The best third albums
16 June 2020, 15:56 | Updated: 16 June 2020, 16:01
Which artists have released amazing albums third time out? Radio X has some suggestions from Radiohead to Blur.
Back in 2019, music writer Corbin Reiff set Twitter alight by asking a simple question: “Name a band/artist who’s THIRD album was their best.”
Name a band/artist who’s THIRD album was their best— Corbin Reiff (@CorbinReiff) August 13, 2019
The answers came thick and fast - so Radio X has pitched in with a selection of third albums which, while they may not be the BEST album in the artists’ canon, are still worth your time.
Radiohead - OK Computer
Radiohead's third studio effort arguably saw them transform from just another post-Britpop indie band to the critically acclaimed artists we see today. Regularly thought of as one of their most popular works among fans, their 1997 album includes the likes of Karma Police, No Surprises and their epic Paranoid Android single.
The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
The Smiths' third album album, which was released on 16 June 1986, spent 22 weeks on the UK album chart and peaked at number two overall. Following their eponymous debut and Meat Is Murder albums, the record saw Morrissey and Marr reach writing perfection, boasting fan favourites in the likes of I Know It's Over, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
Green Day - Dookie
Green Day's Dookie saw the band reach punk rock perfection. The album - which includes enduring anthems in Basket Case, When I Come Around and Welcome To Paradise - helped bring the band into the mainstream, scored them a number two in the US Billboard Chards and a GRAMMY Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
Primal Scream - Screamadelica
The Scream released two albums of underwhelming garage rock before acid house hit and Loaded made them superstars. Bobby Gillespie guides the band through a sprawling trip of sounds and textures with psychedelic interludes like Higher Than The Sun and Don’t Fight It Feel It rubbing shoulders with rock and roll classics like Movin’ On Up and Come Together.
Blur - Parklife
The 1994 album saw Blur come back fighting following the disappointing sales of the previous year's Modern Life Is Rubbish. Spurred on with hits in Girls & Boys, Parklife, End Of A Century and To The End, the album went four times platinum in the UK, peaking at No.1 in the chart.
Listen to album track, This is a Low:
The Verve - Urban Hymns
The Verve's Urban Hymns was deemed both a commercial and critical success, regularly featuring on numerous Best British Albums lists across the past two decades. Featuring singles in Bitter Sweet Symphony, Sonnet, The Drugs Don't Work and Lucky Man, the album - which was released in 1997 - confirmed Richard Ashcroft's status of part of the great British songwriting canon.
Despite this, one of their most successful hits was marred by a controversial legal battle.
Watch Richard Ashcroft perform Bitter Sweet Symphony live for Radio X:
The Clash - London Calling
Released as a double album on 14 December 1979, The Clash's London Calling served as a blueprint for many punk bands to come. Incorporating everything from reggae to rockabilly, the record played with a variety of styles and genres and spawned the likes of London Calling, Spanish Bombs and Train In Vain.
Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Kasabian's third album was released on 5 June 2009 and was their first studio release without original member Christopher Karloff. The Mercury-nominated album, which followed their 2004 self-titled debut and 2006's Empire, included anthems in Underdog, Where Did All The Love Go and Fire.
Watch Kasabian perform Fire at the 2018 Global Awards:
Led Zeppelin - III
The aptly named album, which was released in 1970, marked an important milestone in the band's history and saw the band's music mature and move towards a more folky sound.
Watch Led Zep perform Immigrant Song live:
Metallica - Master Of Puppets
Released on 3 March 1986 and produced by Flemming Rasmussen, Master Of Puppets was the band's last album to feature bassist Clif Burton, who died in a bus accident in Sweden during the album's promotional tour. Released to critical acclaim, the record - which includes the title track as a single - was the first thrash metal record to be certified platinum.
Watch James Hetfield and co. play Master Of Puppets live:
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Billy Corgan surprised the world in 1995 by releasing an ambitious and accomplished double album. While Gish (1991) and Siamese Dream (1993) were true to the band’s grunge roots, their third LP was a mix of heavy rock, ballads, gentle acoustic songs and string-laden anthems. Influenced as much by 1970s LA rock as 1990s alternative bands, it remains their greatest moment.
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Following the success of their Funeral and Neon Bible albums, Arcade Fire continued their assault on the charts with The Suburbs. The sprawling, soundscape of a record - which Win Butler has referred to as a mix of Depeche Mode and Neil Young - not only debuted at number one in the UK, US, Irish and Canadian album charts, it also scored them a GRAMMY and BRIT Award.
On August 30 2010, the Canadian outfit released an interactive video for We Used to Wait, which made use of Google Maps and Google Street View to guide people through their hometowns. Enter your postcode and watch your personal video here.
Nirvana - In Utero
Released on 21 September 1993, In Utero was the third and final record to come from the band. Intentionally made to sound less polished than its predecessor, Nevermind (1991), In Utero saw Nirvana recapture the heavy and abrasive sound of their early days. Stand out tracks include Heart-Shaped Box, Rape Me, and the unforgettable ballad All Apologies.
The album, and Nirvana's infamous MTV Unplugged performance (which was also made into a 1993 album), went on to be the band's swan song after Kurt Cobain tragically lost his life to suicide on 5 April 1994.
The Doors - Waiting For The Sun
Often overlooked in favour of the self-titled debut and Jim Morrison’s swansong LA Woman, the psych-rockers’ third outing is a more richly-textured instalment, with early synthesiser washes and even an acapella number. It starts with the classic Hello I Love You and takes on the Vietnam War in both The Unknown Soldier and Five To One.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
The Experience only lasted three albums and this ambitious double-album was their last offering, which includes the 15 minute jam of Voodoo Chile (and its chart topping reprise), the peerless cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower and enough studio trickery to make The Beatles look on in envy.
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Jack and Meg’s big breakthrough album, which includes the hits Fell In Love With A Girl, Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground and Hotel Yorba. The non-stop garage rock is interrupted by the charming We’re Going To Be Friends.
New Order - Low Life
Power Corruption And Lies is the record that everyone heads to first in the New Order catalogue, but it was the follow-up that mastered the art of mixing synthpop and indie rock. From the country-styled shaggy dog story of Love Vigilantes to the epic Perfect Kiss, it’s a sophisticated record - Elegia is a synth waltz with a gorgeous Peter Hook bassline.
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
Blue Lines was such an acclaimed debut it took the Bristol trip-hop collective seven years to release another album of the same quality. From the beautiful Teardrop to the dark Man Next Door, it’s a deep record that was so acclaimed it was was encoded into synthetic DNA on its 20th anniversary - this album will live forever!
Stereophonics - Just Enough Education To Perform
While not necessarily critically praised, Stereophonics' Just Enough Education To Perform was a commercial success, entering into the UK album chart at No. 1
Released on 11 April 2011, the album includes singles and live favourites Mr. Writer and Have a Nice Day.
Watch them perform the latter at The Global Awards 2020: