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Elmore’s Favorite Concept Albums

Artists who have tackled the concept album were faced with a difficult task: finding a way to deliver a consistent, coherent story or set of themes or set of characters while still creating engaging, quality music. Some traveled to space or mystical worlds, while others kept it grounded imagesin historical events. Others delved into their own narratives. Here we’ve got our list of top concept albums. 

The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Release: 1967

Concept: Adventures of a fictitious band meant to stand in contrast the Fab Four


imagesSmall FacesOgdens’ Nut Gone Flake

Release: 1968

Concept: A character named “Happiness Stan” searches for the other half of the moon



imagesThe Pretty ThingsS.F. Sorrow

Release: 1968

Concept: Based on a short story written by Phil May about the character of Sebastian F. Sorrow



imagesThe KinksArthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

Release: 1969

Concept: The story of Arthur Morgan, a carpet-layer, and his family in post-war England

Honorable Mention: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society



The WhoTommy

Release: 1969

Concept: The story of Tommy, a deaf and blind pinball champion



220px-ZiggyStardustDavid BowieThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Release: 1972

Concept: Bowie in space. As an alien. With aliens.




Jethro TullThick as a Brick

Release: 1972

Concept: A fictional adaptation from a poem written by a fictional young poet

Honorable Mention: Aqualung



Genesis—The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Release: 1974

Concept: The story of a young boy named Rael, who lives in New York City and battles mythological beasts



Willie NelsonRed Headed Stranger

Release: 1975

Concept: A narrative about a man on the run after killing his wife and her lover



Pink FloydThe Wall

Release: 1979

Concept: The story of a character named Pink dealing with hardships and isolation

Honorable Mention: Animals; Dark Side of the Moon



Frank ZappaJoe’s Garage

Release: 1979

Concept: Characters interact in a world in which the government is trying to ban music



Drive-By TruckersSouthern Rock Opera

Release: 2001

Concept: The story of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the South during the 1970s



The Mountain GoatsTallahassee

Release: 2002

Concept: An account of a couple’s rocky relationship



imagesQueens of the Stone AgeSongs for the Deaf

Release: 2002

Concept: An account of a road trip from L.A. to the Mojave Desert and the radio stations heard along the way



220px-Mignonette_albumThe Avett BrothersMignonette

Release: 2004

Concept: Based on the story of an English yacht that sank beneath the Cape of Good Hope and left its four surviving passengers stranded for 19 days before they resorted to murder and cannibalism



imagesGreen Day—American Idiot

Release: 2004

Concept: The story of the “Jesus of Suburbia,” his journey to the city, his self-destruction and his martyrdom



imagesOkkervil RiverBlack Sheep Boy

Release: 2005

Concept: Based on the antihero of Tim Hardin’s “Black Sheep Boy” song



the_hazards_of_love_cover__resized_The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love

Release: 2009

Concept: A maiden falls in love with a shape-shifter in a fantastical setting complete with fairies and other mythical creatures

Honorable Mention: The Crane Wife



imagesArcade FireThe Suburbs

Release: 2010

Concept: Technology in the modern world, loss of innocence, the American dream, capitalism, conformism—all within the scope of the suburbs



imagesTitus Andronicus—The Monitor

Release: 2010

Concept: About the Civil War … kinda. “Really, it is a record about how the conflicts that led our nation into that great calamity remain unsolved, and the effect that this ongoing division has on our personal relationships and our behavior,” said singer Patrick Stickles.

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