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Back in the day, the release of a double album was a big deal to music fans. Imagine – an artist had so much new material that they needed to release two discs instead of one. Plus…the record company actually allowed it!
Here is my list of my top 5 favorite double albums of all time. A couple of rules – no greatest hits/compilation/live albums, no repackaged/reissues of albums that previously were released as single discs. This list is by no means comprehensive – there is so much great music out there that I have not listened to. But so what…it’s my list! Each of these albums is in my record collection.
5. Quadrophenia, by The Who
See my October 22 post on this epic album. Love Reign O’er Me is a special song.
4. The Wall, by Pink Floyd
A rock opera that explores isolation symbolized by a wall. The concert that supported this 1979 masterpiece showed the band playing the album from start to finish, while roadies constructed a wall around the band. Late in the show, as the audience chants “Tear down the wall,” the band does just that. My all time favorite song is on this album – Comfortably Numb.
3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Elton John
This album from 1973 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003 and is #91 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Every song is a standout – singles and deep cuts. The opening track, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is an 11 minute tour de force. Other special songs are Bennie and the Jets, All the Girls Love Alice, Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock and Roll), Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting and Candle in the Wind (the original about Marilyn Monroe, not Elton’s re-released 1997 tribute to Princess Diana after her death. The re-released song is the second highest selling single of all time, behind White Christmas by Bing Crosby).
2. The Chicago Transity Authority, by Chicago
Chicago’s debut album from 1969. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014. Long before the band evolved into their power ballad crap of the 80s, they were a fabulous rock band, led by the riffs of guitarist Terry Kath. I love the trumpet/trombone/flute/sax/clarinet accompaniment of James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and Walt Parazaider – when I sing along with this album, I sing these instrumentations as well as the lyrics. Particularly solid are the songs Beginnings (the brass section during the final 4 minutes is spectacular) and their cover song I’m A Man (with Danny Seraphine’s amazing drums, Pete Cetera’s vocal and bass line, Robert Lamm’s vocal and organ, and especially Kath’s kick-ass vocal and lead guitar – this song has one of my favorite ending guitar riffs ever).
1 – The Beatles (also known as The White Album), by The Beatles
Released in 1968, this album is considered by many to be one of the greatest records of all time. My copy is a first edition, with “The Beatles” embossed on the cover, numbered 2905914, but unfortunately the poster is missing. In 2015, Ringo Starr’s personal copy number 0000001 sold at auction for $790,000. It’s ranked #10 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000. I love the album for its innovation – The Beatles were so far ahead of their time. Fave songs are While My Guitar Gently Weeps (thank you George Harrison for this amazing song), I’m So Tired, Back in the U.S.S.R., and John Lennon lullaby to his son Julian, Good Night, sung by Ringo Starr.
Check out Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps at the Concert for George Harrison at Royal Albert Hall in 2002, on the 1 year anniversary of Harrison’s death.