London Calling: Great double LP? Or the greatest double LP?
Ask any fan or music critic to compile a list of the greatest albums of all time, and it’s likely that most (or all) of the list will be records that could fit onto a single disc. But ask them to list albums they’re obsessed with, and records that take up two discs will suddenly dominate the conversation (especially if you’re asking anyone old enough to remember why some vinyl double albums put sides 1 and 4 on one LP and sides 2 and 3 on the other).
Before we binge-watched TV shows or stayed up all night to play the latest edition of Grand Theft Auto, we binged on double albums. They served as prima facie evidence of a great artist’s greatness, proof that their music and message was so expansive that a more conventional format could not contain it. They also proved the depth of our fandom; anyone could memorize the track list for Led Zeppelin IV, but if you knew Physical Graffiti by heart, you had earned your right to wear your Zoso T-shirt.
The below list of double albums is ranked partially by personal preference (because how could it not be?) but also based on conversations with friends and fellow journalists, study of other lists, and some vague, highly subjective accounting of each album’s impact and influence on what came after it. Not all double albums are created equal, so I needed to establish some ground rules: no live albums, no compilations, no soundtracks or cast recordings, no triple/quadruple albums. That means no Live at the Fillmore East, no Jesus Christ Superstar, no Beatles 1967-1970 and no 69 Love Songs. Perhaps more controversially, I also decided to…
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