My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

Image result for Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park

8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

Image result for George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh

 

7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

Image result for The Band: The Last Waltz album

6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

Image result for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’

4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

Image result for the rolling stones get yer ya-ya's out

2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

Image result for bob dylan 1966 royal albert hall concert

1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

35 thoughts on “My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums”

    1. #7 & #8 are definitely on my list. Pearl Jam is known for recording and selling its live albums, which are always a treat, as Eddie is a cult of personality. Another favorite of mine is Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles, live at Pine Knob. David Bowie’s Live, Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, and Peter Gabriel’s whatever it’s called are also on my list.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve wanted to check out Miles of Aisles since yo mentioned it the other day. I usually will go for studio albums more…I’ve heard the Talking Heads live one before…it’s good.

        Another one of the Band’s live albums you may want to check out is “Rock of Ages”. It doesn’t have the guests that The Last Waltz has but it’s great…came out in 72 when they were a little younger.

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    1. Yes I thought about that Elvis album…I really did…you know one I forgot to add? His comeback special…I had it ready to put on there…I have to add it to the honorable mentions. Thanks for reminding me.

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    1. Robbie just produced an album with him…none of the other Band members really wanted that…at least Levon. Robbie said he represented the Tin Pan Alley group of songwriters. I like Neil…he was just a little out of place here.

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  1. Man, I couldn’t wait to read this when I saw your title. When I was scanning down I was so hoping that you would have listed Bob’s 1966 live bootleg. The second half floors me as well as large chunks of the first half. This version of ‘Visions’ is my favourite by far and probably my favourite song of his overall (if I had to choose).
    I loved that Bruce live album too when I was a kid. I like that story he told about nearly having to go to Vietnam. I think he did it before ‘War’, but I haven’t heard it in such a long time. Also glad to see you have the Last Waltz in there. I’ll have to check out that Who album, although I’m not familiar with much of their music.

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    1. It was a toss up between Bob and the Who. Totally different of course but both of the albums are raw. I’m not sure if I remember this right because I’ve heard so many bootlegs of 66…but I love it when someone yelled out “Judas” and Bob replied “You’re a liar” and broke into the most powerful version of Like A Rolling Stone ever.

      Matt… you know the one that you might like over the Who is the Allman Brothers. I don’t know how much you know by them but…excellent musicians who blended a Miles Davis attitude with blues….It’s the kind of album you just play all the way through…it’s their best album ever to me…I would call them a Progressive Blues band…I think that is fair.

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      1. I have also have listened to many 66 bootlegs, but this remains my favourite. I bought the book about the concert called ‘Like the Night’ which was excellent supplementary material.
        His MTV unplugged was pretty good as well, which included an unbelievable ‘Desolation Row’ version. Unfortunately there were some good songs in rehearsal which he didn’t include in the actual concert.
        You mentioned that song by the Allman brothers which I hadn’t heard of previously, but I liked a great deal and downloaded it. Perhaps I’ll try their live album on for size. Thanks for the recommendation.
        Speaking of recommendations I heard yesterday this 2019 Dylan live performance of ‘Not Dark Yet’:. Strap yourself in if you haven’t heard yet:

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      2. Thank you Matt! Truely a moving rendition. One of my favorite Dylan songs…I know I say that a lot but you understand what I’m saying. I remember in the 90s when he had histoplasmosis and was really sick…this came out right after…the song is so moving…about death coming. At least that is what I get from it.

        I liked the MTV unplugged also. I remember the polkadot shirt…yes some excellent songs on that. I also liked what I heard from his tour in the 80s with Tom Petty…

        Another live Bob album that is great is Before The Flood with the Band backing him.

        Speaking of Bob…I wish they would clean up Eat The Document and release it…along with the Lennon and Dylan car ride.

        I never heard of “Like That Night”…I am going to see if audible has it… I learned more about the 66 tour from Testimony by Robbie Robertson…That book is full of info on Bob.

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      3. It’s also one of my favourite Dylan songs. I prefer the original melody, but I admire how he unearths his own songs and they become something completely different. ‘He not busy being born, is busy dying’.

        Yes, it is astonishing how he rebounded after that near fatal illness with the superb ‘Time out of Mind’. Interestingly Dylan expressed dissatisfaction with Lanois’s sound and produced all his subsequent records.

        ‘Before the Flood’ was my first Dylan record! I happened across it looking for Donovan’s ‘Catch the wind’ and found ‘Blowing in the Wind’ instead off that live album. haha.

        I second the cleaning up of the ‘Eat the Document’ tapes.
        I’ve read most of Dylan’s major biography’s and I think I read somewhere Robbie’s testimony or at least an excerpt from it about their 66 tour. Not only was Robbie one heck of a guitar player, but my god he had a gift of the gab. Great conversationalist.

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      4. Matt it’s nice to talk to another Dylan crazy person like me lol. I like Before the Flood.

        Robbie doesn’t make Dylan a God or anything…he makes him a human being in his book. He is so entertaining.

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      5. I think anyone can tell as far back as the ‘Don’t look Back’ doco that Dylan was anything but saintly or godlike. I personally found him quite objectionable on many occasions. But what he could do with that typewriter and guitar was outta this world.

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      6. Some books I’ve read puts him on a high pedestal. It was nice to hear Robbie describe every day Bob…
        One thing I remember is Robbie was riding with Bob and Bob was driving extremely slow. Robbie asked him…Bob why so slow? Bob said because people will jump out in the road so you will hit them on purpose for money. Robbie then told him well…speed up so they won’t jump in front of you on purpose…Bob sped up the car then…

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  2. You got some good ones on there!! I agree with the ones of it I’ve heard. I’d put Cheap Trick at Budokan higher, because as we’ve discussed before here it sounds better than the studio versions did. Typically, I like the studio work of most musicians and find live recordings don’t pull it off as well– kind of a “you had to be there” kind of thing. The ‘Unplugged’ ones are a creature of different stripes, since they usually reimagine the song entirely, sometimes for the better, other times not.
    Funny I see you mention Robbie Robertson in last comment— I’m going to be writing about him soon & just yesterday treated myself and ordered a copy of his self-titled album. Forogt how much I like that one.

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    1. I don’t know a big selection of live albums but yes some they manage to make the songs a little different like on thd Dylan, Who and Stones…The Allman Brothers are just better live than in the studio…thats not really normal with the exception of the Dead.
      Good… I’ll be looking forward to Robbie.

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  3. Caught In The Act – Styx (1984)
    MTV Unplugged – Nirvana (1994)

    Both Def Leppard live albums (I chased them all over Texas)

    I, too, am not big on live albums. If live, I want to be there. I do like Frampton. Simon & Garfunkel…Oh, yeah. Live Bullet was pretty good.

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  4. I don’t have heaps of live albums as I usually prefer studio creations. Totally agree with Live 1966. Talking Heads have good live albums and I enjoy John Cale’s Fragments of a Rainy Season.

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  5. All great choices Max. I can’t argue with any of them. The Allman Bros. Fillmore East is my favorite live album. Then I would say Live Rust. A couple that are not on your list that I love are Nina Simone In Concert 1964 and The Grateful Dead Without a Net. A lot of Dead Heads don’t like it. I’m not a Dead Head. “Looks Like Rain” is probably my favorite live recording of all time. Live at Leeds is definately at the top of my list. The Who was probably the greatest live band in the world.

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    1. Thanks Pam. I had the Allmans at two in the first draft. Being a musician myself… their playing is just incredible… they lock in with each other so tight and flow like a river.

      I did think about the Dead Europe 72… I’ll check out without a Net.

      The Who were just so tight and together.

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  6. Live at Leeds and Fillmore East definitely! My other 8 would be different.
    J. Geils Band, Full House
    Little Feat, Waiting for Columbus (RIP Paul Barrere)
    Zappa, Roxy and Elsewhere
    Deep Purple, Made in Japan
    Wilco, Kicking Television
    Grateful Dead, Europe 72
    Genesis, Seconds Out
    Elton John, Here & There

    Live albums are tough to analyze. Most of them have been doctored in the studio, which seems bogus. And the CD age added a bunch of extra stuff to many with some great results (live at leeds) and some not so great (here & there). Ive always been disappointed with the career spanning boxes because they seem to defeat the whole purpose of a live album. Anyway, there’s plenty of great ones.

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    1. The Dead Europe 72 I almost had in there. Little Feat is a band I need to listen to more. I’ve read a lot about Lowell George but never really listened to their music a lot.

      I’d like to check the J. Geils live one also. I’ve heard their studio music and like it.

      At Fillmore East just amazes me everytime I listen to it. The entire band moves as one.

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  7. I am with you on that- I prefer the studio albums over live- but there are some great live albums- and I have no argument with any of your selections- all fantastic. Not that I pay much attention as I once did- but it seems like the live album release is now a thing of the past. No Frampton Comes Alive? {I wouldn’t put it on the list either} but is Frampton Comes Alive the most famous rock live album ever?

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    1. Yes Frampton Comes Alive has to be the most famous of all.
      Live albums were just souvenirs from tours for many…but that one made his career and made a mint…and went worldwide. It’s a good album but that good? His looks plus the right timing I guess.
      Yea I thought about adding it when making the list but I’m just done with it.

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      1. I always though of live albums back then as- you said souvenir from the tour- and a product to put out to keep things rolling until the next studio album.

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      2. I can only think of 3 that made careers. Cheap Trick’s album, At Fillmore East, and of course Frampton.
        Now bands record their live show and sell the CD’s at the door that night…or download later that night…now it is an official souvenir like a T Shirt.

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      3. Speaking of concert t-shirts its robbery what they charge now- I can’t recall the last one I actually bought- high prices and t-shirts of cheap quality- I can pass on.

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      4. The last one I bought was in the parking lot…a bootleg of course… 20 bucks and good quality. Hated doing that but I’m not paying 40-50 dollars for a t shirt.
        I don’t like supporting bootlegging but artists are pricing themselves out.

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