Friday 1 July 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 104 (Top Ten): Shortest and Longest AAA Albums

A real anorakky top five for you this week! What AAA artists offer the best value for money – and the worst? The difference between the shortest albums on our list and the longest really shows the differences between the 1960s and now, in the modern CD age, when albums are often double or triple the length of ones from 40-50 years ago. Only one entry per top five per artists is allowed, we only take original album releases into account (ie no bonus tracks) and no live sets are allowed –otherwise they’d win by miles! (with the deluxe Who Live at Leeds and Beach Boys in Concert right behind Wings Over America and Neil Young’s Weld!) Anyway, here are the top five shortest AAA studio albums:

5)The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) – a total length of 29:29: AAAA review no 2, The Beatles’ first entirely self-composed album is also their shortest, perhaps because the band were being pushed into doing so much in this period (two albums a year, four singles and a film). A Hard Day’s Night always seemed short – it’s full of the Beatles’ punkiest, most breathlessly youthful songs from the title track to Can’t Buy Me Love. It also has just 13 songs when every other Beatles LP up till Sgt Pepper’s has more – and it’s the first time ever the Beatles had written a whole album themselves, so there’s pklenty of excuses for this album’s brevity. But I have to say it’s amazing how much shorter it is than it’s nearest rival Please Please Me (two and a half minutes). 

4) Simon and Garfunkel “The Sounds Of Silence” (1966) – a total length of 29:09: The second simon and Garfunkel album is, interestingly, much shorter than the first (with a running time of 32 minutes). Perhaps the brevity is because it was made in such a hurry – the album was released on the back of the surprise hit for the re-entry of ‘The Sound Of Silence’ with electric instruments overdubbed on top in the folk rock style of the day, so surprising in fact that neither Simon or Grafunkel knew of it’s release. Record company CBS wanted more and luckily Paul Simon had the pick of a flop album (‘The Paul Simon Songbook’) for the duo to re-record. It’s puzzling, though, that some excellent songs such as ‘The Side Of A Hill’ ‘Patterns’ and ‘Cloudy’ were passed over for the album (the latter two making it to follow-up album ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) and that the record company didn’t insist on more – after all, 29 minutes is short even by 1966 standards!

3) The Hollies “The Hollies” (1965) – 28:36: The third Hollies album is the shortest, just winning the award from second album ‘In The Hollies Style’. The Hollies were quickly running out of steam in their third year, with less Clarke-Hicks-Nash compositions than before (aka their colective writing pseudonym L Ransford), although it’s surprising that its their most ‘folk-rock’ album that’s the shortest, not either of their two earlier primal Merseybeat rock albums. Nearly all these songs are short, with the exception of album highlight ‘So Lonely’, which at three minutes is clearly showing the path the band will go on to take.

2) Neil Young “Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983) – 24:55: This one is the joker in the pack, released some 20 years after the others here. Basically this album’s brevity is down to two factors: the fact that Neil Young was back to recording real early 1950s rock and roll covers and spoofs (which were naturally short) and the fact that Young wanted to annoy the heck out of record label boss David Geffen. You see, Neil had just been sued for ‘not making records that sounded like Neil Young’ and, when he asked what ‘Neil Young’ was meant to sound like he was told ‘rock and roll’. Neil being Neil, he decided to take this sentence literally and delivered 10 slabs of basic roots rock and roll, many of which were his shortest compositions. Ironically, Neil hadn’t released as many as 10 songs on an album since ‘Comes A Time’ in 1978, an album almost double the length of this one!

1) The Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA” (1962) – 24:15: Not content with releasing six whole instrumentals on an album, the Beach Boys second LP is also the shortest overall – by miles from ‘Surfin’ Safari’s 29 minutes. No song here passes the three minute barrier – few songs actually make it past 2:30. It’s a long way from the epic seven minute songs of the 1970s! Thank goodnes ‘Safari’ and ‘USA’ are out together (with outtakes) on a two-fer-one single CD disc or I’d feel really cheated!

And the five longest albums:

5) Pink Floyd “The Wall” (1979) – 81:09. No prizes for guessing that Pink Floyd is in the top five! A few sound effects over the length of a single disc, this album has already been covered as AAA review no 76 and is an epic double album about the mind-set of a troubled musician let down by family, friends, band and manager. It’s just a shame it has to cost the price of two CDs for the sake of a few grunts and groans!

4) The Who “Quadropehnia” (1973) – 81:36. Closely followed by AAA review no 60. The Who’s double album is even more irritating in term sof price – the cost of two discs gets you an extra 1:36 of listening to a sound effect of the sea! Again, we’ve already covered this album elsewhere, many many times, but Quadrophenia is so great it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and is so epic it seems even longer than it’s 81 minutes.

3)The Beatles “The White Album” (1968) – 93:35. AAA review no 25 and the third to be covered by this site in a row – no wonder I’m feeling so blooming tired! It’s also by far the longest album from the 1960s in this list and covers – literally – every style known to man including pop, rock, ballads, reggae, ska, soul, heavy metal and avent garde, inventing a few genres along the way.

2) George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” (1970) – 105:59. Good grief another album from our original 101 reviews - no 42 – and a triple LP no less. While most of disc three is a ‘bonus’ disc of ‘Apple Jams’, this album would have made the list anyway as a double LP lasting 79 minutes, featuring some absolutely epic songs – and no less than two versions of ‘Isn’t It A Pity?’, easch lasting seven minutes plus!

1) Godley and Crème “Consequences” (1976) – 110:59. The mummy of all concept albums, this is a part-serious, part tongue in cheek epic from the 10cc duo who make ample use of spaced-out inastrumentals, long speech passages and oodles of their new invention, the ‘Gizmo’ stringbender guitar. Heavy going even as a single highlights LP! 

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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