What are your favorite concept albums?

Here are a few I’m fond of:

Pressurehed - Explaining the Unexplained. This is a brilliant piece of spacey electronica that has songs about all sorts of Fortean topics like Bigfoot, UFOs, mokele-mbembe, the Long Count, and so forth.

Bill Laswell - Hashisheen: The End of Law. Ambient music about Hassan i Sabah and the assassins.

Coil - Time Machines. Minimalist drone intended to help induce altered states of consciousness. Each track is named after a different psychopharmacological agent.

Hawkwind - Space Ritual. This is the canonical spacerock album, and is in the running for best live album ever recorded by anyone EVAR. The framing device is that it’s the hallucinations of a dying astronaut.

Hawkwind - Love in Space. A great '90s-era Hawkwind album. Aliens come visiting.

Psychic TV - Godstar: Thee Director’s Cut: Essentially a love letter to Brian Jones and sweet '60s pop.

Black Sun Productions - Operett Amorale: BSP are ex-gay prostitutes who essentially apprenticed under Coil. This album is a tribute to Bertolt Brecht.

Za Frumi - Shrak Ishi za Migul. This is essentially a radio play performed in Orcish and Dark Elvish with a dark ambient soundtrack. Quite sinister.

Jane Siberry: When I Was a Boy
Kate Bush:* Hounds of Love*

The Coolies, Doug. About a skinhead who murders a transvestite fry cook, steals his recipe book, exploits it to become rich and famous, then slides back into paranoia and drug addiction. Each song on the album is a spot-on parody of a particular musical style or group including The Who, The Replacements, John Lennon, rap, zydeco, heavy metal. The title, Doug, plays off the title of The Coolies first release, dig . . .?, which was made up entirely of covers of Simon and Garfunkel songs in various styles (a surf-rock “Mrs. Robinson”, for example) along with a twisted version of Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby”.

Actually, The Ninth Wave side of Hounds of Love, since it was released before CDs so it’s a very specific album side. I came in to say that too. It’s so evocative, because most of the story, about a woman lost at sea, waiting for rescue (that never comes? it’s unclear) and having hallucinations in her last dying moments, is inside her head.

I also love The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis, about a New York City street punk who gets sucked into this bizzare alternative world. Too bad they never made the movie that they wanted to make. Ken Russell was supposed to direct, IIRC.

When I Was A Boy is a concept album? How so?

It’s song cycle about one earthbound life cycle of a soul: begins at birth, goes through life and its experiences, ends after death waiting to be born again, to start the cycle over.

The Who: Quadrophenia. The best damned theme album ever.

I quite like the Jethro Tull concept albums - Thick as a Brick, Passion Play & War Child
Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is quite nice too.

Gawd, there are so many… a few off the top of my head:

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Marillion - Misplaced Childhood
Marillion - Brave
Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes From A Memory
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime
IQ - Subterranea
Spock’s Beard - Snow

Rick Wakeman: The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table.

I remain a big fan of The Pretty Things *S. F. Sorrow * which was the first “rock opera” and still has some pretty tasty stuff.

The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper”, of course.

One of my favorites is an album called “(Music Inspired By) The Snow Goose” by Camel. It’s based on a short story by Paul Gallico (who threatened to sue, hence the qualifier in the title).

***The Kinks *Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Quadrophenia. It seems for a lot of Who fans that is their #1 album like it is for me.

Trivia : to show that it wasn’t recorded in quadrophonic sound, some versions of the cover say stereo on the top. Some people just assumed it was recorded in quad sound.

The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come For Free

There are a couple of weak songs, but two tracks on it reduce me to tears - which is pretty good going for a rap album. For those who don’t know it, the story is about a (white) Londoner who, amongst over things loses a £1000, gets, then loses a girl, takes a lot of spliff and eventually finds transcendence. I highly recommend it, and I’m not a fan of this genre normally.

Poe – Haunted

This is one that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is my favourite. Poe incorporated her new-found discovery of ProTools, audio tapes her late father (filmmaker and lecturer Tad Danielewski) had left behind, and elements of the book House of Leaves, which was published 6 months earlier and had been written by her brother Mark Z. Danielewski. Using a wide range of song styles, the album is ultimately about her making a connection with her father, tho that is too simplistic a statement to really show what makes it great.

Damn, I feel old!
What about the Moody Blues’ “Days of Future Passed?”

Or practically anything by Alan Parsons Project (I’m particularly fond of “Tales of Mystery and Suspense” in which all the songs are based on stories by Edgar Allen Poe)!

I know there are those on these boards who dismiss Styx, but I think “Paradise Theatre” was a great concept album.

As always, YMMV

The Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed. The topic matter was simple (the events of a single day), but the idea that a rock band could team up with a symphony orchestra was groundbreaking at the time. IMHO, it still holds up after all these years.

Klaatu, Hope. Not very well remembered today, this album displayed all of the imagery in lyrics, vocals, arrangements, etc. that Klaatu had, in the short time since their first album, established a reputation for. Proved they weren’t a one-trick pony, and was an interesting concept besides.

And another vote for:

Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Who, Quadrophenia

Thanks lissener. That’s one of my favorite albums and yet I never listened to it as a concept album before!

Wow, I love Poe, but hadn’t heard that album. Thanks for the info.

From Poe’s “Trigger Happy Jack”

*“You can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being” *

Words to live by, man.
I also like The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia.

Edit to add, nice to see other votes for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. [gloat]I saw that tour, the whole album performed live, and it was amazing[/gloat]

Deltron 3030. Futuristic Space Rap.

Wow-- all I gotta say is, Poe’s first album won’t even prepare you for the awesomeness that is Haunted. Also, someone familiar with the first album will be able to pick up on at least one call-back to it on Haunted as well. Listen to it immediately!!!