These days, if you mention that you’re a fan of concept albums in polite company, you’re more likely to be greeted by a groan than a grin. Despite being popularised by artists no less acclaimed than The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, it is a form that has fallen from grace since its heyday, and is nowadays often regarded as a hotbed of bloated egos and pretension.
Perhaps as an artistic statement, it was always vulnerable to the overambitious and underwhelming - but the concept album is also a wonderful vehicle for the surreal and absurd. It's a genre that abounds in androgynous aliens, weird worlds, and invented idioms; unlike a film or a novel, they are stories told in fragments, creating gloriously wonky and ambiguous works of art.
Some of the strangest tales ever told can be found on these esoteric records - and there are rewards aplenty for listeners brave enough to delve into one of the most eccentric corners of popular culture. From the furthest reaches of outer space to the bottom of the ocean, it's an art form uniquely without out limits.
So let's dive in...