Zen Arcade: A(n intentional) concept album?

 
  • Zen Arcade: A(n intentional) concept album?

    For as far as I know, it has never been confirmed nor denied by anyone in or close to Hüsker Dü, that it was an intentional concept album, or even if it was a concept album at all. The only thing I read are sentences like: "it is often interpreted as a concept album", and "the lyrics showed some kind of connection, so people figured it was a concept". Some things do hint at it being a concept album; like Hüsker Dü never wanted to release any singles from it to maintain the output as a cohesive one, and a lot of the lyrics do seem to seem to cross paths. Yet, lyrics as in "Turn On The News" and "Newest Industry" seem totaly out of place in the concept idea, and you often have to use a lot of your imagination to include these and other lyrics into the concept form of a kid running from home.

    Do you think it was ment to be a concept album? Or are there just some general ideas put together that people take too far as seeing it as a complete concept?

    • bsd987 sa...
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    • 29 mar 2007, 09:24
    every album ever recorded is in some way a concept album.

    This is my world and I am world leader pretend.
  • I think the whole album fits together well actually - "Turn on the News" is the anomaly of the album; it's the one that should have been released as a single or EP.

    • fakin sa...
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    • 8 okt 2007, 21:06
    i think this is a "coming of age" album, like a grow up story or smthg like that and even "turn on the news" fits in" if "newest industry" fits in the concept.

    I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!
    • _goatboy sa...
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    • 1 apr 2008, 08:00
    bsd987 said:
    every album ever recorded is in some way a concept album.


    Well, that's just not true; the biggest reason being that albums used to be literal collections of short-playing singles.

    And what was the grand concept behind Vanilla Ice's 'To the Extreme'?

    I do think the "concept album" thing is overplayed with 'Zen Arcade', it simply has a certain cohesion and narrative that most artists worth their salt tend to inject into most of their recorded works these days.

    As far as I'm concerned this was one of the LPs that made the term "concept album" completely pointless. The connotations of those words are still those of a band short on inspiration resorting to a grand gesture to convince the world and themselves that they still need to be heard.

    The idea that putting a bit of thought into your running order and stringing a few themes together reduces you to that kind of proggy overreach is daft.

  • I think the "concept album" label is a bit of a stretch for Zen Arcade. I can understand the idea of unity, though, as carried through the recording process. The Beatles' first album was recorded with a similar tight schedule, and resulted in similar brilliance and immediacy. Both were "turning point" albums -- ie past this point, everything is different. You can't possibly argue that alternative rock (in the original sense) did not change with Zen Arcade.

    As for an over-arching concept ... it's debatable. HD lyrics are sufficiently vague to allow broad interpretation. Personally, I prefer to allow the cover and title (and the recording ethos) to be "the concept," and it works wonderfully. The art says it all.

    If you insist that Zen Arcade was the Close to the Edge of hardcore-cum-pop, I don't think I'd fuss too much. They're equivalent, albeit in different genres. Trying to fit one framework upon the other seems a bit strained.

    It don`t matter which way we`re facing, so long as we`re rolling forward
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