Songs that go together

Every once in a while, I switch my music player app from "mix em up" mode to "album mode", so that it plays albums all the way through. This morning was one of those onces.

(Note to the younger folks: you may have heard of something called a "record". It's from the olden days, back when music either came over the radio (in FM, if you were lucky) or in analog format on an easily-damaged large vinyl disc. A record that had more than one song per side was known as a "record album", or simply an "album", as in "hey, can I borrow your new Loverboy album for Friday night? I can? Sweet....")

The move towards CDs has already gotten rid of the concept of sides, where half of the album hung together thematically, and then the B side of the album had other stuff (often good, but usually more variable than the A side).

Now, the world of downloadable music may lead to, if not the death, the severe injury of songs that are meant to be listened to in a series. And that's a shame. So, as a sort of pre-wake, I thought I'd list a few of my favorites.

The obvious ones are concept albums. Good ones that I own:

  • 2112 (Rush)

  • Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)

  • Hemispheres (Rush)

  • Operation Mindcrime (Queensryche)

You can also argue that American Idiot (Green Day) is also a concept album.

Then there are songs that just beg to be listened to at once. One could argue that the reason I want to listen to them in this order is that I have heard them that way so many times, but I think there's more to that. You may choose to differ, if you don't mind being wrong.

  • More than a Feeling / Peace of Mind / Foreplay/Long Time (Boston/Boston). One of the best set of three songs ever put together.

  • Moving in Stereo / All Mixed Up (The Cars/The Cars).

  • Feeling that way / Anytime (Journey/Infinity)

  • Eruption / Your really got me (Van Halen/Van Halen)

  • Back in Black / You shook me all night long (ACDC/Back in Black)

What did I miss? What are other great songs that you have to listen to in order?

Comments (31)

  1. Personally, I think that "Rock and Roll All Night" by Kiss goes better with "You Shook Me All Night Long" (with AC/DC coming first)…

  2. Scott says:

    The World at Large / Float On (Modest Mouse/Good News For People Who Love Bad News)

    Also, don’t forget The Wall as an album that needs to be listened to all the way through.

  3. Jeff Parker says:

    Many of the older Iron Maiden were much like this as well depending on how heavy you wanted to get. There was a lot of interesting stuff back then while people would call Iron Maiden satanic and so on really when I was younger they drove me into the Library, with songs like the Flight of Icarus, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner to read the real mythology. But the whole album and the music could take you through a feeling.

    One other thing you failed to mention, Album artwork. Album artwork since the thing was so big sometimes was very vast and detailed you could look into the albulm front and back and always see something new on some of the more detailed ones. Something that also seems to be lost over time to the transition of CD’s.

    On a side note have you seen these new tape desk to mp3 rippers? How well do they work? I still have hundreds of tapes to convert to todays modern music formats like wma or mp3

    Link to the computer tape deck I seen.

  4. Travis Owens says:

    While not really worthy of songs that go together (I don’t know if I agree on your point here at all) but anyways….

    how dare you talk about good concept albums and not mention The Moody Blues "Days of Future Past" !

    I should point out I’m 28 so I only found this album by chance (my dad’s vinyl collection) but even though I didn’t really start buy albums until CDs came out (I bought very few tapes and imho the concept of the B side didn’t really exist then). I fully see your reminiscent point of the "b side".

    Although in today’s world the move to downloaded music is a good thing as now it’s become standard to release a 12 track CD and often there are "filler" tracks on there that aren’t very good but I feel made the cut because bands are forced to meet album quota. Inversely, many songs, often conceptual songs don’t make the cut because they differ from the rest of the album’s feel and because many record labels don’t want to break the 12 track rule. My point being is, I’d rather pay $1 per track and only purchase the tracks I want (lets say only 3 or 4 per album) than pay $14 and get tracks I dislike.

    PS: In response to your post about American Idiot by Green day, I’m glad to see you’re open to new material as while I haven’t heard the CD myself, it has gotten gleaming reviews and the one song I heard on the radio I did like. Oneday I’ll have to pick it up…

    PPS: Honestly I haven’t gotten into buying my music online because of my strong opinions about DRM (I believe in DRM but not when I can’t re-download my albums because of HD failure or a new PC). So I still buy CDs until somebody comes out with a DRM scheme that let’s me truly "own" my digital music. On the rare time I buy (ok win from a soda bottle) a song online, I quickly burn it to CD and re-encode it to MP3.

  5. We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions (Queen)

  6. John Lewicki says:

    Some more examples:

    The Lamb Lies Down On Brodway – Genesis

    Seventh Son of A Seventh Son – Iron Maiden

    OK Computer – Radiohead

    And Eric you mentioned both 2112 and Hemispheres by Rush. A Farewell to Kings also needs to be mentioned because the story arc continues from Farewell to Kings into Hemispheres. The dude in his spaceship gets sucked into the Cygnus X1 black hole at the end of Farewell To Kings only to emerge to become the god of balance that brings an end to the war bewtween the gods of love and reason on the Hemispheres . Awesome! The kids these days dont know what they’re missing…

  7. John Bullock says:

    <li>She Came in Through the Bathroom Window / Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight (Beatles)</li>

    <li>Need You Tonight / Mediate (INXS)</li>

    <li>Black Mountain Side / Communication Breakdown (Led Zeppelin)</li>

  8. Michel says:

    Several other pink floyd albums like eg work very well as a whole more than in parts:

    The Final Cut

    Wish you were here

    The Wall

    And Roger Waters:

    Pros and Cons of Hithchiking

    Yes I am a Floyd fan 😉


  9. I agree on Pink Floyd. Also, Dream Theater albums are the one you should listen from A to Z.

  10. Theme-wise two songs that go together for me are:

    Ramble On/Battle of Evermore – Zep

  11. Clinton Pierce says:

    The Major Tom series… notably:

    Space Oddity [Ground Control to Major Tom] (David Bowie)

    Major Tom [I’m Coming Home] (Peter Schilling)

  12. Jonny D. says:

    Gonna Say that Metallica’s Master Of Puppets needs to be heard in it’s entirty (sp?). I was really skeptical since it’s been called (by some) the best metal album ever, but in spite of the hype, it really delivers.

  13. Justin Pitts says:

    Wild / Winter (Poe / Tori Amos)

  14. Chuck says:

    One of my favorite sequences is the first four songs of Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe album: Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow / Nanook Rubs It / St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast / Father O’Blivion. And funny to boot!

  15. Jeremy Wiebe says:

    A few albums that go well front->back are:

    U2 – Rattle ‘N Hum

    Van Halen – 1984

    Metallica – (Black album)

    Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

  16. Cyanbane says:

    Hands down the ultimate:

    She Came in through the Bathroom Window -> Golden Slumbers -> Gotta Carry That Weight


    Mars Volta (Deloused in the Comatorium/Fraces the Mute)

    Pumpkins (Mellon Collie and The Infinate Sadness)

    Gorillaz (Demon Days / Space Monkeys (Lakia))

    Zepplin IV (Zoso/Runes/Old man w/ Sticks)

    Pink Floyd (DSOM/Wish You Were Here/Division bell)

  17. Jimmy G says:

    Side B of Led Zeppelin II. Esp. the openers "Heartbreaker" and "Living, Loving Maid" (which should never, under any circumstances be listened to separately). That the side then proceeds to "Ramble On" and "Moby Dick" is icing on the cake.

  18. Rusty says:

    A two-fer:

    Great full album. It’s hard to listen to just one song singly.

    Great two-song sequence: "Continuing Story of Bungalo Bill" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". I think it’s the "Hey-Oh!"

  19. Chris Lundie says:

    Albuquerque / Genius in France (Weird Al Yankovic, seriously!)

  20. Matt Garven says:

    Hey some of us "younger folk" still listen to albums! Highly recommended concept albums:

    Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane

    Pain of Salvation – The Perfect Element

    Ayreon – The Human Equation

    Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory

    Roger Waters – Amused To Death

    Symphony X – V

    And albums that just must be listened to from start to finish:

    Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells

    Opeth – Blackwater Park

    Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

    Porcupine Tree – In Absentia

    Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine

    to name but a few!

  21. JeffC says:

    Off the top of my head:

    Albums start-to-finish

    Tommy (The Who)

    Quadraphina (The Who)

    Side 2 of Who’s Next is up there in the top 10 album sides of all time IMHO (side 1 aint to shabby either!)


    Waitin’ for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago (ZZ Top/Tres Hombres)

    Hot ‘Lanta/Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Allman Brothers/Live at Filmore East)

  22. Kris says:

    Pink Floyd’s the wall is a definite concept album as well I think.

  23. Jim Stanton says:

    Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine

  24. JohnG says:

    How about the concerto for a rainy day by ELO, culminating in Mr. Blue Sky?

  25. Jeff Martin says:

    Great choices on the concept albums.

    It’s not this way on the album, but I got used to Rush’s "Farewell to Kings" followed by "Closer to the Heart" because of the Chronicles compilation.

    Dream Theater’s "Caught in a Web" and "Lie". DT just released a new album last week called "Octavarium". It’s pretty good. It takes a few listens to really get into it.

  26. Soheil says:

    Angra’s Temple Of Shadows

    Didn’t think there would be so many .NET metalheads 🙂

  27. Phylyp says:

    Dream Theater’s albums are like this. Esp. ‘Scenes from a Memory’, which feels almost like the narration of a book/movie.

    Maiden’s 7th son… is another album where the story progresses.

    And I usually play my mp3s in album mode: I find that the changes (mood/tempo) between different albums from the same artist itself slightly disorienting.

  28. Jason Looney says:

    Just wanted to second the nomination for The Mars Volta — very concept-y stuff, very good.

  29. Paul-Marcel says:

    Savatage also had a lot of concept albums, which eventually carried over to more concept albums by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra when Jon Olivia formed that band (concept Christmas albums!)

    "Dead Winter Dead" is about war-torn Sarajevo and includes some orchestrations that started TSO.

    As for songs, Rush’s "Tom Sawyer" and "YYZ" have to go together. I agree with someone’s comment about album art; Rush and Iron Maiden have always had great covers.

    Hmm, other paired songs: Accept’s "Balls to the Wall" and "London Leatherboys".

  30. Jeremy says:

    The king of all combinations to me is Heartbreaker / Living Loving Maid (Shes Just A Woman) from Led Zeppelin II. When I was kid I always thought they were one song.

    Good call on the Boston set, what a classic!

  31. Brent says:

    Sirius / Eye in the Sky (The Alan Parsons Project/Eye in the Sky)

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