Music History

Weekly survey: name albums with three immortal killer tracks in a row

Sequencing an album is hard. You want to make sure that the first song ropes in the listener enough to hang around for the second song. That track then needs to pull people deeper into the album. By the time the third song starts, a musical journey has begun, with highs, lows, ebbs, flows and textures that all contribute to a unified and satisfying listening experience.

With that in mind, here’s this week’s survey question: Give me albums with three killer classic songs in a row. Not just three songs you think are good. Not just three songs you like. I want records that offer up three immortal hits in a row.

Here is the bar that you have to reach: U2’s The Joshua Tree. It starts with “Where the Streets Have No Name,” segues into “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which directly goes into “With or Without You.” (You can even make a case that this album has four hits in a row the next track being “Bullet the Blue Sky.”)

Whew. That’s a helluva way to start an album. Has anyone else strung three bigger songs in consecutive order on an album? I’m sure someone has–and this is where you come in.

Bounce this one around your circle of friends and co-workers. I’ll report back on my 6 pm show on 102.1 The Edge.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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54 thoughts on “Weekly survey: name albums with three immortal killer tracks in a row

  • The Stone Roses debut – hard to argue with an album that kicks off with “I Wanna Be Adored”, “She Bangs The Drums” and “Waterfall”! It’s even better on the U.S. release, when you stick “Elephant Stone” in before “Waterfall”. Masterpiece.

  • I would go with Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. The opening 3 tracks, Head Like a Hole, Terrible Lie and then Down In It are all killer.

    • Gotta agree. All got radio airplay and all became NIN staples.

  • The Cars…..Let the Good Times Roll, My Best Friends Girl and Just what I needed!

  • Catherine Wheel’s Ferment. 1. Texture 2. I Want to Touch You 3. Black Metallic

  • The Hip – Fully Completely – 1. Courage, 2. Looking for a place to happen, 3. At the Hundredth Meridian.

  • Machine Head’s 2007 record “The Blackening” is amazing from start to finish.
    Picking 3 songs in a row is extremely tough for this record…but…Clenching The Fists of Dissent, Beautiful Mourning & Aesthetics of Hate are the first 3 songs which, one after the other, fit perfectly.

  • Husker Du – Zen Arcade 1) Something I learn Today. 2) Broken Home, Broken Heart. 3) Never talking to You Again.

  • Radiohead The Bends – “The Bends”, “High and Dry”, “Fake Plastic Trees”

    • Those are 2, 3, and 4. Needs to be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

      • Actually, it can be three songs on any point on the album. That makes it SLIGHTLY easier.

  • Perhaps an obvious one: Nirvana’s Nevermind opens with Smells Like Teen Spirit, followed by In Bloom and Come As You Are.

  • The entire A side of Van Morrison’s Moondance immediately comes to mind: And It Stoned Me, Moondance, Crazy Love, Caravan, Into The Mystic.

  • Sparkle in the Rain by Simple Minds. Side one. Up on the catwalk. Book of brilliant things. Speed your love to me. Waterfront. East at Easter. Perfection. It’s a shame side 2 can’t maintain that quality.

    • Almost. “Book of Brilliant” things (track 2) was never a single or any kind of industry/radio hit. Can’t argue with tracks 1, 2, and 4, though…

  • Pearl Jam
    Ten: Once, Even Flow, Alive
    Vs: Go, Animal, Daughter
    Vitalogy: Last Exit, Spin The Black Circle, Not For You

    Queens of the Stone Age
    Songs for the Deaf: Millionaire, No One Knows, First it Giveth

  • Joshua tree is a tough bar to hit. In terms of hits, INXS “Kick” with New Sensation, Devil Inside, and Need You Tonight. Also, the Killers “Hot Fuss” with Mr. Brightside, Smile like you mean It, Somebody told me

  • Siamese Dream…..SP….I mean come on…Cherub Rock, Quiet and Today……mic drop….honestly, the entire album is sequenced brilliantly.

    • “Quiet” is a good song, but was never released as a single or was any kind of industry/radio hit. That disqualifies it under the criteria.

      • Fair enough Alan….to that point….Green Day’s American Idiot…..that’s 4 in a row…..

  • Queen: The Game. All 5 songs from side 1.
    ACDC. Back in Black. Every song. All 10 in a row.
    Rush. Moving Pictures. Side 1. 4 tracks.
    Boston (Debut). Side 1, all 4 songs.
    Van Halen (debut) Side 1. First 4 songs
    and many more

  • REM has probably done it more than once, but Automatic For the People remains a fave, closing out with Man on the Moon, Nightswimming, and Find the River.

  • 3 in a row to start an album:

    David Bowie – Let’s Dance: Modern Love, China Girl, Let’s Dance
    Fine Young Cannibals – The Raw & The Cooked: She Drives Me Crazy, Good Thing, I’m Not The Man I Used To Be
    Peter Gabriel – So: Red Rain, Sledgehammer, Don’t Give Up
    Ramones – Self-titled: Blitzkrieg Bop, Beat On The Brat, Judy Is A Punk
    Supertramp – Crime Of The Century: School, Bloody Well Right, Hide In Your Shell

    3 in a row anywhere on an album:

    Arcade Fire – Funeral: Wake Up, Haiti, Rebellion
    Michael Jackson – Thriller: Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean
    Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?: Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back In Anger
    Pink Floyd – Animals: Dogs, Pigs, Sheep

  • Trouble at the Henhouse- Giftshop-Sprintime in Vienna and Ahead by a Century THE HIP !!!!!

  • I’m going to put in a vote for the first 3 songs from We Were Born In A Flame (Sam Roberts). Depending on the version of the album, the first 3 are either Hard Road/Where Have All the Good People Gone?/Brother Down, or Hard Road/Don’t Walk Away Eileen/Brother Down (and then WHAtGPG fourth). I think all 4 of those are very recognizable (to Canadians, at least) and are still some of the best sing-along songs at their shows.

  • What about the 1st 4 songs from The Fame by Lady Gaga. Not a fan just sayin!

  • Metallica- Until it Sleeps, King Nothing, Hero of the Day

  • The Clash – London Calling. Songs 8-10 Lost in the SuperMarket, Clampdown, Guns of Brixton

  • Can I recommend an album with 4 in a row?? Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight: Leave Out All the Rest, Bleed It Out, Shadow of the Day, What I’ve Done. Doesn’t get much better than that!

    I also have to throw in Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris: Battery Acid, Make It Wit Chu, 3’s and 7’s


  • Smashing Pumpkins Gish. I am One, Siva and Rhinosauros
    Oasis – Definitely Maybe. Rock N Roll Star. Shakermaker and Live Forever
    Silverchair. Neon Ballroom Emotion Sickness, Anthem for yr 2000 and Ana’s Song
    OLP Naveed. First 5 were singles plus the first 3 off Clumsy

    …. I’m clearly a product of the 90s

  • Led Zeppellin II:
    1) Whole Lotta Love
    2) What Is and What Should Never Be
    3) The Lemon Song
    4) Thank You
    5) Heartbreaker
    6) Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)
    7) Ramble On
    8) Moby Dick

  • The first 3 songs on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s debut album

  • Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run — Backstreets, Born to Run, She’s the One
    Brian Eno, Music for Airports — (entire album)
    David Bowie, Heroes — Beaty and the Beast, Joe the Lion, Heroes
    Dire Straits, Making Movies — Romeo and Juliet, Skateaway, Espresso Love
    Elvis Costello, My Aim is True — I’m Not Angry, Waiting for the End of the World, Watching the Detectives
    Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man — First We Take Manhattan, Aint’ No Cure For Love, Everybody Knows

    I was sure there would be a Ramones record there too, but there isn’t one with three songs in a row that I like.

  • This is kind of the police’s speciality! Next to you, so lonely, Roxanne.
    Spirits in the material that world, every little thing she does is magic, invisible sun
    Synchronicity II, every breath you take, king of pain, wrapped around your finger.
    They put hits on hits in a row it’s their M. O.

  • Barenaked Ladies – Gordon (Enid, Grade 9, Brian Wilson)
    Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters (This Is A Call, I’ll Stick Around, Big Me)
    Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left to Love (Stacked Actors, Breakout, Learn to Fly)
    Great Big Sea – Play (Ordinary Day, When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down, The Night Pat Murphy Died)
    I Mother Earth – Dig (Levitate, Rain Will Fall, So Gently We Go)
    Limp Bizkit – Significant Other (Nookie, Break Stuff, Re-Arranged)
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication (Around the World, Parallel Universe, Scar Tissue)
    STP – Core (Dead and Bloated, Sex Type Thing, Wicked Garden)
    Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind (Semi Charmed Life, Jumper, Graduate)
    Tragically Hip – Road Apples (Little Bones, Twist My Arm, Cordelia)
    Weezer – Green Album (Photograph, Hash Pipe, Island in the Sun)

    • I am surprised no one has said I Mother Earth – Dig yet! I totally agree! It might not have been no where as big of an album as The Joshua Tree or many of the others mentioned in these comments but it certainly fits the bill!

  • Duran Duran – 1rst: Girls on Film, Planet Earth, Anyone out there
    The 3rd track is not an actual single, but was was released as a promo single and is a rocking tune!

  • The Smiths -The Queen is Dead:
    Cemetery Gates
    Bigmouth Strikes Again
    The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

    Peter Gabriel – So
    Red Rain
    Don’t Give Up

  • I’ll make my pitch for the last three tracks on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland – House Burning Down, All Along the Watchtower, and Voodoo Child (Slight Return). You know the last two; the first one has been historically overlooked.

  • Queesn’s of the Stone Age. Songs for the Deaf:
    1. You thinkI ain’t worth a dollar….
    2. No ome knows
    3. First it Giveth
    All super kick ass right from the start!

  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Stadium Arcadium – 1 Dani California 2. Snow (hey Oh) 3. Charlie 4. Stadium Arcadium 5. Hump De Bump – Even after that they had a lot of popular songs

  • beastie boys – ill comunication: 5) root down, 6) sabotage, 7) get it together

  • ZZ Top – Tres Hombres
    1.Waitin for the bus
    2. Jesus just left Chicago
    3. Beer drinkers & Hell raisers

    And, didn’t Fleetwood Mac have some album that was full of hits in a row? C’mon Alan!

  • Bruce Springsteen: Glory Days, Dancing in the Dark, My Hometown

  • No one’s mentioned the Tragically Hip yet(Oh, except Road Apples, but I think their other albums might fulfill the criteria too). Not sure if all of them had radio play, but here’s the trio’s in a row that I thought of:

    Fully Completely: 1. Courage, 2. Looking for a place to Happen, 3. At the 100th Meridian (/or/) 8. Fully Completely, 9. Fifty Mission Cap, 10. Wheat Kings

    Trouble at the Henhouse: 1. Gift Shop, 2. Springtime in Vienna, 3. Ahead by a Century, 4. Don’t Wake Daddy

    And how could we forget:

    Up to Here: 1. Blow at High Dough, 2. I’ll believe in you, 3. New Orleans is Sinking, 4. 38 Years Old, 5. She didn’t know, 6. Boots or Hearts

  • Two albums that immediately came to mind are
    The Jam – Sound Affects
    Kate Bush – the Kick Inside.
    Each track on both these albums still has me stop and just enjoy!!

  • From the 80’s hard rock/hair metal era I got:
    DEF LEPPARD, HYSTERIA’s entire side 1: 1) Women 2) Rocket 3) Animal 4) Love Bites 5) Pour Some Sugar on Me 6) Armageddon It. All were hits all around the world.
    BON JOVI, NEW JERSEY track 1) Lay Your Hands On Me 2) Bad Medicine 3) Born To Be My Baby.
    POISON, OPEN UP AND SAY… AHH! tracks 7) Fallen Angel 8) Every Rose Has Its Thorn 9) Your Mama Don’t Dance.

    Albums in the alt rock universe that were not mentioned yet:
    BEASTIE BOYS, LICENSED TO ILL tracks 6) Girls 7) Fight For Your Right 8) No Sleep Till Brooklyn;
    BILLY TALENT III tracks 1) Devil On My Shoulder 2) Rusted from the Rain 3) Saint Veronika

  • How about Blue Rodeo’s “Five Days in July”? “5 days in May” followed by “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” followed by “Bad Timing”… that’s a great vide to set the table for a great album….

  • Wanted to sayThe Cure – Disintegration: Lovesong, Lullaby and Fascination Street but Last Dance is stuck in there… 🙁


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