A Somewhat Subjective Look at Creative Peaks

May 17, 2013 by

Triple Diamond (2)

Musical talent can create a gem, and if the stars align, output number two can be just as great.   Maybe even change someone’s life.  Rarely does it all come together with three remarkable albums in a row?  Creative peaks often come about in such a brief time span, but producing three consecutive significant pieces of art is still uncommon.  Today I venture to this land of artists who accomplished this rare triple.  

Here are the guidelines I set for myself before embarking on the project.

      •  No albums released prior to 1988 could be included. (I chose ’88 so that Surfer Rosa could make the cut.)
      • The stretch of albums must show growth in the artist, possess a heavy influence on other artists, be considered significant game changers within the genre, and/or hold up through the test of time. 
      • All three consecutive albums from the artist must possess the chops so  the musically sane fan would be hard pressed to counter my choice.
      • Last thing, spend no more than 15 minutes creating the list.

I would like to add that the word subjective in the post’s title is by no means thrown in there by accident, it was truly intentional.  So for those who disagree, which is your right and what makes music discussion special, in lieu of your cynical comments about my selections I ask that you add to the list in the comment section for those I might have forgotten about and left out, or you think should be removed.  My absentmindedness can get the best of me at times, so make it productive and add to the list. 

The Triple Diamond Short List

(The order of the list is meaningless, just what I thought of first and went from there.)


Artist:  Beastie Boys

Creative Peak:  1989 – 1994

Triple Diamond Albums:  Paul’s Boutique->Check Your Head->Ill Communication

Streak Stopper:  Hello Nasty (I would be hard pressed to deny this album being another solid release in the Beastie catalogue.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and it was my official soundtrack to half the summer of ’98.  That being said, not a game changer by any means and definitely doesn’t belong in the conversation with the three prior releases.)


Artist:  A Tribe Called Quest

Creative Peak:  1990 – 1993

Triple Diamond Albums:  People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm->The Low End Theory->Midnight Marauders[i]

Streak Stopper:  Beats, Rhymes, and Life


Artist:  The Pixies

Creative Peak: 1988 – 1990

Triple Diamond Albums:  Surfer Rosa->Doolittle->Bossanova

Streak Stopper:  Trompe le Monde


Artist:  The Black Crowes

Creative Peak:  1992 – 1997

Triple Diamond Albums:  The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion->Amorica->Three Snakes and One Charm

Streak Stopper(s):  By Your Side, cocaine, the departure of Marc Ford, and Kevin Shirley.  Another contributing factor was Chris and Rich’s failures to listen to their gut and not release the album Band which would have succeeded Three Snakes.  They would have had the elusive four album streak if they had fucking released it.  Nothing has been the same since.


Artist:  Radiohead

Creative Peak:  1995 – 2000???  (I am quite certain they hit this with the three albums I list below but you never know with this band.)

Triple Diamond Albums:  The Bends->OK Computer->Kid A

Streak Stopper:    Amnesiac


Notables:   (Just shy of the making the cut)

Uncle Tupelo – No Depression->Still Feel Gone->March 16-20, 1992

Black Keys – Attack and Release->Brothers->El Camino

Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith->Either/Or->XO

Wilco – Being There->Summerteeth->Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted->Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain->Wowee Zowee

R.E.M. [ii]Life’s Rich Pageant->Document->Green  or  Green->Out of Time->Automatic for the People 


[i] I tend to agree with Questlove of the Roots when he stated that November 9, 1993 marked the end of the Golden Era of Hip Hop with the classic releases of Tribes Midnight Marauders and Wu Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

[ii] R.E.M. is left off my short list mostly due to the following:

·         Not sure which three to choose, due to a feeling of being vastly unqualified in most things R.E.M. (Especially regarding their first 4 to 5 years as a band)

·         Trying to avoid any debate with a hard-core R.E.M. fan.  So I took the passive aggressive route.

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  1. I totally understand your reasoning for leaving out REM, but since I’m a fanatic, I think I’m qualified to handle any feedback.

    “Murmur”>”Reckoning”>”Fables of the Reconstruction” definitely fit the rules for me. They are not only three great albums, but they are three of the best that time period had to offer from the “College Music” scene. There’s a pretty decent argument for Lifes Rich Pageant being their 4th, as they once again changed the game and sent tons of jangle guitarists scrambling for their distortion pedals (Plus Fall On Me is one of the best environmental songs of all time, right behind “This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven” by the Pixies).

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