The history of the “Concept Album” is a storied one beginning in the early 1960’s when Brian Wilson penned the first one ever for the Beach Boys entitled Surfin’ Safari. The album told a story about group of young lads who go on a surfing trip only to have it ruined by futuristic alien robots who steal their girls and take them for a ride in their “409” while the boys are left at the beach to go “Surfin'” and wonder if they’ll see the girls later at the “County Fair.” The album was met with extreme critical praise, but the fans just didn’t get it– and thus The Beach Boys never broke through into the mainstream.
It would take almost another fifteen years before another band had the courage to take their crack at the concept album. That band was Rush and that album was 2112. The combined efforts of Neil Peart on Drums, Geddy Lee on Bass/Vocals, and Alex Lifeson on the guitar– crafted a sublime tale of a Canada run by an evil Robotic overlord who was surprisingly unfuturistic for the times, hell bent on declaring all out war on Greenland on New Year’s Eve 2111. This album blew away the critics and was embraced by fans sweeping both the Grammy Awards and Juno Awards from 1976 to 1978.
After Rush’s masterpiece “Concept Albums” were seen as a lost art. One artist even made an entire career out of failed concept albums. Pop star Chris Gaines released 15 albums as his country alter ego Garth Brooks, yet never achieved any measure of critical acclaim comparable to 2112. He even tried releasing one last ditch attempt under his own name entitled Chris Gaines Is A Futuristic Robot that combined simple pop/country with electronica, but to no avail. Many groups have since failed at making concept albums. Radiohead’s 1997 effort OK Computer, which told the story of the world being set back to 1900 because of the Y2K bug was seen as laughable and completely unrealistic, but still retains a cult following today.
The most recent semi-successful attempt at a concept album was Michael Jackson’s Thriller: 25th Anniversary Edition, which is a tale about a talented African-American who decides he wants to be a talented, mostly bizarre caucasian; yet twenty five years later he comes back around and decides to be African-American again only to find out that the only way he can do so is to become a futuristic robot
Yes, trendlies and trendtleman, it’s a rare occasion that an artist makes a successful concept album, so we suggest you jump on this friendly trend right away, because like concept albums themselves, it may only last for an hour or two.