Some of the Best *THIRD* Albums in Modern Music (Part Two)

A much less coveted (yet still important) list than greatest debut albums, these third albums dropped at pivotal moments in these band’s careers.

Part One

No one ever talks about the third album with so much hype usually surrounding a band’s debut work. Even the second release in a band’s catalogue is notable because the pitfalls of writing a new record while generally touring relentlessly split up more groups then anything. 

But researching this list I realized that many of these entires were the mainstream’s first look at these groups. A kind of ten-year-overnight-success story. Many third albums dropped at huge crossroads in artist’s careers, a masterpiece before a massive hiatus, like Refused’s Shape of Punk to Come or a gigantic comeback record like Jane’s Addiction’s, Strays the magic number three always seems to have some sort of backstory to it either launching its group into superstardom or acting as the final nail in the coffin. 

Here are a hundred and fifteen or so fantastic third albums that I hope you like. Maybe even some will fill you with nostalgia. Again, I am not a musical expert or journalist by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve used a list randomizer as to assure no biased or ranking has been applied to these records. I will be releasing ten at a time periodically.

Creed – Weathered

Release: November 20th 2001

Label: Wind-Up

US BILLBOARD 200: #1

Awards: 1 Nomination

~ Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (“My Sacrifice”)

Singles: “My Sacrifice” “Bullets” “One Last Breath” “Hide” “Don’t Stop Dancing” “Weathered”

Why it rocked: Yes, I know – Creed is certainly not the most popular band in the world but their “last” release (ignoring whatever bullshit they put out in 2009) is the perfect microcosm of what made the band so popular and polarizing. The first half of the album is by far the group’s heaviest sonically. Even Scott Stapp sounds more comfortable in the alternative metal arena then he would all throughout the latter half of the album which contains all of their radio bubblegum. If the band had stuck with what they had actually wanted to play Creed’s legacy would have been much less

Afterwards: The pressures of success mounted with Stapp’s increasing alcoholism and pill addiction would come to a head on the Weathered tour. Leading to a full mental breakdown on stage that would lead to the band being sued by some asshole. That would pretty much be the final nail in the coffin for Creed and crew where they would attempt an unsuccessful comeback six years later to little fanfare.

Moby- Everything is Wrong

Released: March 14th 1995

Label: Mute / Elektra

US Billboard 200: N/A

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Hymn” “Feeling So Real” “Everytime You Touch Me” “Into The Blue” “Bring Back My Happiness”

Why it rocked: Everything is Wrong is where Moby perfected his signature sound of smart rave. With pulsing bass and hyper piano runs the album showcases the formation of a songwriter who would take over Adult Contemporary by the end of the decade.

Afterwards: After the release of Everything Moby would go on to release the most controversial album of his career, Animal Rights. AR was inspired by his hardcore music background and secured him a spot at Alt-Rock spectacle, Lollapalooza. Unfortunately it also stalled his once blossoming career. Still broke and broken hearted he’s retreat to his tiny apartment studio in NYC and nearly drink himself to death while working on what he thought would be his last album. That album was titled, PLAY.

Bush – The Science of Things

Released: October 26 1999

Label: Trauma

US Billboard 200: #11

Awards: N/A

Singles: “The Chemicals Between Us” “Warm Machine” “Letting The Cables Sleep”

Why it rocked: With a slight decline in popularity as Grunge was finally being disassembled by every single sub genre on the planet, The Science of Things finds Bush at their most creative. Between perfecting their quiet-loud arena rock formula and taking leaps with drum loops, synthesizers and personal lyrics, Science would become the high water mark of their careers.

Afterwards: The Science of Things was born into a world of turmoil with the band and their record label at the time, Trauma already locked into a 40 Million Dollar lawsuit. The original lineup would sign to Atlantic Records and release one final record, Golden State but the ship had long left the port for Post Grunge Acts post 9/11.

The Strokes – First Impressions of Earth

Released: January 6th 2006

Label: RCA

US BILLBOARD 200: #4

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Juicebox” “Heart in a Cage” “You Only Live Once”

Why it rocked: New York wise guys, The Strokes have never been known for their ambition. In fact, over the course of their first two albums it was their cool demeanor and laissez-faire attitude towards their own body of work that endeared them to millions of chain smoking hipsters (myself, included.). So when they dropped First Impressions it was a big deal. A long, ambitious album with some of the group’s most technical musicianship on display. It doesn’t work the entire album but when it does – it’s well worth the price of admission.

Afterwards: While on tour supporting the album, lead singer Julian Casablancas would announce to the crowd to the surprise of just about everyone, that the band would be taking an extended and much needed break. Shortly after the band’s management sent out emails confirming the news. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti would cite arguments, unspoken rivalries and substance abuse contributing to the band’s break. In 2009 the band would reform and release the album, Angles.

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

Released: October 10th 1995

Label: Trauma / Interscope

Billboard 200: #1

Awards: Nominated for two Grammy awards (Best New Artist/ Best Rock Album)

Singles: “Just a Girl” “Spiderwebs” “Don’t Speak” “Excuse Me Mr.” “Sunday Morning” “Happy Now?” “Hey You!”

Why it rocked: The last No Doubt album to feature Eric Stefani on keyboards and the first record that let bombshell band leader, Gwen Stefani take creative control lyrically and did she ever. An instant classic that literally ushered in another wave of Ska music, the entire album is a must listen from cover to cover.

Afterwards: Gwen Stefani would take over the world. At least my teenage world.

The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land

Released: June 30th 1997

Label: XL

Billboard 200: #1

Awards: 1 Nomination

~ Best Alternative Music Performance (Album)

Singles: “Firestarter” “”Breathe” “Smack My Bitch Up”

Why it rocked: Very few bands combined the energy of rave break beats with British no fucks given punk as well as The Prodigy did. As the 90’s raged on the amount of alternative music finding its way onto mainstream radio was booming and The Fat of the Land acted as a major gateway to wannabe ravers the world over.

Afterwards: Well The Prodigy really pissed off a lot of people with the single, “Smack My Bitch Up” (including the Beastie Boys). Yet the band trudged on unwavering until 2002 when the band would go on hiatus. Returning for their fourth record, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned in 2004.

Incubus – Make Yourself

Released: October 26th 1999 (Same as The Science of Things)

Label: Epic

Billboard 200: #47

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Pardon Me” “Stellar” “Drive”

Why it rocked: Make Yourself was the first album that Incubus showed that they could effectively fuse all of their influences together rather than jump back and forth between them. It was bigger, smoother and more mainstream but it was everything the band needed to do to set them apart from the ever growing Rap-Metal field of the late 90’s.

Afterwards: Make Yourself helped the band establish themselves on a national level and Incubus would find even more success with their following album, Morning View becoming a premiere act throughout the early Aughts.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works

Released: November 5th 2007

Label: Relapse

Billboard 200: #142

Awards: N/A

Why it rocked: Mathcore titans, The Dillinger Escape Plan had been assaulting the unsuspecting for over a decade by the time they released their critically acclaimed third album, Ire Works. Even without founding member / drumming virtuoso Chris Pennie Ire remains as devastating as the group’s previous bodies of work.

Afterwards: “The Radiohead of Metalcore” would continue barreling through town after Town all across the world opening for acts like Thursday, Coheed and Cambria and Nine Inch Nails. A true testament to their musicianship that despite how extreme their style of music and how uncompromising they were as artists the band still found mainstream success throughout their twenty year career.

Slipknot – Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Released: May 24th 2005

Label: Roadrunner

US Billboard 200: #2

Awards: 3 Nominations – Won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance (“Before I Forget”)

~ Best Hard Rock Performance (“Duality”)

~ Best Metal Performance (“Vermillion”)

Singles: “Duality” “Vermillion” “Vermillion Pt. 2” “Before I Forget” “The Nameless” “The Blister Exists”

Why it rocked: Slipknot’s Vol. 3 was a pivotal release not only for the group but for all Alternative Metal of the early 2000’s. So much so I would consider it the Black Album of the Aughts. Taking their unique and furious attack to new levels while incorporating traditional songwriting structure and melody meant that frontman Corey Taylor’s rage was met with a mature yet blistering sonic attack gifting us with an album that has aged like a fine wine.

Afterwards: Slipknot would continue to dominate the decade with their suffocating style of metal touring for most of the decade. They would go onto release their next record, All Hope is Gone in 2008, marking it the final release for the band’s original line up. Bassist and founding member, Paul Gray would die two years late and drummer Joey Jordison would be fired in 2013.

Madonna – True Blue

Released: June 30th 1986

Label: Sire / Warner Bros.

US Billboards 200: #1

Awards: 1 Nomination

~ Best Female Pop Performance (“Papa Don’t Preach”)

Why it rocked: True Blue would be the album the completely cemented Madonna’s pop icon status. Where she would fully complete her transformation from pop brat to full vibe. Inspired by then husband Sean Penn, True Blue takes a more adult approach musically as well as thematically dealing with Madonna’s dreams, visions of love and teenage pregnancy.

Afterwards: Madonna continued on earning her, “Queen of Pop” moniker throughout the late 80’s starring in movies, Broadway Shows and releasing the universally acclaimed confessional record, Like a Prayer.

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