50 triple LPs it’s finally time to listen to

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021


50 triple LPs it’s finally time to listen to

In the wide, deeply varied, and ever-opinionated world of music, there are always milestones in which (most) critics agree. Over the decades, for audiophiles everywhere, these can often be linked to the releases of game-changing triple albums. Triple albums are exactly as they sound—a release of three albums together in one.

They span all genres, from punk to heavy metal to acoustic to electronic, and everything in between. Some are recordings from iconic live performances, while others are carefully crafted rock operas. They can showcase breakout styles or be compilations of greatest hits throughout a band or artist’s lifetime.

Most people remember the earliest ones, like “Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More,” or George Harrison’s “The Concert for Bangladesh.” These legendary recaps of two powerful music events in history set the art of triple albums in motion, and it only evolved from there.

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Stacker dove into music history and picked out 50 triple LPs for you to journey through. Triple LPs are all very different. Even the qualifications that make them a triple LP tend to vary (notice the drastic difference in album lengths across the selection). They’re only categorized together because they were all once released as three-part albums. To qualify for the list, the album had to be released as a triple LP at some point in time. Several albums on this list were released in multiple formats at different times throughout the band’s career. For the sake of finding original recordings, we’ve avoided “Best of” and straight compilation albums. But live, anthology, and bootleg albums primarily composed of alternate versions of already released songs were included. Albums are organized by release year.

Have you ventured down the path of the world’s most memorable triple LPs? How many have you listened to yourself? Take a look at this list, turn up the stereo, and explore these 50 triple LPs it’s finally time to listen to.

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Apple Records

“All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison

– Year released: 1970
– Album length: 106 min.

1970 was the year of the American breakup—Ronald Reagan passed the country’s first “no fault” divorce law, but it was also the year The Beatles called it quits. “All Things Must Pass” was George Harrison’s first solo LP. It is considered by many critics to be one of the most groundbreaking works of all time, where Harrison was able to truly flex his songwriting muscles and show his raw, natural talent independent of The Beatles.


“Woodstock: Music From the Original Soundtrack and More” by Various Artists

– Year released: 1970
– Album length: 139 min.

It is considered by many to be the ultimate music festival of all time. In August 1969, hundreds of thousands of music lovers, peace seekers, and believers in love descended upon a small farm in upstate New York to watch some of the biggest names in music take the stage. It was three days of peace, love, and music. The 1970 three-LP album was the first time the concert had ever been commemorated, and that tradition has been continued on milestone anniversaries ever since, most recently on the 50th anniversary, which was in 2019.

Apple Records

“The Concert for Bangladesh” by George Harrison & Friends

– Year released: 1971
– Album length: 99 min.

George Harrison, of Beatles fame, organized The Concert for Bangladesh to raise awareness and funds for refugees from East Pakistan after the genocide that followed the Bangladesh Liberation War. The concert was held at Madison Square Garden and featured two performances. The live album that followed came on three records and featured a star-studded roster of performers.

United Artists Records

“Will the Circle be Unbroken” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

– Year released: 1972
– Album length: 106 min.

Composed of 42 tracks, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” was recorded to bring together the new generation of rock music with the seasoned veterans of bluegrass and country. Artists included Roy Acuff, “Mother” Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Jimmy Martin, and more. It was a collection of covers, as well as original songs.

Warner Bros. Records

“Europe ’72” by Grateful Dead

– Year released: 1972
– Album length: 110 min.

In the spring of 1972 the Grateful Dead took a tour of Western Europe, all of which was recorded and turned into a live album. The band brought a 17-track studio along with them, which resulted in the triple LP, and marked a pivotal shift from the Grateful Dead sound of the 1960s to the road tripping sound that would define them through the 1970s.

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Shelter Records

“Leon Live” by Leon Russell

– Year released: 1973
– Album length: 108 min.

One hundred and eight minutes of New Orleans-style R&B is the crux of this triple LP from Leon Russell, one of the most successful of its time. Russell, who appeared on Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” as well as Harrison’s “The Concert for Bangladesh,” is featured in his own concert with an octet band, and five backup singers, singing classics and covers.


“Yessongs” by Yes

– Year released: 1973
– Album length: 123 min.

During their 1972 Fragile tour, Yes began recording the concerts, the first half featuring original drummer and founding member Bill Bruford, and the second featuring his replacement Alan White. The result was the triple-album “Yessongs,” which went gold when it released and eventually became platinum.


“Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

– Year released: 1974
– Album length: 110 min.

“Welcome Back, My Friends” was recorded on tour with one of the most cutting-edge sound systems of the time—something that was necessary for Emerson, Lake & Palmer to put on the spectacle-type shows that they have become known for. The set up, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, featured 40 tons of equipment, five trucks, and a six-person sound team. The LP became a top 10 hit in the U.S. and Britain.


“Lotus” by Santana

– Year released: 1974
– Album length: 121 min.

Carlos Santana’s “Lotus” triple LP was recorded in Japan in 1973, but wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1974. It was recorded at the Osaka Kosei Nenkin Kaikan during Santana’s Caravanserai Tour.

Capitol Records/MPL

“Wings Over America” by Wings

– Year released: 1976
– Album length: 116 min.

“Wings Over America” was recorded during the live Wings Over the World tour, and included several of Paul McCartney’s hits with the band, as well as five Beatles songs. It was the point of return for McCartney on American stages, and was the compilation of 31 North American concerts. Linda McCartney played keyboard, with Denny Laine of the Moody Blues and Jimmy McCulloch on guitar. Joe English was on drums.

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“Consequences” by Godley & Creme

– Year released: 1977
– Album length: 111 min.

“Consequences” was a three-album set, considered to be a concept album, which incorporates a play into the storytelling of music. The concept was “the story of man’s last defense against an irate nature.” The album shows off the work that Lol Creme and Kevin Godley had been doing with their invention, the Gizmo, which was a guitar attachment that allowed for a note to be sustained indefinitely.

Warner Bros. Records

“The Last Waltz” by The Band

– Year released: 1978
– Album length: 129 mins

“The Last Waltz” was advertised as The Band’s “farewell concert,” and included a long list of phenomenal special guests, like Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, and more. The concert was filmed and turned into a documentary by Martin Scorsese, which is one of the greatest music films of all time. In 1978, the triple LP soundtrack recording was released, including many tracks that were not featured in the film.

Asylum Records

“No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future” by Various Artists

– Year released: 1979
– Album length: 115 min.

“No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future” was a triple LP that featured tracks from the 1979 Madison Square Garden concerts. One of the more memorable acts to come out of the concerts was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. (The first concert featured the live debut of “The River.”) The entire event was organized by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and John Hall.

Zappa Records

“Joe’s Garage” by Frank Zappa

– Year released: 1979
– Album length: 115 min.

Frank Zappa’s three-art rock opera debuted as two separate studio albums in 1979, and was reissued as a triple album in 1987. It tells the story of Joe, a young guy from Los Angeles who forms a garage band, and his series of misguided adventures that eventually land him in prison. According to Rolling Stone, the triple LP was “an attack on authoritarianism in which fascist governments, self-help pseudo religions and the music industry are inextricably linked…” And somehow the music still tells an innocent tale of a boy and a girl.


“Metal Box” by Public Image Ltd

– Year released: 1979
– Album length: 60 min.

Metal Box, a three-part punk masterpiece, was originally released in 1979 in, you guessed it, a metal box. Well, a metal film canister to be more accurate. Metal Box was born for vinyl, reads a review from Rolling Stone. It was one of the LPs that was completely stripped of sonic value when it was released on CD. But in 2006, the LP was released on vinyl, much to the pleasure of audiophiles everywhere.

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Reprise Records

“Trilogy: Past Present Future” by Frank Sinatra

– Year released: 1980
– Album length: 106 min.

It took more than a year to produce, and would employ more than 200 musicians and backup singers in the process. Released in 1980, this Frank Sinatra album is one of the most involved and celebrated triple LPs of all time. It included contemporary songs and new material that had been written for Sinatra, and marked a return for the singer after years of disheartening record sales and muted inspiration.

Armageddon Records

“1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts” by Half Japanese

– Year released: 1980
– Album length: 133 min.

“1/2 Gentleman/Not Beasts” is the debut album of David Fair’s band, Half Japanese. There were 50 songs on the original release, each filled with emotion, honest lyrics, and unpolished instrumentals. Fair says that Half Japanese wrote two different kinds of songs: monster songs and love songs.


“Sandinista!” by The Clash

– Year released: 1980
– Album length: 144 min.

As the world was mourning the murder of John Lennon, just a few days later the Clash released “Sandinista!” in three records (36 tracks), all of which discussed violence, peace, history, crime, and revolution. It was a whole new style for the Clash, which abandoned the “London Calling” tone and embraced new instruments, like steel drums and bagpipes. The triple-LP shows just how much the band had evolved up until that point.

Reprise Records

“Arc-Weld” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

– Year released: 1991
– Album length: 157 min.

In early 1991, Neil Young took off on tour with Crazy Horse to play their new album, “Ragged Glory.” The live album that resulted from the tour, “Weld,” was a two-disk CD set. Originally the CD came with “Arc,” an experimental record that resulted in a one-track, 35-minute album of song snippets and crackly feedback. The three were packaged together for a limited time, with 25,000 copies being released.

Virgin/Hut Recordings

“Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” by The Smashing Pumpkins

– Year released: 1995
– Album length: 121 min.

“Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” was a defining album for so many teens in the 1990s. Released as two CDs and a triple LP, “Mellon Collie” debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 within the first week of sales. It earned the Smashing Pumpkins seven Grammy Award nominations in 1997. The album was a melange of styles, including alt-rock, grunge, metal, and art rock, and it spawned five singles.

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Apple Records

“Anthology 1” by The Beatles

– Year released: 1995
– Album length: 125 min.

Released in 1995, “Anthology 1” is a true tracing of The Beatles’s roots. The album includes everything from tracks produced when they were called the Quarrymen, to tracks that include the original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. The Anthology covers 1958 through 1964, with unreleased songs like the Lennon-McCartney track “Like Dreamers Do.”


“HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I” by Michael Jackson

– Year released: 1995
– Album length: 149 min.

Michael Jackson’s “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I” is a compilation of several genres of music and a discussion on numerous topics surrounding greed, suicide, isolation, the environment, as well as Jackson’s personal conflicts in his own life and within the media. The triple LP was his creative outlet addressing it all. The HIStory World Tour was the highest-grossing solo concert tour of the ’90s and brought 4.5 million fans to the seats in 35 countries around the world.

Apple Records

“Anthology 2” by The Beatles

– Year released: 1996
– Album length: 128 min.

Picking up where “Anthology 1” left off, “Anthology 2” starts in 1965 and features live performances from the sessions for “Help!”, up to the sessions just before the Beatles’s trip to India in 1968. The album has gone platinum four times since its release.

Apple Records

“Anthology 3” by The Beatles

– Year released: 1996
– Album length: 146 min.

The final chapter in the Beatles anthology series, “Anthology 3,” kicks off with 1968 demos from an unplugged session at George Harrison’s house. Tracks include unplugged versions of “Mean Mr. Mustard,” and “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” The third “Anthology” spans the Beatles period from 1968–1970, three years from which came the “White Album” and “Abbey Road.”

NPG Records

“Emancipation” by Prince

– Year released: 1996
– Album length: 180 min.

The three-hour, triple LP “Emancipation” was Prince’s breakout album (though technically his 19th album in total) after leaving his former record label, Warner Bros. It’s a blend of styles, from swing and funk to power pop and oldies.

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“Different Stages” by Rush

– Year released: 1998
– Album length: 202 min.

Rush’s “Different Stages” is their fourth live album, a three-disc set with tracks from their tours in 1978 and 1997. The album’s tracks are known for being unpolished, left raw and unvarnished. The first two discs include their standards, as well as new material, while the third includes live versions of some of Rush’s greatest hits.

Merge Records

“69 Love Songs” by The Magnetic Fields

– Year released: 1999
– Album length: 173 min.

Three CDs and 69 songs result in three hours of Magnetic Fields. It differs from Magnetic Fields’s previous work by eliminating the electro-pop style. Instead, songs sound more acoustic, realer, and less manufactured. According to Pitchfork, the album “ensures that the listener will never get bored with any one sound, trading off vocal duties with four other singers and deploying a mind-boggling array of instruments: ukulele, banjo, accordion, cello, mandolin, piano, flute, guitars of all shapes and sizes, a dumpster full of percussion toys, and the usual setup of synths and effects.”

Discipline Global Mobile

“Heavy ConstruKction” by King Crimson

– Year released: 2000
– Album length: 184 min.

King Crimson’s live, three-CD set was released in 2000, highlighting recordings from the band’s European tour from July of that year. It was recorded at different points along the tour. The first two discs have full set lists, while the third disc has 14 of the group’s best improv moments.

Warp Records

“Geogaddi” by Boards of Canada

– Year released: 2002
– Album length: 66 min.

Four years after the Scottish duo Boards of Canada burst onto the scene, they released “Geogaddi” to an eager audience of indie and electronic music fans. The band recorded more than 90 tracks for the album, but ended up choosing 23. Metacritic gives the album an 84 out of 100.


“How the West Was Won” by Led Zeppelin

– Year released: 2003
– Album length: 150 min.

The live triple album features recordings taken from Led Zeppelin’s two 1972 performances in California, though the tracks have been put together to flow seamlessly like a single concert. The album includes a 25-minute version of “Dazed And Confused.”

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“With the Lights Out” by Nirvana

– Year released: 2004
– Album length: 216 min.

Three CDs (and one DVD) make up Nirvana’s, “With the Lights Out.” It is a mixture of home recordings, demos, live concerts, and studio rehearsals, and is beloved by any Nirvana devotee. The box set came out a decade after Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and according to The New York Times, the three discs seem to echo the three studio albums: “Bleach,” “Nevermind,” and “In Utero.”

Drive-Thru Records

“The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path” by The Early November

– Year released: 2006
– Album length: 132 min.

Though the path to production was fraught with drama (the band nearly broke up several times in the process), Early November’s “The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path” is a display of great songwriting that is centered around a boy’s strained relationship with his father. It’s not explicitly a rock opera, but the way the three albums work together and the story they tell elevate it to a level that is beyond just a typical compilation of songs.

MCA Nashville

“These Days” by Vince Gill

– Year released: 2006
– Album length: 165 min.

Country star Vince Gill takes 43 originals and puts them together across several discs, which resulted in two Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year and Best Country Album. Upon release, “These Days” sold 42,000 copies.


“Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards” by Tom Waits

– Year released: 2006
– Album length: 189 min.

The name “Orphans” comes from the selection of songs that began as a collection of outtakes. But Tom Waits saw the project wearing a little thin, so he filled in the rest with new songs and thus his three-CD set was born. Each disc has its own vibe, from rock to ballads to experimental.

Day By Day Entertainment

“American Hunger” by MF Grimm

– Year released: 2006
– Album length: 209 min.

The first triple album in hip-hop history, MF Grimm’s “American Hunger” tells a story about government crimes against its people, and people against people. It follows themes of social justice (or injustice), and the daily battles of a race-divided society. The discs are titled, “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” and “The Last Supper.”

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“Immersion: Three” by Steve Roach

– Year released: 2007
– Album length: 220 min.

Ambient musician Steve Roach creates three full-length CDs and releases them together in “Immersion: Three.” Described as a balance between active listening music and mood-setters, Roach’s goal was to create long pieces that could transition across several different settings or vibes.

New Scotland Records

“Three” by Joel Plaskett

– Year released: 2009
– Album length: 105 min.

Joel Plaskett wasn’t kidding when he called his album “Three.” Not only is it three separate CDs, it also has 14 tracks with titles that consist of words repeated three times. The album tells a three-part story: going away, being alone, and coming home. It’s a potpourri of music styles, from Motown to country to blues, and even a touch of Celtic folk.

Jagjaguwar/Brah Records

“Rated O” by Oneida

– Year released: 2009
– Album length: 113 min.

In 2009, Brooklyn art-rock group Oneida made their 10th album, “Rated O,” a three-disc set that was met with muted enthusiasm. Pop Matters, for example, called it “far less interesting” than its predecessor, “Preteen Weaponry.” The tracks are reliant on electronic sounds, guitar feedback, and a lack of obvious structure. That said, The Guardian agreed that much of the CDs could be skipped, but tracks like “10:30 at the Oasis” or “Luxury Travel” are worth sticking around for.

NPG Records

“LOtUSFLOW3R” by Prince

– Year released: 2009
– Album length: 139 min.

“LOtUSFLOW3R” was the overarching title to Prince’s triple-disc set, including “Elixir,” “LOtUSFLOW3R,” and “MPLSoUND.” “LOtUSFLOW3R” and “MPLSoUND” are Prince’s 33rd and 34th studio albums, while “Elixir” is the debut album of his protégé, Bria Valente. Upon release, the triple bundle was only available at Target and sold 168,000 copies in its first week.

Drag City

“Have One on Me” by Joanna Newsom

– Year released: 2010
– Album length: 124 min.

Joanna Newsom’s “Have One on Me” is technically a triple album, though with only 18 songs at just around two hours, they could easily have fit onto one. The fact that it is broken up into three makes it bite-sized and approachable. Critics lauded her previous album “Ys,” but one Pitchfork critic said that “Have One on Me” went even deeper. “The best songs feel more like conversations rather than artworks to be hung on the wall and admired from several paces away,” the article says. “Newsom seems to sing from somewhere deep inside of them…”

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“Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1” by Miles Davis Quintet

– Year released: 2011
– Album length: 199 min.

A collection of three separate concerts in Europe (Antwerp, Copenhagen, and Paris), “Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1” showcases Miles Davis and his quintet, which included Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. By the end of that year, the five had been working together for more than three years and had four albums under their collective belt. The same tour also included Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Archie Shepp, and Gary Burton.

Brille Records

“Shaking the Habitual” by The Knife

– Year released: 2013
– Album length: 96 min.

It was the first album released by The Knife in seven years. It is the fourth and final album from the electronic-music duo. Tracks range from 37 seconds to 19 minutes. The first single to be released was “Full of Fire,” which clocked in at nine minutes and had an accompanying short film.

Young God Records

“To Be Kind” by Swans

– Year released: 2014
– Album length: 121 min.

The band Swans fell apart in the 1990s, only to be brought back to life in 2010. Following their reunion they went on to produce some acclaimed albums, one of which was the triple-disc set “To Be Kind.” For nearly two hours the discs churn out seemingly foreboding sounds, building on suspense that makes for increasingly active listening. According to Pitchfork, “‘To Be Kind’ boasts a more focused attack—with a premium on taut, throbbing grooves, and blackened blues—that initially tricks you into thinking it’s more accessible than its predecessor”


“B’lieve I’m Goin (Deep) Down” by Kurt Vile

– Year released: 2015
– Album length: 111 min.

Deeply rooted in folk, with clear influences from Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel, Kurt Vile’s sixth studio album was an indie production, which received near-perfect review scores from critics, including Metacritic and Pitchfork.

Century Media

“Songs From the North I, II, & III” by Swallow the Sun

– Year released: 2015
– Album length: 153 min.

Extreme metal band Swallow the Sun released their “Songs from the North I, II & III” as an introspective look at different elements of their styles, from doom to acoustic, to funeral doom (which is a subgenre of metal). Critics like Sputnik Music called it their most musically adventurous, while the band itself called it their greatest work. It is widely agreed that the triple album easily demonstrated just how much the band tested their own skills and how complicated their sound can be, especially in light of the contrast between the dark metal and the softer, more acoustic side.

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“The Epic” by Kamasi Washington

– Year released: 2015
– Album length: 174 min.

American jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington released his trilogy “The Epic” to critical acclaim. It seems the name was entirely appropriate, given the three-part, three-hour CD backed by a 10-piece jazz band, a 32-piece orchestra, and a 20-member choir. It really cannot get much more epic than that. The story told throughout is the embodiment of Washington’s experiences in his professional life, from the jazz scene in L.A. to his collaborations with other international stars like Chaka Khan, Snoop Dogg, and Kenny Burrell.


“The Book of Souls” by Iron Maiden

– Year released: 2015
– Album length: 92 min.

Heavy metal superstar Iron Maiden released their 16th studio album (and longest), “The Book of Souls,” in 2015. Upon its release, the album skyrocketed to the top of the charts in 24 countries. It was also the longest album of Iron Maiden’s to date, at just over an hour and a half in 11 tracks. The album’s release was delayed at the time due to frontman Bruce Dickinson’s bout with a cancerous tumor. Fortunately it was caught in time and he made a full recovery.

Gandalf’s Fist

“The Clockwork Fable” by Gandalf’s Fist

– Year released: 2016
– Album length: 194 min.

The three-disc concept album was a cast of characters, including Matt Stevens of The Fierce and the Dead, Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden, Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon, and Dave Oberle of Gryphon. All were brought on to tell the prog rock opera-meets-radio play, which unfolds over three acts. It was the sixth studio album from Gandalf’s Fist.


“Triplicate” by Bob Dylan

– Year released: 2017
– Album length: 96 min.

While it’s the first time Bob Dylan recorded this large a set of songs, it is not the first time he has covered Frank Sinatra. In fact, “Triplicate” is his third time diving into songs previously recorded by the Chairman of the Board. He also ventures into the worlds of Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, and Rodgers & Hammerstein. While Dylan has won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his own lyrics, “Triplicate” was, for him, a testament to the other important pillars of music—melody, harmony, and voice.

Mike WiLL Made-It

“SR3MM” by Rae Sremmurd

– Year released: 2018
– Album length: 101 min.

While “SR3MM” is the third studio album by hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, two out of the three include the debut solo albums from each of them—”Swaecation” by Swae Lee and “Jxmtro” by Slim Jxmmi. The entire project also features guest spots from international superstars like Future, Pharrell, The Weeknd, and Zoë Kravitz. Critics say that the collaborative third album, “SR3MM,” is the strongest, but that the solo albums were solid opportunities “for the brothers to stretch out and explore their impulses,” writes Pitchfork.

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