Last week, we asked the question (and discussed) whether too many songs on an album encourages the failure of an album, or discourages the inclination for a listener to buy a copy of the complete set as opposed to farming for a song.  I suggested that the band (or artist) could concentrate more artistically on a smaller set of songs for inclusion on an album so as to make for a more compelling set.

The discussion was interesting, and, as usual, with arguments for both sides of the coin.  One thing that I got from the thread was an interesting one, that many previous bands and artists had plenty of “filler” in their album.

The term “filler” can be construed as a strong word to an artist, who likely considers everything they’ve recorded as worthy of the wax, aluminum, and bits they take resident on and within.  Nevertheless, many bands in the history of Rock and Roll (and before) made albums with a few strong songs (or some with every song bad), and the rest less interesting.

It could also be said that the songs are strong but some overshadow the acceptance of the rest.  How would a song  follow “Black Dog””, “Rock and Roll”, and “Stairway To Heaven” on IV?  Well, the answer to that is from a purist’s standpoint, the album was solid beginning to end.  But to the other less tolerant listeners, the rest were filler to some degree or another.  (I know, bad choice as an illustration, but…!)

So, to continue the thread that we started, I thought I would ask the inevitable question, and see what popular albums out there had “filler” inside.  Since there are so many to choose from, feel free to add as many examples and declarations as you feel you should.

SpringsteenTheRiverI have always made the classic argument that Bruce Springsteen created a 2LP hopeful with The River (right, Bill B? ;- )).  I have always felt that for The River to become classic through and through, like its predecessors, the unbeatable Born To Run, and the perfect  Darkness On The Edge Of Town, it needed to become a single LP.  (Now, this is just an example for the sake of this article as I’ve long been beaten to internet pulp too many times to want to go through this again as a stand-alone topic.)

I have others.  And so do you.  Let us hear your selection of albums with “filler”, and check to see if the mass agree.

By MARowe

14 thoughts on “Which Album(s) Have “Filler” Tracks?”
  1. Ha ha ha Matt. Actually you and I agree on pretty much all the Springsteen stuff except “Magic”. (BTW, The River was never one of my favorites. I didn’t even own a copy until the last couple of years).

    I am going to go in a different direction on this one. I think it really depends on how much the listener likes the band. I could name a bunch of albums that I feel have no fillers on them but I am sure others could make valid arguments to the contrary. Likewise, I could rail off a bunch of classic albums that I own and love but aren’t as big of a fan as say, Zep or Rush or Floyd and deem them as having fillers.
    Given the fact that there are a million albums out there and I only own about 4000 of them. And of that 4000, I would estimate that I’d consider maybe 400 of those “filler free”, that leaves 999,600 albums that I’d be willing to say have filler tracks on them. Should I start listing them or would it make more sense to list those that I don’t consider having filler?
    Bottom line, relevance (and beauty) is in the ear (or eye) of the beholder.

    With that said. I understand what you are trying to stir up a debate on. You want people to cast out a well known and loved album by a mainstream group and deem it has filler. This reminds me of the review in Rolling Stone (I think) of the recently remastered Rush 2112 album. If I recall the reviewer said something like: The song 2112 is a masterpiece. Then went on to sing it’s praises. When it came to side two the summary implied that no one ever made it to side 2.
    What a jackass. To a Rush fan that album is pure perfection from beginning to end. And that’s why I don’t want to start listing albums. Ultimately I would just be slamming bands of which I am not that big of a fan.

  2. Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums could’ve omitted a couple of tracks, but overall they are great.

  3. The first one to leap to my mind is U2’s “Rattle and Hum” But not because i think it should have been pared down to one LP but rather that it should have been split in to two free standing LPs and each of them fleshed out. Even though there were many singles, a few truly big hits and some standout live performances it feels like a lot of filler because mixing the live and studio tracks didn’t work very well.

    I would have released the studio set first but under a different title. I’d leave the running order of the studio songs pretty much as it is but I would have added the previously released studio version of “Silver and Gold” somewhere as the live version of that song eventually appeared in the film and the live record. That would give a good solid LP of studio stuff and would be a logical progression from “The Joshua Tree” and the influence of Americana on the band.

    After the singles from the studio album had run their course I would have released a proper live album called “Rattle and Hum” that contained songs from “The Unforgettable Fire”, “The Joshua Tree” and the “Rattle and Hum” studio sessions. There were a lot of good live performances of previous singles in the movie that did not make it on to the record so some of those would be included along with the full live version of “When Love Comes to Town” with B.B. King. I’d drop the live covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Helter Skelter” as we’ll as the incidental “Freedom for my People” – these are great in the movie but as they are not U2 compositions they could be deleted from the LP. I’d keep the Hendrix intro to “Bullet the Blue Sky” though because of how it was used.

    I think this would have been much more preferable than the package that was released. Maybe they do a deluxe expanded version of “R&H” along theses lines.

  4. The first album that comes to mind would be Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium”……..double CD release that would have been one of the years strongest releases that year if the filler tracks were taken out and issued as a single…….

  5. The White Album. As much as I love it (AND I DO), I have to be honest there’s a lot of filler on those four sides.

  6. This thread reminds me of a one-liner review for one of the Kansas Greatest Hits records I read a long time ago, which was “why did I think there would only be 1 track on here!”.
    Unfortunately I have to hit on the Boss again. I believe 1 record made out of Lucky Town and Human Touch could have been up there with BTR and DotEoT.
    As per Bill’s comment, as someone who worships the Rolling Stones “Mick Taylor” records, I have always thought Exile was an exception, with too much filler. As a single, it would have been stellar.
    Which leads me to another point along this line. How many doubles have been perfect?

    1. I am one who likes -LIKES – every song on Exile, and I consider it a great album, but I agree, if it were a single LP, it would be untouchable!

  7. I very much agree with Bill B. The vast majority of albums contain filler and the debate is subjective. Having said that, I just couldn’t resist throwing stones at three “classics” from the ’70s, the reputations of which were built mainly around their hits. Those are: The Eagles’ Hotel California, Eric Clapton’s Slowhand amp; Billy Joel’s The Stranger. All of these artist produced much better work. Yet these ones somehow stand out as fan favorites. And even one of the hits from Slowhand, Wonderful Tonight….what was THAT? In my opinion, the albums immediately preceding Hotel California amp; The Stranger….. One Of These Nights amp; Turnstiles, respectively, and Clapton’s last great album prior to Slowhand…..461 Ocean Blvd, all had NO filler. But those aren’t the ones that people generally talk about.

  8. “Long Road Out of Eden” by The Eagles.
    “London Calling”, “Sandinista” – The Clash.
    “The Wall” – Pink Floyd.

    1. I don’t know about “The Wall” as a single album. I agree that there are some songs on “The Wall” that are not as interesting as the bulk of the record but since it was a concept record that more (or less) told a story those songs definitely belong.

      Hell, I’m still mad that the double LP doesn’t include “When the Tigers Broke Free”.

      1. I thought of that also. A single LP would be more enjoyable musically but the concept would become fragmented. I was going to include “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” as well then thought better of it.

    2. I love all of London Calling, but I may hold it as too precious.

      Double agree on Sandinista. I have to say a have never really made it through the whole album in 1 listen.

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