top 5 for us old farts

Back when I was a lad, we had these large black platters called “albums” or “LPs”, and if you know what “LP” stands for you’re right here with me.  These albums virtually forced musicians into a 4o minute recording format, separated into two 2o minutes oeuvres that had their own flow and timing with the the context of the full 40 minute experience.  Unlike today, when artists can create close to 80 minutes of stuff on a single disc (and beyond if they go pure digital), musicians had to pick the cream of the crop to be included within the 40 minute presentation.  Judicious editing and and feel for the presentation had to be taken into account.

Thus, there were times when one 20 minute play, or one “album side” was an experience in itself.  Many a radio station created promotions to boost audience share with such tricks such as “Perfect Album Sides” or “Desert Island Disc” or some other cutesy name (having worked in radio for many a year, trust me when I say that originality was not at the forefront of these promotions.  Many a jock/program director would visit different cities to hear what other stations were doing and with fervent hedonism reproduce the promotion verbatim, claiming it as their own).

Given this babbling intro I was thinking back to what I considered to be the perfect album side; a collection of well written, well performed songs lumped together in perfect flow.  Let’s take it for granted that side 2 of Abbey Road would be included.  Additionally I’m avoiding sides encompassing a single piece (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Close To The Edge, etc).  Anyway – the five that readily come to mind in no particular order…

Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection1. Side 2 – Tumbleweed Connection – Elton John:  This was EJ at his peak.  Sure he’s had massive commercial success since but this side has nary a flaw.


wainwright2. Side 2 – A Live One – Louden Wainwright: Yes he’s sick and twisted but this is such a fun series of tunes…



jt-aqualung3. Side 2 – Aqualung – Jethro Tull:  I still can’t figure out what Locomotive Breath is all about….



darkside4. Side 1 – Dark Side of The Moon – Pink Floyd:  Really this is perennial given like Abbey Road.



quadrophenia5. Side 3 – Quadrophenia – The Who:  Mostly for Moon’s drumming but Bell Boy is MY song….



Filed under music, Top 5

4 responses to “top 5 for us old farts

  1. Yeah, I remember album sides on the radio. Sometimes it was a ploy to allow the DJ a long restroom break…

    Personally, I think both sides of Dark Side of the Moon should be played sequentially one after the other, preferably while The Wizard of Oz is on the TV with the sound turned down…

    Yes, the album side will be retired to the ashheap of cultural history in the same way as why entering a telephone number is called DIALING or why they call it youTUBE.

    Back in the day, I subscribed to the theory of buying the LP, then making a copy on tape for regular listening so as to preserve the quality of the LP. That became easy to do with the advent of good quality C-90 cassette tapes. I would record both sides of an album onto one side of the tape, turn the tape over and do it again on the other side. Then get this: I would remove the blank part of the tape so that the playing time of the cassette was the exact length of the album with no prolonged silence. I caught a lot of abuse for being that anal about it. But I was finally able to produce perfect tapes for the car so I did it.

    Before then, I had bought an LP for the home and an 8-track for the car. For those who do not know, 8-track had its problems. It was an endless loop of tape so that it repeated automatically without having to be turned over, its only redeeming feature. The content was divided into four equal length “programs”. Two channels for stereo sound times four programs makes up 8 audio tracks, hence the name of the format. The problem is that it was difficult and sometimes impossible to lay down the songs on an album to fit within the alloted four programs without excess silence or heaven forbid, having a song straddle a program change. What bothered me the most was when the order of songs on an 8-track was different from that of the album in order to fit the odd requirements of the format. Those of you who are used to shuffle play of a CD may feel free to ignore this last complaint. I tried, but soon gave up recording my own 8-tracks.

    One more true story. Some double albums came with one disc bearing sides 1 and 4 while the second held sides 2 and 3. Why would they do that, you may ask? Well, a gadget called a record changer was very popular in those days. It consisted in a long spindle protruding up from the center of the turntable. A complex mechanism would drop one record at a time onto the turntable to be played without human intervention. Having the “sides” seemingly out of order allowed unattended play of sides 1 and 2, then by flipping over both records together, sides 3 and 4. Once I bought a double album and discovered that I had two of sides 1 and 4 and none of sides 2 and 3. So I went back to the record store (cleverly named Licorice Pizza) to exchange it. Joking with the clerk, I said that the way my luck was going, the replacement would have all sides 2 and 3 and no 1 and 4. I was too stupid to open it up on the spot to check it. Yep, I ended up making three trips to the store that day.

    Bill, an old fart…

  2. ok, since i know what LP stands for i must be an old fart. and i remeber 8 tracks too. my coming of age, however, straddled the end of vinyl and the beginning of CDs. i had bunches of cassettes in between and was thrilled when i got one of those big ass boom boxes guys used to carry on their shoulder.

    cool list ya got worked up. 🙂

  3. p.s. dude, what’s up with your photobucket account? looks like you need to delete something.

  4. cooper

    lime: According to photobucket I’m using 8% of my allotment…seems like the problem is with their servers/network

    bill: dark side and the WOOz is kewl…it’s actually sort of creepy…8-tracks…oh yes…had one in my VW bug and a deck at home (both now long gone). I’m impressed…not many people knew about the 1/4 2/3 thing….

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