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The album era (also known as the album-rock era) was a period in English-language popular music from the mid 1960s to the mid 2000s in which the album was the dominant form of recorded music expression and consumption. It was primarily driven by three successive music recording formats, the 331⁄3 rpm LP record, the audiocassette and the music Compact disc. Rock musicians were often at the forefront of the era.
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33 1⁄3 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.
The LP is an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format characterized by a speed of 33 1⁄3 rpm, a 12- or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification. Introduced by Columbia in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.
Compact disc (CD) is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings (CD-DA) but was later adapted for storage of data (CD-ROM). Several other formats were further derived from these, including write-once audio and data storage (CD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW), Video Compact Disc (VCD), Super Video Compact Disc (SVCD), Photo CD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced Music CD. The first commercially available audio CD player, the Sony CDP-101, was released October 1982 in Japan.
Technological developments in the early twentieth century led to the development of the vinyl long-playing (LP) album as an important medium for recorded music. In 1948, Columbia Records began to bring out 331⁄3 rpm twelve-inch extended-play LPs that could play for as long as 52 minutes, or 26 minutes per side. Musical film soundtracks, jazz works, and thematic albums by singers such as Frank Sinatra quickly utilized the new longer format. However, in the 1950s and into the 1960s, 45 rpm seven-inch single sales were considered the primary market for the recorded music industry, while albums were a secondary market. The careers of notable rock and roll performers such as Elvis Presley were driven primarily by single sales.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing.
Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
The dominance of the single as the primary medium of creative expression in music changed with the release of several albums in the 1960s, such as A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (1963), the Beatles' Rubber Soul (1965),the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966), the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out! (1966), and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). With reference to the Beatles' Rubber Soul, Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, writer Bill Martin comments: "In the wake of these albums, many rock musicians took up the 'complete album approach.'" Rolling Stone assistant editor Andy Greene identifies Sgt. Pepper as marking "the beginning of the album era", as does Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork , with Greene adding that "It was the big bang of albums." Music historian Simon Philo writes that, aside from the level of recognition the album received for its artistry, "the record's success ushered in the era of album-oriented rock, radically reshaping how pop music worked economically."
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector is an album of Christmas songs, produced by Phil Spector, and originally released as Philles 45 in 1963. Spector treated a series of mostly secular Christmas standards to his "Wall of Sound" treatment, and the selections feature the vocal performances of Spector's regular artists during this period. The album peaked at number 13 on Billboard magazine's special, year-end, weekly Christmas Albums sales chart in December 1963.
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led the band to be regarded as the foremost and most influential in history. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop forms, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and in later years experimented with a number of musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's sociocultural movements.
Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 3 December 1965 in the United Kingdom, on EMI's Parlophone label, accompanied by the non-album double A-side single "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out". The original North American version of the album was altered by Capitol Records to include a different selection of tracks. Rubber Soul met with a highly favourable critical response and topped record charts in Britain and the United States for several weeks.
According to David Howard, writing in his book Sonic Alchemy, "pop's stakes had been raised into the stratosphere" by the Beatles' Rubber Soul, resulting in a shift in focus from singles to creating albums without the usual filler tracks. ... it introduced the possibility to the recording industry that the 45 RPM disc ... preeminent for a decade ... might soon give way to a new king ... the album as a work of art." During Pet Sounds' composition and production, Beach Boys bandleader Brian Wilson found the American version of Rubber Soul to be "a collection of songs that…somehow went together like no album ever made before", which inspired Wilson to briefly shift his focus from singles to albums.In January 1966, Billboard magazine cited the initial US sales of Rubber Soul (1.2 million copies over nine days) as evidence of teenage record-buyers increasingly moving towards the LP format. In the US, no singles were released from the album, which writer David Leaf says created the "perception that their new work should be viewed as a whole.
Filler is material of lower cost or quality that is used to fill a certain television time slot or physical medium, such as a musical album.
Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.
David Leaf is an American writer, producer, and director known for documentaries, music programs, and pop culture retrospectives.
Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies is a music reference book by American music journalist and essayist Robert Christgau. It was first published in October 1981 by Ticknor & Fields.
The mid 1960s to the late 1970s was the era of the LP and the "golden era" of the album. According to BBC Four's The Golden Age, "These were the years when the music industry exploded to become bigger than Hollywood."This period, especially the 1970s, is also called the Album Rock Era. Music critic Dave Marsh has called Jimi Hendrix's 1967 "Purple Haze" the "debut single of the Album Rock Era" while Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Lou Gramm's 1987 "Midnight Blue" the "last great single of the album-rock era".
Dave Marsh is an American music critic, author, editor and radio talk show host. He was an early editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on rock music. He is also a committee member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".
"Purple Haze" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and released as the second record single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967. As a record chart hit in several countries and the opening number on the Experience's debut American album, it was many people's first exposure to Hendrix's psychedelic rock sound.
Along with the LP record, the 8-track tape was another format popular in the United States in this period. After the fall of LP record sales at the end of the 1970s and rise of first the cassette and then the CD as the dominant format for recorded music saw the end of the LP-driven "golden age" of the album, the album consolidated its domination of the recorded music market. Seven-inch vinyl single sales were dropping and were almost totally displaced by cassette singles by the end of the 1980s. Yet these were never as popular as seven-inch singles and they and the subsequent CD singles never amounted to a significant threat to the dominance of the album.[ citation needed ] According to Robert Christgau in 1985, "the singles aesthetic began to reassert itself with disco and punk".
The primary threat to the album's primacy in the 1980s and early 1990s came from MTV. It was quickly recognized that, "after the album-rock era of the 1970s, MTV helped return the hit single to prominence as a pop marketing tool".
"Death of the album" is a phrase used to describe the perceived decline of album sales in the 21st century, sometimes attributed to internet sharing and downloading,and the changing expectations of music listeners. Album sales more than halved from 1999 to 2009, declining from a $14.6 to $6.3 billion industry. As opposed to releasing an album, some bands have begun releasing a series of singles or EPs as a way to combat the "average person's short attention span."
By the middle of the 1990s, single song delivery of music to the consumer was almost dead, at least in the United States.In 1998, Billboard magazine ended the requirement of a physical single for charting on its Hot 100 chart after several of the year's major hits were not released as singles. But, despite the dominance of the CD, technological changes quickly turned the tables. In 1999, the internet peer-to-peer file sharing service Napster allowed internet users to easily download single songs in MP3 format. By early 2001, Napster use peaked with 26.4 million users worldwide.
Although Napster was shut down in 2001 for copyright violations, other music download services took its place. In 2001, Apple Inc.'s iTunes service was introduced and the iPod, a consumer-friendly MP3 player, was released later that year. This and other legal alternatives as well as illicit file sharing continued to depress sales of recorded music on physical formats. By 2006, downloaded digital single sales outnumbered CD sales for the first time and buyers of digital music purchased singles over albums by a margin of 19:1.Even music industry executives were forced to admit that the album was on its way out. "For some genres and some artists, having an album-centric plan will be a thing of the past," Capitol-EMI's COO Jeff Kempler said. Other warnings were more dire. Media researcher Aram Sinnreich bluntly predicted that "the album is going to die. Consumers are listening to play lists" on their MP3 players.
With consumers abandoning albums, performers "started concentrating on dishing out singles as opposed to churning out albums".Critics of the trend argued that single songs "never truly showed an artist’s true prowess and every singer or songwriter proved to be a one-hit wonder".
In 2003, Wired magazine assigned Christgau to write an article discussing if the album was "a dying art form", to which he concluded: "For as long as artists tour, they'll peddle song collections with the rest of the merch, and those collections will be conceived as artfully as the artists possibly can." Years later, in 2019, as CD and digital download sales plummeted and theories still persisted about the "death" of the physical album format, Christgau found his original premise even more valid. "Because the computer giveth as the computer taketh away", he wrote in an essay accompanying the Pazz & Jop music poll that year, explaining that "quality home recording is now so cheap that making an album is hobby-level stuff not just for duffers but for the statistically inevitable complement of amateur artists whose music ain't no hobby, or shouldn't be. And compelled to tour though all now are, few professional bands are in it solely for the roar of the crowd. Writing songs is in their DNA, and if said songs are any good at all, recording them for posterity soon becomes irresistible."
A concept album is an album in which its tracks hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than they do individually. This is typically achieved through a single central narrative or theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, or lyrical. Sometimes the term is applied to albums considered to be of "uniform excellence" rather than an LP with an explicit musical or lyrical motif. There is no consensus among music critics as to the specific criteria for what a "concept album" is.
Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that generally reflects a challenging or avant-garde approach to rock, or which makes use of modernist, experimental, or unconventional elements. Art rock aspires to elevate rock from entertainment to an artistic statement, opting for a more experimental and conceptual outlook on music. Influences may be drawn from genres such as experimental rock, avant-garde music, classical music, and jazz.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2 June 1967 in the United States, it spent 27 weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. It was lauded by critics for its innovations in production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.
Magical Mystery Tour is an album by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a double EP in the United Kingdom and an LP in the United States. Produced by George Martin, it includes the soundtrack to the 1967 film of the same name. The EP was issued in the UK on 8 December 1967 on the Parlophone label, while the Capitol Records LP release in the US occurred on 27 November and featured eleven tracks with the addition of songs from the band's 1967 singles. The first release as an eleven-track LP in the UK did not occur until 1976.
"Penny Lane" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released in February 1967 as a double A-side single with "Strawberry Fields Forever". It was written primarily by Paul McCartney, but credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. The lyrics refer to Penny Lane, a street in Liverpool, and makes mention of the sights and characters that McCartney recalled from his upbringing in the city.
In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.
An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.
In their native United Kingdom, between 1962 and 1970, the Beatles released 12 studio albums, 13 extended plays (EPs) and 22 singles. However, the band's international discography is complicated, due to different versions of their albums sometimes being released in other countries, particularly during their early years on Capitol Records in North America. The Beatles' discography was originally released on the vinyl format, with full-length long plays (LPs), shorter EPs and singles. Over the years, the collection has also been released on cassette, 8-track, compact disc (CD), and on a USB flash drive in MP3 and 24-bit FLAC format. Although their output has come to include vault items and remixed mash-ups, the Beatles' "core catalogue", recorded in 1962 to 1970, comprises 217 songs, totalling approximately 10 hours of music. Additionally, they released five tracks that are different versions of previously released songs: "Love Me Do", "Revolution", "Get Back", "Across the Universe" and "Let It Be"; two tracks in German: "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "Sie Liebt Dich"; and two tracks that are duplicates of songs included on previous albums but also included on the album Yellow Submarine: "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need Is Love".
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as "Beatlemania", but as the group's music grew in sophistication, led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the band were integral to pop music's evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s.
"Nowhere Man" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, except for in the United States and Canada, where it was first issued as a single A-side in February 1966 before appearing on the album Yesterday and Today. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In the US, the single peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the chart compiled by Record World magazine, as it did the RPM 100 chart in Canada. The song was also released as a single in some countries where it had been included on Rubber Soul, including Australia, where it topped the singles chart.
An album cover is the front of the packaging of a commercially released audio recording product, or album. The term can refer to either the printed cardboard covers typically used to package sets of 10 in (25 cm) and 12 in (30 cm) 78-rpm records, single and sets of 12 in (30 cm) LPs, sets of 45 rpm records, or the front-facing panel of a CD package, and, increasingly, the primary image accompanying a digital download of the album, or of its individual tracks.
Silk Degrees is the seventh album by Boz Scaggs, released on Columbia Records in 1976. The album peaked at No. 2 and spent 115 weeks on the Billboard 200. It has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA and remains Scaggs's best selling album. Silk Degrees spawned four singles. "It's Over", "Lowdown", and "Lido Shuffle" made the Top 40, while "What Can I Say" peaked at No. 42.
"In the Still of the Nite", also subsequently titled "In the Still of the Night", is a song written by Fred Parris and recorded by his Five Satins. While only a moderate hit when first released, it has received considerable airplay over the years and is notable as one of the best known doo-wop songs, recorded by artists such as Boyz II Men and Debbie Gibson. It is heard in several films, such as The Buddy Holly Story and Dirty Dancing.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a double album produced by George Martin, featuring covers of songs by the Beatles. It was released in July 1978, as the soundtrack to the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which starred the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and Steve Martin.
Psychedelic pop is a subgenre of pop music that contains musical characteristics associated with psychedelic music. This includes "trippy" effects such as fuzz guitars, tape manipulation, sitars, backwards recording, and Beach Boys-style harmonies. Blended with pop, they create melodic songs with tight song structures. It reached its peak during the late 1960s, and declined rapidly in the early 1970s.
Love Songs is a compilation album that comprises love songs recorded by the Beatles between 1962 and 1970. It was released by Capitol Records in the United States on 21 October 1977 and on Parlophone in the United Kingdom on 19 November 1977. The compilation peaked at #24 in Billboard's Top LPs & Tape chart during a 31-week stay that began on 12 November 1977. The RIAA certified the album with sales of three million units in 2000 even though the compilation was deleted in the late 1980s. The New Zealand release followed the US release with cat. no. and pressing plates, and was released on 2 different EMI labels.
The Beatles in Mono is a boxed set compilation comprising the remastered monaural recordings by the Beatles. The set was released on compact disc on 9 September 2009, the same day the remastered stereo recordings and companion The Beatles were also released, along with The Beatles: Rock Band video game. The remastering project for both mono and stereo versions was led by EMI senior studio engineers Allan Rouse and Guy Massey.
"Got to Get You into My Life" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, first released in 1966 on their album Revolver. It was written by Paul McCartney, though officially credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is an homage to the Motown Sound, with colourful brass instrumentation, and lyrics that suggest a psychedelic experience. "It's actually an ode to pot," McCartney explained. A cover version by Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers peaked at number six in 1966 in the UK. The song was issued in the United States as a single from the Rock 'n' Roll Music compilation album in 1976, six years after the Beatles disbanded. It reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the Beatles' last top ten US hit until their 1995 release "Free as a Bird".