The term “concept album” is generally a pejorative one these days, conjuring up images of earnest ’70s prog bands and songs about Tolkien. This isn’t entirely fair — there have certainly been some dreadful concept albums made over the years, but there have also been some perfectly good ones. Either way, here at Flavorpill HQ, we got to thinking that concept albums are usually united by one other feature: they’re pretty geeky. It takes a certain sort of band to visualize a grand narrative arc and/or sonic theme running through an entire record, and it’s not the type who’ll knock out three-chord ditties about fancying the girl next door. So it was that we got to thinking about the geekiest concept albums ever, ten of which we’ve compiled here. Some of these are pretty awesome, and some of them are… well, pretty awful, to be honest. But they’re all united by an unrepentant intellectualism that you can only admire.
The gold standard for ’70s prog excess and overwhelming nerdishness. King Crimson, ELO, Rush, and Wakeman’s own band Yes… They all made concept records, sure, but none of them ever approached the ludicrous glory of an entire album about King Arthur. As if the idea wasn’t absurd enough, Wakeman went the extra mile by deciding to stage an accompanying live extravaganza at Wembley Arena. On ice. Above you can see a snippet of the action — you’ll probably find yourself expecting to see six-inch standing stones descending from the firmament at any moment. Also, six minutes in (if you can bear it for that long), watch for the triple-necked guitar! Truly, they don’t make music like this any more.