Ah, the double album: home to musical over-reach in the highest order. Whether it's Axl deciding Guns N Roses biggest flaw was that not enough of their songs went over 9 minutes, or The Clash abandoning any primitive notions of punk's accessibility with the triple-album Sandinista, when a band make's an album that goes over the allotted running time, it tends to be a sign that they've gotten ambitious, and sometimes it means they've gotten too ambitious.
If you read the reviews for most double or triple albums, you're going to find countless critics talking about how much better things would've been if they had just left it at one disc. There's always that thought of "well, it was good, but there's so much filler." In a way, that's understandable; double albums are a heavy undertaking for the listener, but when critics go after the double album for its scope they tend be missing the point. Sure, it's easy to look at some of the worse tracks on Use Your Illusion I and II ("Back Off Bitch" and "Shotgun Blues" in particular just come of as dull), but there's something to be said for the scope of the project. Guns N Roses didn't want to just show that they were serious musicians, they wanted to show that they fully deserved the title of "biggest band on the planet." Did they succeed? Not entirely, but they made an intriguing album that, despite its flaws, should be admired having such a broad scope and trying to make something truly epic.
And let's be honest, suppose those overreaching double albums were brought down to single-disc status. Would we really be in pieces? I doubt it. The whole point of criticism is to find some holes to poke in whatever it is your reviewing. Take Weezer's self-titled debut album. There really isn't a single weak track on there, but "Holiday" is a bit less awesome than the rest, so it gets singled out as the "bad" song on the album, even though it's a perfectly fine power-pop number that would've been the best song by far on any Weezer album since Make Believe. Same goes for every classic Beatles albums. At various points I've heard "Within You Without You," "When I'm Sixty Four," and "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" referred to as the black sheep on an otherwise flawless record. Really though, all of those songs have some value, and contribute to the album's feel in one way or another. Critics are always going to find things to not like about albums. Turning double albums into single albums won't change that. Maybe some lengthier efforts do get over-stuffed with second-rate material, but if that's the price I have to pay to see musicians expand their horizons, I'm more than happy to pay it.