10 career-altering third albums from bands in the 1960s and '70s

Things changed for these groups with their third full-length releases.

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AFTER THE GOLD RUSH by Neil Young (1970)

Just as some people prefer Astral Weeks to Moondance, there are some Neil Young fans who believe his fourth album, Harvest, is his earliest masterpiece. But the album that preceded it is better. Harvest may have Young’s first and only number-one hit (“Heart of Gold”) and a few very good tracks as well, but After the Gold Rush offers the best cocktail of Young’s folk rock impulses (“Tell Me Why,” “Oh, Lonesome Me”) with his more pure rock side (“Southern Man,” “When You Dance I Can Really Love”).

The album also has several songs that make clear just how good of a songwriter he was. The title track is an extraordinarily prophetic song about the environment that has only grown in stature through the years. The slow creep of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is extremely evocative.

And “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” is simply a gorgeous love song. After the Gold Rush put Neil Young in the top ten in the US, and was a hit throughout Europe. It also reached number 5 in his native Canada. In fact, After the Gold Rush sold almost ten million units, though far short of Harvest's 23 million.