Recording Artists Who Released Five Consecutive Albums of Exceptional Artistic Growth

Rudy

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I'd say the peak has to be her reworking of MacArthur Park.
That was so popular in my area that the local radio station played the entire thing in its rotation, while other times they would fade it right at the beginning of "Heaven Knows." I never liked the 12" single that dropped the remix of "Heaven Knows" right in the middle--it doesn't fit. The original from side 4 of Live and More is the one I prefer.

I agree about "Enough Is Enough." Not so much for Streisand's contribution but by the time it was released, that type of sound was getting stale, and we'd heard it already. I feel the same about "Dim All The Lights" when that plodding beat starts up--"here we go again." The album with Quincy Jones was a needed shot in the arm.
 

GDB2LV

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She was a brilliant and smart woman. After the Quincy era, he got busy with MJ, so she turned to Stock Aitken & Waterman to revive her career. They had this new bouncy euro disco pop machine going for Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, Rick Astley, Mel&Kim, and Dead or Alive. They aimed their sound right for her audience, and fans. Her biggest hit with them was She Works Hard For The Money. It gave her continued hits for another 5 years with that new sound. Unfortunately Kylie is the only one still charting new music. I saw Rick Astley on tv last year performing a new song, and it wasn’t very good. The years not so kind to him.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
She was a brilliant and smart woman. After the Quincy era, he got busy with MJ, so she turned to Stock Aitken & Waterman to revive her career. They had this new bouncy euro disco pop machine going for Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, Rick Astley, Mel&Kim, and Dead or Alive. They aimed their sound right for her audience, and fans. Her biggest hit with them was She Works Hard For The Money. It gave her continued hits for another 5 years with that new sound. Unfortunately Kylie is the only one still charting new music. I saw Rick Astley on tv last year performing a new song, and it wasn’t very good. The years not so kind to him.
I totally agree about Donna's brilliance and smarts. I see glimmers of it in Amanda on her show on the Magnolia network. Episode 3 (I think) is where she talks about her mom at length.

Both you @Rudy and @GDB2LV might enjoy my take on the Donna Summer album.
 

Mike Blakesley

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I think she released more consecutive 2 record sets than any artists ever. Once Upon A Time, Live and More, Bad Girls, and On The Radio- Greatest Hits.
Well, Chicago had four multi-record sets in a row:
Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago II
Chicago III
Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall (which was a FOUR record set)

And then they had Chicago V and Chicago VI, single records, but CHICAGO VII was another two-record set. I don't know another band that released that many multi-sets.

All that said, I don't think there's any run of Chicago albums that qualifies for the list of five here. Their sound shifted from jazz/rock to pop by their 8th album, and then after a few albums of unmemorable songs, they found new life by doing sappy ballads. They're still a great group (saw 'em in concert last year, it was outstanding) but their hits are definitely their best stuff.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Great job. I saw her in concert 3 times over the years. The Bad Girls tour with the Brooklyn Dreams was the best. Her autobiography is a fun casual read. I bought the mega box set, Encore last fall. I got it for the extended mixes and b sides missing from the hit years. It has just about everything from her entire career. There are a few very obscure tracks not on it. There are 24 CDs. Something I wish Richard would do for their fans.a
 

AM Matt

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On Buddah Records, the New Jersey bubblegum group The 1910 Fruitgum Co. made 5 albums in their career & a few weird B sides 45 singles (early 1968 till their disbanding in late 1970). The albums "Simon Says" (1968), "1, 2, 3 Red Light" (1968), "Goody Goody Gumdrops" (1968), "Indian Giver" (1969) & "Hard Ride" (1969) which has "The Train" (45 mono single has the "choo choos" BUT the album stereo version does not have it). That group would release 3 more 45 singles (1 for Buddah "When We Get Married" late 1969, later on "Juiceiest Fruitgum: The Best Of" in 1970) "Go Away" (Super K in 1970) & "Lawdy, Lawdy" (Henda in late 1970) but that was it until 2008 "Bubblegum Christmas" which was their last album to date.
 

Rudy

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I almost thought of including The Time (whose eponymous debut album was reissued last Friday), but the evolution is a bit strange. But anyway, they did make progress through five albums, although in a roundabout way.

For one, The Time was a funk-oriented side project for Prince. So the earlier records really were his recordings, with Morris Day singing lead and occasionally a guest member on a track or two. Yet the touring band was no slouch--mega-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were in The Time, as was guitarist Jesse Johnson (who recorded for A&M). Jerome Benton was just window dressing for the stage act (he was Morris's "valet" and sidekick), but Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson are also top notch Minneapolis musicians.

  1. The Time (1981) -- the debut album. Mainly Prince (credited as his pseudonym Jamie Starr for writing and production) with Morris Day. Pretty much a continuation of the sound from Prince's Dirty Mind album, but as mentioned above, more funk-oriented. Prince's contract allowed him some leeway to pursue side projects, and he got The Time signed to Warner.
  2. What Time Is It? (1982) -- The more-capable follow-up to the debut, yet again it was primarily Jamie Starr (Prince), Morris Day and an occasional extra.
  3. Ice Cream Castle (1984) -- The tie-in album to the blockbuster album and film Purple Rain. Yet by this time, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were fired by Prince for missing a gig (they were stuck at an airport due to a snowstorm, but some feel it was an excuse since there was creative friction, and frustration from not being on record), and Monte Moir had departed as well. Again, mostly Prince on this one, although I think "The Bird" might be a live performance by The Time. So rather than an improvement, a step backwards. If anything, the album and appearance in the film boosted their recognition.
  4. Pandemonium (1990) -- My favorite album. On this one, some of the tracks ("Chocolate," "Jerk Out" "My Summertime Thang" and a few others) are clearly Prince, whereas the tunes that really smoke on this album are the title track, "Blondie," "Skillet"), on which The Time as a group (with all original seven members) finally got on record.
  5. Condensate (2011) -- The original seven members of The Time regrouped but, due to ownership of the group name The Time, they called themselves The Original 7ven. On their own, all the tracks on the album are theirs, and the album goes in an even funkier direction.
"I don't sweat. I CON-den-sate." --Morris Day
 

rockdoctor

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Everything from her second album Love Trilogy through The Wanderer is excellent! I think she released more consecutive 2 record sets than any artists ever. Once Upon A Time, Live and More, Bad Girls, and On The Radio- Greatest Hits. She and Giorgio Moroder were a force to be reckoned with in the mid 70’s to early 80’s.
Thanks Mark-T.
Donna Summer released four two record sets in a row but she does hold a record as three of them in a row went all the way to the top of the charts!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
It’s too bad Once Upon A Time didn’t produce bigger hits. It’s my favorite of the 4 sets. Some of the cuts are very experimental in sound, like Working The Midnight Shift.
 

rockdoctor

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It’s too bad Once Upon A Time didn’t produce bigger hits. It’s my favorite of the 4 sets. Some of the cuts are very experimental in sound, like Working The Midnight Shift.
That album is also my favorite of her catalogue. The single "I Love You" stalled out at about 34 on the charts. It should have been much higher. It did not get airplay in my area and the first time that I heard it was from a Juke Box at a restaurant.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I love way the dark mood of WTMS, leads into the bright and happy Queen For a Day. My favorite cut in the set. Glad you like it too. I’m as big a fan of Giorgio Moroder as I am of Donna. A true synth genius. He was a working machine back then. He had Donna Summer as his money maker, movie soundtracks, his own solo albums, his group Munich Machine, side project Giorgio & Chis (Bennet), their remark of Whiter Shade of Pale is one of my all time faves, Freddie Mercury, Three Degrees, Suzi Lane, Madlene Kane, and many more. I don’t know if he ever slept. Maybe between takes?
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
On Buddah Records, the New Jersey bubblegum group The 1910 Fruitgum Co. made 5 albums in their career & a few weird B sides 45 singles (early 1968 till their disbanding in late 1970). The albums "Simon Says" (1968), "1, 2, 3 Red Light" (1968), "Goody Goody Gumdrops" (1968), "Indian Giver" (1969) & "Hard Ride" (1969) which has "The Train" (45 mono single has the "choo choos" BUT the album stereo version does not have it). That group would release 3 more 45 singles (1 for Buddah "When We Get Married" late 1969, later on "Juiceiest Fruitgum: The Best Of" in 1970) "Go Away" (Super K in 1970) & "Lawdy, Lawdy" (Henda in late 1970) but that was it until 2008 "Bubblegum Christmas" which was their last album to date.
I saw them on one of the talk/variety daytime shows ages ago.
I was not impressed and never heard them on the radio.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Well, I can't avoid Carpenters here in this conversation. Minus one monster greatest hits album "The Singles 1969-1973" (1973) and "Live in Japan" (1974)- five albums in a row. Each has a weak cut but overall shows incredible growth in 5 albums in 6 years time.

Close to You- 1970- As varied as the two hits (the title and "We've Only Just Begun"), country, an upbeat Beatles cover, a jazz/fusion closing number, and a baroque choral style masterpiece.

Carpenters- 1971- "Rainy Days and Mondays" a new benchmark in depth; "Superstar" says it all. Dark, brooding, and wistful and romantic all at once.

A Song For You- 1972- "Goodbye to Love" and the beginning of the Power Ballad; very adult title song and closing "Road Ode". Richard hits his stride as both an arranger, producer, and a songwriter.

Now & Then- 1973- This Masquerade further expands their conquered styles and abilities.

Horizon- 1975- Fresh as ever masterpiece "Only Yesterday", the beginning of pop stars love (and money making) with the Great American Songbook with "I Can Dream Can't I?", and taking a modern rock classic (Desperado) and making it eons better than the original. Best recording ever of Karen's amazing voice.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Why am I so late to this thread?

I'll agree with Carpenters (CLOSE TO YOU through HORIZON), Stevie Wonder (MUSIC OF MY MIND through SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE) and Prince (PRINCE through PURPLE RAIN) as well as Steely Dan (CAN'T BUY A THRILL through AJA).

And I'll add:

Joni Mitchell. I think she took a step back from BLUE with FOR THE ROSES, so my pick for the five showing exceptional artistic growth starts there:

FOR THE ROSES (1972)
COURT AND SPARK (1974)
THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS (1975)
HEJIRA (1976)
DON JUAN'S RECKLESS DAUGHTER (1977)


Van Morrison. This is the arc that took him to pretty much where he's stayed ever since:

INTO THE MUSIC (1979)
COMMON ONE (1980)
BEAUTIFUL VISION (1982)
INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART (1983)
A SENSE OF WONDER (1985)


Bob Dylan:

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' (1964)
ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN (1964)
BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME (1965)
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (1965)
BLONDE ON BLONDE (1966)


Sly and the Family Stone. The re-invention of Black popular music.

A WHOLE NEW THING (1967)
DANCE TO THE MUSIC (1968)
LIFE (1968)
STAND! (1969)
THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON (1971)


Jackson Browne:

JACKSON BROWNE (Saturate Before Using) (1972)
FOR EVERYMAN (1973)
LATE FOR THE SKY (1974)
THE PRETENDER (1976)
RUNNING ON EMPTY (1977)


Eagles:

EAGLES (1972)
DESPERADO (1973)
ON THE BORDER (1974)
ONE OF THESE NIGHTS (1975)
HOTEL CALIFORNIA (1976)


Santana
SANTANA (1969)
ABRAXAS (1970)
III (1971)
CARAVANSERAI (1972)
WELCOME (1973)
 
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