The best stretch of good albums

I suppose after a few days of idleness I needed a spur, and I thought about the artists whom I loved and their streaks. Loath as I am to give a shit about Perfect Albums, I asked, “How many of my favorites recorded albums with uninterrupted streaks of listenability and versatility for several years?” And: “How many of them recorded flawless albums for more than a few years?” I omit the Beatles and Stones to keep it fun. R.E.M, Dylan, Madonna, and Bowie released albums better regarded by others not me.

Topping my list is the streak of albums Miles Davis recorded with a quintet comprising Ron Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams whose experiments make up some of the most thrilling music that still inspires deep dives; every album from E.S.P. to Filles de Kilimanjaro constitutes background music for an essay or story filed or written since the mid 2000s.

I accept the caveats. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles — so many acts predating or recording during the rock era, genre aside, releasing comps without gestalt.

1. Miles Davis (1964–68)
2. Al Green (1971-1975)
3. Roxy Music (1972-1975)
4. Prince (1979-1984)
5. Joni Mitchell (1970-1976)
6. Public Enemy (1987-1994)
7. Talking Heads (1977-1980)
8. Sleater-Kinney (1996-2002)
9. The Beat (1980-1983)
10. Miranda Lambert (2014-2022)
11. Neil Young (1969-1975)
12. Sonic Youth (1986-1995)
13. Erykah Badu (1998-2010)
14. Pet Shop Boys (1986-1993)
15. Liz Phair (1993-2003)
16. Lil Wayne (2004-2008)
17. Pavement (1992-1997)
18. Stevie Wonder (1972-1976)
19. Elvis Costello (1977-1981)
20. The Breeders (1993-2008)

3 thoughts on “The best stretch of good albums

  1. Well, this must have taken you a lot of thought, I’m not really surprised my own sacred cows are all represented here: Joni, Prince, Stevie, Elvis and Neil. Not counting bands or duos, ofc. The reason that i started buying albums compulsively are behind the imperial phases of them, basically. I would stretch Prince to Sign O the Times but whatever. That’s a minor caveat. The shit in “Around the World” may have stunk for him, but for another one would have been a minor triumph. That aside, it’s easy too see here the 70’s as its own “album imperial phase”. And the reason i started to stretch my own Jukebox with that decade it is because it is so damn varied and vast and revelatory and brillant it’s still givin me the fits. I reckon the rest would be easier to track down. But who knows.

      1. I’m not gonna argue ATWIAD because you’re right. But Pin-Ups doesn’t have an uninmpeachable single like “Rapsberry Beret” either.. And I’ll stand for Prince’s deliberate detachement in “Pop Life” even if I understand why some can’t tolerate the snide. The rest i hardly remember, exception perhaps for the kiddie tune “Paisley Park”. The religious metaphors are a turn off for sure. But the “sound” was a preheating for what came next, so even in that light, it served a purpose “Pin-Ups” didn’t: prepare us for the monumental psyche-trip in “Parade”

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