"People who got on their feet and freaked about were called idiot dancers. and nobody wants to be called an idiot dancer. But the whole idea of rock and roll is to get people off their arses - that's what it's about." - Steve Marriott
Concept albums are all about unusual ideas, creative expression and in many cases, brilliantly organised nonsense.
Of all of the legendary LPs that exist in the world, immortalising the musical talents of musicians and artists throughout the decades, a great deal of concept albums certainly make it into the top 100 with their quirky themes, enthralling narratives - and at times, downright weirdness.
There are plenty out there dancing around the music sphere - some better than others - and the ones that hit the nail on the head make essential listening. Yes, you need them in your life, right now.
That said, here is our definitive pick of the five best concept albums ever - happy listening!
Tommy - The Who
"I have terrible hearing trouble. I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf." - Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend, the prolific guitar smashing artistic force (and Mod icon) behind The Who, was one of the pioneers of the rock opera - and 'Tommy' is arguably his finest work of conceptual music - it's even better than 'Sell Out'.
'Tommy' tells the rollercoaster tale of a deaf, dumb and blind kid (who sure plays a mean pinball) named, you guessed it, Tommy. With iconic tracks including 'The Acid Queen' and the mighty 'Pinball Wizard', this is one journey on which you must embark.
It was such as success, in fact, that 'Tommy' was made into a motion picture with an all-star musical cast in 1975 - and it rocks.
War of the Worlds - Jeff Wayne
“This isn't a war," said the artilleryman. "It never was a war, any more than there's war between man and ants.” - H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
Based on the dystopian novel by W.G. Wells, Jeff Wayne's experimental and utterly mindblowing musical interpretation of the story is something everyone should listen to at least once.
It's clever, its ahead of its time (even now), Richard Burton narrates, Phil Lynott and David Essex (among others) guest star and it even features the most scintillating lines from the original novel.
So, kick back, grab yourself a drink and get lost in Jeff Wayne's chaotic world for an hour or so - you won't regret it.
Southern Rock Opera - Drive-By Truckers
"Bobby went out for a joy ride with my best girl, left me at the party, it was almost June and the three-quarter moon illuminated." - Drive-By Truckers
This lesser-known but equally potent concept album by Southern Fried rockers Drive-By Truckers delivers precisely what it says on the beer tin (of record sleeve): a frank, semi-autobiographical rock opera about a boy growing up in Alabama in the late 70s and early 80s.
Sad, dramatic, hilarious, insightful, eye-opening and melancholic, ‘Southern Rock Opera’ is an immersive listening experience doused in Lynyrd Skynyrd-like fumes accompanied with honest yet wise words, hypnotic melodies and a mindful approach that makes it somewhat of a modern masterpiece.
Consequences - Godley and Creme
“Mugshots, mugshots, I was just a lonely boy.” - Godley and Creme
Think ‘War of the Worlds’ on Speed.
Originally released in 1977 as a triple-LP box set, 'Consequences' by 10CC's Kevin Godley and Lol Creme has often been overlooked ad a brilliant concept album, but it's perhaps the best of them all.
The concept of 'Consequences' was described at the time as 'the story of man's last defence against an irate nature', and its out there narrative, coupled with some of the most enticing hooks, lines, loops sounds and melodies ever combined, listening to it is like an analogue virtual reality adventure.
The LP comes with a book so you can read along and look at the dreamy artwork while you listen and the Gizmotron', or Gizmo, features throughout - an experimental instrumental instrument that enjoyed its first outing on this record.
Ogden's Nut Gone Flake - The Small Faces
"Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is Pop's nuttiest moment." - Anon, music journalist
Not only did this cockney lathered, psychedelic mini-musical epic mark the end of The Small Faces' short but amazing career, but everything about it is striking, from its opening track right through to its tobacco tin-style record sleeve.
The album certainly does have a Sgt Pepper-like quality to it, but with an unmistakably Marriott and Lane stamp - and Stanley Unwin's narration of the fairy tale centred around main Protagonist, Happiness Stan, is nothing short of iconic.
Every track of ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ enhances the story and as far as musically masterful oddball knees-ups go, this has to be the very creme of the old crop.
We hope these epic concept albums provide you with hours of entertainment, inspiring and intriguing you as much as they have us over the years. And if you have any concept albums you love that you feel should be included in this list, please let us know by leaving a comment.
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