Are these the best third albums ever?

2 September 2020, 18:26 | Updated: 2 September 2020, 18:34

Best third albums collage
Best third albums collage. Picture: Press

Which artists have released amazing albums third time out? Radio X has some suggestions from Radiohead to Blur.

Back in 2019, music writer Corbin Reiff set Twitter alight by asking a simple question: “Name a band/artist who’s THIRD album was their best.”

The answers came thick and fast - so Radio X has pitched in with a selection of third albums which, while they may not be the BEST album in the artists’ canon, are still worth your time.

  1. Suede - Coming Up

    Suede - Coming Up album artwork
    Suede - Coming Up album artwork. Picture: Press

    Suede's Coming Up was released on 2 September 1996 and marked their first studio effort since the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler. Forging ahead with his replacement Richard Oakes, the band went ahead to create a seminal album which received both commercial and critical acclaim. With a tracklist which boasted the likes of Trash, Filmstar, Lazy and Beautiful Ones, it's not difficult to see why Brett Anderson and co's third album reached No. 1 in the UK album charts and received a Mercury Prize nod.

  2. Radiohead - OK Computer

    Radiohead - OK Computer album cover
    Radiohead - OK Computer album cover. Picture: Press

    Radiohead's third studio effort arguably saw them transform from just another post-Britpop indie band to the critically acclaimed artists we see today. Regularly thought of as one of their most popular works among fans, their 1997 album includes the likes of Karma Police, No Surprises and their epic Paranoid Android single.

  3. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

    The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead album cover
    The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead album cover. Picture: Press

    The Smiths' third album album, which was released on 16 June 1986, spent 22 weeks on the UK album chart and peaked at number two overall. Following their eponymous debut and Meat Is Murder albums, the record saw Morrissey and Marr reach writing perfection, boasting fan favourites in the likes of I Know It's Over, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

  4. Green Day - Dookie

    Green Day - Dookie album cover
    Green Day - Dookie album cover. Picture: Press

    Green Day's Dookie saw the band reach punk rock perfection. The album - which includes enduring anthems in Basket Case, When I Come Around and Welcome To Paradise - helped bring the band into the mainstream, scored them a number two in the US Billboard Chards and a GRAMMY Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

  5. Primal Scream - Screamadelica

    Primal Scream - Screamadelica album cover
    Primal Scream - Screamadelica album cover. Picture: Press

    The Scream released two albums of underwhelming garage rock before acid house hit and Loaded made them superstars. Bobby Gillespie guides the band through a sprawling trip of sounds and textures with psychedelic interludes like Higher Than The Sun and Don’t Fight It Feel It rubbing shoulders with rock and roll classics like Movin’ On Up and Come Together.

  6. Blur - Parklife

    Blur - Parklife  album cover
    Blur - Parklife album cover. Picture: Press

    The 1994 album saw Blur come back fighting following the disappointing sales of the previous year's Modern Life Is Rubbish. Spurred on with hits in Girls & Boys, Parklife, End Of A Century and To The End, the album went four times platinum in the UK, peaking at No.1 in the chart.

    Listen to album track, This is a Low:

  7. The Verve - Urban Hymns

    The Verve - Urban Hymns album cover
    The Verve - Urban Hymns album cover. Picture: Press

    The Verve's Urban Hymns was deemed both a commercial and critical success, regularly featuring on numerous Best British Albums lists across the past two decades. Featuring singles in Bitter Sweet Symphony, Sonnet, The Drugs Don't Work and Lucky Man, the album - which was released in 1997 - confirmed Richard Ashcroft's status of part of the great British songwriting canon.

    Despite this, one of their most successful hits was marred by a controversial legal battle.

    Find out why Bitter Sweet Symphony was so bittersweet here.

    Watch Richard Ashcroft perform Bitter Sweet Symphony live for Radio X:

  8. The Clash - London Calling

    The Clash - London Calling album cover
    The Clash - London Calling album cover. Picture: Press

    Released as a double album on 14 December 1979, The Clash's London Calling served as a blueprint for many punk bands to come. Incorporating everything from reggae to rockabilly, the record played with a variety of styles and genres and spawned the likes of London Calling, Spanish Bombs and Train In Vain.

  9. Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

    Kasabian's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album artwork
    Kasabian's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album artwork. Picture: Press/ artwork

    Kasabian's third album was released on 5 June 2009 and was their first studio release without original member Christopher Karloff. The Mercury-nominated album, which followed their 2004 self-titled debut and 2006's Empire, included anthems in Underdog, Where Did All The Love Go and Fire.

    Watch Kasabian perform Fire at the 2018 Global Awards:

  10. Led Zeppelin - III

    Led Zeppelin - III album cover
    Led Zeppelin - III album cover. Picture: Press

    The aptly named album, which was released in 1970, marked an important milestone in the band's history and saw the band's music mature and move towards a more folky sound.

    Watch Led Zep perform Immigrant Song live:

  11. Metallica - Master Of Puppets

    Metallica - Master Of Puppets album cover
    Metallica - Master Of Puppets album cover. Picture: Press

    Released on 3 March 1986 and produced by Flemming Rasmussen, Master Of Puppets was the band's last album to feature bassist Clif Burton, who died in a bus accident in Sweden during the album's promotional tour. Released to critical acclaim, the record - which includes the title track as a single - was the first thrash metal record to be certified platinum.

    Watch James Hetfield and co. play Master Of Puppets live:

  12. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

    Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness album cover
    Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness album cover. Picture: Press

    Billy Corgan surprised the world in 1995 by releasing an ambitious and accomplished double album. While Gish (1991) and Siamese Dream (1993) were true to the band’s grunge roots, their third LP was a mix of heavy rock, ballads, gentle acoustic songs and string-laden anthems. Influenced as much by 1970s LA rock as 1990s alternative bands, it remains their greatest moment.

  13. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

    Arcade Fire - The Suburbs album cover
    Arcade Fire - The Suburbs album cover. Picture: Press

    Following the success of their Funeral and Neon Bible albums, Arcade Fire continued their assault on the charts with The Suburbs. The sprawling, soundscape of a record - which Win Butler has referred to as a mix of Depeche Mode and Neil Young - not only debuted at number one in the UK, US, Irish and Canadian album charts, it also scored them a GRAMMY and BRIT Award.

    On August 30 2010, the Canadian outfit released an interactive video for We Used to Wait, which made use of Google Maps and Google Street View to guide people through their hometowns. Enter your postcode and watch your personal video here.

  14. Nirvana - In Utero

    Nirvana - In Utero album cover
    Nirvana - In Utero album cover. Picture: Press

    Released on 21 September 1993, In Utero was the third and final record to come from the band. Intentionally made to sound less polished than its predecessor, Nevermind (1991), In Utero saw Nirvana recapture the heavy and abrasive sound of their early days. Stand out tracks include Heart-Shaped Box, Rape Me, and the unforgettable ballad All Apologies.

    The album, and Nirvana's infamous MTV Unplugged performance (which was also made into a 1993 album), went on to be the band's swan song after Kurt Cobain tragically lost his life to suicide on 5 April 1994.

  15. The Doors - Waiting For The Sun

    The Doors - Waiting For The Sun album cover
    The Doors - Waiting For The Sun album cover. Picture: Press

    Often overlooked in favour of the self-titled debut and Jim Morrison’s swansong LA Woman, the psych-rockers’ third outing is a more richly-textured instalment, with early synthesiser washes and even an acapella number. It starts with the classic Hello I Love You and takes on the Vietnam War in both The Unknown Soldier and Five To One.

  16. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland album cover
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland album cover. Picture: Press

    The Experience only lasted three albums and this ambitious double-album was their last offering, which includes the 15 minute jam of Voodoo Chile (and its chart topping reprise), the peerless cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower and enough studio trickery to make The Beatles look on in envy.

  17. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells

    The White Stripes - White Blood Cells album cover
    The White Stripes - White Blood Cells album cover. Picture: Press

    Jack and Meg’s big breakthrough album, which includes the hits Fell In Love With A Girl, Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground and Hotel Yorba. The non-stop garage rock is interrupted by the charming We’re Going To Be Friends.

  18. New Order - Low Life

    New Order - Low Life album cover
    New Order - Low Life album cover. Picture: Press

    Power Corruption And Lies is the record that everyone heads to first in the New Order catalogue, but it was the follow-up that mastered the art of mixing synthpop and indie rock. From the country-styled shaggy dog story of Love Vigilantes to the epic Perfect Kiss, it’s a sophisticated record - Elegia is a synth waltz with a gorgeous Peter Hook bassline.

  19. Massive Attack - Mezzanine

    Massive Attack - Mezzanine album cover
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine album cover. Picture: Press

    Blue Lines was such an acclaimed debut it took the Bristol trip-hop collective seven years to release another album of the same quality. From the beautiful Teardrop to the dark Man Next Door, it’s a deep record that was so acclaimed it was was encoded into synthetic DNA on its 20th anniversary - this album will live forever!

  20. Stereophonics - Just Enough Education To Perform

    Stereophonics' Just Enough Education To Perform album
    Stereophonics' Just Enough Education To Perform album. Picture: Press/Artwork

    While not necessarily critically praised, Stereophonics' Just Enough Education To Perform was a commercial success, entering into the UK album chart at No. 1

    Released on 11 April 2011, the album includes singles and live favourites Mr. Writer and Have a Nice Day.

    Watch them perform the latter at The Global Awards 2020:

The Greatest Ever Second Albums


The bonfires start at Woodstock '99

Woodstock '99 lineup: Who played the festival that features in the Netflix docuseries?

An aerial view of the huge Oasis shows at Knebworth House, August 1996

10 of the biggest gigs in history

Listen to Radio X on Global Player: Podcasts, Live Playlists and more!

The 12 albums shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize

2022 Mercury Prize: Ceremony date, nominees, hosts, performances and more

Best Manchester Albums

25 classic albums from Manchester