Yesterday I was at gathering of musicians and songwriters, a few who I knew, but mostly new faces. At one point, I was on the patio involved in a discussion about the pros and cons of music streaming services. One guy said "Nobody's going to buy an album unless they know they like it. I have to listen to an album all the way through about ten times before that sixth song becomes my favorite, because that's where the meat is."
That's not the first time I've heard someone talk about artists only putting a couple of good songs on a record and rest just being fluff (or filler). I had someone tell me that when I was in the process of putting out "One More Night In Nashville". He said "Everyone knows that around tracks 7 and 8 is where you put the good songs." I told him that I had every intention of putting eleven (better than) good songs (out of eleven) on my record. He said "Nobody does that."
Mind you, these were both performing singer/songwriters who have put out recordings of their own music. Either they: (A) have no faith in their own material, (B) don't mind putting out lackluster recordings, (C) have fallen into a trap of doing things the way they think they've always been done, or (D) all of those.
Granted, I have always been an album cut kind of guy. The seemingly obvious pop hits either eluded me or bored me to tears. Sure, I like the Steppenwolf songs "Born To Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride", but I'd rather listen to "Desperation" or "Your Wall's Too High". The same goes for just about any album of rock or country music that I grew up listening to. I guess I've never been drawn to the least common denominator type of songs. I like to think I'm a more discerning listener than that. Maybe I'm just a closet hipster snob.
It's no wonder that people aren't buying albums. If they think there are only going to be a couple of good songs on a record, and those songs are going to be buried closer to the end of the album, I don't blame them at all. I would feel like I was ripping people off if I only gave them two (or at maximum, three) songs worth listening to.
When I write songs, I try to start with an opening line that will make the listener want to hear the next line...and then the next, and the next. I put my records together the same way. Give the listener a first song that makes not listening to the second song a hard thing to do. Repeat as necessary.
Back when everybody had vinyl albums, a smart producer would make sure that the last song on the first side made the listener want to turn it over and listen to Side 2...and the last song on Side 2 would make the listener want to play the album again. Maybe I'm old-school, or deluded, but I believe that if you produce an album full of top-notch songs, and present them in the proper order, people will listen all the through...hopefully, more than once.
So, I would prefer you listen to my whole albums, in the order that I put them together, but really you can start anywhere on them, because that's where the meat is.
I hope you find it nourishing.