The great Chicago music podcast “Sound Opinions” had a really good baseball themed episode about music “Grand Slams”, where a band released four excellent albums in a row. While we won’t rip them off directly, since it’s the basketball playoffs, 2/3rds of LxL is in Chicago, and MJ won 2 three-peats, we thought we would give to you the best three-peats to start a career, or the top ten artists who started their career with three great-to-perfect albums. Not to mention Vampire Weekend just released their third and best album, making them a wonderful candidate for this three-peat list. So here we go.
10. TV On the Radio
The Albums: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science
In my opinion, the Brooklyn noise-rockers got severely underrated at 10. TV On The Radio released three of the best albums of the aughts, albums that howled, swooned, burned, and celebrated in front of their apocalyptic sound.
9. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
The Albums: Fever to Tell, Show Your Bones, It’s Blitz
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs took a serious hit this year when they laid an egg with their fourth album Mosquito, but that doesn’t take away from what they did with their first three. The fact that each of us at LxL have different favorites is telling that all three of these are championship caliber.
8. The Clash
The Albums: The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling
The Clash came firing out of the gate, with relentless punk on The Clash and Give ‘Em Enough Rope, and then released what I would argue as one of the 20 greatest albums of all time in London Calling. Not a bad way to start your career.
7. Kanye West
The Albums: College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation
The divisive rapper may be living the highlife with the Kardashian’s on a throne of gold now, but back when he released College Dropout, he was just a hungry behind-the-scenes producer hoping for a little spotlight. These three work as somewhat of a trilogy and are three of the best rap albums ever released.
6. Talking Heads
The Albums: Talking Heads ’77, More Songs About Building and Food, Fear of Music
While the Talking Heads no doubt evolved over their career, the band started wonderfully with the groovy Talking Heads ’77, the even more groovy More Songs About Building and Food, and the beginning of their dark, experimental period with Fear of Music.
5. Jimi Hendrix
The Albums: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland
The only three albums released by Hendrix while he was alive, and in some ways the only true Hendrix albums, are also his three greatest. These are blues and rock essentials, no buts about it.
4. LCD Soundsystem
The Albums: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver, This is Happening
Electronic musician James Murphy’s first three albums were so good, he just dropped the mic and ended LCD Soundsystem. Their final show is documented interestingly in Shut Up and Play the Hits, which sort of shows Murphy pretty conflicted about his band’s demise.
The Albums: The Stooges, Fun House, Raw Power
The Stooges first three albums are not only their three best albums – they are their only good albums. These three albums pioneered so garage rock and punk in many ways, showcasing Iggy Pop as the most fiery wild man in rock music.
2. Led Zeppelin
The Albums: Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III
Hard to believe the Zep isn’t number one, but they came awful close for us. Really the first five Zeppelin albums were legendary, but these three especially layed the groundwork for all that the band would do. I am also the belief that not only is III underrated, but it is actually the best Zeppelin album.
The Albums: Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossanova
Like the Stooges, the Pixies started their career with their best three albums, and what albums they were. These three helped birth grunge and modern day indie rock and hold up extremely well as bold and relentless albums like the day they were released.
The “Just Missed Our List” List:
Austin – Kings of Leon
The Albums: Youth & Young Manhood, A-Ha Shake Heartbreak, Because of the Times
This list was made for the Kings. Making up for the sins of the their career woes after their first three, these three albums not only show the band’s evolution, but also are just about the most fun you will have with rock ‘n’ roll music in the past 20 years.
Todd – Elvis Costello
The Albums: My Aim is True, This Year’s Model, Armed Forces
These misses actually land as more our Top 13 albums rather than choices that one person pushed for and the other two hated. Like Austin, Todd makes a great choice with the always clever Elvis Costello, with three albums that smart cultural commentary with pop and punk sensibilities.
Wes – Pavement
The Albums: Slanted and Enchanted, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Wowee Zowee
Like the Pixies, fellow indie pioneers Pavement released three clever and charming rock albums, with each release getting increasingly better.
So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general …