Double album

  (Redirected from Triple album)

A double album (or double record) is an audio album which spans two units of the primary medium in which it is sold, typically records and compact disc. A double album is usually, though not always, released as such because the recording is longer than the capacity of the medium. Recording artists often think of double albums as being a single piece artistically; however, there are exceptions such as John Lennon's Some Time in New York City and Pink Floyd's Ummagumma (both examples of one studio record and one live album packaged together) and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (effectively two solo albums, one by each member of the duo). Another example of this approach is Works Volume 1 by Emerson Lake and Palmer, where side one featured Keith Emerson, side two Greg Lake, side three Carl Palmer, and side four was by the entire group.

Since the advent of the compact disc, albums are sometimes released with a bonus disc featuring additional material as a supplement to the main album, with live tracks, studio out-takes, cut songs, or older unreleased material. One innovation was the inclusion of DVD of related material with a compact disc, such as video related to the album or DVD-Audio versions of the same recordings. Some such discs were also released on a two-sided format called DualDisc.

Due to the limitations of the gramophone record, many albums primarily released on the format were under 40 minutes long. This has led to record labels re-releasing two of these albums on one CD, thus making a double album.

The same principles apply to the triple album, which comprises three units. Packages with more units than three are often packaged as a box set.


Cover for The Beatles' The Beatles, one of the best-selling double albums of all time.

1948 to the Late 1970s - LP RecordsEdit

The creation of the LP in 1948 allowed more or longer recordings per record, with approximately 22 minutes of music able to be played per side for a maximum of 44 minutes[1]. Despite this, recordings of entire classical or operatic pieces often proved to be too large for one record, and thus album releases which consisted of two or more records were made to compensate. As such records were costly to make and sell, double albums and multi-record releases were largely limited to long-running works like classical music, and later, to live recordings and compilations. One of the first live double albums, as well as one of the earliest double albums featuring non-classical music, was The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert by Benny Goodman, a live recording of the titular concert at Carnegie Hall released in 1950 on Columbia Records. Studio recordings of operas have been released as double, triple, quadruple and quintuple albums since the 1950s.[2]

As record costs went down over time and greater thought was given to the album as an artistic piece, double albums became more common. One of the first examples consisting of new studio recordings is 1956's Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book[3]. However, Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, released on June 20, 1966, is widely considered to be one of the first double albums in popular music with complete original recordings by the artist. This album was followed just a week later by another double album and the debut by the The Mothers of Invention's, Freak Out!, which was released on June 27, 1966.[4]

In the years following these releases, original double albums among pop and rock artists increased, often released at the height of the artist's career. Notable examples include The Beatles' eponymous 1968 album, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road from 1973, and Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti from 1975, among others. Additionally, the rise of progressive rock at the time, which often involves complex and long tracks akin to classical music, and concept albums often made a second track necessary. The second best-selling double album and best-selling concept double album ever is Pink Floyd's The Wall with over 30 million copies (60 million units) worldwide.[5][6]

Late 1970s - Compact Cassettes and CDsEdit

In the latter half of the 1970s, as technology advanced, the Philips corporation's compact cassette tape began to supersede LPs as the dominant pre-recorded music format. The format allowed for a much larger 30 to 45 minutes per side for a total of 60 to 90 minutes total, doubling the length allowed for music storage. Later in 1982, Philips introduced the compact disc, with a continuous length of 74 minutes (Later developed to have 80 minutes). As a result of this, artists were given far more room for what they could put on an album, many rarely exceeding the runtime given on tapes and CDs, and double albums became uncommon consequently. This new space also allowed many previous double album releases to be reissued on these new formats on a single unit: Blonde on Blonde, for instance, was able to be released singularly on cassette[7] and CD[8] when it was reissued.

Despite the increased track length, some issues with both reissues and new releases on multiple formats affected the length and track order of these albums. The Beatles' White Album, originally released as a double record, remained split across two units for both its cassette[9] and CD[10] reissues, with the former in particular having to re-arrange the track order in order to ensure equal tape length. Meanwhile, 1988's He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince was released on both vinyl and cassette. At 85 minutes, the record release had to be released as a double album, making it the first ever release by hip hop artists, while its single CD release had to be truncated by 13 minutes. Other double albums originally issued on LP, such as Mike Oldfield's Incantations and Chick Corea's My Spanish Heart, were likewise shortened for their 74 minute CD release, though both were later reissued in their entirety when 80 minute CDs were developed.

While not as common in the advent of these formats, particularly for studio albums, double albums continued to be released particularly for live recordings, classical music, soundtracks, and compilations, and a number of popular studio albums were released as double albums on these formats at this time, such as the The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The best-selling double album of all time is Michael Jackson's HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I from 1995, with over 33 million copies (66 million units) sold worldwide.[11][12] The year after, Tupac Shakur became the first rapper to sell a double album globally with All Eyez on Me, becoming his best selling album by the time of his death in September 1995.


Packaging for r


With regard to records, most double album sets are organized by manual sequencing, where the order of sides played are laid much as they are on a single LP; Side one and two are organized back-to-back on the first disc, as are three and four on the second disc and so on. However, some releases up to the 1970s are optimized for automatic sequencing. On a double album, this would have had sides one and four on one disc and sides two and three on the other. This sequencing, used previously in multi-disc albums in the 78rpm era, let the listener play through the entire double album and only need to flip over the records once, compared to manual sequencing where the listener would have to change the side or record three times. The use of automatic sequencing gradually declined during the 1970s as automatic record changers fell out of favor. High quality manual turntables became more affordable and are often preferred because they cause less record wear.

After a company decided on manual or automatic sequence, production of that title generally stayed in the same configuration indefinitely. Notable examples of albums using automatic sequence include the 1968 Reprise Records release, Electric Ladyland, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience which was still sold in automatic sequence well into the late 1980s. Other common examples include Frampton Comes Alive! by Peter Frampton, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Quadrophenia by The Who, and Bad Girls by Donna Summer.


There are only a few examples of a sesquialbum (i.e. one and a half records).

Johnny Winter released what would be the first three-sided rock album, Second Winter, on two 12-inch discs, with the flip side of the second disc being blank. A 1976 live concert recording by Keith Jarrett and his quartet, released as Eyes of the Heart by ECM Records in 1979, Joe Jackson's 1986 release Big World, and Pavement's Wowee Zowee are other examples of this.

In 1975, jazz artist Rahsaan Roland Kirk released The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color which apparently had only three sides, but on closer inspection, there were a small number of grooves pressed on side four with a few short "hidden" conversation snippets; the CD reissue includes all of them.

In 1982, Todd Rundgren and his band released the self-titled album Utopia featuring one full LP of 10 songs, and a second 12-inch disc with five bonus tracks, the same lineup on each side.

The Monty Python album Matching Tie and Handkerchief was originally issued with two concentric grooves with different programs on the second side, but this was done for comedic rather than practical reasons.

The Stranglers, Elvis Costello and The Clash (amongst other 1970s/80s acts) would sometimes release early pressings of their albums with extra material on a 45 RPM single. The Sunlandic Twins by Of Montreal features a third side officially called a "bonus EP", essentially offering an alternate definition of an EP, a single 33 1/3 RPM side instead of a two-sided 45 RPM record.

The 1992 Julian Cope album Jehovahkill contained three sides, or "phases", with a laser-etched fourth side which was unplayable, which also occurred with Norwegian band Motorpsycho's vinyl releases of Motorpsycho presents The International Tussler Society and Heavy Metal Fruit, and Excepter's 2014 album Familiar (the third side, with only one track, being shorter).

Seattle band Alice in Chains released their first two EPs, Jar of Flies, and Sap (EP) on two vinyl discs in 1994 had three sides on vinyl, while the fourth side contained a laser etching of the Alice in Chains logo. The vinyl pressing of the My Chemical Romance album The Black Parade also has three sides worth of content, with side four being a laser etching of a portion of the limited edition album art.

Genesis' Three Sides Live, Kiss' Alive II, Donna Summer's Live and More, and the Moody Blues' Caught Live Plus 5 are examples of double albums with three sides of live recordings (i.e. one and a half albums) and one side of studio recordings.

Triple albumEdit

Among the first successful triple albums (or triple records) were Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, released August 15, 1970, and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, released November 27, 1970. A triple album may be live, such as The Band's The Last Waltz (1978) and Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won (2003); or a compilation of an artist's work, such as Stevie Wonder's retrospective anthology Looking Back. Yes' live album Yessongs was made a triple album owing to its inclusion of many of the band's longer compositions. With the longer time available on compact disc, many albums that spanned three vinyl discs are able to fit on two compact discs (an example being Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile).

Triple albums are released across genres, including punk with The Clash's Sandinista!, alternative rock with Pearl Jam's 11/6/00 – Seattle, Washington, and mainstream pop with Prince's Emancipation.

Frank Sinatra's Trilogy: Past Present Future was originally released as a three LP set in 1980. Compact disc pressings of the album combine the triple vinyl set onto two CDs, with "Past" and "Present" taking up the first disc.

The first triple hip-hop album was American Hunger by New York City rap artist MF Grimm which was released in 2006. It contains 20 songs on each disc.

American hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco's canceled third studio album release LupEND would have been a triple album, composed of discs titled "Everywhere," "Nowhere," and "Down Here." Joanna Newsom's 2010 album Have One on Me is a triple album; due to the unusual length of the songs, there are only six tracks on each disc.

Escalator over the Hill, Carla Bley's jazz opera (lyrics by Paul Haines), was originally released in 1971 as a triple album in a box which also contained a booklet with lyrics, photos and profiles of the musicians.

The Great Concert of Charles Mingus by Charles Mingus was recorded in 1964 and released in 1971.

The Weeknd's compilation album Trilogy was released as a triple album in 2012, comprising his critically acclaimed 2011 mixtapes House of Balloons, Echoes of Silence and Thursday.

The Knife's 2013 album Shaking the Habitual is spread across three LPs and two CDs, being an hour and forty minutes in length. (Although a single-disc edit exists omitting the 19 minute track Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized)

Swallow the Sun's 2015 album Songs from the North I, II & III is divided into Gloom, Beauty and Despair. In total, each disc contains no more than 8 tracks and no less than 40 minutes.

Box setEdit

When albums exceed the triple album format they are generally referred to as box sets. Normally, albums consisting of four or more discs are compilations or live recordings, such as In a Word: Yes (1969–) and Chicago at Carnegie Hall, respectively.

Studio albums with more than three discs are very rare. Notable examples include:

Simultaneous releasesEdit

Some performers have released two or more distinct but related albums simultaneously (or near-simultaneously) which could be seen together as a double album. Moby Grape's Wow/Grape Jam (released in 1968) is an early example. Others include:

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "12 Inch Records | Standard Vinyl | Vinyl Record Pressing CANADA USA". Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jerry, Bungle (2011-11-26). "Better as a Single: "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Songbook" by Ella Fitzgerald". Better as a Single. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  4. ^ "Freak Out! (1966)". Archived from the original on 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2015-11-13.
  5. ^ Putti, Laura (2001-08-24). "Il nuovo Michael Jackson fa un tuffo nel passato". La Repubblica. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
  6. ^ "The return of the King of Pop". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  8. ^ "Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  9. ^ "The Beatles - The Beatles". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  10. ^ "The Beatles - The Beatles". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  11. ^ "On this day in entertainment". 30 November 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Magazine Guitarist and Bass, Retrieved August 12, 2009" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 May 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  13. ^ Magic Records
  14. ^
  15. ^ Reynolds, Simon (July 2001). "Walking on Thin Ice". The Wire. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012.

External linksEdit