A concept album, explains Wikipedia, is "a studio album where all musical or lyrical ideas contribute to a single overall theme or unified story". This sounds simple enough, but in reality it's very rarely a straightforward tale.
A beginner's guide to ludicrous album concepts
The music might be brilliant, but how do concept album plotlines fair once they're distilled to their bare bones?
So here, lined up like the citizens of Sunhillow queuing up to board the Moorglade glider, are 25 concept album concepts explained in a way that'll help you make sense of it all.
Roger Waters - Radio KAOS
Wheelchair bound kid hears radiowaves. Talks to LA DJ. Gets busted for a crime twin brother commits. Plots ultimate nuclear revenge.
Radiohead - OK Computer
Mournful bemoaning of how terrible it is that modern day society spurns individuality.
Dream Theater - Metropolis 2: Scenes From A Memory
Whilst undergoing regression threrapy, a man discovers he'd been a woman who was murdered back in the 1920s!
The Who - Quadrophenia
Young man in 60s Britain loses grip when reality shows his youthful beliefs were built on sand, not stone.
Jon Anderson - Olias Of Sunhillow
Volcano destroys alien world. Intrepid hero Olias leads his people to a new land on the Moorgalde Gider, uniting them all as he does so.
Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick
The effects of living life in the modern age, as seen through the eyes of an eight-year old boy.
Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick II
Eight-year old boy returns as five different adults, including a homosexual tramp, an evangelical preacher, and a bloke who runs a corner shop.
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Rock star rails against his life, retreating from the world and wondering if he will ever feel human again.
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Puerto Rican boy travels to underground New York to rescue his brother from unimaginable dangers and a world of odd creatures.
Aphrodites Child - 666
Apocalyptic rendering of the prophecies of St. John. Both lyrically and musically.
Marillion - Clutching At Straws
Hopeless alcoholic gets drunk and bemoans the mess he's made of his life.
Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans
The idea that all religions gives rise to a shared spiritual experience. Based on old Hindu scriptures.
Patrick Moraz – The Story Of I
A group of hotel guests decide to sell their souls for pleasure. A bit like Hotel California. Without the songs!
Robert Calvert – Lucky Leif & The Longships
Apparently America was discovered by some bloke called Erik The Red aeons before Christopher Columbus. Lucky Leif is his son. And this is his story.
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Japanese femme Yoshimi stands up to titular robots against a backdrop of war, pacifism and post 9/11 paranoia. Band get bored with concept after first four songs.
Magma – Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh
Earth is doomed. The Kobaians come to the rescue. And all sung in Kobaian, a language made up by Magma leader Christian Vander.
Dave Greenslade – The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony
The first five books of the creation. Discovered in an abandoned spaceship orbiting Jupiter. Simples.
Gentle Giant – Interview
In which band creates album based on the interviews they do with the press. Not a success.
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon
We’re all mad. Every single one of us. Thanks to the stresses of modern day life.
The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love
Modern day indie meets prog rock as a woman falls in love with a shape-shifting deer. Like you do.
David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Earth is doomed (again). Up pops alien rock star Ziggy to tell us it’ll be all right in the end. It won’t.
Rush – 2112
Only one side of the album but a triumph of Ayn Rand-like individualism, resulting in the liberation of the planets of the Solar Federation!
The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow
The miserable life of one Sebastian. F. Sorrow, which ultimately sends him mad.
Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage
If you listen to rock music nasty things will happen to you and you’ll go mad.
Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime
A tale of subterfuge and assassination, starring a priest, a whore and a drug addict.