Cherry picking vs. whole CDs

by E-Dub@evpl on Monday, September 8 2008, 10:04am. Viewed 1,358 times.

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. 

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Comments (13)

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on Monday, September 8 2008, 12:13pm

There are still plenty of newer albums that are solid from top to bottom.  The problem is sifting through all the fluff (and there is plenty of fluff).  Some recent examples that come to my mind include:

My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges"

The Raconteurs - "Consolers of the Lonely"

Dr. Dog - "Fate" and "We All Belong"

Bruce Springsteen - "Magic" and "The Seeger Sessions"

All these are in our catalog and are worth checking out.

on Monday, September 8 2008, 12:47pm

I'm still stuck in the entire cd track.  Do you think there will come a time when artists no longer even bother to do cds -- just release songs one at a time? wrote
on Monday, September 8 2008, 1:29pm

I hate to state the obvious but I'm sure you realize that artists used to release one song at a time.  This was accomplished by way of a product called a forty five.  (33 1/3s were known as albums or LPs, 45s were known as singles)   The 45 rpm vinyl record had the A side with the hit and the B side had a lesser known song.  I was always a big fan of 45s since they were cheaper and you could be assured that you were getting just the song you wanted.  Any other fans of 45s?

on Monday, September 8 2008, 2:16pm

Well, This Is Not Here, I guess I stand corrected.  What goes around comes around.  So to rephrase the question, is the time of single releases instead of entire CDs at hand again?

E-Dub@evpl wrote
on Monday, September 8 2008, 2:24pm

Oh yeah!!!! Well there just ain't nuthin' knew under the sun, is there? Maybe the whole album/CD thing was the oddity in a way. But at least with a 45 it was a two-fer and some of those B sides were way better than the A.

on Monday, September 8 2008, 2:26pm

And there is something to be said of producing a symphony of sorts -- how about the various albums of the Beatles?

Bufkinite@evpl wrote
on Monday, September 8 2008, 2:55pm

This dates me, I know, but King Crimson's "Court of the Crimson King" was one that I listened to from start to finish until the groove was worn away back in high school. Same with Emerson, Lake and Palmer's self-titled first album.

Also,, 45s were originally done as "promos" for the entire album, but in Jr. High school we could only afford the 45s.

on Monday, September 8 2008, 3:25pm

Talking about singles and 45s, take Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" for example.  It was recorded during the Highway 61 sessions but not released on the album.  They deliberately released it as a 7" single only with "From a Buick 6" as the B-side.  

As a single it reached #7 on the charts.  Back then a single release made more sense because of the limited access of hearing it.  You had the radio, the 45, and maybe if your lucky they played it on a TV show.  Now a single could be played and heard anywhere and everywhere.  

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that it seems crazy to me that a song as great as "Positively 4th Street" wouldn't be put on an album.  That would not happen today.  Of course a song like that wouldn't even get radio play today in the mainstream charts (that's a whole other problem).  

on Monday, September 8 2008, 5:42pm

Hmmm...the term "b-side" now makes sense!

Cassette singles were popular during the early 90s.  There were also CD singles, not nearly as popular.  Not sure what happened.

on Monday, September 8 2008, 8:30pm

Cassette singles -- that's one I've not heard of.  Hard to believe you didn't know what a b-side was!  I could either say I'm getting old OR I am full of ancient wisdom.

on Tuesday, September 9 2008, 9:41am

I used to buy cassette singles (and I had 45's, too!)...if the song was SUPER cheesy and there was no way I would buy the CD.  That's kind of how I am with "cherry picking".  If I like the song, but I don't think the album (CD, whatever) is going to be worth the sticker price, I'll just buy the song.  I think the last CD I bought was "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace" by Foo Fighters, which was WELL worth the money.  

on Tuesday, September 9 2008, 1:44pm

Ha! The only cassette single I remember buying was M.C. Hammer's "Addams Family Groove".  I'm pretty sure that qualifies as SUPER SUPER chessy.  

on Monday, September 15 2008, 10:24pm

@librarianinheels & HoodooVoodoo: My sis had a knack for picking spectacular cassette singles - "Whoomp, There it Is" (and the remix "Whoomp, There it Went", literally featuring Disney characters) by Tag Team; "Here Comes da Hotsteppa" by Ini Kamoze; the list goes on, but I shall spare her the embarassment.

I also remember she bought the FULL ALBUM of Shaquille O'Neal's debut rap album.  SHAQ DIESEL!!!

I had much better taste with cassette singles: Jon Secada, Meat Loaf, & Lisa Loeb.