Comparison to the LP reveals other effects of technology. The songs on vinyl LPs are fixed in place and, absent actual physical intervention by the listener, their order remains that determined by the artist. Today, a listener can create their own or totally disregard song order. While more modern musicians may take that into account (and thereby perhaps eliminate or reduce any overarching theme or structure), it can truly be a sin mucking with the playing order of classic albums. As Thompson notes, "there are occasions when an album needs to be played in the order in which it was first envisioned, because to do anything else isn't simply to distort the artist's vision, it's to demolish the very premise of the record itself."
For example, what does selecting "shuffle" on an iPod do to side 2 of Abbey Road? Or, like Thompson, consider Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 1973 release Brain Salad Surgery. The composition "Karn Evil 9" takes up nearly 30 minutes and roughly two-thirds of the album. Even in three parts called impressions, it was too long to fit on one side of an LP. As a result, the band broke "First Impression" into two parts, part one appearing at the end of side one and part two opening side two. Thus, just seconds into side two you hear, "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends." While that means something if you've just flipped over the LP on the turntable, it means nothing in the midst of one long track on CD.
Some of Thompson's opinions will irritate, or even anger, hardcore classic rock fans. It's also likely many readers may wonder if or just how far Thompson's tongue is in his cheek. Is his paean to the 8-track tape or his choice for the greatest post-'70s band — a band that was a put-on from the outset — serious, irony, or ironically serious? Regardless of the blend any reader may think he uses, the ultimate message is the same: rock music has lost something crucial and we're worse off for it.
I Hate New Music doesn't claim every rock album before 1979 was sterling and everything from then on was crap. Likewise, Thompson freely admits that even great classic rock bands, such as the Stones or the Who, succumbed and their music suffered. As always, exceptions can be found to the general rule. Those exceptions aside, though, Thompson sees no real heart in the rock music of the last 30 years, merely imitation, "the last, and sometimes the only, resort of the terminally unimaginative."