Triple Play: Artists With Three Consecutive Great Albums

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A bit of the obvious to start things off: Making a great album is hard. Writing compelling songs, gathering collaborators, crafting the right balance between great singles and album cuts, navigating the label labyrinth–the process of assembling an album itself is difficult enough to begin with, let alone making one of high quality and appeal. Now consider attempting to replicate that process three times. It's a difficult task that few artists–even some of finest talents of all time–can accomplish, even over nonconsecutive albums. Capturing magic on three straight albums, then, demands a combination of considerable vision, constant, evolving creativity, and sheer, Herculean will.

We've rounded up fourteen artists from roughly the last three decades (using the dawn of the MTV era as a loose marker) who defied the odds and put out three straight great albums. In some cases, the artists listed managed to overcome even longer odds and release four or five excellent albums in a row; when applicable, we'll explain why we've chosen the three albums listed.

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  • Mulatto Patriot

    How is DE LA SOUL not on this list???

  • Birch

    LCD Sound system? Arcade Fire?

  • PigsAndPlans

    Yeah LCD definitely could have been included. We talked about Arcade Fire too, but it feels kind of strange because I think Funeral, The Suburbs, and Reflektor are their best, with Neon Bible breaking up the three. But its very good too.

    We weren’t trying to go for a definitive list with this, so we didn’t cover every artist with three straight great ones. Feel free to comment with more we missed!

  • http://thespiralcase.net/ kayyyak

    in summation: Damon Albarn is a beast.

  • Professor Green

    How did you leave out Animal Collective? “Feels” to “Strawberry Jam” to “MPP” is a crazy good triple play.

  • Birch

    Yeah for me it’s Neon Bible, The Suburbs and Refelektor but I can see how Neon Bible might not be everyone’s cup of tea. List is still very good though!

  • Blkhippym83

    Great list. I respect it. These artists are clearly creative forces that dominated certain genre barriers. I’m glad Kanye & Daft were on here. These are people you either understand the quality or you dont. No in between.

    & yes Albarn is greatness.
    imagine an Albarn + Daft lp. Daft Gorillaz.

  • RBS

    The Dream – Love Hate, Love vs. Money, Love KIng
    Jay-Z – Vol.3, Dynasty, The Blueprint
    2Pac – Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me, Don Killuminati: 7 Day Theory

  • neko

    Vampire Weekend?

  • dan

    ayo you forgot bob dylan and animal collective b but still good list

  • http://jmths.wordpress.com/ dnltlk11

    The Streets:
    “Original Pirate Material” (2002)
    “A Grand Don’t Come for Free” (2004)
    “The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living” (2006)

  • http://jmths.wordpress.com/ dnltlk11

    The Streets:
    “Original Pirate Material” (2002)
    “A Grand Don’t Come for Free” (2004)
    “The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living” (2006)

  • ActionBronson

    I would personally take Drake off.
    Dont think NWTS deserves great status.

  • Jeff

    Love King wasn’t good at all

  • Billy’s Kingdom

    i’d say take care was great the other 2 had moments

  • Billy’s Kingdom

    the last 1 doesn’t hold a candle 2 the first 2

  • sobercool

    Animal Collective did a four-time punch with: Sung Tongs + Feels + Strawberry Jam + Merriweather Post Pavilion. Pick the last three for your list, though I know some people are not very keen on Feels because it’s sort of a slow break from the manic euphoria of its predecessor and follow-ups.

  • http://twitter.com/troybrowntv TroyBrownTV

    Good list. I don’t know if I would put the Slim Shady LP on this. It was a good album but I don’t know if I can say it’s on par with MMLP and The Eminem Show. I think Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 2 could have been on this list of they would have cut it shorter. Instead of a double CD they could have made it stronger by making one disc of concentrated hotness. Then I would have to say The Dynasty The Blueprint and the Blueprint 2. And then you could even say it would make four in a row because of The Black Album. Dope article.

  • Abbas Nadeem

    Tyler, The Creator could be argued for. I think The Strokes should definitely be on here, “Is This It?” is a masterpiece, “Room on Fire” was definitely great and even though “First Impressions of Earth” was really good, but not great, Casablancas and co. could get a pass if Drake got one for NWTS.

  • Lassen

    In my opinion Kanye could have been on here twice.. College Dropout, Late Registration & Graduation are soooo dope.. But I actually personally prefer 808′s, MBDTF and Yeezus.. I do think tho, that it’s still too early to classify either Yeezus or for that sake Nothing Was The Same as great albums.. Let some time pass

  • daddy

    nirvana? anyone? dont tell me bleach wasnt good enough to be on here if plastic beach was

  • Dave C

    the correct answer is none.

  • Fuzzy Dunlop

    Not even a mention of Dr Dre’s contribution to Eminem’s albums ?

  • Erik

    2Pac ?? Biased complex

  • Zuri A.

    I’d replace him with 2Pac
    Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me & Makaveli .
    Me

  • Jon Tanners

    The god

  • Riggity

    Definitely would have excluded Drake unless you counted So Far Gone as the first of the three, then maayybee. . . Also as much I love the Gorillaz I would have excluded them due to Plastic Beach. That album pales in comparison to Demon Days. Glaring ommisons include OutKast: Southplayalisitcadallacmuzik, ATLiens, Aquemini; Jay Z: Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime, Hard Knock Life; Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend, Contra, Modern Vampires of the City. BOOM. . . list ammended.

  • Jon Tanners

    Outkast is on the list, just a slightly different group of albums.

  • RBS

    Not really sure how you can make that statement so objectively. Obviously we disagree, in that I put it on my list. Maybe not great, but I certainly thought it was very good.

  • x97sfinest

    Graduation was meh I’d put all other Kanye albums up there though. He gets still the threepeat with MDBTF, Watch the Throne, and Yeezus,

  • Brian Madden

    R.E.M – any of the albums from the IRS years. The Roots Game Theory to How I got Over.

  • Ben Rosner

    Good list, but I would add the following:

    Pink Floyd (DSOTM+Wish You Were Here+The Wall)
    Arcade Fire (Neon Bible+The Suburbs+Reflektor)
    LCD Soundsystem (LCD Soundsystem+Sound of Silver+This is Happening)
    Bruce Springsteen (The Rising+Magic+Working On A Dream)

    And I agree with Lassen that Kanye 2.0 (808s + MBDTF + Yeezus) is better than Kanye 1.0. Also, how the hell did Gorillaz and Drake get on this list?

  • Ben Rosner

    Just realized Animals came before The Wall. So my comment about Pink Floyd should be: (DSOTM+Wish You Were Here+Animals)

  • Philip Cosores

    I agree with the people saying Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, The National (maybe), R.E.M., and I mean, you could go into smaller bands really easily too. I don’t really agree with Gorillaz or Daft Punk

  • DJiS3

    Good list… I would also add

    1. Nas

    2. Justin Timberlake

    3. N.E.R.D.

    4. Destinys Child

    5. Wu-Tang

  • TK

    Clipse- exclusive audio footage, lord willin, he’ll hath no fury

  • TK

    Hell hath no fury

  • mvious

    Im glad Gorillaz was included. they are always forgotten!

  • Et Ceter4

    I whole heartedly agree with you on this notion!

  • Et Ceter4

    I whole heartedly agree with you on this notion!

  • Et Ceter4

    these guys champ the others cause they have 4 greats in a row =)

    The Rolling Stones : Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile

    Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run, Darkness, The River, Nebraska

    David Bowie: Station to Station, Low, ‘Heroes’

  • zak

    rage against the machine

  • Marcelo

    This seemed to be an interesting article, but then I saw Kanye West on the cover and immediately lost any interest in it. Kanye is not an artist, he is a sampler, period.