Rejected Original Titles of Classic Albums
What if the Beatles kept the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ theme but called their album something else altogether? Or what if Nirvana decided to string together two other words from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and made them, instead of “never mind,” the name of their breakthrough album? Titles are more than just words on the album covers; they’re reflections of the music and themes inside. And sometimes they make all the difference in the world (‘Pet Sounds’ was originally called ‘Remember the Zoo,’ which strips the Beach Boys‘ classic of its hard-earned elegance). We doubt the LPs on our list of Rejected Original Titles of Classic Albums would have the same meanings under other names.
The Beatles, ‘Abracadabra’
The Beatles played the name game before. Their second movie, ‘Help!,’ was called ‘Eight Arms to Hold You’ almost until the very last minute. Their revolutionary follow-up to ‘Rubber Soul’ was originally titled ‘Abracadabra,’ but after they found out that another band had named their album that, they kicked around a bunch of ideas — including ‘Four Sides of the Eternal Triangle,’ ‘Magic Circles’ and ‘Beatles on Safari’ — before settling on ‘Revolver,’ which all four members liked because of the word’s double meaning.
Led Zeppelin, ‘Obelisk’
Led Zeppelin‘s seventh album didn’t have a title during its recording, but it did have a concept designed by Hipgnosis, the London art group responsible for some of the ’70s’ most iconic LP covers. A black object, which recalled ‘2001: A Space Odyssey”s famous monolith, was at the center of the project, so the album was originally titled ‘Obelisk,’ based on the shape of the mysterious item. The title was later changed when it was suggested that the band’s force emitted some sort on unexplainable presence.
Pink Floyd, ‘Eclipse’
Pink Floyd‘s 1973 classic went through various name changes before settling on ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.’ The band played a series of shows in 1972 that included full performances of their upcoming LP. At first, the band referred to the record as ‘Dark Side of the Moon — A Piece for Assorted Lunatics’ before changing it to ‘Eclipse,’ which stuck for most of the year. As release date approached, the band went back to the original lengthy title, eventually shortening it to the one we all know today.
The Rolling Stones, ‘Tropical Disease’
In 1971 the Rolling Stones were on the run from England’s tax man (see the Beatles’ ‘Abracadbra,’ er ‘Revolver,’ song). So they retreated to France, where they worked on their next album in the basement of the villa Keith Richards was renting. The sessions were pieced together as members boozed and drugged their days and nights away. With enough material in the can, the Stones readied a double-record set called ‘Tropical Disease’ for release in 1972. Somewhere in the haze, the LP was renamed ‘Exile on Main St.’
The Who, ‘The Deaf, Dumb & Blind Boy’
Before the title of the Who‘s 1969 masterpiece was streamlined to reflect the name of the protagonist in Pete Townshend‘s ambitious rock opera, it was rather clumsily called ‘The Deaf, Dumb & Blind Boy,’ a near-literal reading of the narrative. The story itself follows the “amazing journey” of a kid who watches his MIA dad kill his mom’s new boyfriend and then loses all of senses in the aftermath. The boy, Tommy, grows up to be a spiritual leader plus one hell of a pinball player.