Double Stuf(f)ed

System of a DownRolling Stone’s “Rock and Roll Daily” has started a series on double albums that can be (and should have been) pared down to single discs. And not just one 80-minute CD; the idea is to hack the bloated monster down to an LP — two sides of no more than 23 minutes apiece. The first three entries: The Beatles’ White Album, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and Bruce Springsteen’s The River.

(I’m disappointed that the fourth entry, on Guns N’ [sic] Roses’ Use Your Illusion, chucks the LP premise. Cheaters.)

I wonder if the genesis wasn’t the magazine’s own review of System of a Down’s Hypnotize:

“System of a Down nearly made the no-contest hard-rock album of 2005. Instead, they have released a double album ... .”

In an interview, the jazz pianist Tardo Hammer lamented to me the demise of vinyl in favor of CDs and, now, digital-music players. The long-playing record, he noted, fostered close listening, both because of its time constraints and the fact that you had to make an effort to turn it over. The result was that the music consumer would end up listening to 23 minutes of music repeatedly, thus picking up on its detail and nuance.

For me, the problem with all double albums I can think of is that there’s simply too much to absorb. Unless a track grabs you immediately, the sheer volume of music overwhelms all the songs.

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