Top Five: Double Your Pleasure

Nobody batted an eye at the Beatles releasing two albums in a year. (In 1965, they put out Help! and Rubber Soul, not to mention a movie and a few killer non-LP singles such as “Ticket to Ride” and “We Can Work It Out.” Oh, they also toured the States and John Lennon put out his second book.) These days, that level of productivity is much more uncommon, but nevertheless, I present you with my top five examples after 1970 of well-known musicians knocking out two good-to-great albums in a single year:

1. Elvis Costello, 1986: Blood and Chocolate and King of America
2. Al Green, 1973: Call Me and Livin’ for You
3. Prince, 1996: Chaos and Disorder and Emancipation
4. Beck, 1994: Mellow Gold and Stereopathetic Soul Manure (and One Foot in the Grave too!)
5. Elton John, 1975: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and Rock of the Westies

(I didn’t count reissues, compilations, live records, remix albums, bootlegs, or mixtapes. I also didn’t count two albums released simultaneously, like Use Your Illusion I and II or Sweat and Suit–to me, that’s a double album that’s been split in half for marketing purposes.)

Who else belongs on the list?

posted 28 July 2008 in Tasty Bits and tagged , , , , , , . 10 comments

10 Comments on Top Five: Double Your Pleasure

  1. Chris M. Says:

    Two Prince notes:

    1. Those two albums did indeed come out the same year, but it was ’96, not ’98.

    2. For my money, the twofer by Prince is 1987’s Sign ‘O’ the Times and The Black Album (or, if you prefer, Black Album and Lovesexy in ’88, depending on when you believed Black would have hit stores — Wikipedia claims Nov. ’87). Yes, I know Black didn’t come out officially till ’94, but it was easily available on bootleg by ’88, even in the pre-Internet era.

    Honestly, neither Chaos nor Emancipation have ever done much for me (especially the latter — oy, was that set bloated).

    And, since you wanted other post-1970 suggestions, how ’bout two sets of punk-era albums from 1977:

    The Ramones’ Leave Home and Rocket to Russia, and…

    Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust for Life.

  2. Gavin Says:

    I corrected the Prince year; thanks for the catch. And good suggestions on the class of ’77.

    I agree that Black Album/Lovesexy (which I think of as the twins, partially because of “When 2 R in Love,” partially because I didn’t see any boots leak until 1988; I don’t think I was alone, since that’s the year it placed in Pazz and Jop) are a much stronger pair of albums–I thought of them first, actually. But he didn’t actually release The Black Album, you know? (And if he had, I’m not sure he would have made Lovesexy, but now we’re getting into “what if Adolf Hitler’s grandmother had become an aviatrix” territory.)

    You could certainly argue that if I insist on The Black Album being a 1994 release then Bob Dylan’s 1975 kicks everyone’s ass.

  3. Scraps Says:

    There are tons of jazz albums that qualify; too many to begin listing. Charles Mingus 1959 would be a good place to start.

  4. Scraps Says:

    Neil Young, 1975: Tonight’s the Night and Zuma.

    The Grateful Dead, 1970: Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. (May be the only combination of this sort that is not only two excellent albums but by consensus opinion the band’s two best albums.)

    Parliament, 1975: Chocolate City and Mothership Connection. (Allmusic says 1976 for Mothership Connection, but Allmusic is wrong.)

  5. Scraps Says:

    Oh, Fairport Convention have the Dead beat:

    Fairport Convention, 1969: What We Did on Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, and Liege & Lief.

    Most fans would agree that’s their three best albums, although some would argue for Full House (1970) being in the mix. Liege & Lief and Unhalfbricking are by consensus the two best.

  6. Scraps Says:

    Husker Du, 1985: New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig.

    Strict adherence to the calendar keeps Husker Du from having a better combination: 1984’s great Zen Arcade was actually released closer to New Day Rising than Flip Your Wig was.

  7. Scraps Says:

    I’m not a fan, but:

    Yes, 1971: The Yes Album and Fragile.

  8. Gavin Says:

    Excellent suggestions, thanks.
    I wonder why 1975 was such a good year for this phenomenon? Elton John, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Parliament, Miles Davis….

  9. Scraps Says:

    If one allowed Parliament and Funkadelic albums to be considered together, there are probably a few good combinations.

  10. Scraps Says:

    David Bowie, 1977: Low and Heroes.

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