Artists who have released five consecutive ‘classic’ albums

I’ve recently been re-appreciating the sheer brilliance of Songs in the Key of Life and remembering the sequence of amazing records that preceded it and thinking about whether anyone else has released five consecutive albums of that quality. I think it’s really rare if we are honest about what constitutes a truly ‘classic’ album. Runs of three are relatively common but five is highly unusual.

The Stevie Wonder one is:

Music of My Mind/Talking Book/Innervisions/Fulfilingness First Finale/Songs in The Key of Life (all released within four years, the last of them not only a double but with an extra ep of material he couldn’t fit in)

Can any other artist match that?

I would suggest Bowie for Diamond Dogs/Young Americans/Station to Station/Low/Heroes but I know not everyone loves Diamond Dogs and Young Americans as much as me. Pinups gets in the way of earlier sequences.

Also Joni Mitchell- Blue/For The Roses/Court and Spark/The Hissing of Summer Lawns/Hejira and the first five Sabbath albums.

Hard to think of any others. Even bands I love and who have released loads of great albums like The Fall have not strung together five classics in a row.

1 Like

Kendrick at a push… if we’re counting ‘untitled…’ and black Panther, which I don’t think we are

None come to mind. From a personal POV Low, Björk and Scott Walker got to four for me (Curtain Hits The Cast falls short for me but Secret Name/Things/Trust/Great Destroyer is an unbelievable run). Steep drop off with Medulla and Til The Band Comes In though.

Depends what you mean by classic I guess, as I reckon only Innervision and Songs… are “classic” albums with the rest being good/very good. If we can lower it to very good then Dälek are the only band I can think of who haven’t had a drop off in five albums.

1 Like

Radiohead? Actually Hail To Thief fucks that doesn’t it

1 Like

Actually what am I playing at? Springsteen from Born to Run to Born In The USA


Hot Snakes

(Counting Thunder Down Under)


Id like to argue fugazi dont make the joke, theo, but few enjoy steady diet as much as me.


Black Sabbath / Paranoid / Master Of Reality / Four / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Edit - sorry already mentioned in the OP. I got too excited thinking about how good the first five Sabbath albums are.


Nah you’re right, of course Fugazi.

Sleater-Kinney too.


College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808’s, MBDT… some would argue for Yeezus but I’ll leave it there.


I’d guess Sonic Youth could have this. Starting with EVOL or Sister?


If we’re counting live albums then there’s also a case for -

The Real Thing / Live At Brixton Academy / Angel Dust / King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime / Album Of The Year


Evol. And yes.

1 Like

We’re only counting live albums for Hot Snakes

1 Like


Come on Pilgrim is a mini album obv but should be considered in its own right. I get the feeling that Trompe Le Monde divides opinion a bit more than the others but it’s got some of their most fun and energetic songs imo. Their original run was a classic era.


College Dropout to MBDF is probably the closest to Springsteen actually


Beastie boys: licensed to ill to hello nasty



Purple Rain
Around the World in a Day
Sign o’ the Times

Could happily extend the run in either direction too (Dirty Mind, Controversy, Lovesexy)


Stick Drums and Guns on there and I reckon you’ve got your five. Incredible progression in terms of their sound/ ambition over these records

1 Like

Milk Eyed Mender
Have One On Me
Joanna Newsom’s fifth record