Although little thought goes into how a listener will experience an album while its songs are being recorded, during the production this is the major concern. While producing the Beatles' last album, Abbey Road (although Let it Be was released after Abbey Road, it was completed before), there was much bickering about how the songs they had recorded were going to be arranged and pieced together to form the final product. Paul wanted to make the entire album a medley, where each song would lead into the next. John wanted to mix it traditionally where each song would end and there would be a pause before the next song started. Neither was willing to yield, so a compromise was met, the A-side would be done traditionally and the B-side would be a medley. I guess you can't keep a medley going while you flip the record over and this was better to John than having a medley for each side.
Although I was still in diapers when John Lennon was shot, I was first exposed to the Beatles by listening to my parents LPs. Of course, I couldn't be seen listening to records, and once the Beatles had appropriately burrowed themselves into my being, I bought the albums on CD. Now, I can't be seen listening to CDs and have all my albums in a nice little MP3 folder on my computer.
MP3s, like CDs, can be made to play in a random order. I understand some people like to randomize a CD or even a few albums of MP3s with a total disregard for what the artist is trying to communicate to them in the mix. The industry has changed with the change of medium. Today, record producers understand that some people like to do this, unlike their counterparts 30 years ago. Similar to older movies, directors didn't have the idea in mind that a third of their picture would be cut off when the film was put on video. Likewise, the Beatles never thought someone would be able to play their tracts at random so they didn't produce their albums with that in mind.
Most Queen fans can't listen to We Will Rock You without We Are the Champions coming to mind. Similarly, I get a bit of anxiety when hearing Help From My Friend and not having it followed with Lucy in the sky with Diamonds . This condition is caused by over playing an album to the point where its play list is engraved upon your soul.
Unlike other albums, when I hear Abbey Road on random, there are a few additional variables that add to my anxiety. With songs on other albums, when they end I only suspect what song is going to be next. However, the Abbey Road B-side songs have a connecting cord or lead, which takes you into the next song. For example I will finish listening to She Came in through the Bathroom Window and the music will lead me to Golden Slumbers yet Winamp will play Maxwell's Silver Hammer. The other problem is it made me realized that all of these little songs, which make up the spectacular B-side medley, really suck. Taken out of their medley there are just silly little songs about a codgery old man or a fetish girl or nothing in particular.
If you really must, then by all means listen to in on random. If it doesn't bother you, great! But if it makes your pull your hair out, bite your nails, convulse with seizures, conduct ritualistic human sacrifices or any other such odd behavior, you've been warned!
The coincidence: Just after I posted this I got a message from someone who was listening to the Abbey Road medley as he saw this appear in the new writeups. That had to've caused a bit of anxiety.
The stupidity: I mostly wrote this as a rant because my wife turns the random feature in Winamp on all the time. When I got home this evening, of course with Abbey Road on the mind, I wanted to listen to it. I just queued up the medley, and wouldn't you know it, it went from You Never Give Me Your Money straight to Her Majesty!!!
And I am sorry if I sound a bit... disorganized... confused... perplexed... what ever, in this w/u. I've always thought that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Two things I don't do very often. It's not something that really comes as naturally as describing tangible things.
Other Albums that should never be played on random (in no particular order)
For me it's Abbey Road in particular. But what albums just turn into a train wrecked once you hit that random button? Some of these were /msg'ed to me and I took a few from here.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
, Pink Floyd
Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile, Nine Inch Nails
Made In England, Elton John - Servo5678
Binaural, Pearl Jam - erias
Diamond Dogs, David Bowie - Ulysses
OK Computer, Radiohead - Ulysses
Joe's Garage, Frank Zappa - Judeoslav
Machina, Smashing Pumpkins - Patrick Bateman
Tommy, The Who - LaylaLeigh
Quadrophenia, The Who - LaylaLeigh
Kid A, Radiohead - JoeBaldwin