Which rock musician/band has had the most remarkable career-beginning string of four albums, taking into consideration the quality of writing and playing, evolution of musical styles, and simple "wow" factor?
My answer has long been Talking Heads: starting with the crisp, angular new wave of '77, moving onto a broader palette of sounds with More Songs About Buildings And Food, to the post-punk, disco and darker sonic sounds of Fear Of Music, and reaching their peak with the African polyrhythms and samples and loops of Remain In Light.
I have been on a bit of a Clash kick lately -- the 30th anniversary of Sandinista! was two weeks ago -- and have been thinking their first four albums -- The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope, London Calling, and Sandinista! (which actually show a very similar pattern of growth and expansion to Talking Heads) -- might rightfully belong in the top spot. The Clash also have a massive edge in sheer quantity of songs: they followed a double album with a triple album in less than one year's time!
Some live stuff: