Single-Disc Outkast

Much craziness this morning at Rule Forty-two World Headquarters, where we’re migrating all our files to our new computer and fighting off a nasty virus with nothing much more than hand-waving. So the next installment of the 1988 countdown will have to wait until Thursday. Until then, the final installment of my series of condensed versions of double albums.

(I regret, by the way, that on my Guns N’ Roses mix, I didn’t find a way to better showcase “Bad Apples,” which is one of my favorite GN’R tracks–it was originally swamped in the midst of the Use Your Illusion excess, and then it gets lost all over again in my mix. Even one CD of Use Your Illusion is over-the-top, it turns out.)

There was an episode of the old Jackson 5 cartoon show where the brothers split up—fans who wanted to listen to their latest song had to buy five separate singles and play them at the same time. That was pretty much the situation for Outkast fans in 2003–Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was actually two pretty good solo albums by Big Boi and Andre 3000, packaged as one sprawling double album under the Outkast name.

Andre went on a freaky Prince trip, while Big Boi brought in lots of guest stars to try to recreate the classic Outkast vibe. Both records had brilliant moments and a whole lot of filler. Listeners were left wondering if the songs would have sounded better if the duo were bouncing off each other, rather than stuck in their own groove. The answer, it turns out, is yes. I can’t get Andre 3000 and Big Boi to rap on each other’s songs –sorry–but this single-CD mix (with ten songs by each of them) gives an idea of the great single-disc party that might have been.

1. Love Hater
2. The Rooster
3. Spread
4. Knowing
5. Bust
6. Hey Ya!
7. Flip Flop Rock
8. She Lives in My Lap
9. Bowtie
10. Dracula’s Wedding
11. The Way You Move
12. God (Interlude)
13. Pink & Blue
14. War
15. Roses
16. Ghetto Musick
17. Behold a Lady
18. Church
19. Take Off Your Cool
20. Last Call

(total running time: 76:14)

posted 16 September 2008 in Tasty Bits and tagged , . 6 comments

6 Comments on Single-Disc Outkast

  1. Scraps Says:

    I’ll bet “Behold a Lady” sounds a lot better without “Good Day, Good Sir” in front of it.

  2. Chris M. Says:

    I was waiting for you to get to this one. I did the same thing back in 2003, and I still have my mix, which I called The Love Boxxx, on my iPod; it’s pretty much the only way I listen to SB/TLB, when I do put it on.

    Your edit is slightly more severe than mine. (Glad to see you didn’t try to get it all the way down to vinyl length!) As you see on my old blog post, at first I got it down to 90 minutes, but if you scroll down to my addendum comment, I eventually got it down to single-CD length by chopping a few more songs and using audio-editing software (a cheat, I know) to make some of the keeper songs shorter. (“Roses,” the album’s third single/Top 10 hit, is six minutes in its original form!) Final number of songs: 22.

    I haven’t read this blog post of mine in years, but I ended up digressing into a discussion of double-albums in general. Basically, you and I were on the same wavelength on all this.

    Key excerpt of my post–on OutKast specifically–if you don’t feel like reading all of my blather:

    [A] couple of listens have already convinced me I’ve created a better album. And it’s amazing, almost infuriating, how easily Boi’s songs and Dre’s songs work together. They really could have had their very own White Album, a pastiche of Boi songs and Dre songs complementing and commenting on each other. The strategy they chose instead shows, at worst, a failure of courage, or at best that they didn’t realize what they had. Much as McCartney and Lennon are wrongly oversimplified as “the melodic one” and “the rockin’ one,” Dre and Boi are more complex – and closer to each other – than casual fans or even they themselves might suspect.

  3. Gavin Says:

    I agree. When I told originally told people that I had picked this double album, I frequently got the reaction “Are you just going to cut all of Big Boi’s songs?” Which demonstrates that they really hadn’t listened to either record (but liked “Hey Ya!” a lot). The weak stuff on Speakerboxxx tended towards the generic, but the good songs were cool and trippy and hard. (“The Rooster” is my favorite song on the whole shebang.)

    (in re Chris’s interesting old blog post)
    You know that double albums get counted for twice the sales, right? That’s almost certainly why Songs in the Key of Life is Wonder’s best-seller.

    Also: I think of Use Your Illusion as one mega-album that got split into two for marketing purposes. I think of Human Touch and Lucky Town as two separate albums, albeit ones without a clear distinction between them. (Actually, I think of them as Springsteen’s biggest misstep ever. So far as I can tell, there was no motivation for that project beyond “I can have two albums on top of the charts too!” It was poetic justice that neither of them hit #1.)

  4. Scraps Says:

    Huh, I would have guessed Songs in the Key of Life as Stevie’s best-selling album anyway. It was huge. It was an event. It debuted at number one, back when that meant something (I think it was the third album to do so). “I Wish” and “Sir Duke” were big hits, even for Stevie, and it had several songs that got big radio play (“Isn’t She Lovely”, “As”, “Another Star”, “Love’s in Need of Love Today”). My memory — not the most reliable instrument — is that at the time it was considered the culmination of a great run, and the peak, both artistically and commercially (though critically it’s probably rated about the same level as Innervisions these days).

  5. Chris M. Says:

    You know that double albums get counted for twice the sales, right? That’s almost certainly why Songs in the Key of Life is Wonder’s best-seller.

    I sure do, and funny you mention that: I’m about to do an Idolator post on this very topic. The whole RIAA all-time list is filled with sham “best-sellers” (and their names are The Wall, Billy Joel Greatest Hits Vols. I & II, and…yes, The White Album).

    It was huge. It was an event. It debuted at number one, back when that meant something (I think it was the third album to do so).

    All correct, as well as everything else you said. I still think Songs is overrated as an album (overstuffed, to be specific; gimme Innervisions over Songs any day), but there’s no denying it was a cultural event and a culmination to one of the most amazing runs in pop-music history. And the best tracks on it positively kill.

  6. Gavin Says:

    >The whole RIAA all-time list is filled with sham “best-sellers”

    You know who the secret hero of your post is, in my opinion? Shania Twain. You may recall that your purchase of Up! got you two discs: one with a country mix of the songs, another with a pop mix of the same songs. But although the album qualified for double RIAA credit, Twain eschewed it (basically feeling it didn’t pass the smell test). Up! ended up being certified for 11 million copies in the United States, no small beer, but had Twain not been principled about it, the record would be ranked as the fifth best-selling record of all time (tied with Back in Black, also produced by Mutt).

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.