however, remains is the time I spent listening to every track over and over again and perhaps, what may seem strange today, the time spent reading the inner sleeves and understanding more about where each song came from.

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It quickly became embedded in my mind and somehow the music and the imagery fitted together in my memories, and to this day when I hear one of these songs, I see the album. I see it vividly and I know every word in every line and every part of each song. It is an experience that is more than one that is gained purely through listening.

Admittedly this particular Queen album is unusual in that for many it is regarded as way above what almost any other artists can offer. It contains the singles from a decade when Queen were unbelievably creative and is arguably the most perfect singles album of all time. I do admit by bias by the way.

More than anything, I will miss this kind of simple experience. We live in a time where £10/month gives us all of the music we could ever want, a dream I could not have even imagined when I was a child, but it is also a time when the ‘experience’ of a new album is so remarkably shallow.

3 thoughts on “Experiencing a special album

  1. It’s really interesting that it’s a Greatest Hits compilation that did this for you.

    I assume that it wasn’t assembled as a careful cohesive album, in the post-Sgt.-Pepper’s mode, though that photo indicates some work was done on the presentation.

    It feels like the argument usually comes down to is the individual song or the album the more important unit (and I’m strongly in the former camp; all but 2 or 3 albums in my life are “3 good songs and a lot of filler), but you’ve managed to straddle that fence completely 😀

    That said, Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints probably come closest to the “full album experience” for me, along with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s New Orleans Album, and come to think of it License to Ill by the Beastie Boys.

    Tellingly, these are all things that entered my life as a young adolescent, I wonder if that’s a crucial part of the formula.

    1. I didn’t really know anything about Queen at the time (I was 12) so when I heard song after song it was transformative. Over the next 2-3 years all I got for Christmas and Birthdays was Queen albums and Queen II and A Night At The Opera are good examples of cohesive albums.

      Suspect that when young, we are more likely to find things that stick much deeper than later on.

  2. By the time I started buying my own music it was all CDs, though I had a lot if albums passed down to me. But I loved listening to a new album, and opening up the case to view the art work, find out which band members were involved in writing the music etc. And because I could only afford to buy CDs from time to time, I tended to absolutely milk the once I did get. I found when I first started with the download sharing music thing I went kinda crazy, and barely listened to a lot of the stuff I acquired. But then I went back to the getting one album and enjoying it routine, which suited me better.

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