Is the age of the 45 minute album over?
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redshifter

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years ago when new music was released on vinyl, it was usually about 45 minutes long. now of course cds have up to almost twice as much space, but for a long time cd versions of classic albums stayed around 40 - 50 minutes.

with this new generation of cd remasters we are seeing original album plus half a dozen extra tracks. should extra tracks be included, or do they detract from the original album?

also, we are seeing new albums with over an hour of music. now a lot of classic 40 minute albums had filler, so does having a 70 minute album mean wading through more filler, or are we really getting more music for our money?
 
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gloco

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Good topic!

When it comes to albums over 60 mins, there's always a track or two that may be considered filler but in most instances, i think were getting more music for our money.

With older albums that were originally released on vinyl, the extra content is cool with me, but i've rarely had the luxury of buying a cd i wanted that had these bonus tracks on there.

Still, even new bands now release albums that are extremely short (weezer is one example).
 
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Jeff Guidry

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I remember hearing a similar argument on T.V. recently. someone in the music industry was talking about the slumping sales and low concert attendances, and one of the reasons he cited was new artists having one, maybe two good songs, and packing the rest of the album with filler. In the age of the CD, since people know you can put 70+ minutes of music on a CD, they have come to expect it, putting pressure on artists to come up with more material, often of substandard quality. personally, I have little use with takes 6 and 8 of most artists, except, for example, alternate cuts on classic jazz records, like the re-issue of Kind of Blue.

They also hinted about what artists would do once they started using DVD technology for audio, and how an artist would have to find five to six HOURS of material to fill a recording!
 
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carlo

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Quote:

with this new generation of cd remasters we are seeing original album plus half a dozen extra tracks. should extra tracks be included, or do they detract from the original album?


i'm all about the "previously unreleased material" from my favorite artists. not only do i support remasters with extra tracks, i seek them out. the real question is where in the track order they should be placed: generally i feel it should be at the end of the original song list, but there are exeptions - for example rhino's "fully loaded" remaster set of the velvet underground's "loaded" is a fantastic album.
Quote:

we are seeing new albums with over an hour of music. now a lot of classic 40 minute albums had filler, so does having a 70 minute album mean wading through more filler, or are we really getting more music for our money?


there's a big difference between an album and a collection of songs. i don't give a damn how long it is; if its got flow, cohesiveness, and strength through each song then its a keeper. i don't subscribe to the "filler" concept because i'm not a person who jumps around tracks, i expect an artist to release work thats meant to be listened to from begining to end.

which leads to what i consider the real difference between the days of analog and the days of digital: with the ability to jump tracks its not uncommon to see people listen to a few seconds of a track and then skip to the next one (a habit i find incredibly annoying). do artists take that into account? i assume so. they certainly didn't have to in the days of vinyl (who the hell is going to lift up a tonearm, line it to the next cut, then drop it); does that take away from a cohesive album? maybe... but once again i judge the total work when i listen to music.

then there's the aspect of "side b track 1", something only vinyl listeners can appreciate. when listening to older albums the first cut of the second side is the second part of the journey... the process of walking up to the table, lifting the arm, fliping a record, moving to the lead in groove, and dropping the needle is zen and clears the mind for the second side. vinyl listeners understand this, but its lost on digital. i'm going to break down the two most windely regarded radiohead albums since they're a popular group among many people here and in my opinion a perfect example of what i'm talking about:

the bends:
the last cut on the a side is [nice dream], last cut on the b side (and of course the cd) is street spirit [fade out]. we start off the second side with the driving guitars of just. try pausing the cd between tracks 6 and 7 for a bit before letting it go on.

ok computer:
look at the back cover of the cd and you'll see "logical track order: eeny: 1-3 meeny 4-6 miney: 7-10 mo: 11-12". thats the track order for each side of this two lp set. on the first lp the b side starts off with exit music (for a film), or in other words where it starts through an introspective/escapist attitude. it finishes off with the self blaming karma police. the second lp starts off with fitter happier. see the concept? lucky is the first cut of the last side. try listening to the cd through that order and pause it for a bit where you should be switching sides and its obvious how it was cut into four sections. reading too much into a piece of work? maybe, but i suspect there's a few readers who understand what i'm talking about.

damn, there's the desire to write more but i'm just going to listen to kid a now...

carlo.
 
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acs236

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I never really thought about this way, but this does raise some interesting ideas. Kudos to Redshifter!

As far as extra material goes, I'm happy to have it as long as it's placed at the "end" of the CD. I want to be able to listen to the album as it was originally released.

It strange to think how much the length of the distribution media is affecting content. To the extent this is true, I think you have to blame the record industry for not educating the public. Now, I would much rather have a solid 45-50 minute album than a thin 65 minute album. I think as teenager though, I would have felt ripped off by a 40 minute album.
 
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DarkAngel

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FYI - the 80 minute length of CD format was determined by conductor Herbert von Karajan and DG records. Phillips consulted them as to the ideal size for new format during initial development, and Karajan suggested it be long enough to hold the entire Beethoven 9th on a single CD.

Of course groups should include extra tracks on reissue CDs, they are always placed after original tracks so purists need not worry.
There are always valuable singles, b-sides, and various non album tracks setting in storage somewhere, really costs no more to add them to reissue and fans have more reason to upgrade.

As to the notion that a group can't produce anymore than 40 minutes of quality material every couple years without having a bunch of filler.........perhaps they are in the wrong proffession or
it is time to retire.
 
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i'd have to agree with carlo's post. i find that the term "filler track" is used by the people who like skipping around on an album. when i listen to music, i want to hear an album (one big reason why i don't listen to the radio). personally, i couldn't care less how long an album is. my only problem is, for instance with the strokes album, that i only get forty minutes of music when i'd much rather have three or four albums of music by them (yes, they're that good).

carlo: i'm going to try that out; i never really thought of it that way (i still do not have a turntable). i also never really thought of radiohead making their music for vinyl.. some bands are just too good to us.
 
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Zanth

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I'll have to go with Darkangel and Carlo.


Carlo: Perhaps LPs, with their necessary breaks make the listening experience unique. The zen feelings you mention would annoy me. Not all the time but most of the time. I LOVE CDS or DVDS or DVDAs or SACDs or even cassettes, for their ability to have continuous play until the end of the album. I don't want to waste my time getting up, flipping, sitting back down. I do my most critical listening late at night, in a chair, lying down, in the dark, cans on, glowing tubes dimmly lighting my surroundings, sweet tunes rummaging around in my brain. I remember my early days with vinyl and I remember thinking: this is ****ty. Maybe I was too young then (I was an ADHD child and having to get up to change frustrated me....maybe I really need to redo the vinyl thing and learn to appreciate it like you). I will agree that filler should not be thought of. I rarely buy an album that I don't like all the songs, or at least nearly all. If I thought a cd held a jumble of songs just to have them there and sell a disc, screw it it is not for me. I am of the thinking that an album is a unit, to be listened to in a sitting, no skipping, no fast forwarding, just listening and thinking and appreciating.

Darkangel: If artists can't give me at least 40 minutes of decent stuff, I TOTALLY agree, they need to find a new job.

With discs able to hold 80 minutes, artists taking longer and longer to release albums and the cost of cds staying high, I better get 80 minutes of music, or 72 or whatever. It definitely pisses me off to get 48 minutes of music, and 2 years later have a b-sides, uber-rare never heard before, only in Japan and Australia, secret backwards, 0 track albums released. Give me that stuff on the album I buy now, I dont' want to have to start calculating by the minute, but ****...at $20 bucks for most of hte music I like, that can sometimes get to .50/minute of music.

Orchestral albums are usually the highest value. Even though good recordings from small labels run in Canada, 22-26.95, I usually get 1 or 2 discs MAXED OUT. and that my friends is why the majority of my massive collection is classical.
 
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Back in the days when LP was the standard, you would have about 10 tracks averaging around 4 minutes each. You could find a lot of good consistent albums that you could listen to all the way through both sides. All the fat was trimmed off in order to fit on an LP side without compromising the sound.

Now you have 78 minute CD's with 18 lousy songs or 78 minute CD's with 10 tracks around 7 minutes each, like on Oasis albums.
The tracks meander on and on and on just because there is space to fill.

Mitchell Froom commented on this years back, about how 40 minutes was a good total, for a CD. You put your 10 best songs on it and you have a solid record. Any additional added "weaker" tracks just diluted the quality of the album.

Many people whine when a CD is only 40 minutes and those same people complain when a CD is 75 minutes and there's only 3 decent songs on it.

It was hard enough coming up with a solid double album back when artists were actually inspired. Now you get the equivalent of a crappy filler-infested double LP with each CD that is released.

For classical music, the CD was a Godsend, for it allowed full symphonic pieces to fit on a disc. Same with compilations, although I ,yself cannot sit through more than 40 minutes of the same artist without getting irritated.
 
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This all really depends also on the type of music that you enjoy listening to. To take two extremes, Classical can be as long as 79:49 long! While some punk cds barely break the 25 min mark. Metal Cds and progressive Cds normaly have longer songs so these bands will have longer albums (over an hour of music), however some styles with lend itself to shorter songs and they can be 40 to 40 mins long. Your average pop song is about 3 mins, so these albums are going to be shorter.

It's all relative
 
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carlo

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DarkAngel,
Quote:

the 80 minute length of CD format was determined by conductor Herbert von Karajan and DG records. Phillips consulted them as to the ideal size for new format during initial development, and Karajan suggested it be long enough to hold the entire Beethoven 9th on a single CD.


some collegues and i had a talk about this a few months ago and there's two versions of the legend: the one you cite and that then sony chairman morita's wife's favorite piece was beethoven's 9th. there's (urban?) legends about the thickness and diameter of cd as well, that phillips wanted a larger and thinner disk and sony insisted on the thickness it is now... kind of a cool little thing to pass around. incedentally, its 74 minutes for beethoven's 9th and redbook, the 80 (or 79 or whatever) minute thing came later.

the last paragraph of your post is excellent, i completely agree man.

zanth,
Quote:

With discs able to hold 80 minutes, artists taking longer and longer to release albums and the cost of cds staying high, I better get 80 minutes of music, or 72 or whatever.


i can't agree with your fill up the cd thing man. if an artist releases an album, then subsequently releases b-sides on the singles, then a couple of years later their label desides to consolidate the two, its completely fine by me. i actually kind of dig it... its the original work that matters most to me, the rest is bonus and to be honest, a lot of times i'm not ready for that stuff untill i "digest" the original work.

the rhino release of the velvet underground - "fully loaded" i cited earlier (which as a vu fan i suspect you have) intermixed a ton of previously unreleased material intermixed with the original (and alternate) cuts twice (its a two cd set). like really unreleased, i don't own or know of any previous release on any format that has some of that stuff. the end result? a great album that stands on its own and is very seperate from "loaded". of course, once again i do generally like that type of stuff at the end of the original release, but exceptions do apply.

as for the vinyl thing, one day you and i will sit down and listen to tom waits records for a few hours and see if i can get you to follow your true calling in format choice


grinch,

yeah, radiohead is so retro and modern at the same time that its very, very cool. the same thing applies to kid a by the way, (alpha=tracks 1 and two, beta=3-5, gamma=6-7, delta=8-10+hidden track), but in a different type of fashion (i think you and i have discussed it before, but i consider kid a one of the great complete albums of all time). amnesiac lacks the same sort of structure in that fassion, but still an excellent transfer.

best,
carlo.
 
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Zanth

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Okay carlo, I will visit LA soon
we can hang out and listen to your sweet vinyl collection
make me a believer!

Heh, course there is always the Montreal show this March....meet me there, help me pick out a good tt and then I will buy it, come back to my place and we can chill to Waits, some Cognac and a nice Cuban
, cause they are legal here.
 
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redshifter

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remember tom petty's cd "full moon fever"? at the point where vinyl listeners would have to flip the album, on the cd tom petty takes a moment "out of fairness" to remind cd listeners this is where the side breaks.

i agree that having side a, side b, etc. offers a thematic break in an album. often the b-side of an album will have a very different flavor than the a-side. it reminds me of laserdiscs. i have a cav "jurassic park" that is six sides. every flip of the disc or change seems to correspond with a shift in the film. i don't know if speilberg planned it that way, but there it is.

having extra tracks on a reissue cd is sometimes nice, if they are of good quality. i do think that about 45 minutes is the ideal length for a rock album--this is probably because i grew up spinning vinyl and am used to that length. often i get a little burned out on the same band after 60+ minutes of music (there are of course exceptions). as for filler, well we can all agree i think there are some songs that are weaker than others, and i wouldn't get too upset on how some people like to skip songs they don't like. i mean, how important is "wet my bed" to stp's "core"? come on, it's not like beethoven wrote the damn thing.

speaking of which, i think skipping movements in a symphony is heresy. classical music is one genre that takes my full attention and should be listened to as a whole piece, or not at all.
 
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gloco

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so anyone here ever listen to the full 17 minute version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly?
 
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Daemoth

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Quote:

so anyone here ever listen to the full 17 minute version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly?


Haha, hasn't everyone? Well, I guess I have heard the shorter version but that version stinks.
 
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