12 January, 2006

Running orders

Is there such a thing as a perfect album? One where every single song is equally exceptional? One where there are no weak links, no fillers, nothing that's merely tolerable, or good but not great?

I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I don't own any album that is flawless from start to finish, where every single track is unutterably superb and of the same sparkling brilliance.

I'm being honest, as I think you need to be when contemplating this subject. After all, there are slews of fantastic albums around that rank amongst the finest ever made, but which, if you're being sincere and candid with yourself, necessarily boast at least one clunker.

I really do believe this to be the truth. Every single Beatles LP, for instance, has its duff moment, some more than others. 'Revolver' has the ghastly 'I Want To Tell You'; 'Rubber Soul' boasts the dreary 'What Goes On'; and 'Sgt Pepper' has both the insipid 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' and, of course, 'Within You Without You'. At least half of 'Abbey Road', meanwhile, is glossy production masking crap songs, whereas 'Let It Be', for all its crap production, sports a far higher number of proper tunes.

All of my cherished albums bear banana skins. 'The Queen Is Dead' would be 100% perfect were it not for the dreary 'Never Had No-one Ever' and the lyrically bland (but musically beautiful) 'Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others'. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' would also be flawless were it not for the pointless live version of 'Bye Bye Love' squeezed in as the penultimate track.

If only 'Automatic For The People' had ditched 'New Orleans Instrumental #1' it would have been faultless from start to finish. The same goes for 'Highway 61 Revisited' and the meandering 'Approximately Queen Jane'. Ditto 'Fear Of Music' by Talking Heads and the rubbish 'The Overload'; 'High Land Hard Rain' by Aztec Camera and the stupid 'Queen's Tattoos'; and 'Like A Prayer' and the hugely objectionable 'Act Of Contrition'. With each of the last three the track in question is the last one. Whatever happened to the idea of going out with a bang?

Anyhow, should anybody claim to know of an album that defies this unwritten law, the floor is yours. As it is, I'm still searching for the LP that enchants uninterrupted all the way from opening to closing seconds.

And one I won't change my mind about or grow tired of after a week.


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