Posted on Feb 14 2019 06:46 PM
Using some bad metaphor here:
Albums are like books. EPs are more like magazines. Songs are like stories. Or chapters.
A book can be a novel or it can be an anthology if short stories.
In a novel, sometimes there's a chapter that doesn't make sense on its own but only makes sense as part of the larger story. On an album, that can seem like filler. But it isn't.
An anthology can just be a bunch of stories, or stories with a theme, or stories that tell a story all their own.
Imagine how hard it is to write a book where every chapter stands on its own and still contributes to the overall story.
Some albums are just that, albums of work which mesh and support one another, Carole King's Tapestry comes to mind. As I mentioned earlier, Donald Fagan's Kamakiriad was certainly a coherent work, as was Nightly, years before.
But there are all sorts of examples out there of every possible approach to creating an album. Some are planned and beautiful works, others are hodgepodge collections of whatever scraps the record company had in their vaults from a given artist. That's the point; of course there are great albums, I own numerous examples, but there is some real garbage out there too. In the days of the big record companies, albums weren't put out by artists, they were put out by the record company. Record companies could accept or refuse what an artist offered and they would use the material they thought they could sell. They also knew that if there were three strong tracks on an album, they could sell that album easily, so why not hold the best material back and use it in another year? They usually had all sorts of unreleased material they could use and they would, when they felt the time was right. For example, Waylon Jennings was on A&M before he became a star on RCA. At one point, A&M took old master they owned of Waylon tunes and released them as an album. Heart changed labels back in the mid seventies and their old label released an unauthorized album (Magazine) a month after their new label released Little Queen.
My initial point in all of this is that the medium influences creative decisions. When 78s were all there was, songs tended to be less than 5 minutes long, because of technical limitations. When LPs came along, There was about 22 minutes per side, which changed things completely. Then 45s came along and the era of the radio friendly single was upon us. each step placed difference restrictions and different pressures upon artists, A&R men and labels.
Now media is far different and the same definitions (album, for instance) don't necessarily retain the same significance. I don't see an EP, or even a literal single, as having any less credibility then an album.
The artist formerly known as: Synchro
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Last edited: Feb 14, 2019 18:46:28