The Fold Studios


TEL: +44 (0) 7535 064 745

Book a Session

Slow Death of the Classic Album?20 Feb 11

“I can’t believe Mumford and Sons got best album” moaned a friend of mine recently after the Brits. “Tinie Tempa’s been all over it this year!”
“Have you heard the Mumford and Sons album?” I queried
“No but I’ve some of their stuff on the radio”
“Come to think of it, have you actually listened to Tinie Tempah’s album, from top to bottom”
“Well no, but Pass Out is a tune! And then to follow it up with Written In The Stars!”

This was an education for me! I had previously been unaware that one could judge the Best Film at the Oscars by checking out the trailers on IMDB. Or that the Booker prize judges are presumably forwarded the blurbs photocopied off the back of the paperbacks and left to their business.

With a heavy sigh, and a heavier heart I left it that. Of course this little exchange typifies the current buying patterns of the average music consumer today. It’s not our fault really, we’ve beaten into a corner by itunes, ipods, playlists and shuffle culture. The concept of what we think of as an album came about through the technical limitations of the long-playing record and thereafter the CD. But in the digital age it all seems a bit arbitrary. Plus record labels are so focused on “hits” that they seem to accept nothing less than an album completely full of them (such as can be heard with Rihanna’s latest offering). It’s a great testament to the skill of the megalithic gestalt of writers, producers, executive producers, engineers, programmers, teaboys and fluffers who put their genuine hard work, talent and time into such an ambitious project (and making an album full of nothing but hits is ambitious) but it ebbs and flows with as much fluidity as a hand shandy from the Venus de Milo.

Universal's new CEO showcasing his pioneering new initiative.

Popular music always has and always will be dictated by artistic and commercial considerations in varying proportions. But from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, to make a great album, does every song need to be a potential monster-hit?

The truth is that access to individual tracks is so easy these days that labels want to fill albums with as many tracks as possible that people will want to download individually onto their playlists, but I fear for the humble old-fashioned “album track”. Take Radiohead’s “Fitter, Happier”, a bizarre robo-voice rant stuck in the middle of “OK Computer” (incidentally one of the biggest selling albums of the last 20 years). It’s unlikely to make anyone’s playlists, and even less likely to stay on for any longer than 10 seconds after being selected by shuffle, but in many ways it’s the centrepiece of the album; a kind of lynchpin that summarises the themes of social disaffection despite material satisfaction that permeate the record as a whole, whilst also serving as an interval between two acts.

For me a great album isn’t just a collection of great songs. There has to be a little something else. A certain cohesion, and a kind of macro dynamic and rhythm across the whole record. A push and pull of tension and release, inhale and exhale. And for me, slamming together a hodgepodge of the most likely #1s from a battery farm of writers and producers just doesn’t cut it. But then, maybe that’s just me.

“Congratulations Mr Prince. You’ve
just made a classic album! What
would you like to do about the cover
“Er… Here, just use this photo”
“Yes, really”

x3 Comments to “Slow Death of the Classic Album?”

  1. Jimmy Badrat says:

    I’m afraid I’ll have to beg to differ. Unless the world really has been taken over by the Lord of the Flies, I for one still buy and download complete albums from artists. You’ve got to be twelve to dip into your pocket to find only 69p for one track. Belief in the artist is alive and well. Sure, occaisionally we’re disappointed by 2 tracks that shine and the rest is awful (Goldrush is my example).

    Anyway, Mumford and sons? Utter shite. Like R.E.M. on Guinness.


  2. momochii says:

    Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

  3. Kwesi says:

    I agree with you, but I hope that we will all do what we can not to lose sight of that organic sense of what an album can do for us, whether we’re actively or passively listening. Having said that, maybe it’s all a case of a few hardy people, Canute-like, trying to hold back light pollution, the death of privacy, the death of silence, the death of death…;-)

Leave a Reply



  • Recent Posts

    • Why Choose The Fold Studios, London?
      15 Jul 13

      If you are looking for a London recording studio with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and a dedicated, professional work ethic, plus some of the [...]

    • Let’s Get Lyrical… Lyrical
      09 Jun 12

      Continuing my oft-visited and no doubt tedious theme: the lamentation of the genuine appreciation of music, it’s time to look at lyrics. Believe it or [...]

    • Misty Miller ‘Horns On’ Location Recording
      26 Mar 12

      16 Mar 12

      Ladies and Gentlemen, all rise for the honourable Judge… erm, Yourselves. Court is now in session. You’ve heard from the defence (me), so let’s welcome [...]

    • We Have A Winner!!!
      12 Mar 12

      Congratulations to Rob Phillips for winning our February competition for a day in the studio for ONLY £1. Lead Singer of Howl Griff, Gary Parkinson [...]

      09 Feb 12

      Our first competition for 2012 is as simple to enter as Katie Prices knickers! To WIN this great prize all you need to do is [...]

    • Internet Piracy – What’s so terrible about SOPA? Pt1 The Defence
      08 Feb 12

      Well let’s dive straight in shall we? Firstly, a brief explanation… SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a piece of American legislation currently being batted [...]

    • Christmas TOYS
      04 Jan 12

      Check out the NEW TOYS we have available at The Fold Studios: 1967 Akai portable ‘reel to reel’ tape recorder: & A proper doper coffee [...]

    • What’s The Best Recession Song – This Time Around?
      18 Dec 11

      Music however, is something can bring us together. So where is our recession music this time?!

    • Forget Autonomy, Forget Learning – We Can Think For You!
      14 Nov 11

      We have a portal of learning available to all such as has never been seen in the history of mankind. But perversely, the thing that makes this virtual wonderworld so precious is also its Achilles heal… The whole internet is, for the most part, unregulated and often unsubstantiated.

    • Generation Games
      05 Sep 11

      We’ve had the “Silent Generation”, the “Baby Boom Generation” and of course “Generation X”. But what of the current crop of young adults born since 1982 (apparently the end of Generation X)?

    • Tasty Vintage Gear!
      14 Jul 11

      The Fold Studios have recently purchased a Universal Audio 6176

    • Watch – The Fold On Location
      27 Jun 11

      The Fold Studios location recording in action

    • Win FREE Tickets to Chester Rocks
      08 Jun 11

      Win tickets to Chester Rocks

    • Bring Back Top Of The Pops!
      06 Jun 11

      So I have a radical and controversial new idea! An idea to bring new and (occasionally) exciting but mostly rubbish music to the screens of millions across the nation!! An idea to replace the tawdry procession of limp and falsely emotive cover versions with a tawdry procession of limp and badly performed new music

    • Location Recording @ Goodmerry Farm
      18 May 11

      ‘Back To Shore’ by Brother & Bones taken from the soon to be released ‘Skin’ EP. This project was recorded live at Goodmerry Farm in Cornwall by us at The Fold Studios

    • Element – Sussex Drum Tutition
      03 Mar 11

      For all you Brighton based beat bashers! If you need a few extra chops to add to your collection or just a cool place to practise and learn

    • Slow Death of the Classic Album?
      20 Feb 11

      For me a great album isn’t just a collection of great songs. There has to be a little something else. A certain cohesion, and a kind of macro dynamic and rhythm across the whole record

    • Birthday Shinanigans!
      15 Feb 11

      Here’s a few moments from The Fold’s 2nd birthday party back in Janurary. Enjoy!

    • Old Consoles R Us!
      20 Dec 10

      The Sony Playstation!!! Perfect addition to our in-house entertainment array