It seems much more the norm these days to pick and choose songs/tracks that one likes from a band rather than going for a whole CD. Since it's so easy to rip/buy/download what you like, we take what we want and leave the rest, right? Generally speaking, I love the ease of doing just that - and I'm glad I don't have to pay for/bother with the stuff I don't want in order to get what I do want. Let's face it - there's a lot of filler out there.
But sometimes I feel slightly guilty and curious about dismissing the rest of the work, never bothering to give it the other tracks attention they might require to appreciate what's good in them. When buying the whole album or CD was more the norm, I'd end up hearing the rest of the tracks at least a few times and often came to really like some of them that I didn't think anything of upon the first listen. With the notion that we're no longer as likely to experience a whole CD anymore (not to mention the differences between a side A and a side B), I recently realized I don't really experience whole CDs that I think are great & that I love to hear all of very much anymore. That realization came when I was recently listening to the Violent Femmes' first album, Violent Femmes (1982). Back in the day, I listened to it on cassette tape over & over from beginning to end (listen, fast-forwarding and rewinding were about as much fun as getting up to turn the channel before the remote control). Hearing it again recently, it struck me how there's not a bad song on that whole album. Awesome!
Maybe there've never been a lot of albums that are great from start to finish, but I suspect there are even fewer now. The unit of music is now pretty clearly the song/track, not an entire CD. For me, the only recent CD that comes to mind as a complete, fantastic work with no tracks on it that I regularly skip is Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (2006). There's tremendous variation in the tracks but then they fit together as a whole, as a complete CD. While part of me loves cherry picking great tracks from lots of bands, it's pretty cool to find a whole CD already put together.