Staff Top 10
Top Ten Albums on Which the Sequencing Is Lost on CD

By: Bjorn Randolph

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Posted 09/03/2004 - 09:36:00 AM by lynchd:
 1. Ian McDonald claimed that, until the last minute, sides 1 and 2 of Abbey Road were sides 2 and 1 respectively! The Beatles only reversed it at the last minute. 2. The reason some old double LPs have sides 1 and 2, etc. on different discs is that they were meant to be stacked on a turntable with a stacking arm, so that you could hear the consecutive sides one right after the other. Thus Hendrix intended the listener to hear "Still Raining..." right after side 3.
Posted 09/03/2004 - 01:03:24 PM by IanMathers:
 Interesting info on "Wowee Zowee" - I'd never seen a vinyl copy or figured out the breaks, but that makes sense. In a nonsensical kind of way. Which is what's great about the album!
Posted 09/03/2004 - 03:27:57 PM by howard-male:
 No 'Peace, Love and Understanding' on the UK issue of 'Armed Forces' for some reason - so no perfect end to the album for us Brits!
Posted 09/03/2004 - 04:14:06 PM by kingatnight:
 While "Bringing It All Back Home" is a good choice, I have to say the Dylan album that makes the most of two seperate sides is "Blood on the Tracks" -- for no other reason than its two blindingly perfect side closers in "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and "Buckets of Rain." Both perfect. Great article - really fun to read.
Posted 09/04/2004 - 07:30:14 AM by bobbylove:
 Couldn't agree with this article more. As someone who was encouraged to 'upgrade' to the 'superior CD format' at the end of the eighties it was a few years before the true reality had sunk in. Albums I had loved on vinyl became just a 'sequence of songs' in CD format. Worse still - CD 'remasters' (the silk purse/sow's ear phenomenon in action) often had 'bonus tracks' crudely bolted on to the end of the tracklist. Take the 90s CD reissues of classic Bowie albums - Ziggy Stardust simply HAS to end with 'Rock and Roll Suicide'. Period! No cast-offs necessary. Of course CDs received their comeuppance with the advent of mp3s. Now, more than ever, songs could be completely estranged from their album siblings. Albums were to become lost forever in a randomized global iTunes jukebox. Which is why vinyl is now enjoying something of a rennaissance. People are being drawn once again to its crackly pleasures. Albums will live again. Trust me.
Posted 09/04/2004 - 08:13:49 PM by mbloodyv:
 I agree with all of the info above -- it's a very interesting shift to think about. I would add Nick Drake's 'Five Leaves Left' to any list of instances where CD sequencing completely loses the vinyl-flow. Originally the A was "Time Has Told Me," "River Man," "Three Hours," "Way to Blue," and "Day Is Done" -- a pretty ambitious, and sometimes rambling first side. Then (and I just found this out recently) "Cello Song" starts off the flipside -- in my opinion, one of the most perfect songs lyrically and musically that I've heard. I think its effect on the CD is heavily reduced by being relegated to another in a string of songs instead of as the first on a side. Take the "Way to Blue: An Intro" compilation, where "Cello" starts off the album in, I think, jaw-dropping fashion. This is lost on the CD version of "Five Leaves Left," where the song is less introductory and more of a passing gesture on the way from beginning to end. Either way, it's interesting to look back and see how an album was constructed in an era in which the physical act of turning the album over was part of, ultimately, the whole listening experience.
Posted 09/06/2004 - 05:42:46 PM by foolsgold13:
 there's a few i think that needed to be added on: Fun House by the Stooges, after a first side with three "naerly identical" songs and a slow one, 1970 shocks with the saxaphone coming in at the end, and it stays the rest of the album. Astral Weeks by van Morrison with the whole before/after (In the Beginning/Afterwards) titles at the top of each side... Wowee Zowee was that out on vinyl before CD? i think S&E; deserves a note because side one has a bunch of songs that are all over the place in terms of type and lenght, but once Loretta's Scars kicks in at side 2, it's basically standard rock fare, with drum licks and everything being repeated. Special nods to This Nation's Saving Grace and Psychocandy by the Fall and Jesus and Mary Chain because all the bonus tracks are included within the original album and not tacked on at the end (on the CD of psychocandy "Some Candy Talking" is song 8; This Nation's Saving Grace is interrupted by Vixen and Couldn't Get Ahead. while all those songs are awesome, i prefer tracklistings to say the way they are originally)
Posted 09/07/2004 - 08:07:04 PM by IanMathers:
 As much as I like CDs, I do abhor that whole "bonus track" phenomenon. The recent Costello reissues got it right; original album on one disc, bonuses on another. Interestingly enough "Fun House" would be one of my examples where I think the spirit of the side break _is_ preserved, even in CD. The difference is just too strong for a mere change in format to effect it. Also, saying that vinyl albums "become" mere sequences of songs on CD is kind of silly - they were mere sequences before, it's just the flow is different. Which type of flow you prefer is, I suspect, almost wholly a product of which one you're used to. Arguing either one is objectively better is pretty dodgy.
Posted 09/19/2004 - 01:19:35 PM by deamous:
 Great article! "Purple Rain" would be my pick here -- you really need a moment of silence to recover from "Darling Nikki" before heading into "When Doves Cry." The backward message at the end of "Nikki" sounds like a secret tucked away at the end of side one, but on CD it's just sitting there, smack in the middle of the album (my long-ago cassette copy messed up so that just that section ran backwards, oddly enough; he's talking about God, of course). Excepting "Abbey Road," I would say that most Beatles albums ("Magical Mystery Tour" excepted) benefit from playing in one go. Oh, and check out Tom Petty's "Full Moon Fever" CD for a novel solution to this problem.
Posted 12/15/2004 - 06:49:55 PM by cwperry:
 I can explain why'60s- and some '70s-era double albums had sides 1 & 4 on a disc, and sides 2 & 3 on the other disc. This was the era of automatic record changers. Turntables had tall spindles - 3 or 4 inches high - on which you could place a stack of LPs. When the LP's side would end, another platter would drop down, the tonearm would reset, and you'd have continuous music. Double albums were manufactured with sides 1 & 4 on the first disc so when side one ended, the second LP would drop down and you could hear side 2 in the proper sequence. When side 2 ended, you'd flip over the stack of records and then sides 3 and 4 would play in sequence. It was designed to minimize the number of times you had to flip a record over in order to hear the whole thing.
Posted 12/15/2004 - 06:53:08 PM by cwperry:
 In addition to Pavement's Wowee Zowee, a couple other 3-sided albums include Joe Jackson's 1986 Big World, and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' 2003 Nocturama. I'm sure there are others.
Posted 12/23/2004 - 08:30:03 PM by cwperry:
 Yep, I remembered another three-sided LP: The Marshall Suite by The Fall.