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Concept Album
Times were when the term "concept album" meant having to phone in sick to wade through some four hour long metaphysical prospectus on flying Nepalese goatherds performed by men in long capes.
Kevin Maidment, reviewing Saint Etienne's Tales From Turnpike House on Amazon.co.uk

Some albums are just a random assortment of songs that are only linked by being recorded/written at around the same time. Other albums are arranged so that the songs flow together without sudden Mood Whiplash between tracks. Then we have the Concept Album, which goes even further than that. Similar to Rock Operas, concept albums are albums unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative or lyrical. Most often, they are meticulously planned, with all songs contributing to a single overall theme or unified story; this plan or story is the concept. Given that the suggestion of something as vague as an overall mood often tags a work as being a concept album, the precise definition of the term is up for debate.

In the world of musical theatre, there is a separate and distinct form of concept album known as the album musical, in which the performers are playing characters in a story, a type of recording which encompasses such rock operas as Tommy and Quadrophenia by The Who and The Wall by Pink Floyd.

Examples

  • Perhaps this is Older Than Radio and only needed recording technology to catch up with what was already there. An example from the 1880's is Hector Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique, which the composer quite explicitly wrote to chronicle the descent of one man (possibly an Author Avatar) into depression and suicidal despair for unrequited love of a woman. The first movement (track?) is a calm peaceful pastoral scene; the second a nightmarish stately ball where he glimpses the woman and falls in love as the waltz theme swirls out of control; the third a lonely melancholy walk; the fourth a "trial" of his sanity and his passage to the guillotine, having been found guilty; the fifth a macabre Dance of The Dead and Black Mass.
  • One of the earliest examples is Frank Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours from 1955. The songs, all ballads, were specifically recorded for the album, and organized around a central mood of late-night isolation and aching lost love, with the album cover strikingly reinforcing that theme. Since concept albums are most often associated with various rock genres (if asked, many will name The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as the first of the kind, which is all kinds of wrong), people tend to ignore In the Wee Small Hours, making this trope Older Than They Think.
    • Songwriter/arranger/producer Gordon Jenkins (who often worked with Sinatra) recorded several "suites" (Manhattan Tower, California, Seven Dreams) in the 1940s and 1950s that mixed songs, instrumental passages and narration, which can be seen as early concept albums. Seven Dreams is best known now because Johnny Cash used one of its songs as the basis for "Folsom Prison Blues".
  • Marilyn Manson has three, which together, form a triptych, a three-part story with three separate main characters. The triptych was released in the order of Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death). Antichrist Superstar is about a revolutionary figure named The Worm, who fights the establishment of his society, rising up from nothingness into a hero, before becoming sickened by the very people he is fighting for and their adoring and sycophantic nature, and turning on them, becoming the titular Antichrist Superstar and destroying all of reality. Mechanical Animals is about an androgynous space alien turned rock star named Omega (pronounced O-ME-ga, who was forced to become a rock star with a special-made band, The Mechanical Animals, whose entire purpose is to preach hollow anthems. Omega becomes drug addicted and dead to the world, before being mentally enlightened by his own foil Alpha, who is only beginning to feel emotions. Alpha and Omega observe humanity, and view them as mechanical animals, feeling little emotions. Both of them are in love with Coma White, a woman who they are not 100% certain is even real. Omega comes to term with his emotions. The protagonist of Holy Wood is Adam Kadmon, who lives in the city of Holy Wood. Holy Wood is a parable of America, with Jtheir creed of "Guns, God and Government", their worship of dead celebrities (called Celebritarianism) and their elevation of John F. Kennedy as a modern day Jesus. Adam attempts to lead a revolution though music, but is taken into the fold and becomes another part of the machine. He falls in love with a woman called Coma Black, who may or may not be Coma White as well (more on that in a bit), and possibly impregnates her (that too) before killing himself. Finally, there is the interconnection. One of the common theories goes like this. First, Coma White and Coma Black are the same woman. After the death of Adam Kadmon, she became addicted to drugs, and also had a son. This son is The Worm. Omega and Alpha both end up falling in love with Coma, but she ends up dying of a drug overdose (in the song Coma White). Omega falls into depression, becoming part of the society of Holy Wood, just like Adam Kadmon before him. The Worm grows up idolizing Omega, but ends up discovering what he has become. Killing Omega and becoming the third revolutionary to try to use music to bring about a change, The Worm becomes a hero to the masses, but their blind idolization sickens him. Turing on them, he becomes the Antichrist Superstar, bringing about the Apocalypse, taking everyone and everything with him.
  • The Sword's "Warp Riders" is a tribute to the sci-fi novels of the 1940-70's. The lyrics tell the story of an archer banished from his tribe, a princess in a deep sleep on a distant planet, and a group of space pirates called the Warp Riders. The singer and lead guitarist, who came up with the story, said it was just to give people something cool to think about while they listened to the album. A sort of "epilogue" song called Farstar was released as the B-side to the last track on the record, sending the Warp Riders off to a distant part of the galaxy with echo-y vocals and organs (As opposed to the hard rock/heavy metal sound of the rest of the album).
  • Say Anything's ...Is A Real Boy was originally intended to be a rock opera, complete with spoken-word interludes between the songs explaining the story's progression. This knowledge of the album's backstory makes songs like "I Want to Know Your Plans" all the more dimensional and profound. Tragically, the speaking parts were cut from the final album though the story remains the same and is briefly explained in the liner notes of the ablum:
    "The plot revolved around a moderately successful "indie/punk" rock band called Say Anything, fronted by 21-year-old Max Bemis, an idealistic, introverted singer/songwriter crippled by depression and anxiety and alienated by what he sees as a vast hypocrisy inherent in society. One night, a supernatural power "curses" Max with a mysterious affliction. The "curse" causes his innermost fears, fantasies, and thoughts to burst forth from his mouth at any given time in the form of fully arranged rock anthems. Max simply cannot control it: any time he feels a strong emotion, everything around him becomes a bizarre musical. Though Max's new powers at first seem only to frighten people, they soon cause the opposite effect as Say Anything becomes an accidental phenomenon. The blatant honesty of the lyrics as well as the freak-show appeal of a man physically unable to censor himself strike a powerful chord amongst the underground culture that one dismissed Max's music as "unsubstantial". Now, worshipped by rock-and-roll America as a Christ-like figure, Bemis sets out to use his powers to vanquish all hypocrisy. The proposed rock opera planned to chronicle Bemis' rise to power as well as his undoing by the fundamental flaw in the logic of every self-involved, impassioned rock singer. Whether capitalist America is "the enemy" or not, there is greed, duplicity and hatred in every human being, especially in the greatest hypocrites of all: the "entertainers" among us, whose need for attention fosters a sick dream that they alone hold the key to mankind's salvation. In the end, Max is left to fight "the man" with the corniest song he's ever written and the knowledge that accepting love and salvation lies within admitting he is nothing more or less than a human being."
  • Cursive does this a lot. 2000's Domestica was about the relationship between two characters named Sweetie and Pretty Baby. The album relates (almost directly) to events from lead singer Tim Kasher's divorce (though some concepts, like cheating, were added). The album ends rather ambiguously. However, according to Tim Kasher the couple in the story end up staying together, despite all their differences and the fighting. 2003's The Ugly Organ tells the story of the lust, love, and empty sex throughout the "Ugly Organist's" life. 2006's Happy Hollow revolves around the titular small, upper class, God-fearing town, with each track telling a different story of faults that those living in Happy Hollow portray that seem at odds with the town's "perfect" image. The final track, "Hymns for the Heathen", is an afterword of the album. 2009's Mama, I'm Swollen depicts a middle-aged man full of failure and facing a hell of personal demons.
  • Another example dating back to the 1950s was archy and mehitabel, based on the poems by Don Marquis. It became the Broadway musical Shinbone Alley (co-written by Mel Brooks) in 1957, which was made into an animated movie in 1971. (The Concept Album and movie both featured the voices of Carol Channing and Eddie Bracken; the Broadway production had Bracken in the cast but replaced Channing with Eartha Kitt.)
  • In 1959, Marty Robbins recorded a series of time-period specific country and western songs in his concept album "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs"
  • The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and SMiLE, arguably. The first one is a cycle of songs relating to romantic relationships which can be seen to tell a story of infatuation leading to disillusionment (although Wilson denies there was a consciously intended storyline behind the songs, many critics and listeners have interpreted one as existing anyway), while the second one is apparently a psychedelic journey through American history and across the continent. Smile's Word Salad Lyrics don't really help much with discerning what the concept is beyond that, though.
    • Little Deuce Coupe is considered an early example of a concept album, as all the songs are about cars (save one which merely mentions cars).
  • Frank Zappa made a number of these over his career, starting with Freak Out! in 1966 and ending with Civilization Phaze III just before his death in 1993. Concept albums made in between included Absolutely Free, You Are What You Is, Joe's Garage, Broadway the Hard Way, We're Only In It For The Money, and Lumpy Gravy, and that's probably not even a complete list.
    • Furthermore, there is a lot of conceptual continuity between songs and albums; sometimes a Brick Joke spans several albums; almost all of Zappa's albums are part of the same universe.
  • The most famous example is The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in June 1967, with the envisioned concept of a live performance by the fictional band, because the Beatles themselves no longer wanted to do live performances. Ironically, the end result is hardly a concept album; the concept of Sgt. Pepper's band is used only for the first two tracks and the reprise of the title track. (John Lennon admitted this in a 1980 interview.) It's more known for inspiring the concept of a concept album, even if the idea didn't quite survive in the final product.
    • Some theorise that Abbey Road is secretly a concept album. There isn't one big idea joining all the songs, but there are a lot of small lyrical and musical cross-references between them - a specific example is repeated references to royalty (Her Majesty, Mean Mr Mustard, Sun King) and the medley on side two.
  • The Who's The Who Sell Out, released the same year, is made to sound like a British pop pirate radio station of the time - complete with faux-ads for Heinz baked beans, the Charles Atlas course, and a London car dealership.
  • Machina/The Machines of God, by The Smashing Pumpkins. Noted for its storyline being told through many outlets: the album, its only-released-via-the-internet sequel, its artwork, the band's Web site and cryptic flyers handed out at concerts.
    • Similarly, their album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a loose concept album about the cycle of life and death.
  • Dream Theater's Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory follows the story of Nicholas and the discovery of his past life, which involves love, murder, and infidelity as Victoria Page.
    • Interesting note: The "part one" in Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper was tacked on as a joke. Part two was originally a twenty-minute song which would later be developed further into "Metropolis Pt. 2".
    • Octavarium also sort of counts, as it revolves around musical concepts: The first track is called "The Root Of all Evil, each track is in a progressively higher key, with the 8th track, called Octav[e]arium, is the same key as the first but an octave higher, there are interludes where the flats and sharps would be, etc. In addition, the artwork of the album also revolves around these types of numerical themes. Read more about it here.
  • OK Computer by Radiohead has been referred to as a concept album by their fans, despite Radiohead themselves saying this wasn't what they were trying to do. Of course, In Rainbows was explicitly stated by Thom Yorke to be an extension of OK Computer, drawing attention to shared themes and sonic patterns between the two albums...
  • Same thing goes for Metallica's Master Of Puppets. Every song on the album is focused on the theme of "control" whether it's controlling someone else or being controlled by someone or something.
    • Ride The Lightning is similarly focused around the theme of "death", although that just might be because Metallica likes death.
    • And Justice For All is similarly themed around miscarriages of justice.
  • Blue Oyster Cult's Imaginos.
    • And nearly any BOC song co-written by Sandy Pearlman; even their name is drawn from Pearlman's poetry.
  • Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings.
    • Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, also by McCartney. Notable because this album was immediately recognized as a concept album, but it took over a year for Paul's fans to learn what the concept actually was.
  • How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2.
  • Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet featured songs all in unusual time signatures. The first song, "Blue Rondo ala Turk" is in 9/8, played as "1-2-1-2-1-2 1-2-3". The third song, saxophonist Paul Desmond's famous "Take Five," is in 5/4. "Kathy's Waltz" is in 3/4, but the drums and the piano solo are in 4/4. And so on.
    • Brubeck and Desmond continued writing stuff in this vein for a while, enough to make up two sequel albums, Time Further Out and Time in Outer Space, one of which features a composition by Desmond called "Eleven Four."
  • King Geedorah's Take Me to Your Leader. Rapper Daniel Dumile (MF DOOM) takes on the persona of space monster King Geedorah, and the album is told through his alien perspective on humans... who he ultimately wishes to enslave.
    • In fact, most of Dumile's work qualifies. His first album, Operation: DOOMSDAY, chronicled the story of DOOM, a young college student turned Diabolical Mastermind after a scientific accident scarred his face (if that reminds you of anything, it's supposed to). His next venture focused on Viktor Vaughn, a typical otaku b-boy from Latveria with a knack for technology and an ego the size of Michigan who is flung back in time to 1993 by one of his experiments. In Madvillainy, DOOM reluctantly finds himself in a Villain Team-Up with miniature supergenius Madlib, while Viktor Vaughn swears revenge after DOOM steals his girl. DOOM's crime spree continues in The Mouse and the Mask, where he and his new partner, the deadly Danger Mouse, are sought by a Legion of Doom.
    • Judging from the fact that he adopts different personas for different albums, usually performs wearing a mask (or in shadow, with sunglasses, as Viktor Vaughn), and the fact that all of his characters have their own speech styles, mannerisms, and storylines, it's safe to say Daniel Dumile has a concept career. There's even a rivalry between two of his identities.
  • A lot of Rush's records are in fact Concept Albums. Their titles (examples: Counterparts, Moving Pictures, Grace Under Pressure, Hold Your Fire, Hemispheres and Permanent Waves) are usually puns relating to the theme of the album; most of Roll the Bones is about chance and fate, whereas the Signals album focuses on the hangups of human communication, and Power Windows is dedicated to discussions of money, charisma and nuclear war.
  • Blows Against The Empire, the first solo album by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane was the first album released under the name "Jefferson Starship" (though the band itself wouldn't be formed for another four years), is about hippies going into space in search of freedom.
  • Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here was a musical ode to the group's ex-frontman Syd Barrett, who suffered Creator Breakdown in a big way after the band released its first album (though a few songs are about corruption in the music business instead). A few of Floyd's other albums also fit the category:
    • The Dark Side of the Moon explores the external forces that drive a person, and in which could lead them to madness or obsession if they are not careful.
    • The Wall follows the main character's Sanity Slippage and descent into drug abuse.
    • The Final Cut involves the strict schoolmaster from The Wall being haunted by his time fighting in World War II and his futile attempts to relate his traumas to his loved ones or warn his pupils of the madness of war, whie he watches the Falkland Islands War unfold. It also serves as an indictment of Margaret Thatcher and sums up Waters' feelings that she betrayed the "post war dream" of peace and goodwill soldiers like Waters' late father died to protect.
    • The Division Bell is an exploration of breakdowns in communcation.
    • Animals is a critique of capitalism, taking some (very loose) inspiration from Animal Farm.
  • Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters went on to make more concept albums in his solo career:
    • The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking is a recounting of a man's dreams through one night, where in he questions his life, marriage, and future - through the metaphorical journey of a hitchhiker.
    • Radio KAOS is about a vegetative boy, Billy, who can hear radio waves and discovers his power to transmit them after his wrongfully incarcerated brother hides a stolen cell phone under the cushion of Billy's wheelchair. He then attempts to simulate World War III to scare the world's population into caring more about each other.
    • Amused to Death is about aliens visiting earth after the end of humanity and trying to work out what killed our species.
  • Pete Townshend's White City (featuring Floyd guitarist David Gilmour) explores working-class despair in the titular London borough and the emotional connection one feels to the place where they grew up, no matter how happy they were to leave it.
  • Mary And The Black Lamb's "As the City Sleeps"
  • Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick is sort of a parody of the concept album; the album, a single 42-minute suite with only one track division (where one would have had to switch sides on the original vinyl release), is presented as being an epic poem written by a preteen boy from a country town, expressing his Wangst about growing up British in The Seventies. It was written because too many people kept calling the previous album, Aqualung, a concept album, so Ian Anderson wrote the completely over the top Thick as a Brick to show them what a concept album actually was.
    • The aforementioned Aqualung could be seen as two concept albums in one. The first LP side is a series of character sketches, and the songs on the second side have a pro-God, anti-Church message.
    • A Passion Play is another Jethro Tull concept album, involving the afterlife and morality. A man dies (or at least has a near death experience), is judged worthy of being sent to Heaven, finds it mundane and too goody-goody to his liking, requests to go to Hell instead, but finds Hell equally mundane and too terrifyingly evil for his tastes. He opts to Take a Third Option on Earth, feeling "neither am I good nor bad".
    • As is the sadly underappreciated Songs From the Wood, a celebration of Celtic neopaganism and British folklore.
    • Many of Jethro Tull's albums have "themes", for example Heavy Horses could be seen as some sort of sequel to Songs From The Wood, this time centered more on modern British countryside living. Some are thematic not in the things they describe, but in the idiom in which they are described; examples, Broadsword and the Beast (using fantasy fiction as metaphor) or Under Wraps (spy thrillers as metaphors for interpersonal relationships). That said, Too Old To Rock'n'Roll: Too Young To Die! is conceptual, based on an aborted TV special, the concept being about an old rock star who is unable to adapt to modern trends.
    • Anderson later made a sequel to Thick as a Brick which he released under his own name. It was, naturally, entitled Thick as a Brick 2. The lyrics focus on five potential scenarios which could have befallen the "author" of Thick as a Brick, Gerald Bostock; the end of the album appears to show all five possibilities, according to Wikipedia, "converg[ing] in a similar concluding moment of gloomy or pitiful solitude".
    • Homo Erraticus is supposedly written by Gerald Bostock, adapted from a manuscript he discovered. The manuscript was written in the early 20th century by Ernest T. Parritt, who, due to malarial fever, had delusions of past lives in history, as well as dark prophecies of the future.
  • Garth Brooks recorded an album in the persona of a fictional singer named Chris Gaines. A mock Greatest Hits Album (yes, it really was called Greatest Hits), it was intended as a "pre-soundtrack" for a movie that ended up never being filmed.
  • Lou Reed and John Cale did Songs For Drella together, a concept album that is essentially a biography of Andy Warhol. It's pretty accurate too.
    • Reed also did Berlin, a concept album taking place in Berlin.
  • Queensrÿche's Operation Mindcrime tells the story of a somewhat-ethical mercenary who gets brainwashed by a charismatic terrorist leader into becoming an assassin.
    • This release is notable for being the first progressive metal album to meet mainstream success and for renewing the idea of the concept album in metal.
  • Electric Light Orchestra is notable for two concept albums in particular:
    • Eldorado, in which a man travels to the titular city in a dream.
    • Time, in which a man is involuntarily brought to the future by time-travelers and shown "the wonders of [their] world."
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer produced at least two and arguably more (Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery). Both are to do with war.
  • Blind Guardian has one based on The Silmarillion, titled Nightfall in Middle-Earth. It starts with the War of Wrath and then goes back to the Darkening of Valinor through the Nírnaeth Arnoediad.
  • Iced Earth has several; Night of The Stormrider which tells the story of a man who is betrayed by his religion and becomes, essentially, the anti-christ, The Dark Saga about the Spawn comics (with cover art from Todd McFarlane), Horror Show about the monsters and characters from various classic horror movies, The Glorious Burden about various historical wars and battles (with a second CD of three songs an extremely long song in three parts about the Battle of Gettysburg), and Framing Armegeddon (Something Wicked Pt. 1) which tells the story of a world conquered by evil invaders and their 10,000 year hidden struggle against them. The Crucible of Man (Something Wicked Pt. 2) is scheduled for release in September of 2008.
  • Savatage's Dead Winter Dead tells the story of two young fighters in the Bosnian War, a Muslim girl and a Serb boy, who join their sides armies to fight for their homes, but eventually meet and run off together, realizing that the neither of them really want to fight. They also have The Wake of Magellan, a tale about an old sailor who attempts to kill himself by sailing out to sea and not returning. Before he dies, he gets caught in a storm and finds a young sailor who was drowning. After rescuing him, he can no longer bring himself to commit suicide and returns to shore with the young sailor. Streets - A Rock Opera tells of the rise and fall of rock-star "DT Jesus".
    • Dead Winter Dead is doubly remarkable as it takes place during Christmastime, and climaxes with a medley of traditional christmas music performed in an energetic power-metal style. The song was ''Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24", which gave the band a mainstream hit and inspired the members to form the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (See below) which has produced a few concept albums of its own.
  • Green Day's American Idiot. Its lyrics feature several characters' names (or at least titles) that are sprinkled throughout the album, and the entire album has a distinct narrative quality. It can be hard to tell under the layers upon layers of Author Tract.
  • The Fear Factory album Obsolete is a concept album with a story that is like a cyberpunk version of 1984. The liner notes even fill in the gaps between the songs, tying them even closer together.
    • Slightly lesser-known is the prior album Demanufacture, about a man who hates the government machine and wishes to destroy it.
    • And the subsequent Digimortal album, which is about a society which creates clones of people, and transfers their soul and memories into them to prolong life. Including at least one song from one of the clones in question.
    • Other than the very earliest of their work, just about everything that Fear Factory have ever written is thematically close enough that you might even call it a concept career. While (to this tropers knowledge) 2010's Mechanize doesn't have a specific plot you can hear the oppressive government lying to the regular people, a violent uprising against them, and the final collapse of the revolt and most of the track would fit into the concept albums easily.
  • Rock Plaza Central's 2006 Are We Not Horses? is a song cycle about a race of six-legged mechanical horses being used as cannon fodder in the final battle between Heaven and Hell (and is a direct sequel to their earlier The World Was Hell For Us).
  • On The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits sings the otherwise unrelated stories of several people all passing through the same small California town in the middle of the aforementioned night. The cover art is something of a Shout-Out to Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours.
  • All of Ayreon's albums are concept albums with several different singers, and they all tell different parts of the same weird sci-fi/fantasy story.
  • Alice Cooper has released several concept albums: Welcome To My Nightmare (About the nightmares of a disturbed man named Steven), Goes To Hell (Alice is sent to hell and tries to convince the Devil he doesn't belong there) From The Inside (About Cooper's time spent in a mental institution trying to cure his alcoholism), the Brutal Planet/Dragontown/Eyes Of Alice Cooper trilogy (About life in a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World), and his most recent release Along Came A Spider (About a serial killer who attempts to construct a spider out of the body parts of his victims).
    • School's Out (Mostly songs about the teen experience) and to a lesser extent Flush The Fashion (Many songs appear to be commentaries on life in America circa 1980) and Special Forces (Several songs about war and its after-effects) also focus on a common theme, but likely are not considered "true" concept albums.
    • The Last Temptation is about a bored young man who visits a circus sideshow run by the devil and ultimately faces off with him. Neil Gaiman wrote the graphic novel adaptation.
  • The Styx album Paradise Theater. Referencing a famous playhouse from Chicago notable for its grand architecture and sumptuous productions (the former making it a likely candidate for preservation as a historical landmark if it hadn't sadly predated that relatively modern phenomenon), the album uses the gradual fall into disrepair and eventual destruction of the theatre as a metaphor for urban flight, loss of culture, and societal decay.
    • Kilroy Was Here chronicles a future dystopia in which the Moral Music Majority bans all rock music. Kilroy, an outlaw musician, breaks out of jail disguised as a servant robot (featured in the single 'Mr Roboto). The title is taken from World War II graffiti.
  • About half of The Mountain Goats' albums are concepts. Sweden and Tallahassee are both stories about fictional couples, All Hail West Texas is "Fourteen songs about seven people, two houses, a motorcycle, and a locked treatment facility for adolescent boys", We Shall All Be Healed is about the songwriter's years as a teenage meth addict, The Sunset Tree is about his physically abusive step-father, Get Lonely is about, well, loneliness, and The Life of the World to Come is "twelve hard lessons the Bible taught me".
  • Just about every other Opeth album is a concept album. My Arms, Your Hearse tells the story of a man who dies and follows his lover around as a suspicious ghost. Still Life tells the story of an atheist in medieval Europe who is banished from his home and returns years later to reclaim his lover, now a nun, only to see her killed and fly into an Unstoppable Rage; he is afterward promptly executed. Ghost Reveries portrays a man wandering about destitute and evading the law after murdering his own mother for Satan.
  • The Mars Volta's album De-Loused in the Comatorium follows a young man overdosing on morphine and rat poison, enduring a week-long coma in which he sees vivid visions of mankind and his own psyche, and finally, committing suicide. The story itself is a bit of Truth in Television, as it's based on the life and death of Julio Venegas, a close friend of Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Their second album, Francis the Mute, is also a concept album.
    • And of course, there's The Bedlam in Goliath, about the band's experiences with a ouija board.
    • The band's latest (possibly last, as the band is on indefinite hiatus) album Noctourniquet is also a concept album.
  • Ein kleines bisschen Horrorshow (A little bit horrorshow) by german band Die Toten Hosen follows the plot of A Clockwork Orange.
    • While we're on the topic of German punk rock bands, Die Ärzte released a concept album called Le Frisur, which revolves around... hair. It features songs like "Mein Baby War Beim Frisör" ("My Baby Went To The Barber"), where they sing about how their girlfriend's new hairdo is so horrible they have to end the relationship, or "Medusa-Man (Serienmörder Ralf)" ("Medusa-Man (Serial Killer Ralf)"), which is about a serial killer inspired by the mythical medusa who kills people using his hair.
  • A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets follows an individual who manages to misplace in the first song. Over the album he meets a girl, has encounters with gambling and taking drugs, argues with the girl, goes on holiday, finds out the girl is cheating on him and loses the girl before the album offers two possible endings where 1. the protagonist angrily shuns his friends and gets into a fight with a TV repairman, winding up angry and miserable or 2. reconciles with a friend, finds the money he lost and meets another girl with the suggestions of a future relationship, but acknowledging that you cant wholly rely on others in tough times when they have their own problems to deal with.
  • Not only is every Coheed and Cambria album a concept album, but every album ties in to a single story, called the Amory Wars, which the lead singer has adapted into a comic book series.
  • Eagles' Desperado, with an Old West theme.
    • Hotel California is not only a concept album, it's an indictment of an industry and a lifestyle.
  • Nine Inch Nails have The Fragile, which is all about desolation and has been described by Trent Reznor as bleaker than The Downward Spiral. The Downward Spiral was about a Nietzsche Wannabe realizing that by becoming one, he has (ironically) made his life pointless and kills himself. Ouch. They also have Year Zero, which was about a future American dystopia, accompanied by an extensive ARG.
    • Broken, whilst an EP rather than an album, is also a concept piece, specifically about Trent's experiences working with TVT Records. Yep; "Happiness In Slavery" is not about sadomasochism, despite the rather prominent usage of sadomasochistic imagery.
    • Also, Ghosts. It's over two hours of purely instrumental music, using all sorts of odd sounds and beats.
  • David Bowie had a lot of these in The Seventies. Young Americans (1975) might or might not be one of the exceptions, but makes up for it by being a truly epic New Sound Album featuring some of the best blue-eyed Soul ever made. (He also would write a Rock Opera with 1. Outside in 1995.)
    • The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972) — The tragic saga of a messianic rock star.
    • Aladdin Sane (1973) — The mental and emotional decline of a Ziggy Expy as he travels across America.
    • Diamond Dogs (1974) — Bowie wanted to mount a musical adaptation of 1984, but he couldn't get the rights from Orwell's widow. Several of the songs he wrote for that project were incorporated with other songs to tell a tale of The Apunkalypse; the subsequent tour initially featured a huge "Hunger City" set to further carry out the theme.
    • Station to Station (1976) — The world of The Thin White Duke, a cocaine-addled European aristocrat who has a taste for fascism.
    • Low (1977) — Bowie's depression and recovery from the "Thin White Duke" period during his return to Europe (his previous two albums were recorded in the US: Young Americans in Philadelphia and New York, Station to Station in Los Angeles). It particularly reflects his withdrawal from cocaine and his attempt to become David Bowie again after five years of being somebody else.
  • Rick Wakeman's The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and possibly Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
  • Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
    • Also, A Matter of Life and Death is mostly about war and death (but the band denied on being a full-fledged Concept Album).
  • Kamelot's Epica and The Black Halo are concept albums based on Goethe's Faust (the story that developed the modern interpretation of the deal with the devil).
    • Their newest album is also a concept album called Silverthorn, based on a story about a little girl who dies at the hands of her twin brothers.
  • All of Classical-Christmas/Rock fusion group Trans-Siberian Orchestra's albums are concept albums, as they all have a story built into them. the narrations can be found in the liner notes for each album. this makes their concerts VERY entertaining, as they go through the story, complete with narration, accompanied by some of the best light shows known to mankind.
  • Dirt by Alice in Chains is absolutely a concept album.
    • And that concept is consuming heroin. Not that its actually THAT obvious at least not in the more popular tracks (Dem Bones, Damn That River, Rooster). A good half of the album has at least some references to dying or wanting to die, being sick and generally being disconnected from the world. And then we have a bunch of songs that are just point blank about heroin, which tells you exactly what kinda sickness they are talking about. Most notably Godsmack (And god's name is smack to some) and Junkhead are just point blank about shooting up. It's cheery stuff.
      • Given that Layne Stayley did actually die from heroin use, its possible that connections are made nowadays that weren't on Dirt's first release, at least not by fans, and certainly a lot of the reviews stating about it being about heroin were written post-Stayley's death which does somewhat cloud perception. Now that doesn't mean that there's a lot of thematic unity in terms of being a ground down and hopeless, and its generally accepted to be a concept album, but its hard to say if it's intended to be exclusively about heroin or addiction in general, or if addiction is just one facet of self-disgust.
  • The My Chemical Romance album The Black Parade is about a cancer patient who may or may not die at the end.
    • Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge may also qualify.
    • I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is the twisty but understandable story of two lovers during a vampire invasion/attack.
    • Now we have Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
  • Many of the albums from the intergalactic metal band GWAR are concept albums. almost ever album has an accompanying DVD, which is either a concert, or a movie that more details the album's plot.
  • Virgin Steele's "The House of Atreus: Act I" and "The House of Atreus: Act II" retell the story of the Oresteia.
    • visions of eden is a retelling of the legend of lilith from her perspective.
  • The first few The Moody Blues albums were all concept albums.
    • Days of Future Passed describes the passage of an average day, with each song representing a different time of day.
    • In Search of the Lost Chord chronicles a search for mystical enlightenment.
    • On The Threshold of a Dream explores the barriers between dreams and reality that exist within the human psyche.
    • To Our Children's Children's Children is about space travel; more directly, it attempts to chronicle the thoughts and feelings that would pass through the head of a typical space traveller.
  • Most of Kool Keith's discography.
  • The Insane Clown Posse have spent the better part of their career doing a concept album cycle - the Dark Carnival. The concept was that the six Joker's Cards were harbingers of The End of the World as We Know It, to be revealed one by one. The last two albums, The Wraith and Hell's Pit, were based around Heaven and Hell respectively. They returned to this concept in 2009, with Bang! Pow! Boom!, about a continuous explosion which cleanses evil souls from the carnival grounds, and the first of a series of new Joker's Cards.
  • Lupe Fiasco's The Cool is a concept album, with all (or at least most) of the songs having the unified theme of, well, "Cool." Though he has a couple songs on there such as Gold Watch that show it in a positive light, for the most part, the album portrays it negatively, even comparing it to a disease in Streets On Fire.
    • In addition, some of the songs advance the storyline of "Michael Young History," who was the boy from He Say, She Say on his previous album, and later died and resurrected as "The Cool." The songs dealing with him show his rise and fall as a hustler, ending in betrayal and death.
  • Donald Fagen's 1982 concept album The Nightfly is a look back at the world of the 50s and early 60s in which he grew up. This was later followed by Kamakiriad, a middle-aged man's odyssey by car, and Morph the Cat, focused on mortality with a side of dystopia — ending up as a concept trilogy spanning adolescence to old age.
  • Mastodon's Leviathan makes Moby-Dick into pure win. And Crack The Skye tells the story of a paraplegic boy who uses astral projection and accidentally finds himself in the body of Rasputin, who then gets murdered, so Rasputin's spirit has to help the boy protect his soul from the devil and return to his body. Though unlike with Leviathan, none of this is anything you'd necessarily pick up on without reading band inteviews.
    • And Blood Mountain, which is about climbing a mountain, and shit going crazy. If you think about it, every Mastodon album has been more insane than the last. Their debut, Remission isn't even a concept album.
  • Most albums by Tool tend to fall under this classification. The themes presented in the albums are also further represented with visual motifs in the music videos and album art. Whether they clarify or confuse those themes depends on the listener and the listener's level of sobriety at the time though.
  • Richard Thompson's "1000" years of popular music is an unusual take on the concept album, as he didn't write any of the songs. Instead, it's a history of popular music starting in the 11th century and ending with Britney Spears.
  • The Tubes album Remote Control is about a TV-obsessed man who wants to know what the real world is like, but finds that life is harder than what television makes it out to be. The last songs of the album describe the man attempting to hook up with a woman he's fallen in love with, getting rejected, and then committing suicide because he can't handle the emotional stress.
  • The Hazards Of Love by The Decemberists is about the romance between a young woman named Margaret and a forest-dwelling shapeshifter named William, threatened by William's adopted mother, the queen of the forest, and a murderous scoundrel called the Rake.
    • Also "The Crane Wife," in a looser sense, as an interpretation of the Japanese folk tale. This only involves the title tracks, as the rest are disconnected, self-contained narratives.
    • The 18-minute, five-part EP "The Tain," their take on the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, also qualifies.
  • Ray Davies of The Kinks was excessively fond of concept albums; practically everything recorded by the band between 1967 and 1976 was a concept album. Initially, this was an asset; the first few albums of this period were some of the most acclaimed music of the band's career (Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, Muswell Hillbillies, Everybody's in Showbiz). However, in the mid 1970s, they came to be seen as overindulgent excess on the part of Davies, transforming from coherent collections of songs connected by a loose theme into full-blown musical theater type productions with stories and characters that were difficult to appreciate out of context. The massive Preservation project encompassed three LPs (Act 1, released as a single album, and Act 2, released as a double album); it was not well-received by critics and sold poorly. Follow-up albums A Soap Opera and Schoolboys in Disgrace met with a similar reception. By the time the band changed labels from RCA to Arista in 1977, one condition of their new contract was that no more concept albums would be produced.
  • The Thrice album "The Alchemy Index" was released in 2 parts of 2 volumes, and relates the 4 elements to music. Fire is the heavy album, water has a more electronic sound, air is light and the songs flow seamlessly, and earth is accoustic and bluesy
  • Defeater's debut album, "Travels", tells the story of an unwanted child trying to make his way in the world.
    • They've since taken this farther. Their follow-up EP "Lost Ground" tells the story of the homeless man that is met midway through "Travels" (an African American WWII vet) and their latest CD "Empty Days&/ Sleepless Nights" is the story of "Travels" from the older brother's point of view.
  • Sting's "Soul Cages" broadly tells a complete story, and several of the songs feature lyrics referring back to one another.
  • Tori Amos has created several concept albums, including Scarlet's Walk (the tale of a woman's trek across the country) and Strange Little Girls (a collection of covers of songs originally performed by men, redone from a woman's perspective).
  • Devo as a band are a concept in itself. Almost every piece of media that they produce - music, live shows, video, stage characters, merchandise, video game (Adventures of the Smart Patrol), book (My Struggle), and even various commercial spots - have some sort of social commentary or subversion to their unifying concept of "de-evolution".
  • Mayday Parade's A Lesson In Romantics, arguably.
  • Abney Park's Lost Horizons follow the crew of the HMS Ophelia (an airship) as they travel around the world during a Victorian era that never was - mad scientists, exploring mysterious lands, airship pirates, strange science, and the joy and heartbreak of travelling abound. Later albums expand the concept further, most darkly End Of Days.
  • Showbread's "Anorexia" and "Nervosa" are about a pair of identical twin sisters who take very different paths in life. Anorexia works with the sick and eventually founds a hospital. Nervosa goes to work at a slaughter house and becomes a stripper. Both come to the same end.
  • Porcupine Tree's Deadwing is apparently a concept album, but what that concept actually is is something Steven Wilson is keeping to himself for now. He's apparently working on a film for it.
    • In Absentia is more definitely a concept album, about serial killers.
    • Additionally, "Lightbulb Sun" is a horridly depressing (and presumably autobiographical on Wilson's part) story about relationships dissolving as time passes.
    • Signify, Fear of a Blank Planet, and The Incident also focus on specific themes and stories.
  • The Lyre of Orpheus, by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, is a conceptual retelling of the Orpheus legend, as the name implies.
    • Not Cave's first concept album either. Guess what type of songs comprise the Murder Ballads album, for example.
  • Janelle Monáe's Metropolis is a set of concept EPs that deal with a Robot Girl's tragic love for a human. The first suite, The Chase, was released in 2007, and the next two were covered by her debut album ArchAndroid. A fourth suite is forthcoming.
  • Truth of the World: Welcome to the show by Evermore, is about media, propaganda and advertising, with occasional interludes by a trash-news type show that shares it's name with the album.
  • Razia's Shadow by Forgive Durden (and tons of guest vocalists from other bands) is a full-cast album musical following the allegorical story of a world split between light and darkness through the actions of a rebellious angel, and the forbidden love between a man from the "dark" and a woman from the "light" that is prophesied to reunite the two halves.
  • Armor for Sleep's What To Do When You Are Dead is a concept album that starts with the protagonist committing suicide by driving his car into a lake because he's having some issues with his girlfriend. The subsequent songs follow him as he, now a ghost, hangs around haunting said girlfriend and moping about how much it sucks to be dead before finally accepting his fate.
  • The Power to Believe by King Crimson.
  • Queens of the Stone Age's third album, Songs for the Deaf, is a concept album that shows their breaking into mainstream radio by using interludes before and after most of the songs that sound like the buzz of a station changing, along with a different DJ/radio personality talking before they play the song. One is completely in Spanish, as well.
  • Queen II by Queen, loosely. It has a "white" side consisting of emotional songs, and a "black" side consisting of dark fantasy.
    • Additionally, each side contains a song with a queen of the corresponding colour in the title; and on a more meta level, the first side is primarily written by Brian May (except one song by Roger Taylor) and the second side is entirely written by Freddie Mercury.
  • Music Inspired by The Snow Goose by Camel consists of music inspired by the Paul Gallico novel The Snow Goose.
  • The Love Below by OutKast.
    • Well, The love below was just Andre 3000. Speakerboxxx was Big Boi. They just released both together under the Outkast name.
  • The Mägo de Oz album Finisterra tells the story of a technologically-dependent future dystopia.
    • Gaia also qualifies.
      • All of Mägo de Oz albums with the exception of Belfast and La Bruja qualify
  • The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner by the Ben Folds Five.
  • Duncan Sheik's Whisper House album is based around the concept of ghosts commenting (quite cynically) on the foibles and hardships of the living. It doesn't follow a strict narrative throughout, but a vaguely sketched cast of characters are introduced in the first song and followed up on in the final song.
  • The Alan Parsons Project lived and breathed this trope; nearly all of their albums were concept albums. They explored a wide range of concepts: musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's works (Tales of Mystery and Imagination); the effect of robots and technology on human culture (I Robot); pyramid power & Egyptian mysticism (interest in which was widespread in the US and UK in the 1970s) (Pyramid); relationships between women and men (Eve); gambling and risk-taking (Turn of a Friendly Card), the public perception of industrial & scientific developments (Ammonia Avenue); the worship of money and celebrity (Vulture Culture); the pressures of fame and the ways in which famous people are shaped by them (Stereotomy); and the works of architect Antonio Gaudi (Gaudi).
    • Eye in the Sky was originally not intended to be a concept album, as such. Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, in reaction to criticism that the whole idea of "concept albums" was becoming stale and cliche, began work on the album with the idea that they would simply write a bunch of songs, make an album, and then decide what (if anything) it was about. Despite that, the album ended up being a loose exploration of the influences of religious and political belief systems.
  • Scottish folk/folk-rock singer Al Stewart has dabbled in the concept album, often dealing with historical themes such as European history 1918-1938 (Between the Wars).
  • Warren Zevon did this once with his album Transverse City, describing a consumer-driven hell of a dystopian future.
  • Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger is considered the first country music concept album. Its songs span the life of the eponymous Anti-Hero from fictional Blue Rock, Montana.
  • Avenged Sevenfold's album City of Evil, both by lyrical progression & thematic unity (tracks 1 through 5 are continuous, track six is a COMPLETE change in tone leaning Lighter and Softer, then from track 7 on we go Darker and Edgier until the penultimate track, and the album's final cut is a Crowning Moment Of Awesome).
  • Mansun's Six is their most complicated album, weaving all songs together into what is best compared to a progressive rock opera. (Although no fan of the album would dare call it that).
  • Piano Magic's Artists' rifles is inspired by the First World War in both lyrics and music.
  • The Duckworth Lewis Method by The Duckworth Lewis Method is a concept album about cricket.
  • Semi-fictional example: Dethklok's Dethwater. The entire album was written for sealife, and was recorded in the Marianas Trench. Features such songs as "Go Into the Water" and "Murmaider" ("It's about mermaid murder.")
  • Cradle Of Filth also released several: Cruelty and the Beast revolves around the life of Elizabeth Bathory (subject of legends of vampirism and trying to obtain eternal youth by bathing in blood), Damnation and a Day is ...based on some interpretations of Paradise Lost , magnus opus of John Milton, and Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder centers on the life of Gilles de Rai. One could also fit Midian into this category, as the titular city is mentioned in every song, but the album lacks an overall story on the other hand.
  • The Liberty of Norton Folgate by Madness, based around the area of London where the band grew up.
  • Both "Kezia" and "Fortress" by the band Protest the Hero.
  • The ultimate concept double album just might be The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis. It comprises 23 tracks about a Puerto Rican juvenile's metaphysical journey in which he loses his brother (more probably his soul), is reborn, is castrated and gets his manhood stolen by a huge raven. This is after he meets, makes love to, kills (unwillingly) and eats a bunch of siren-like creatures. I am not making this stuff up. And those are only some of the highlights.
  • After Forever's 2004 album Invisible Circles, about a teenage girl growing up with Abusive Parents.
  • Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, which is thoroughly cohesive and even cyclical but gives each song individual power, part of the reason it's probably the most pop-culturally viable Concept Album in years (the other part being that, rather than an exact story, the album is basically about the highs and lows of life). This coming from Coldplay of all bands blew everyone's mind and won them several Grammys. (Having Brian Eno be the producer for the album probably helped).
    • And they did it again with Mylo Xyloto, which is a romance about the two titular protagonists, a boy and a girl, living and falling in love in a dystopian society.
  • The Hold Steady's 2005 album "Seperation Sunday," revolves around the drug fueled life and travels of lapsed-catholic teenager Hallelujah (Holly) and assorted others (Gideon, Charlemagne, etc.)
    • Most of their albums also feature the same characters and themes, so they can be considered a Concept Band (in the same vein as Craig Finn's previous band, Lifter Puller).
  • Every release from Pain Of Salvation is a concept album. "Entropia" is a story dealing with the personal and religious struggles of a family torn apart by war. "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is about a weapons manufacturer who begins to realize the implications of his job. "The Perfect Element I" is about two disturbed people who find love within each other, and it ends badly. "Remedy Lane" is a story of a childhood romance that is reawakened, but then dismantled because of broken pasts, adultery, and suicide. "Be" describes a situation in which God becomes disappointed (to say the least) with his human creation and decides to "leave them to their own devices". "Scarsick" continues from "The Perfect Element I", except now, the protagonist watches TV and feels bad about stuff.
  • Shadow Gallery has a two-part (three planned) multi-disc epic with "Tyranny" and "Room V". They detail a romance between two revolutionaries working to bring down a fascist government, but it turns out the female has peculiar strand of DNA which is vital to the operations of the system. Naturally, it's a bit of a Cliff Hanger as of now.
  • The oft forgotten S.F. Sorrow by the '60s British group, The Pretty Things. S.F. Sorrow tells the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow, who endures World War I, and then returns to his love, who is killed in a dirigible accident. Sorrow falls into a severe state of depression, and is then taken on a journey by the mythical Baron Saturday. The Baron throws Sorrow into a room of mirrors, where he sees the horrible truths and revelations of his life, ending with Sorrow secluding himself from society and building a mental and emotional wall. And this was ten years before Roger Waters had even thought of The Wall yet. Notable for being considered one of the first Rock Operas. Produced at Abbey Road, during the same time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Peppers and Pink Floyd were recording Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
  • Neal Morse of Prog Rock groups, Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. After converting to Christianity, Morse produced the Christian themed concept album, Snow, with Spock's Beard, after which he focused on a solo career focused on his new found faith, often deviating from his prog rock roots, though he has produced several prog rock Christian concept albums, including ? about the tabernacle and Sola Scriptur about Martin Luther.
  • Less than Jake's Hello Rockview in which all the songs follow a general theme of growing up and leaving home. It helps that the lyrics sheet takes the form of a comic book, showing a man returning to his hometown and realizing that he no longer belongs there.
    • More recently, their album GNV FLA, every song on the album is about life in Gainesville Florida.
  • Embryodead by the German electro-industrial project :wumpscut: is a concept album with a (surprise!) rather morbid concept; that it would be better to have died in the womb than to be born into this cruel, senseless world full of hate.
  • Axis of Evil by Suicide Commando is essentially a condemnation of the Neoconservative foreign policy practices of the George W. Bush administration.
  • Wincing the Night Away by The Shins tells the story of a teenage Nietzsche Wannabe who falls asleep and enters an Alice in Wonderland-like dream world where he falls in love with a girl, to whom he tells his philosophy, ruining her outlook on life. Life Lessons ensue.
  • INRI by Psyclon Nine is all negative commentary on Christianity and the consequences of it.
  • Calling Ov The Dead (misspelling deliberate) by Velvet Acid Christ is about a serial killer brought back to life via nanotech to destroy all forms of order in society.
  • Praise The Fallen, Empires and Futureperfect by VNV Nation are all concept albums. Praise The Fallen is about the battle to direct the course of one's own life, Empires is about how people operate socially by creating metaphorical empires such as in-groups, and Futureperfect is about the death of optimistic/idealistic visions of the future's prospects.
  • Kate Bush's Hounds of Love. Side one is a collection of songs loosely arranged around the nature of love. Side two is more cohesive - a story about a woman lost at sea (and arguably dying) who has a dream flashback to a previous life and a visit from her future self.
  • Neil Young's Trans is arguably a concept album exploring the collision, conflict, and melding of the traditional and the modern, nature and technology, man and machine.
  • Bomb the Music Industry!'s Get Warmer is a punk concept album about moving, being broke, and being unhappy in general. Surprisingly, it's quite happy. It's also free. http://www.quoteunquoterecords.com/qur013.htm
  • Hospice by The Antlers tells the utterly soul crushing tale of the doomed relationship between the narrator, a hospital worker, and the deeply troubled patient for whom he works as a home visitor. Suffice to say, things don't go well. An extraordinarily harrowing album about despair, pain and hopelessness, but through it all, love.
  • Misplaced Childhood, by Marillion, is a semi-autobiographical story about the singer growing up, establishing a career, and struggling to come to terms with losing his first love. The songs reference each other in their lyrics and musical motifs, and contain several Shout Outs to other artists who influenced the band.
    • Brave is a story about a girl who was found on a bridge but wouldn't say anything to anyone. It's basically a Tear Jerker album.
  • Project 86's Truthless Heroes.
  • Scatman John's debut album, Scatman's World is a concept album about both Scatman John's own rise from alcoholic to popstar, as well as being about the titular country, Scatland.
  • Brian Wilson's SMiLE is a concept album about the love for life, divided into three movements. The first part somehow talks about life in the rural USA and its history as a country; the second act is about childhood and finally it describes (both lyrically and musically) energy and the elements of nature, ending with the most famous "Good Vibrations".
  • Patrick Wolf is particularly fond of the concept album. His first album, Lycanthropy, centers on his childhood and adolescence. His second, Wind in the Wires, is focused on his Cornish and Gaelic roots. His third, 'The Magic Position' is inspired by a relationship, and focuses on the theme of Love. His most recent album, The Bachelor, is one half of two albums that serve as a commentary on depression, inspiration and love. The Bachelor focuses on the first two, and supposedly The Conqueror will focus on the latter two. Even his singles have a tendency to wander into this trope, with both the "Tristan" and "Wind In The Wires" E Ps featuring two B-Sides each that contribute to the Cornish/Gaelic feel of the aforementioned song's parent album (Although, rather thankfully, his latest batch of singles avoid this).
  • Right Away, Great Captain! is essentially a concept band by Manchester Orchestra lead singer Andy Hull. The first album, The Bitter End tells the story of a man finding his wife sleeping with his brother, so he leaves his children behind to go live as a sailor for three years, where he befriends his Captain, and the two talk about the existence of love. The second album, The Eventually Home tells of the man, now the Captain of the ship after the death of the Captain from the first CD, returning home to either forgive or murder his wife and brother. At the end of the album, he is still unsure what he wants to do. The story is expected to be resolved by the planned third album.
  • Many of Marilyn Manson's albums are united by theme and subject matter - Portrait of an American Family is about hypocrisy, Antichrist Superstar is about fame, and Mechanical Animals is about drugs.
    • And a review of his Greatest Hits Album states that it's rather ironic that "an artist who kept the idea of the concept album alive during the '90s, turns out to have a greater impact as a singles artist".
  • The Fame by Lady Gaga is about becoming famous.
    • Similarly 'The Fame Monster' is about the fears Gaga faced while becoming famous.
    • Somewhat subverted by Born This Way; many people thought the album had to do with religion due to the sheer amount of religious imagery in it, but she denies this. It also contains references to individuality and self-image.
  • For years people have talked about The Colour and Shape by Foo Fighters being a "very loose" concept album about the lifcycle of a loving relationship
  • Adultery by Dog Fashion Disco tells the story of a serial killer with split personalities.
  • John Coltrane and Miles Davis did this a lot (in fact, concept albums are part of the expected career path of any prominent jazz musician). Giant Steps was the pinnacle of Coltrane's developed style, "sheets of sound," while "A Love Supreme" was a four-part suite about Coltrane's spirituality, broken up by movement into the record's four tracks. Davis' "Bitches Brew" album was an experiment with an abstract fusion of jazz and rock, heavily using electronic instruments. "Milestones" was an album-long experiment with modal harmonies, and Davis spent the 80s releasing experimental albums that married jazz and 80s pop. In this fashion (particularly with Milestones and Bitches' Brew), Miles Davis invented several new variations on the jazz genre.
  • Sepultura recorded two albums based on other works, Dante XXI (Divine Comedy) and A-Lex (A Clockwork Orange - though the former bandleader stated that the remaining members weren't even fans of it).
  • As they had both hippie and heavy metal periods, Spinal Tap's fictional back catalogue inevitably includes a couple of half-arsed concept albums: The band's second album, We Are All Flower People, included a set of tracks about a young man who dreams of wearing wings and flying, and plans to sell seats on himself to finance the project; when the album failed to sell, Tap's record label re-issued the album minus the original title track as the concept album The Incredible Flight of Icarus P. Anybody. (Derek Smalls claimed the idea was later stolen by 'you know Moody who'). Later, their 1975 album The Sun Never Sweats was based around re-telling stories from British legend and mythology, and glorifying the British Empire. (The title track comes from Smalls' mis-hearing of the old saying 'The sun never sets on the British Empire'). Rather than being motivated by any artistic or political convictions, the band were just trying to cash in on the wave of nationalistic pride/chauvinism sweeping Britain at the time.
    • Let's not forget the religion inspired Spinal Tap concept album 'The Gospel According to Spinal Tap' which prompted the review 'On what day did God create Spinal Tap and couldn't he have rested on that day also?"
  • The latest album by Meat Loaf, Hang Cool, Teddy Bear, is narrated from the perspective of a soldier lying half-dead on a battlefield. The first track represents his thoughts at the moment, and each subsequent song presents a different possible scenario of his future.
  • Saint Etienne's Tales From Turnpike House is a series of vignettes about a day in the life of the residents of a north London block of flats (which doesn't really narrow things down much, since nearly all of their music is about London in one way or another), including The Alcoholic Gary Stead (who turns out to be Drowning His Sorrows) and a couple played by Sarah Cracknell and David Essex arguing about leaving the city to go and live The Good Life. Their stories all eventually link up in the penultimate track, the epic "Teenage Winter".
  • Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's Twentieth Century by The World/Inferno Friendship Society is a concept album about, well, the life and times of Peter Lorre. It follows him from being a starving actor in Weimar-era Berlin, to fleeing to Hollywood where he hopes to make it big while struggling with a morphine addiction. The band's performed it live as a semi-musical several times, and has announced that their next album will also be a concept album: a punk version of A Prairie Home Companion.
  • King Diamond tells an All American Ghost Story divided between two albums, "Them", and Conspiracy. They are about a family living in a haunted mansion who gets a visit from their Grandmother, coming home from an insane asylum. She is constantly haunted by a group of spirits known only as "Them".
  • Hildegard von Bingen is a Latin-language album with downtempo electronic influences based on the compositions of a 12th century nun. It was released by Garmarna, a folk-progressive rock band from Sweden. Yup.
  • Abducted by Swedish death metal band Hypocrisy, is an album about a man who is abducted by aliens and becomes a test subject until he dies (which is marked by a sudden Genre Shift into two Pink Floyd-esque Progressive Rock tracks)
  • Falling Up's album Fangs! tells the story of a man who journeys to another planet to investigate an attack on his home world. The prologue of the story is given in the liner material, but the actual story is...rather unclear.
  • Emilie Autumn has the album Enchant, about a faerie falling in love with a human and the resulting mess.
    • Opheliac is referred to as a concept album on her website. It's about madness in general, specifically Emilie's experience with it(she made the album as an alternative to suicide during a battle with depression). Several songs both on the main album and the bonus disc also deal with the exploitation of and problems faced by women.
  • Britney Spears has done this in her career.
    • Baby is summer romances and youthful love, Oops is being yourself and loved as yourself, Britney is growing up and into your sexuality, In The Zone is sexuality and exploring it, Blackout is forgetting upsets and having a good time, Circus is a mix tape of a circus of sounds and Femme Fatale is about toxic relationships and clubbing, Britney Jean discusses a break up and recovering then finding love again.
  • Placebo's Sleeping with Ghosts album is about relationships of all kinds, the soulmate-type relationships, the relationships with special needs,and the relationships that had a very bitter end.
  • Sixx:A.M.'s album The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack is the soundtrack to Nikki Sixx book "The Heroin Diaries". Each song represents a chapter in the book.
  • Franz Ferdinand tried their hand at this trope with Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (which was also a New Sound Album, but that's besides the point). Unlike most of the rest of the albums on the list, the concept is rather mundane (and ends up succeeding for it): it's about a drunk, debauched night on the town (most likely Glasgow).
  • Cos Mo's The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku.
  • Pick an album by The Residents. They've released over 100, and chances are that the one you pick is a concept album. Some of their most popular examples include The Commercial Album (one-minute pop songs), Eskimo (documenting the lives of Polar Eskimos, and told almost entirely through grunting and wind noises), God in Three Persons (a cowboy exploits Siamese twins as faith healers), The King and Eye (bringing new meanings to classic Elvis songs) — also an example of The Cover Changes The Meaning, and Wormwood (retelling some of the Bible's more disturbing stories).
    • Third Reich And Roll is a concept album about a conspiracy theory that the Nazis wrote 1950s and 1960s rock and roll songs to corrupt the youth. In reality its an excuse to make a Cover Album.
    • "The Commercial Album" might be the most rigorously-excuted concept album ever. Not only did they record 40 "pop" songs, each exactly a minute in length, but also bought up 40 one minute add spaces on San Francisco radio, effectively creating their own payola Top 40!
  • The album And I Love H.E.R. by rapper Danny! (Daniel Swain) chronicles his love affair with hip-hop, which is personified as a woman.
  • The Divine Comedy have done a few concept albums. Promenade is about two young lovers on New Year's Eve (and the songs are nearly all thematic connected with a water motif). Casanova examines how the titular character could exist in modern day society. A Short Album About Love is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman) have made two concept albums based on literary works: Jabberwocky (based on the Lewis Carroll poem) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (based on the Sherlock Holmes novel).
  • The Enid are fond of concept albums. Their first, In the Region of the Summer Stars has a vaguely Tarot-related concept. The follow-up, Aerie Faerie Nonsense, is largely based on Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came". Something Wicked This Way Comes is about mental attitudes to the threat of nuclear war. Tripping the Light Fantastic is apparently about the relationship between science and society, while Journey's End is about ecological threats and the possibility of space colonisation and Invicta concerns questions of religious faith and morality..
  • Devin Townsend's Ziltoid the Omnicient album is about an alien overlord searching for the universe's ultimate cup of coffee. However, end the end, it turns out that it was All Just a Dream.
  • Linkin Park gets in on this with A Thousand Suns. It's basically about the fears of war. Naturally professional opinions and fan opinions are divided.
  • Music from "The Elder" is a concept album from KISS. It was also supposed to be the soundtrack for a movie that was never made. Even the band wishes the album had met the same fate.
  • That Supertramp's Crime of The Century is a concept album is not in debate (Word of God confirms this, for example), but is it about insanity or man's inhumanity against man, or just a story? Arguments can go either way on this.
  • ES Posthumus' Cartographer is about a map that was discovered in 1929 and the race of explorers that could have made this map.
  • A Flock Of Seagulls attempted this on their album The Story Of A Young Heart.
  • Tyler, the Creator's Bastard is all told to his school psychiatrist and deals with his personal issues like being a literal bastard.
    • This leads directly into Goblin, a sequel album about Tyler having another session with his Psychiatrist and dealing with new issues and the lifestyle that fame brings, eventually ending with him breaking down, killing the other members of Odd Future and realizing his psychiatrist and all his alter egos are a figment of his imagination.
    • Wolf acts as a prequel to both of these, involving a Summer Camp for Youths with mental issues named Camp Flog Gnaw run by the same Psychiatrist from Bastard and Goblin, and revolving around a psychopathic drug dealer named Sam, a new addition to the camp named Wolf, and a girl named Salem who acts as a love interest to both characters.
  • Epica base most of their albums upon themes and concepts. Usually abstract and existential or based in myth and religious ideals.
  • Deltron 3030 is a hip-hop concept album about a sci-fi dystopian future where hip-hop has become a means of underground resistance.
  • Turisas' albums The Varangian Way and Stand Up and Fight tell the tale of Vikings who traveled through Eastern Europe, joined the Byzantine Empire and eventually died in the Battle of Manzikert.
  • All three of Arcade Fire's three (so far) albums qualify: Funeral is about aging, loss, and community; Neon Bible is about religion/the apocalypse, with television and the ocean somehow recurring; and anyone who needs the subject of The Suburbs explained deserves to be shot for literally incredible thickness.
  • Every one of Gackt's non-compilation albums, as well as singles. Even his concerts are designed to be visual interpretations of his albums and singles, if not a continuation of their story.
  • Coheed and Cambria's entire discography has been based around lead singer Claudio Sanchez's series of indy comic books, "The Amory Wars." The band itself is named after two of the characters in the series.
  • Freaky Chakra's Blacklight Fantasy has a sci-fi/cyberpunk theme. Cyberpunk Is Techno, no less. The previous album, Lowdown Motivator, had a psychedelic/spiritual theme and was trancier.
  • Most of Kraftwerk's albums, with the exception of pre-Autobahn material and Electric Cafe. Autobahn=highways, Radio Activity=radio and nuclear power, Trans Europe Express=trains, Man Machine=robots, Computer World=computers, and Tour de France Soundtracks=the titular bicycle race.
  • A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step is a concept album about addiction - even the one Cover Song ("The Nurse Who Loved Me", originally by Failure) fits with the overall theme. Despite being a Cover Album, eMOTIVe also counts: All of the covers are of protest songs of sorts, specifically ones that could be considered relevant to the political climate of the US circa 2004 - it was even released to coincide with the 2004 US presidential election.
  • Most of the Homestuck albums which aren't Volumes are concept albums, concentrated on exploring a specific topic, theme or group of characters from the series. Perhaps the straightest example is M.G. Bowman's Mobius Trip and Hadron Kaleido, themed around the origin and purpose of Sburb and presented as a series of cryptic clues to its true nature, yet not a specific tie-in to any group of characters in particular.
  • Rhapsody of Fire takes this Up to Eleven (almost literally) with their ten-part (as in, ten sequential albums) epic "Symphony of the Enchanted Lands" (itself split into two five-album sagas), telling a Tolkien-esque High Fantasy tale which is sometimes narrated by Christopher Lee. And it is awesome.
  • The Protomen more or less exist to make their Mega Man Rock Opera concept albums. Yes, you read that right.
  • Songs from An American Movie, Vol. 1: Learning How To Smile by Everclear. The first half seeks to set up a relationship, from courtship and dating (a cover of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", "Learning How To Smile"), to marriage ("The Honeymoon Song"), only to focus almost entirely in the second half on divorce and its effects: the initial shock ("Now That It's Over"), wistful remembrance ("Otis Redding"), finding someone new ("Unemployed Boyfriend"), and the effect on the kids ("Wonderful", "Annabella's Song").
  • All of Mike Watt's solo albums, so far. Ball Hog Or Tugboat? had no over-riding lyrical theme, but musically it was all about collaboration: A different group of musicians played on each song, and usually someone other than Watt himself would sing lead vocals (Henry Rollins and Frank Black, for instance). Contemplating The Engine Room uses an extended metaphor about The Navy to relate his family history and his years with The Minutemen. The Secondman's Middle Stand makes parallels between The Divine Comedy and Watt's real-life ordeal with a near-fatal perineum infection. And finally all of the songs in The Hyphenated-Man are inspired by figures in Hieronymus Bosch paintings.
  • Every Sound Horizon album. Each and every one of them.
  • Covenant's Modern Ruin. The songs are gaplessly crossfaded, and the physical version (as opposed to the digital download) ends with the Hidden Track "Modern Ruin Part II", mirroring the intro track.
  • WASP's "The Crimson Idol" - the story of rock star Jonathan Aaron Steel's tragic life journey from his abusive childhood to eventual onstage suicide "eight thousand lonely days of rage" later with eerie parallels with the life and death of Kurt Cobain. (The album was released in 1991, three years before Cobain's suicide.)
  • Varg Vikernes ( of Burzum and Mayhem)was essentially forced to make these while in prison: he was only allowed an acoustic guitar and a synthesizer to record with. The result was Daudi Baldrs. It not only directly told the story of the death of the Norse god Baldr, but also allegorically mourns the death of Norse pagan traditions at the hands of Christianity.
  • Ssgt. Barry Sadler's Ballads of The Green Berets album is an album of songs about war in general and Vietnam specifically, many written or co-written by Barry himself.
  • Tomahawk's Anonymous features their interpretations of Native American songs, with a short version of a parlor song ("Long, Long Weary Day") serving as a coda. Their self-titled album has been speculated by fans to be a character study of a Serial Killer, but this has been neither confirmed or denied by the artists themselves.
  • Creator Couple Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola have a pair of concept bands: As a duo, they're Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, a band whose original songs are all inspired by specific episodes of The Prisoner (what happens when they run out of episodes is up in the air). With the addition of Catherine Capozzi, they're Darling Pet Munkee, and write songs about old mail-order ads that were aimed at kids. An additional part of the DPM concept seems to be basing lyrics off the tone of the ad copy rather than the actual product - for instance "MONSTER S-I-Z-E MONSTERS" is about having an actual Frankenstein's Monster as a pet, when kids who actually ordered it were no doubt disappointed to discover it was just a large poster of the monster printed on garbage bag material rather than any sort of realistic model.
  • Gorillaz, who are technically already a concept band, have their two albums, Demon Days, dealing with modern culture and war, and Plastic Beach, about the band's adventures on the titular beach.
  • Akina Nakamori's 1986 album Fushigi. Fushigi, in Japanese, means "strange" and that's a word that can best be used to describe the album. Nakamori had been one of the biggest idols in Japan at the time (along with Seiko Matsuda) but decided she needed a new sound if only for an album thus she enlisted the help of the band EUROX to create an album that would embody the title: straying from the tried and true pop/idol mold with densely layered and droning instrumentation combined with Nakamori's usually powerful voice being mixed and distorted so much as to sound like an echo blending into the music in what could best be described as what would happen if Cocteau Twins decided to make a J-Pop album. While it reached number one it caused considerable controversy as many fans complained about not being able to hear the vocals. Nowadays it's usually regarded as one of her best albums and the one that signified her growth from just being an idol to a true musical artist.
  • Christian Hard Rock band Resurrection Band (AKA Rez) released a Concept Album as their swan song. The album Lament follows a clear narrative of a man trying to find the good things in life on his own, getting increasingly cynical and weary, eventually breaking down completely. Fortunately, he finds the answers he was asking for in Jesus and the album winds down as he finally finds peace.
  • Cold 187um's album The Only Solution is an album-length story about an assassin who seeks revenge against his father's killer and performs assassinations for an unnamed company (implied to be Psychopathic Records). It even comes with a comic book so you can follow the story.
  • Mind.in.a.box's first three albums: Lost Alone, Dreamweb, and Crossroads, comprise a concept album trilogy. After the non-concept R.E.T.R.O., Revelations continues the story arc with the tracks "Transition and "Unkown".
  • Between The Buried And Me's The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and The Parallax II: Future Sequence make up two parts of a very confusing Concept Album.
  • Camper Van Beethoven's New Roman Times is set in an alternate universe present-day United States, which parallels the country's political divisions in real life: The US has separated into two countries that are hostile to each other, the Christian right-wing Texas and the left-wing utopian California. The album follows an unnamed narrator who joins the army of Texas after a 9/11-esque terror attack. He returns disabled and disillusioned, eventually siding with California-based "rebels" and prepares to become a suicide bomber.
  • In Childish Gambino's Camp, all of the songs on it work by themselves, but when listened to in order they tell an autobiographical story: his difficult childhood ("Outside"), his rise to fame ("Fire Fly"), the contrasting narcissism ("Bonfire") and self-loathing ("All the Shine") that accompany it, his difficulty having actual relationships now that he's successful ("Heartbeat," "L.E.S.," "Kids"), and finally facing his problems ("That Power"). Plus some epic Boastful Rap interludes here and there (which still relate thematically to the overall story).
    • His 2013 album because the internet centers around social media's role in tightening relationships between people, but not necessarily for the best reasons. The album came with its own screenplay that, if read at a steady pace, lines up with events heard in the audio.
  • David Comes to Life, by hardcore/punk band Fucked Up, is a quite elaborate narrative of the relationship arc of two characters, David and Veronica. The story is told from multiple perspectives, sometimes by an Unreliable Narrator, and requires an in-depth read of the lyric sheet to achieve its full effect.
  • Dockers Guild's album The Mystic Technocracy is an expanding 5-part album in the vein of Ayreon, about a silicon-based alien, the Technocrat, from a far-off planet who creates 3 religions(not so secretly Christianity, Islam and Judaism) to drive humanity to become his mindless slaves. Despite the premise, it is not a total Religion Rant Song, but rather against the fanaticism generated by the religions rather than the religions themselves.
  • To The Bottom of the Sea by Voltaire is about a young tinker who goes to sea to make his fortune while fleeing social unrest in his homeland. The ship he is on ultimately sinks in a storm.
  • Japan's first concept album was by The Tigers, Human Renescence, and was entirely based on the concept of the Tigers dressing regally, so composers Koichi Sugiyama and Kunihiko Murai decided to make an entire album based on their image as royalty, complete with rather large orchestral arrangements, which made most of the songs notoriously difficult for the band to perform live.
  • The Cruxshadows' Ethernaut tells the story of the fall of Troy from the Trojans' point of view.
  • All of Avantasia's albums are this, ranging from a lighthearted high fantasy/church conspiracy combo in The Metal Opera, an ambiguous character drama about a self-destructive artist in the albums in The Wicked Trilogy, and a softspoken steampunk paranormal mystery in The Mystery of Time.
  • Local H's 12 Angry Months describes one year of emotions surrounding a breakup, including anger, sadness and moving on.
  • Carolus Rex, by Sabaton, is about the rise and fall of the Swedish empire, starting with the ascension to the throne of Gustavus Adolphus, and ending with the death of Charles XII and the Carolean Death March.
  • The debut album of Neon Neon, Stainless Style was based on the life of John DeLorean. They followed it up with Praxis Makes Perfect, based on the life of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
  • Our Lady Peace has one with Spiritual Machines. It is an interpretation of The Age of Spiritual Machines by Raymond Kurzweil.
  • Funeral for a Friend's Tales Don't Tell Themselves is a concept album about a guy called David who goes out in a boat and gets into trouble, being away from his family for several months with no means of contacting them. The lyrics take place from both his perspective, and that of his wife and young son who don't know what is going on. In an unusual move for a concept album the story isn't told in the correct order, rather it is chosen for flow. However, the sequence featuring All Hands On Deck Pt 1: Raise The Sail, All Hands On Deck Pt II: Open Water and Out Of Reach is clearly in order and Into Oblivion (Reunion) is obviously the last part despite being the first track.
    • Their earlier EP Four Ways To Scream Your Name is a concept EP about the various aspects of failed relationships, though that may be more to do with the generic nature of their lyrics at that point.
  • Steeleye Span's album Wintersmith, based on the Discworld novel of the same name and the other books in the Tiffany Aching series.
  • Nero's Welcome Reality takes place in December the first, 2808 and has a Source Sound feel. Well, except for three songs.
  • Warfare's last full-lenght album Hammer Horror from 1990 has songs based on its namesake's films.
  • Steppenwolf came up with a few. Monster was a political statement about the times (1970). For Ladies Only was intended as a statement about feminism, but it didn't really come off that way. The cover art didn't help.
  • Kocorono by Japanese indie band bloodthirsty butchers is about a man struggling to come to terms with the end of his relationship with a woman. The song titles go through every month on the calendar (starting with February and ending with January) with the months/seasons reflecting the narrator's general feelings.
  • Hexode made a duo of EPs, Sleep Sequence A™ and Sleep Sequence B™ which are loosely based around the idea of falling asleep with the TV on.
  • Kaizers Orchestra's final trilogy of albums, Violeta Violeta vol. I-III, who were all written together and later split into three due to the sheer number of songs the writer was able to come up with for the theme. The albums tell the tale of the past, present and future of a young woman called Violeta who has mystical powers and a complicated and tragic family situation.
  • Sketches Of Spain by Miles Davis has a Spanish atmosphere and all the tracks' titles refer to the country in one way or another.
  • Motel Shot by Delaney & Bonnie is an attempt to recreate the feeling of a late-night jam session on record.
  • While not described as this, Madhouse by the Disco group The Silver Convention is suggested to be such by the liner notes written by co-producer Michael Kunze, who used the song titles to describe an All Just a Dream story by the protagonist. Apart from that, the four songs on side one are linked thematically, starting with the Title Track.
  • Gentle Giant had four, of varying themes:

Colonel Bogey MarchMusic TropesCover Version
Albums IndexMediaRock Opera
ConceitWe Are Not Alone IndexConspicuous Consumption
Chronological Album TitleAlbums IndexCover Album

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