Exceptions to the Rule, or complex cases
Pink Floyd is the most notable exception to my rule, but their band members were freaking out on heavy drugs during that time period and lacked a cohesive vision during their early years after Syd Barrett left.
Billy Joel is a confusing one due to his first album’s weakness and lack of solid production. Maybe he started before he was ready. He reminds me of a guy that left college too early for the NBA. I left him off due to it. Also, he may not be as good as I remember from childhood. Same thing with Jackson Browne.
Micheal Jackson does not fit into my scheme due to the lack of control for many of his early albums. Plus, I think he peaked on Off the Wall and Thriller and never was a pantheon musician, only a pantheon performer. If he were still alive, he would not be considered so god-like (look at where he ranked on lists of the great musicians of all time pre-death).
Songs of Love and Hate by Leonard Cohen is an exception to the rule. It is okay, but he is pantheon (maybe he was never a full album guy as much as a song guy).
Green Day confuses me also (Dookie is their #3). Are they merely decent or near that level below pantheon status. I am afraid they had one or two great albums in them, and that is it.
I don’t know what to do with Josh Ritter. He is heading steadily downhill after #4 (#3 is Hello Starling).
Mewithoutyou gave us Brother Sister as #3, a spectacular, masterful album, but they could be done.
Wu tang Clan is also terribly confusing. They peaked on the first couple of albums, as did NWA before crumbling under the weight of the personalities, even if there were 3rd and 4th albums.
Ryan Adams is too prolific to know what to do with. He gives us so much crap because I think he is a song guy, not an album guy.
There are also bands that never realized the potential due a career cut short, self destruction, death or implosion: these potentially great artists include The Fugees, Lauren Hill, Nirvana (Bleach is an interesting case as a 1st album and I still don’t know how I really feel about In Utero), Jeff Buckley, Rage Against the Machine (had great #3, but left before reaching pantheon), Neutral Milk Hotel and Jane’s Addiction (had a crappy 3rd album years after their brilliant debut and sophomore albums).
Bands I am looking forward to giving us #3 in the near future include: Elvis Perkins who has the potential for greatness, as do Titus Andronicus, K’naan and Lupe Fiasco. Vampire Weekend could be in this group if they stop being derivative.
Tomorrow, negative proof of the theory