Monday, December 28, 2009

1001 Albums You Must Hear....sustained intense brilliance

What artists have sustained creative genius over several years, achieving entries in two or more consecutive years? Surprises ahead...

David Bowie

All hail!!

Bowie has two runs in the list...

Hunky Dory - 1971
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - 1972
Aladdin Sane - 1973


Young Americans - 1975
Station to Station - 1976
Heroes - 1977
Low - 1977

Given the two runs are separated by only two years, it is arguable that this burst of sustained brilliance is close to The Beatles - who achieve seven entries over seven years (see below).

BUT...consider the other albums Bowie released around this time. Notably, Diamond Dogs in 1974 links the two lists. That would be 8 albums in 7 years.

But these works are prefaced by Space Oddity (1969) and The Man Who Sold the World (1970).

That's 10 very strong albums over nine years. In my not so humble opinion, the greatest period of sustained brilliance by an artist in the modern era.

The Beatles

No prizes for naming The Beatles. Seven (!) consecutive entries.

With The Beatles - 1963
A Hard Day's Night - 1964
Rubber Soul - 1965
Revolver - 1966
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 1967
The Beatles (White Album) - 1968
Abbey Road - 1969

Any one of these would have been a career defining peak for most bands. Will we see anything like it again? Hard to imagine.

The Byrds

If you've read the previous posts, this probably doesn't come as a surprise either. Five entries in four years. Nice.

Mr Tambourine Man - 1965
Fifth Dimension - 1966
Younger Than Yesterday - 1967
Sweetheart Of The Rodeo - 1968
The Notorious Byrd Brothers - 1968

There was certainly something in the air! (Or the Kool Aid.) This is a band that I should really know a lot better than I do. A worthy target for vinyl acquisition.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin - 1969
Led Zeppelin II - 1969
Led Zeppelin III - 1970
Led Zeppelin IV - 1971

Led Zep extend the golden era. They also reenter in 1975 with Physical Graffiti. In between was Houses of the Holy (1973). Presence followed Physical Graffiti in 1976.

That's seven superb albums - but over a relatively leisurely 8 years.

The Kinks

Face to Face - 1966
Something Else by The Kinks - 1967
Village Green Preservation Society - 1968
Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire - 1969

More from the golden era. I think I thrashed Village Green to death long after it had first been released - but had still never really seen The Kinks as a serious album band. Dammit, another massive hole.

Talking Heads

Talking Heads '77 - 1977
More Songs About Buildings and Food - 1978
Fear of Music - 1979
Remain in Light - 1980

I hadn't really thought of them - but yeah. Note Eno's fingerprints - again. He co-produced the last three albums in this batch - after working with Bowie on Low and Heroes in 1977.

Ol' Bob
Bringing It All Back Home - 1965
Highway 61 Revisited - 1965
Blonde On Blonde - 1966

Another burst from the golden era. He is also on the list with The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963). In 1964 he released The Times They Are a-Changin' and Another Side of Bob Dylan. After Blonde on Blonde came John Wesley Harding (1967) and Nashville Skyline (1969).

That's 8 strong albums over 7 years - although only 4 made the list.

He'd chip in Blood on the Tracks in 1974. Then over twenty years later another entry with Time Out of Mind (1997) and a live concert LP from 1966 released in 1998.

Elvis Costello

My Aim Is True - 1977
This Year_s Model - 1978
Armed Forces - 1979

Elvis makes three more appearances on the list - in 1982, 1986 and 1994.

Sonic Youth

EVOL - 1986
Sister - 1987
Daydream Nation - 1988

The Sonic Kiddies also appear on the list with Goo (1990) and Dirty (1992).

Steely Dan

Can't Buy a Thrill - 1972
Countdown to Ecstasy - 1973
Pretzel Logic - 1974

They reenter in 1977 with Aja. In between was Katy Lied (1975) and The Royal Scam (1976) - a pretty strong body of work - six strong albums in as many years.

Joni Mitchell

Court And Spark - 1974
The Hissing of Summer Lawns - 1975
Hejeira - 1976

Blue (1971) also appears on the list. Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1977) is also a contender.

Stevie Wonder

Talking Book - 1972
Innervisions - 1973
Fullfillingness' First Finale - 1974

He reenters in 1976 with Songs in the Key of Life. Four classics in five years.


Fragile - 1971
The Yes Album - 1971
Close to The Edge - 1972

Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) and Relayer (1974) are also strong contenders. So five solid albums in four years.


Queen II - 1974
Sheer Heart Attack - 1974
A Night At The Opera - 1975

But A Day at the Races (1976) and News of the World (1977)
were also pretty solid albums. So that's five good albums over four years.

Jimi Hendrix

Are You Experienced? - 1967
Axis: Bold As Love - 1967
Electric Ladyland - 1968

Roxy Music

Roxy Music - 1972
For Your Pleasure - 1973
Country Life - 1974

Eno plays on the first album but not the other two. Apparently there was not enough room for two Brians in the band.

The Smiths

Meat is Murder - 1985
The Queen is Dead - 1986
Strangeways Here We Come - 1987

Morrissey is back as a solo artist - appearing on the list four times from 1987 to 2004.

The Pixies

Surfer Rosa - 1988
Doolittle - 1989
Bossanova - 1990

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