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Added by PhineasPoe on 14 Nov 2012 06:02
5355 Views 7 Comments

Best Narrative Concept Albums

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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 9 IMDB Rating 0
Hadestown - Anaรฏs Mitchell
Hands down the best narrative concept album I've heard. It sounds like a cast recording of a musical. Where most concept albums have the lead singer playing all the parts, Anais Mitchell recruits other to fill in the roles. Even the bit parts.

Hadestown is a folk (with a little bit of jazz singing) re-telling of Orpheus and Eurydice set during the Depression. Of all the myths this one might be the most played out, but Mitchell breathes new life into it. She gives all the characters some, y'know, character. My favorite is Persephone (played by Ani DiFranco) who is a purveyor of earthly pleasures to the people of Hades. Literal earthly pleasures, like the feeling of wind. The story flows perfectly, the music is fantastic, all of the players are very talented. I don't know how this wasn't on any best of 2010 lists.

One of the greatest rock and roll albums ever made. There's maybe one weak song on the album and about five absolutely tremendous ones. "Suffragette City" and, naturally, "Ziggy Stardust" come off of this. Anyway, it's about a world on the brink of destruction and the rock and roll alien Jesus who comes to earth, blows our minds and then dies (presumably for our rock and roll sins).

Originally conceived as the soundtrack for a TV movie. The story isn't as crazy as all the others. It's just about a man named Arthur and how he adjusts to life after WWII. The most notable thing about Arthur is that it has the strongest start of any album I've ever heard. It has a three song combo that is incredible. The rest of the album is good, but that 11 minute run at the beginning is amazing. "Victoria" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 0
Metropolis: The Chase Suite - Janelle Monae
See below.

People who added this item 54 Average listal rating (48 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
The ArchAndroid - Janelle Monae
Metropolis and The ArchAndroid are the two (well, Monae defines it as three) parts of the amazing pop-opera that tells the story of Cindy Mayweather, an android who falls in love with a man in a society that will not allow that. Until I heard "Hadestown" this was the most fleshed out concept album I'd ever heard.

ArchAndroid is particularly impressive for how many music styles it incorporates. Soul, rap, pop, funk, rock, jazz and others. If you don't like one song, don't worry, the next one will probably be completely different. And you'll be told a tale of forbidden love, robots, gun fights, revolution and insanity. Truly incredible.

People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
New Roman Times - Camper Van Beethoven
You've probably heard Camper Van Beethoven before. "Take the Skinheads Bowling"? That's them. But their absolute best comes with "New Roman Times." The story's a little twisty, but it's set in an alternate USA where the country is divided into factions. A young man goes to war in a desert country, gets wounded and grows distant from the right-wing. He drifts toward an ultra-left-wing sect involved in domestic terrorism. And aliens. Also, weird drugs, Twin Peaks references, code names and assassins. It's a little trippy, but man does it rock. Some nice instrumentals and CVB explores a lot of different musical styles. Always nice to hear a band use some violin.

People who added this item 113 Average listal rating (85 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Quadrophenia - The Who
Most people would go with "Tommy," and yeah, Tommy's good and the story is a little more evident, but it really falls apart after "Sally Simpson." Quadrophenia stays strong the whole way through. It's about Jimmy. At the start, Jimmy has some mental problems and they don't get better from there. He becomes disillusioned with the bands he loves, he becomes disillusioned with his Mod lifestyle, he's sexually frustrated, he gets heavy with drugs and he's having breakdown after breakdown. It's a story about identity and though it sounds dour, it's has some of the best rock music ever laid down:

People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Separation Sunday - The Hold Steady
Not my favorite Hold Steady album, but the one with the clearest story. The Hold Steady are song writers in the Tom Waits tradition: characters, settings, personality traits and lots of detail. Separation Sunday tells us about Hallelujah (the kids all call her Holly) as she transitions from good Christian to party girl to worse and then to redemption. It's not preachy. It's just a story and some good old school style rock.

People who added this item 826 Average listal rating (887 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
The Wall - Pink Floyd
I kind of lose if I don't put this one on here, don't I? Possibly the most famous narrative concept album. The Wall is about Pink (an analog for Roger Waters). His father dies during World War II, his mother is overbearing, his schooling is oppressive. These experiences push him away from people. He becomes a rock star, falls into drugs, destroys the people around him and creates an alternate, fascist identity. Eventually, he forces himself to tear down the wall he's made between himself and the rest of the world. Was made into the most surreal rock movie of all time.

So many classic songs: Another Brick in the Wall, Mother, Run Like Hell, Hey You, Young Love, Goodbye Blue Sky and In The Flesh.

People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0
Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagon
There's not much of a story on this sci-fi rap album. It's more like a slice-of-life from the trials and tribulations of Dr. Octagon. Dr. Octagon (an alter ego of Kool Keith) is an alien who has come to Earth and poses as a doctor. Unfortunately, alien and human biology don't have a lot in common, so Dr. Octagon's patients have a bad habit of dying under the knife.

People who added this item 54 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Maggot Brain - Funkadelic
Okay, Maggot Brain doesn't tell a story, but Parliament and Funkadelic have a surprisingly rich mythology behind their music. It's pieced together through out all their albums, but there's a cast of recurring characters.

There's the Starchild, who brings Funk to earth and his nemesis Sir Noise D'voidofunk. Then you have Dr. Funkenstein who created Funk as a way to cure humanity's problems. The titular Maggot Brain is the concept of narrow-mindedness that leads us towards our doom.

You can read about it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-Funk_mythology

And this song has nothing to do with the mythos, it's just awesome:
People who added this item 87 Average listal rating (56 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Murder Ballads - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
This one's a pretty big cheat. This album's not one big story, but rather 9 separate stories. As you can probably guess, they're all about murder. The songs range from haunting to humorous to obscene to downright disturbing. Some great songs and some not so great songs. Nick Cave is a pretty good writer, though. Along with his music career he's also written poetry, a novel and two screenplays (The Proposition and Lawless). Features a few guest vocalists: PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue and Shane MacGowan.

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The Heavyweight Champs of Storytelling in Song

People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Blue Valentine - Tom Waits
Tom Waits is one of the greatest song-writers of all time. None of his albums tell a complete story (there is "Frank's Wild Years" which was turned into a play, but you can't really get the full story from just the album), but his individual songs are masterfully constructed short stories in themselves. They're packed with characters and detail, they're gritty, sometimes surreal, they have their own vernacular and they're often complex. He'll write a song that can move you more in three minutes than most movies can in 90.

People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
All Hail West Texas - Mountain Goats
John Darnielle is also a member of the Monsters of Song Writing. He's been criticized for a lot of his music sounding the same and there's some validity to that. It doesn't stop him from crafting situations and characters that hit you like a cannonball. From drug abuse to child abuse to adolescence to love ascendent and love descendent to defiance and hope and comfort. there is nothing Darnielle won't draw on. The Mountain Goats have a lot of depressing songs, but that only makes the happy and triumphant ones more meaningful. I've gotten chills from his songs. It's a real pain trying to pick just a few to share.

Albums with a story.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. My tastes range quite a bit. The only thing I really can't dig on is metal.

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list by Nusch
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