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Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Steely Dan: Let's Go Listen To Records

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Steely Dan pic by youngrobv (Rob & Ale); Aerosmith pic by Chris Gampat ; Judas Priest pic by Lillith Delilah ; Motley Crue pic by Stacy Arrington , via flickr.

Since the advent of the mp3 era, there’s been a lot of talk about the death of the “album” as a medium for music delivery. As the argument goes, bands have no incentive to write forty-five consecutive minutes’ worth of content, since consumers no longer have to sit through three decent-to-mediocre tracks to get to the one they like, buried in the middle of side two. Now that the listening experience is entirely customizable, those deep cuts that never passed muster for airplay or “best of” collections will be tossed away like so many pot seeds, completely unheard by the audience that only cares about their favorite songs.

Whether this notion is true or false, the Luddites of the vinyl era are gathering in strength this summer to present some of their most enduring bodies of work in their entirety.

Until a few years ago, this kind of gesture was limited to the concept-album-producing likes of The Who and Pink Floyd. If you saw Floyd any time after 1971, you saw them play their latest album from front to back, even less-beloved later works like The Division Bell getting the full treatment. As arena-punk bands Green Day and My Chemical Romance started making their own concept albums, they adopted the practice as well. Neil Young spent summer of 2003 performing a loopy, then-unreleased, 100-minute rock opera called Greendale as a community theater piece, complete with low-rent sets and a cast of actors miming along to his words.