A double extended play is the name typically given to vinyl records or compact discs released as a set of two discs, each of which would normally qualify as an EP. The name is thus analogous to double album. As vinyl records, the most common format for the double EP, they consist of a pair of 7" discs recorded at 45 or 331⁄3rpm, or two 12" discs recorded at 45 rpm. The format is useful when an album's-worth of material is being pressed by a small plant geared for the production of singles rather than albums, and may have novelty value which can be turned to advantage for publicity purposes. Double EPs are rare, since the amount of material recordable on a double EP could usually be more economically and sensibly recorded on a single vinyl LP.
In the 1950s, Capitol Records had released a number of double EPs by its more popular artists, including Les Paul. The pair of double EPs (EBF 1-577, sides 1 to 8!) were described on the original covers as "parts... of a four part album". In 1960, Joe Meek's I Hear a New World double EP was released in 1960 and has since become a collector's item. Probably the most well-known double EP is The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, released as a double 7" EP in the United Kingdom eleven days after the long-playing version, which became the standard for compact disc reissue, was released in the United States. The Style Council album The Cost of Loving was originally issued as two 12" EPs.
It is becoming less uncommon to release two 12" 45s rather than a single 12" LP. Though there are 11 songs that total about 40 minutes, enough for one LP, the songs are spread across two 12" 45 rpm discs. Also, the vinyl pressing of Hail to the Thief by Radiohead uses this practice but is considered to be a full-length album. In 1982 Cabaret Voltaire released their studio album "2x45" on the UK-based label Rough Trade, featuring extended tracks over four sides of two 12" 45 rpm discs, with graphics by artist Neville Brody. The band subsequently released a further album in this format, 1985's "Drinking Gasoline", on the Virgin Records label.
There are a limited number of double EPs which serve other purposes,Dunedin Double EP, which contains tracks by four different bands. Using a double EP in this instance allowed each band to have its tracks occupying a different side. In addition, the groove on the physical record could be wider and thus allow for a louder album.
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