All it takes is one classic album for an artist to rank among the pantheon of greats.

Two back-to-back classics, and you can consider yourself lucky. Three in a row, and you were born under a good sign.

But when you start talking about Rock's Best Four-Album Runs, you're dealing with the stuff of legend.

These are the artists who established themselves as the real movers and shakers of their time, the genre pioneers and the generational spokespeople. The artists who so greatly excelled at their craft that after a while, they were only in competition with themselves.

Some of Rock's Best Four-Album Runs started right away. Take, for example, Elvis Costello, who established himself as a crucial new voice in punk and new wave with his instant-classic 1977 debut My Aim Is True, then proceeded to one-up himself with This Year's Model and reach similarly lofty heights with Armed Forces and Get Happy!!

For others, the process took many years and many albums. Pink Floyd labored for seven years before they ascended to the highest plane with their eighth album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It was worth the wait, as their next three albums — Wish You Were HereAnimals and The Wall — were also critically acclaimed blockbusters.

To create four consecutive albums of such a caliber can be a soul-draining endeavor, and some of the artists on this list imploded after their four-album runs. Others kept dutifully releasing music that was good — very good, even — but not quite great. And precious few extended their winning four-album runs into five-album runs.

Rock's Best Four-Album Runs

These are the stuff of legend.

Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli

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