10 career-altering third albums from bands in the 1980s

These third albums were a bunch of excellence.

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WAR by U2 (1983)

War didn’t make U2 stars in their native Ireland. The Irish already knew and loved them. War just took them across the channel and made them huge stars throughout the UK. And from there, it was just a short jaunt across an ocean to the USA and worldwide dominance.

There’s nothing magical about the quartet’s third album. They were just getting better across the board and it showed up on War with an abundance of riches. The first track, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” is as good an opening anthem as you will find on any album of the ‘80s. This was a punk-inspired band taking that energy into major arenas and losing absolutely nothing.

The music was immediate and insistent. Give another listen to “Two Hearts Beat As One,” or “Surrender.” There’s a passion that can’t be contained by the well-crafted pop melodies. And listen to “New Year’s Day” and you are instantly transported back to the early 1980s – whether you were alive then or not.

War hit number 1 in the UK (and this was at the same time Michael Jackson’s Thriller was out.) It scored in the top ten throughout the continent and climbed to number 12 in the States. “New Year’s Day” became the band’s first single to hit in the US. A few years later, they would become the biggest band in the world.