The Makings of a Great Album

June 8, 2012 7:23 pm

What makes an album great? What epitomises an album to be regarded as great, historic and timeless? In a day and age of digital music, it seems sales numbers are what separates a successful from mediocre record; with chart success being a major factor in what could eventually make or break an artist. However, a counter argument would dispute this logic and state the cultural influence an album has is instrumental in defining its status.

The quality of music is first and foremost a factor in the making of a great album. An album which will be heard will only elevate its status amongst music listeners (and a little help from Marketing Executives). Although I would argue that no matter how much or little push an artist and their product has through marketing, good music will eventually filter out to the people who want it. Word of mouth cannot be underestimated.

The lists presented in were compiled based on votes from selected rock musicians, critics, and industry figures

The impact an album can have on popular culture; how it changes and participates in the evolution of future music and artists are also defining characteristics of strengthening an albums potential. Take Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Legend for example, a collection of his greatest songs compiled into one greatest hits disc. The songs were initially featured on his previous solo albums, Catch A Fire, Burnin’, Natty Dread, Exodus, Kaya, Uprising and Confrontation; celebrated in their own right as defining records. Legend has simply been the benchmark for reggae albums. It appeared in the top 50 of Rolling Stones’ ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. A collective appreciation for such an album can be seen from fans and artists alike. It even featured in Will Smith’s I Am Legend (2007), referring to it as the ‘best album ever made’.

To allude to Legend or any album of that matter; Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Nirvana’s Nevermind or The Beatles’ Abbey Road as one of, if not the greatest album ever made needs to have an explanation that reaches far beyond the music itself. I use the example of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Legend because of its continued influence and legacy that Bob Marley has left behind through his music. What makes this a timeless album is the underlying message Bob Marley projected through his music. When an album’s success is overshadowed by its significance, then you have a great album on your hands. Success is the result of the philosophy and hard work that goes behind the creation of such an album.

One of the reasons for why Legend can be spoken so highly of is how the power of its music extends beyond the Reggae genre. Its reputation as a groundbreaking album for Reggae music becomes a timeless album in music as a whole. When music is so inspiring and influential, as are the songs in Legend, the question of genre no longer becomes a talking point. The albums critical acclaim and worldwide appreciation exemplifies how music is universal, regardless of its origins. A pioneering and timeless album demonstrates how far powerful music can reach; how it shapes the future of artists and music. A great album goes far beyond the realms of music.

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