The Weekly Music Thread Is Feeling Bloated

Let’s discuss any and all music here. Got a new artist who’s rocking your boat that you want to talk about? Post a video! Found out about that unearthed Coltrane album that has the jazz freak in you losing your mind? Lay it out for us! Have a theory about what your favorite band might do for their next album? Let’s hear it! Anything and everything music-related goes here.

This week’s discussion prompt: CD-era Bloat (AKA: CD-itis)

The invention of the CD and it subsequently becoming the dominant music format for nearly two decades made for some changes in the way that listeners were able to consume music, skipping to any part of an album with the push of a button (something that for those of us who started out with cassettes was not taken for granted). This new format also enabled artists to increase the number of tracks they were able to include on a single album – while the vinyl format constricted artists to roughly 40 minutes or so of music on a single LP (though it was possible to fit more music on an album, it came at the expense of sound quality) CDs allowed artists to include up to 74 minutes (and later 80 minutes) worth of music on a single disc.

On the upside, this allowed some “double albums” to be issued on a single compact disc,1 as well as artists being able to include CD-exclusive “bonus tracks” as an added incentive to buy a reissue2

But the downside? As the nineties progressed and CDs became basically the only format for music (by the mid-to-late nineties the few new LP records available were generally seen as prohibitively expensive novelty items, and the cassette sections in many stores had shriveled up to next to nothing before disappearing entirely by the end of decade) artists were able to include more songs on a single album. Now some of you might be asking: why would more music be a bad thing? It does seem silly to complain when tracks can be skipped over with relative ease. But for those who like to listen to albums from start to finish as a cohesive listening experience, having a few too many mediocre or similar-sounding tracks (even if they can be easily skipped) can give a worse impression of the album as a whole.

TLDR: Regarding this week’s prompt, some questions for discussion:

  • Which albums, in your opinion, are simply too long? Which tracks would you cut? I’m thinking specifically of CD-era albums (as we’ve discussed double albums here before) but by all means feel free to discuss albums from the pre- and post-CD eras as well.
  • Counterpoint: Which albums, in your opinion, could have or should have been longer? Are there any cases where artists could have taken advantage of the new format and added a few extra tracks (B-sides, outtakes, etc.) that would have fit well with the rest of the album?
  • Bonus tracks: a great incentive to buy a reissue, or a nuisance that interferes with the experience of original album?
  • Hidden tracks: a fun little surprise, a novelty that quickly got old, or a huge pain in the ass when you ripped your CDs to the computer?3

As always, any and all music-related topics are welcome. Have fun, and rock out with yr guac out!