Five double albums that should have been single albums:
Five albums I am prepared to discuss:
1 – Van Morrison, Veedon Fleece: Where’s Bonham? Where’s Iommi? On my sixteenth birthday my girl Sue gave me this and I didn’t get it. I went into. When I finally got my head around it I discovered a whole new world of songwriting and singing and words and soul. And phrasing. The Degas of contemporary music. Grumpy bastard that delivers blinding inspiration in his own way on his own path. Took me down new roads.
2 – Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup: This was the first Stones album I bought when it came out and was a little underwhelmed by it at the beginning having been schooled in Exile and Sticky by my mate. There seemed to be too much wah-wah and clavinet. But over time I’ve come to see it of one of their great albums. The kicker came when I saw them at Western Springs on their Voodoo Lounge tour. Angie was an unexpected highlight, they had me weeping openly to a song I thought I had no particular feeling for (lucky they didn’t play Winter or Moonlight Mile, I would have been a mess). On this album you can hear most of the lyrics which is rare for Mick (I love the fact that they write some of the best lines and just throw them away) and it is ballad heavy – Winter, Angie, Hide Your Love, Coming Down Again, 100 Hundred Years Ago…great lyric writing, being very clever with feel. It’s quite girly for a stones album in that way, the height of the glam period. I thought I hated Star Star till I revisited it. The intro and the verses are classic Berry-Stones and then that crap chorus. Bad end to an otherwise highly overlooked album.
3 – Neil Young, Tonight’s the Night: Ultimate road album. Me and Janey had the best road trips ever. For this one we bought Fatty, a round CD player that had the back seat, and this album. Wasted Neil and his dead friends. So much crackling low energy. They don’t give a hoot what we think. Albuquerque is sublime. Tiny throwaway masterpieces.
4 – Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV: Imagine this arriving in the mail. Hearing Black Dog for the first time. I wagged school the day it arrived from the RCA Record Club and played it for the first time on the big stereo in the lounge. Mum came home just in time for Stairway To Heaven and was quite taken by it. As I was by the whole album. A feast of the four greatest exponents of their art at their peak. Those unfathomable guitar licks and those beating drums.
5 – David Bowie, Hunky Dory: Bowie meets Wakeman meets Ronsen meets a fat bunch of songs. Bursting with ideas and homages to his influences, to his family and beliefs. It has the precursor to Ziggy songs. He’s like some sort of open hearted alien among us, more subtle than the masks that came later. The copy I had didn’t have the Garbo shot, just the big flares and the scrawled credits on both sides!
Bonus – Bob Dylan, World Gone Wrong: Twenty years later there’s another one. My partner Michelle gave me this on cassette. I thought oh bloody hell Dylan covering some stuff I don’t know. Just Bob and his guitar. What a voice. The ultimate studio performer. Delia, Lone Pilgrim, Stack E Lee, Love Henry. The best thing he’s done since Street Legal.
Five great double albums that had to be double albums: