Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Double Your Pleasure: 10 of the Greatest Double Albums Ever

It takes a lot of balls to presume your audience will plunk down extra duckets for a double album, no matter your stature in the industry.  Considering a lot of artists have issued the deuce and bloated their packages with filler fluff or experimental oddities enlightening only to themselves, if you dare release a double album, I've said time and again in record reviews it had better be special.

While Soilwork recently released the last very good dual dunk with The Living Infinite, the beast known as the double album is usually just a jewel in the rough, as Kiss sings in "Ladies' Room."  Kiss themselves issued two of the best double live albums in rock history, Alive and Alive II, but focusing on singular studio releases of then-new material from musicians, it gets a bit hard to justify dishing up two LPs in one package.  Guns n' Roses' Use Your Illusion I and II don't count, since they were separately delved and not everything on those albums stand up as classic, though "November Rain" justified the excursion altogether.

To be frank, I'm a bit annoyed and silently offended that vinyl manufacturers today are spreading out single length albums over the course of two slabs in most cases.  Perhaps the way vinyl is cut in modern times (particularly in generating a contemporary plug for digital recording systems versus trusty ol' analog) forces the issuance of two records in one package, but the marketing degree bearing my name automatically smells profiteering bullshit.

Nevertheless, there have been inarguable masterworks and some right there on the cusp of perfection amongst the double album format.  The Beatles' White Album will remain the greatest double recording of all-time until the planet explodes.  The Clash come right behind them with their paralleled spirit of creativity and exploration.  London Calling is nearly as devastating as The White Album and had The Clash played their cards better with their ill-fated triple album Sandinista! they could've had themselves a second killer double shot.  Instead, Prince gets honors for delivering two classic double albums, 1999 and Sign o' the Times.  Then what the Minutemen did with their insane roving on Double Nickels On the Dime should never be attempted again by anyone, because it remains a magical slice of geek punk that's still tighter than Queen on their best day.

At any rate, here are my top ten favorite double albums, submitted for your perusal:

1.   The Beatles - The White Album
2.   The Clash - London Calling
3.   Prince - Sign o' the Times
4.   Minutemen - Double Nickels On the Dime
5.   The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street
6.   Chicago - III
7.   Smashing Pumpkins - Melon Colie and The Infinite Sadness
8.   Pink Floyd - The Wall
9.   Prince - 1999
10. The Cure - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

Special Mentions:

Bruce Springsteen - The River
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde

           Listenin' to:  The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street


  1. My list:
    The Beatles: The White Album (of course!)
    Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti
    Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (a double LP in its original release)
    Pink Floyd: The Wall
    Hawkwind: Space Ritual
    Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde

  2. Good stuff, JP, I thought of making this a 15 list to include Dylan and Zeppelin, for certain worthy double albums and yep, Bitches Brew is a wild two-piece, though it takes a bit of digestion to appreciate it fully. It was definitely a transition statement for jazz. Good call.