There are many bands in classic rock history that have released three great albums in a row. There are not as many that have released three perfect albums. Of course the term perfect is obviously a subjective phases when it come to the arts. Nonetheless the bands we have included on this list have released what we would call many perfect albums in there careers besides just the three in a row. Since there are many classic rock bands that have released great trilogies of rock albums, we thought we would lean to the heavesy sides of things with a few exceptions for this article. Bands like Slayer who were one of the most corrosive, ultra thrash/death blended sinister bands that took its place as one of the thrash metal world’s Big Four bands in the mid ’80’s. So, that’s where we will start out our Classic Rock Bands That Released Three Perfect Albums In A Row article.
Slayer’s first two albums, Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits were plenty dark, but they then created a string of albums in which they fueled the genre of death metal with a power that was almost indescribable. The first, Reign In Blood, all 28 minutes of it, remains a metal milestone across the board for its fury and imagery. The band caught a lot of flak for the opening classic track “Angel Of Death,” which did nothing but discuss the horrific deeds of Nazi doctor/butcher Joseph Mengele, and even though the lyrics were definitely against the sadistic monster, some types naturally tried to paint them as Nazi’s, not apparently bothering to read the lyrics.
Slayer and metal fans were literally blown away at this incredible album. It has two additional tracks now, making it a real marathon at 32 minutes, but such power wasn’t going to be quelled that quickly.
The band even slowed some of the tempos down a bit to establish some grooves, and the following two albums, which could have been a fine double album, cemented Slayer’s place in metal history, South Of Heavenand Seasons In The Abyss. Fans dubbed this string as “Unholy Trinity” and while follow ups had their share of the Slayer “magic.” these three are considered the top of the notch.
These guys did something truly amazing, and it almost makes me want to call this trinity a quad-whatever. However in the spirit of the article, first let’s acknowledge the leap in songwriting on Help! over the older albums. The Beatles were very tired and exhausted when they were shoved into Abbey Road studios to rush out Beatles For Sale. While it had its charms, like McCartney’s “Eight Days A Week” overall with several cover tunes it was clearly not a band at peak performance. But while the production of Help! wasn’t improved over previous albums, it had a huge improvement in songs, including “Yesterday” “Help!” “Ticket To Ride” and even Ringo’s cover of Buck Owens’ classic “Act Naturally.”
Nobody expected what was next: Rubber Soul.The sound wasn’t just better – it was astonishingly better and blew out all the competition for great sound except for a California genius named Brian Wilson, who was paying close attention and on the same creative level. I can only imagine the impact this album had, as I was just five years old. But the fact it is still fresh and songs like “Norwegian Wood” and “Nowhere Man”, two of Lennon’s best ever songs, and “Michelle” have aged not one bit. But part two of this trilogy was Revolver, and is regarded by many as the greatest Beatles album ever, and one of the most important in sonic innovation and songwriting development by any composer in any field.
From the burning “Taxman”, with George singing and letting Paul play that stinging lead to the R & B “Got To Get You Into My Life” and closer “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and what a closer – the bar was raised considerably. In fact Brian Wilson responded with the equally majestic Pet Sounds. And we know what came next – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Since volumes of books have covered this incredible album, we’ll save the descriptions, but I think these three albums were indeed The Beatles’ greatest trilogy of albums.
The Rolling Stones
If anything, this band has several sets of trilogies, because although while they have stayed the course as the world’s greatest rock and roll band, their sound has evolved dramatically. I submit the first “trilogy” as the albums most Rolling Stones fans agree make a fabulous three record set. Brian Jones would die and Keith Richards and the band decided the hippy stuff wasn’t their strong suit, and they were right – it wasn’t. But Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingerswere the definitive albums to end the turmoil of the ’60’s. Altamont was a disaster, through no fault of the Stones, where Mick Jagger begged and pleaded for calm from the stage. They would also record what may be the greatest live album ever, Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out to close the decade.
The second three were the next three, oddly enough. Starting with Exile On Main Street, their usually acknowledged greatest album, one that skirmishes sometimes with Sticky Fingers, this double album was rock and roll, blues and even a dash of country that is sheer brilliance from start to finish. Then, Goat’s Head Soup followed, one of my favorite Stones albums, and the last with the great Mick Taylor, It’s Only Rock and Roll.
There would be a pause as Ron Wood was hired for Black And Blue, a reggae tinged album that wasn’t frankly up to the Stones’ normal standards. The next trilogy was Some Girls, Tattoo You and Emotional Rescue before the band took some time off. No more trilogies would emerge, but there was plenty of good stuff. Really, you can’t go wrong even now with The Rolling Stones.
Blue Oyster Cult
This metal band was considered as competition for Black Sabbath, but Blue Oyster Cult far and away were more progressive musicians, and their trilogy was what was referred to as the “dark albums.”
These first three albums really had a much heavier but no less musically brilliant style, but were definitely not to be trifled with.
The self titled debut, the scorching Tyranny and Mutation, and Secret Treatiesare just genius. From a slam in the gut with “The Red And The Black” the psychic jazz of “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” to the ethereal “Astronomy” every one of these albums belongs in your collection.
This great band had its share of great albums, but we hard heads for the legendary line-up of the late Lemmy Kilmister, Fast Eddie Clark on guitar and maniac drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor think creating the loudest, trashiest and utterly great rock and roll of the late ’70’s and early ’80’s was the responsibility of these hooligans.Anchored by an incredible sense of swing and really great drumming, for all their bombast Motorhead understood rock and roll had to be able to move.
The second album Overkill marks the first of the trilogy, the debut self titled album a bit too raw and sloppy, and that title track alone is the very definition of rock and roll as a lifestyle. Other tunes like the ripper “No Class” and “Damage Case” make this as heavy as it gets. Bomber, the next album follows, and continues the same progression, and we barely have time to exhale when Ace Of Spades explodes.
Again, no description necessary, but you like your rock and roll as loud, slamming and great as it gets, you better have this album. Other greats would follow – Another Perfect Day, 1916, Inferno, etc.
Our next legendary group on our Classic Rock Bands That Released Three Perfect Albums In A Row is one of the heaviest and most loved metal bands of all time in a group we all know as Black Sabbath. Here we’re dealing with multiple line-ups, all with various degrees of excellence in vocals.
Since this article is dealing with sequencing, and excluding live albums, it is therefore necessary to select the trilogy that actually, as far as doom laden, scary guitar dives and demented vocals courtesy of Ozzy Osbourne, the same albums that would, along with Judas Priest, define metal for heaviness, speed and darkness from then until today with no end in sight.
I was too young, but hearing that opening riff to “Black Sabbath” dubbed a Satanic chord progression by enemies of rock would have had to been a real mind blower. Add Paranoid and Master Of Reality and the spell has been forever cast.
They have survived the loss of their original singer Bon Scott and most recently rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter Malcolm Young, yet remain one of rock and roll’s most loved bands.
The studio albums do well, but really, AC/DC is most at home on the stage, and seem just as happy to crank out the older tunes as the new ones, no doubt due to the reaction of their always ecstatic fans. But there is a trilogy that arguably marks their greatest music, and Powerage starts off with the most hooks and catchy music ever on an AC/DC album. It is their high water mark perhaps with Back In Black for memorable riffs. Songs like “Down Payment Blues” “Riff Raff” their greatest scorching song, and “Sin City” make it legendary.
Then, Highway To Hell comes through, with Bon Scott’s best vocal performance, and the title track that opens the US market in a big way as openers for the biggest bands criss crossing the states, and probably sorry they asked the Young brothers to come along. Of course the last of the trilogy period here needs no introduction or historical visit, Back In Black. When Bon Scott suddenly died of alcohol poisoning the band decided to get on with it, found and hired the gravel voiced Brian Johnson and created one of the highest selling albums of all time. Follow up albums had their ups and downs, but this was the golden age for AC/DC.
I was going to stay away from Led Zeppelin because they had such a great body of music to begin with. However, I thought a little about it, and there are indeed two “trilogy” eras – the first six albums. Allow me to explain. Led Zeppelin came on like gangbusters after Jimmy Page decided after Keith Moon’s comment that his (Jimmy’s) new band would go over like a lead zeppelin to name his group exactly that. But while finding John Paul Jones wasn’t difficult, both Jimmy Page and Jones well seasoned studio musicians in London, somehow Robert Plant and his incredible voice found its way to the attention of Page, who liked it, and Plant wanted John Bonham as drummer.
The rest is history, and there are several books you can read about it. But the first album, pretty much a parallel album if not a knock off of Jeff Beck Group’s Truth, was rawer and with faster tunes like “Communication Breakdown” and psychedelic portions thrown in, it was bigger with the younger high school age classes, who liked their music a little heavier than their older brothers and sisters who still thought The Byrds and CSN & Y were heavy enough. We see the pattern for the first triple set. II followed, again with more blues, and a definite rip off on “The Lemon Song” of Robert Johnson, but “Whole Lotta Love” alone got the fans going.
Led Zeppelin III was a head scratcher with Jimmy Page displaying not just his rock and roll chops on “The Immigrant Song”, and the blues of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, but his considerable acoustic work as well. Now, the second trilogy was set, because like The Beatles, things were going to change quickly. Zoso, IV or just plain Led Zeppelin was the album that set the rock and roll world upside down. Everything was different – the sound, the power, especially Bonham’s drums on tunes like “Four Sticks” and “When The Levee Breaks”, the sinister feel, and of course, that song. Again, I was older but still not really hip enough to pay attention. I do recall that when I did hear “Stairway To Heaven” the first time, I knew something was going on deep inside the psyche. Page had touched people, and Robert’s vocals and lyrics were perfect. Now add to that “Rock And Roll”, “Black Dog” and “Misty Mountain Hop” and you have an album that was in the league of Revolver, Are You Experienced, Sticky Fingers or maybe in a class by itself. That’s up for the fan to decide.
We follow up this monumental album with the equally stunning experimental Houses Of The Holy that wisely stays off IV’s turf, but nonetheless gives us some fantastic material, “The Rain Song”, “No Quarter” and “Over The Hills And Far Away.” To close this trilogy and article, we got Physical Graffiti. It is my favorite Led Zeppelin album, and the songs are just untouchable. It is a masterpiece, and is ageless. “Kashmir” “In The Light” and “Ten Years Gone” alone make this album the brilliant music it is. No wonder the “trilogy” stopped here.
More Classic Rock Bands That Released Three Perfect Albums In A Row
A Night At The Opera
A Day At The Races
News Of The World
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
Fool For The City
High n Dry
Ride the Lightning
Master of Puppets
And Justice for All
Thick as a Brick
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Born to Run
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band
At Fillmore East
The Yes Album
Close to the Edge
The Dark Side of the Moon
Wish You Were Here
The Number Of The Beast
Piece of mind
A Farewell to Kings
Run With The Pack
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Are You Experienced
Axis: Bold as Love
Classic Rock Bands That Released Three Perfect Albums In A Row article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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