Monday 18 November 2013

The Shortest Average AAA Songs Per Album (News, Views and Music Issue 219)

Last week we looked at which AAA albums had the longest average length of song per album and seeing a that went pretty well in the research department I'd already promised you a look at the shortest average running times this week. You nearly didn't get this article, dear readers, or any other article this week because I think my brain just exploded. As if researching 20 Beach Boys albums wasn't bad enough, I then had to juggle 10,11,12,13 and 14 track albums and their running times together to work out the differences between them all. Unlike last week's long songs the distance between these tracks are tiny, mere seconds between first and last place in our listings, and I have a seemingly permanent headache from dividing twos into seemingly impossible fractions. As a result, while I'm pretty sure I covered all possible ground in last week's article, this one might have a few mistakes in there (I've never been too bad at maths but you need a masters degree to work this lot out), so I apologise now before the corrections start pouring in in the comments section. What I do know for certain is that this album is once again dominated by one group (in fact nearly 20 Beach Boys albums possess tracks with an average running time shorter than three minutes) and that I've had to make it a top sixteen this week because there were two equal places at the end. As you might have expected, every single song comes from the 1960s, when albums were generally shorter, unlike the free-for-all last issue that had long tracks from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. Once again, compilations live albums and solo spin-off albums do not count (this article was hard enough to write without adding them in too...)

1) The Beach Boys "Surfin' USA" (1963)

(24:15 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 1 second each)

Beach Boys album number two just beats Beach Boys album number one by four seconds (that's what comes of having no less than six improvised-on-the-spot instrumentals to fill up the time slot!) The shortest song here, 'Finders Keepers', lasts a paltry 1:38, while the longest is the title track itself, which positively seems like an epic at 2:27. Thank goodness these Beach Boys albums were re-issued on a two-fer-one CD...

2) The Beach Boys "Surfin' Safari" (1962)

(24:53 running time ÷12 songs = 2 minutes 5 seconds each)

Beach Boys album number one is the earliest AAA album of them all (beating nearest competitor 'Please Please Me' by five months) and has the 'feel' of a 1950s records when pop songs were designed to last around two minutes, so it's no surprise to see 'Surfin' Safari' on the list. These songs' playing time range from the even shorter 'Ten Little Indians' at 1:26 (which is barely worth finding the groove for in the days of old vinyl) up to a whopping 2:17 'Heads You Win, Tails I Lose'. Which, coincidentally, is probably how most Beach Boys fans feel about forking out full price for an album that doesn't even last 25 minutes.

3) The Beach Boys "All Summer Long" (1964)

(25:10 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 6 seconds each)

We jump ahead now to Beach Boys album number six, which was Brian Wilson's answer to the British Invasion overtaking America and wanting a bit of an American Invasion of his own. A fine farewell to writing only songs about sun, surf and girls (till 1976 anyway), 'All Summer Long' is the stepping stone between the carefree pop band of the past and the increasingly mature band of the future. Really, though, this is an album looking forwards and back, full of short returns to old themes (in fact the nostalgic 'Do You Remember?' is the shortest at 1:40) and new stretches forward (the comparatively sophisticated 2:40 'Girls On The Beach').

4) The Beach Boys "Little Deuce Coupe" (1963)

(25:25 running time ÷12 songs = 2 minutes 7 seconds each)

...And back in time we go to Beach Boys album number four, the world's first concept album no less, which sounds great on paper but in practice just means yet more car songs along with the recycling of four previously released songs on the same theme. The strain of having to come up with six albums a year is really beginning to show on the band by now, with the songs getting more complex musically but simpler lyrically. The album is bookended by its two shortest songs (the title track and 'Custom Machine', which both clock in at 1:38) and stretch to the 2:47 of 'Car Crazy Cutie' which, again, sounds much like you'd excpect a Beach Boys song of that title to sound. At 25:25 this is another short album all round: come on guys - you're hardly going to break the speed limit with that are you?!

5=) The Monkees "Headquarters" (1967)

(29:59 running time ÷ 14 songs = 2 minutes 8 seconds each)

We now jump tracks entirely to Monkees album number three, the only record the band played from beginning to end themselves and the shortest of our core 101 album reviews. While most of the songs are brief and simple anyway (barring the album highlight, the marvellously sophisticated 'Early Morning Blues and Greens'), these songs' average running time has been adversely affected by the appearance of two spoken word 'songs', 'Zilch' and 'Band Six', which both have particularly short running times. All good fun though - these two songs make this album the closest thing to a musical equivalent of the energy and manicness of the TV series. So there.

5=) The Beach Boys "Friends" (1968)

(25:30 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 8 seconds each)

...And back again, to Beach Boys album 14. By 1968 most artists had doubled the length of their album running time, but circumstances (that six-records-a-year contract and Brian Wilson's failing mental health) meant that the Beach Boys were forced to sell us short this time around. Well, I say short - this is another of our 'core' 101 albums and almost all the music on this troubled album is glorious, masterpieces in miniature, ranging from the extremely short but extremely sweet 0:38 'Meant For You' up to the peculiar space-filling 3:37 instrumental 'Diamond Head', on which The Brach Boys might not even feature.

7) The Beach Boys "Surfer Girl" (1963)

(25:32 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 8 seconds each)

Ah, this is more what we expected: Beach Boys album number three. This is the one where Brian Wilson truly grows into a writer and starts thinking deeper thoughts with songs like 'In My Room' and the jazzy 'Our Car Club'. The songs are still on the short side, however, ranging from the first appearance of 'Little Deuce Coupe' at 1:38 again to the a capella 'Your Summer Dream', which done in one staggering 2:27 take!

8) The Beach Boys "Wild Honey" (1967)

(23:58 running time ÷ 11 songs = 2 minutes 11 seconds each)

This one is Beach Boys album 13, the back-to-basics album that inspired the more rocky feel prevalent in 1968 even though this album was actually released the same week as 'Magical Mystery Tour' in 1967. Again, Brian Wilson's only months on from regretfully abandoning 'Smile' (an album which would have bucked the trend by lasting near 50 minutes by the way) and isn't at his best here, so the rest of the band are awkwardly filling his shoes to varying degrees of success. The 1:05 closing chant (it's not really a song) 'Mama Says' definitely pulls the average time down, although the longest song ('A Thing Or Two' at 2:40) isn't exactly a giant of a song either.

9=) The Small Faces "The Small Faces" (First Immediate Album) (1967)

(30:24 running time ÷ 14 songs = 2 minutes 13 seconds each)

Unusually, The Small Faces started their career at Decca in 1965 making fairly long and epic R and B tracks before jumping ship for Immediate in 1967 and celebrating their new-found musical freedom to go all-out psychedelic by...shortening all their songs! The poppiest album from the summer of love by some margin, Americans know this album better by the name 'There Are But Four Small Faces', but we've gone for the UK title here because that was first and more accurate (counting Jimmy Winstun there were five!) The songs range from the delicate 'Feeling Lonely' at 1:35 to the closing psychedelic 'Eddie's Dreaming' - his dream lasts 2:47 for anyone interested.

9=) The Beach Boys "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!)" (1965)

(26:42 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 13 seconds each)

Beach Boys album number nine was a sort-of step backwards from the greatness of 'Beach Boys Today', partly because of that workload again but partly to give Brian Wilson the space to write 'Pet Sounds'. Then again, how many other step backwards do you know that include 'California Girls' 'Help Me Rhonda' and a better song than either 'Let Him Run Wild', a single that surprisingly flopped. The latest Beach Boys a capella song 'And Your Dreams Come True' undoubtedly pulls the average running time down at 1:04, while 'Rhonda' is the widest thing here at a sultry 2:46.

11) The Beach Boys "Shut Down Volume Two" (1964)

(27:05 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 15 seconds each)

Beach Boys album number five - 'Shut Down Volume One' was a 'Various Artists' record in case you're wondering - is the last really 'innocent' sounding Beach Boys album, no matter how hard the band try o sound young again on 'Beach Boys Love You' 13 years later. This is also the longest of the first half-dozen BB albums. The songs are still mighty short, though, ranging from the delightfully named 'Pom-Pom Playgirl' at 1:30 (it sounds much like you'd expect by the way, bearing in mind the kind of jokes the censors allowed back in 1964) and somehow it speaks volumes that the only track to go past the three minute point isn't a 'song' at all but the rather forced 'comedy' sketch of a fight breaking out between 'Sonny' Love and 'Cassius' Wilson. Mind you, entire boxing rounds have lasted longer than this album, clocking in at just 27 minutes.

12=) The Beach Boys "Christmas" (1964)

(27:37 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 18 seconds each)

This is the last Beach Boys album on the list, I promise. Album number seven brings good cheer every yuletide, but even by 1964 standards it's running length is quite scroogey (it's all down to that six-records-a-year contract again...) The traditional closer 'Auld Lang Syne' is the biggest casualty at a paltry 1:19 (it doesn't help that Dennis Wilson speaks over the rest of the song, which sounds even better without his scripted accompaniment), while the slowed-down arrangement of 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' makes this cover sound a lot longer than the 2:44 it lasts. Bah! Humbug!

12=) The Kinks "Kinda Kinks" (1964)

(27:38 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 18 seconds each)

Interestingly, the first Kinks album is pretty darn long for an album in 1964 and even at 14 songs the average length is pretty long. The debut had been planned for months, though (in Ray Davies' head at least), while this second album had to be recorded on the run in between tours and marriages. This is a curious record that on the one hand really shows Ray really coming into his own as a writer but on the other sounds at times as if the band couldn't wait to get through this album quickly enough. The running times suggest that too, ranging from the 1:49 burst of adrenalin 'Come On Now' to the moody 2:44 classic 'Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worrying 'Bout That Girl' ( it takes somewhere close to 2:44 just to type that title...)

14) The Beatles "With The Beatles" (1963)

(32:34 running time ÷ 14 songs = 2 minutes 20 seconds each)

Even the fab four aren't immune to short songs. In fact, if you take away the 3:00 cover of 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' (which drew eyebrows at the time for daring to break the 2:59 barrier) then this would be the shortest album on the list. American kinda know this album better as 'Meet The Beatles' by the way, although Europe actually first met The Beatles on 'Please Please Me', a record with fractionally longer songs that just missed out on appearing on this list. The songs range in length from 'Hold On Me' to the 1:46 short sharp shock of 'Little Child'. It's a worthy first record to have been reviewed by this site - some 330 albums ago!

15= The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" (1964)

(30:45 running time ÷ 13 tracks = 2 minutes 22 seconds each)

At two minutes and one track shorter, Beatles album number three is the least value-for-money record timewise of all their records. Stuff time though (if I wanted time I'd buy a watch) - this is still a fascinating record for the time period, both as fresh as the other albums released by competitors in 1964 and already looking forward to the future with sadness. Much of this album was written on the run in hotel rooms and it shows sometimes in the brevity of the songs ('I'll Cry Instead is the band's fourth shortest song at 1:46), with the longest song 'I Should Have Known Better' at 2:43.

15=) The Monkees "More Of The Monkes" (1967)

(28:28 running time ÷ 12 songs = 2 minutes 22 seconds each)

Finally here comes the second appearance by The Monkees, which just beats a whole great run of Monkees albums (including albums 1,4,6,7,8 and 9) that only just missed out on a place in this list. This second Monkees album is the last before the great 'revolution' which saw the band play their own instruments (legend has it the band didn't even know the record was coming out and had to stop off during a tour to actually buy the album). It's the one with 'I'm A Believer' on it, which just happens to be the longest song (at a radio-playlist friendly 2:45), with the shortest song 'When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door' at 1:48.

And that's that for another issue. In case anyone was interested there's a whole great tie for 16th place, with two Hollies albums, three Monkees albums, 'Please Please Me' and Cat Stevens' 'Matthew and Son' all tied on 2:23. Join us next week for more news, views and music, whatever the length, whatever the running time!

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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