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Double album

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Double album

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A double album is an audio album of sufficient length that two units of the medium in which it is sold (especially records and compact discs) are necessary to contain the entirety of it.

The double album was a much more common format during the vinyl LP era than during the CD era. A single LP had two sides, each of which could be no longer than half an hour (and sound quality was better when less music was crammed onto each side.) Most LPs were between 30 and 45 minutes in length. A single CD can be as long as 70 minutes (or even a little more.) Hence, most old 2-LP albums can be re-released as a single CD.

Recording artists often think of double albums as a single piece artistically; however, there are exceptions such as Pink Floyd's Ummagumma, one live album and one studio record packaged together, and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, consisting of one practical solo album by each member of the hip-hop duo. Particularly in the compact disc era, artists sometimes will release albums with bonus discs, featuring studio out-takes, alternate mixes, or other material that would not typically be suitable album material but which would be of interest to fans (e.g., The Beatles' Let It Be... Naked, which featured a bonus disc of studio chatter and jamming entitled Fly on the Wall).

The first ever double album was Dave Brubeck's At Carnegie Hall. The first rock double album, and first studio double album, ever released is believed to have been Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde in 1966, although at the same time Dylan was recording the album, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were at work on the double album Freak Out!, released two months after Blonde On Blonde. The first rap double album was 2pac's All Eyez On Me.

Since then, the double album format has been more often used for live albums for which material is often plentiful. The format is also frequently used for concept albums.

There were only a few examples during the vinyl-LP era of a sesquialbum, i.e., a one-and-a-half album. Johnny Winter released a three-sided album on two 12-inch discs, with the flip side of the second disc being blank. The Monty Python album Matching Tie and Handkerchief was originally issued with two concentric grooves with different programs on side B. Elvis Costello and The Clash (amongst other 1980s acts) would sometimes release early pressings of their albums with extra material on a 45 rpm single. Leonard Cohen wanted to do the same with his album Recent Songs but Columbia rejected the idea.


The triple album contains three units of the medium; the first one of note in the rock era was George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Packages with more units than that are generally called boxed sets.

In the late 1980s, the compact disc, which can carry more music than a typical vinyl long play record, became the most common format on which to sell music. Albums which were originally packaged as double records are often sold on a single compact disc, such as the aforementioned Blonde on Blonde, The Who's Tommy, The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, and Prince's 1999 (though not in all cases, such as the Beatles' White Album). Also, albums of the compact disc era are often longer than those of previous decades, and are sometimes packaged on two records if vinyl copies are produced. In general, an album is usually referred to as a double album when its audio content requires two units of the prominent format of its time period. Thus, double albums are less prominent in the compact disc era than in previous decades.

The concept of a double album is one that sparks much critical debate. Some see them as a testament to a bands creativity although they are also seen as self indulgent and bloated. It is freqent that double albums come at a time in a band's career when they have achieved much success and possibly believe that what everything they do will be "Gold" and fans will buy it. Many double albums are released to much divide in critical opinion and in hindight the question "would this be better as a single album" is asked. Despite this criticism, many double albums are met with praise or seen as classics some time after their release.


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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