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The Most Inspirited: Consistently Great Pop Stars Throughout Their Entire Career

Kanye West – An astonishing and ongoing run, always terrific on stage from his early “Jesus Walks” to the “Life Of Pablo” Tour, and with not a single poor album in his entire catalog.

Louis Armstrong – an almost perfect career, his final album, the 1971 …And Friends was a poor outing but otherwise, he went from steamboats with King Curtis, to Chicago, to New York Harlem, to exile in Europe (hiding from the mob), and returned where he became a great artist in the late 1940s performing with a big band (try his Live At Symphony Hall), and finally becoming a pop symbol and icon in the 50s and 60s with no lessening of his skills even when performing his standard pop set.

Lou Reed -at the time, his early 70s material was considered second rate but the years been very, very kind to Berlin and Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby and then he never looked back, including a powerful mid-90s run highlighted by Set The Twilight Reeling. The 21st century found one of his greatest achievements, Ecstasy, and to my mind the Metallica album Lulu was as great as any. I didn’t manage to see Lou on stage till the late 1989 set on Broadway and never missed him after that, and he was always completely into it

Marvin Gaye – I nearly passed on him because of his sadly truncated life, but cmon: he went from Let’s Get It On to I Want You to Here, My Dear, isn’t that enough? And ended with one of his biggest hits, Sexual Healing.

Nick Cave – astonishing career with the Breakfast Party and now alone, without a fallow period and always on the edge of cult but too popular for cult and currently has reached godlike genius status with the heart rendering Ghosteen.

Paul McCartney – with the biggest band of all time and also another band, the biggest of the 1970s, under his belt, the complaint is that he had some bad periods. I agree. But over fifty years he always settled down and reeled off a killer song and a killer album when necessary, and on stage he actually got better.

PJ Harvey – like her ex-boyfriend Nick Cave, she doesn’t ever get it wrong, and managed the tricky move from alt rock to art bleeper without a misstep.

Rosemary Clooney – I caught her the year before she died at Lincoln Center and nothing had changed, always, constantly, a definitive Great American singer and actress

Stevie Wonder -sure, he’s slowed down, but while recording he very seldom missed and he is an excellent live performer with a one in a lifetime catalog.

The Beatles – Yeah, well…

Tomas Doncker – with dozens of albums produced, played on, and written from musicals to funk covers, Doncker has been on a stupendous run ever since recording solo in 2010. Earlier he was a defining post-punk guitarist

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