I think London Calling by the Clash is the greatest rock album ever recorded. But it isn’t perfect. London Calling is a double album and I would suggest that it’s extremely difficult for any album with nineteen songs and over an hour of music to be perfect. There are bound to be some peaks and valleys.
You can define a perfect album any way you want but for me, the simplest explanation I can offer is this: on a perfect album, I never skip a track. I never even think about it. I listen to the album in its entirety, from beginning to end. I don’t feel the need to make any edits.
Notice that doesn’t necessarily mean that the songs are among the greatest of all time. They just have a consistent standard. There is no filler or fodder. No missteps.
Five albums from the 1960s you should be listening to today
London Calling is the greatest album because for three sides it has as fine a collection of rock n roll as I have ever heard. It isn’t perfect because side four doesn’t quite live up to that standard. Back in the old days, when we used to listen on vinyl and had to actually flip records over, I would almost never listen to side four unless I really wanted to hear “Train in Vain,” which was hidden at the end. It’s not that “Lover’s Rock” and “Revolution Rock” are bad songs. They’re pretty good songs. But they are not as good as what precedes them, and, by side four, they are sounding a little bit redundant.
So today we’re going to begin a series on perfect albums. And although I just implied that perfection does not always equate to greatness, these are all great albums as well. We’ll start with five albums from the 1960s, and if it’s at all interesting, we’ll look at subsequent decades in the near future.