Top 10 Live Albums

Once again “Mr. List”  Brent Chittenden- AC

The live album has been a staple of everyone’s music collection since the soundtrack to the Woodstock movie came out. But how can one decide what is a good live album and what is a bad one? Which ones are worth picking up and which ones are worth tossing? Well here’s a little list of what are my top ten live albums of all time.

10) Daft Punk – Alive 2007

It may seem odd to a lot of people to place an electronic act such as Daft Punk anywhere close to this list but the proof is in the pudding. Alive 2007 not only gives you the best of Daft Punk (up until that point) but also shows how they changed and remodelled songs for a live setting and really bringing it to their audience. High energy and just great tunes.

9) Frank Zappa And The Mothers – Roxy And Elsewhere

Probably the best of the many, many, live recordings you can find of Zappa. Incredibly well produced and including material you can’t hear anywhere else, it’s a tribute to a band and a man who had musical skills that were pretty much not of this Earth.

8) Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive!

This was the breakthrough album for Peter Frampton and later went on to being one of the best selling live albums of all time. Great sound that really showcases the talent that Frampton posses.

7) Kiss – Alive!

Love’em or hate’em, Kiss is huge and wouldn’t be huge if it weren’t for this breakout album. For my money, this is the Kiss that people should know; before the brand was stamped on everything from condoms to baby food, Kiss was a hard rocking band, hungry to prove to the world that they were the best rock act in town. Alive! captures that version of Kiss perfectly.

6) Nirvana – Unplugged

Featuring little in the way of hits (very unusual for a live record and for Unplugged specials), Nirvana’s Unplugged record may not be the sound of the band that kicked down the doors for grunge and alternative music but it a great testament to the song writer that Cobain was.

5) Johnny Cash – Live At Folsom Prison

This is quintessential Cash and was probably in most of your father’s record collections and should be in yours as well.

4) Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Live Rust

Capture both the sound and the fury of Young and Crazy Horse, Live Rust showcases the rock and the acoustic sides of the band incredibly well. If anyone ever questions you on what the big deal is about Neil Young, make them listen to Live Rust and they will shut up.

3) Led Zeppelin – How The West Was Won

I think it can be generally agreed that Led Zeppelin is one of the most important rock bands ever. Which makes it odd that we had to wait until 2003 to have a good live release from the band. But the wait was worth it. How The West Was Won gives you the band in their best form in terms of creativity and as a live entity.

2) The Who – Live At Leeds

My generation has never had a chance to hear The Who in a live setting. Sure we’ve seen More Or Less The Who but without Keith Moon it isn’t the same. Recorded during the tour that followed the release of Tommy, this is The Who at the height of their powers.

1) The Band – The Last Waltz

One of the best concert films ever made also produced one of the best live albums ever. The Band were unlike anyone else and this live set not only documents their career from start to finish with guests like Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan but it also serves as a reminder of how good they were. Great album to own but if you have a couple of extra bucks, spring for the box set that includes all of the music.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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15 thoughts on “Top 10 Live Albums

  • Funny thing about KISS Alive is that they redid a lot of the vocals in the studio. May I suggest Cheap Trick and Alice in Chains' live efforts as must haves?

  • Solid list and great call on the "How The West Was One." You don't hear that one talked about very often and it does kick ass. Key track "That's The Way"…goosebumps!

  • Great list from one of my favorite writers. Glad to see Johnny Cash Live at Folsom included. A more contemporary Live Album that I think people should check out is Ben Folds Live. Who knew just one man and a piano could make that much rock.

  • always liked thin lizzy-live and dangerous

  • I say replace Frampton Comes Alive with Humble Pie's "Performance Rockin the Filmore". Great guitar work from Frampton and better vocals from Steve Marriot

  • You forgot Stop Making Sense

  • So many worth mentioning from different generes from overall concept, to creative deviation or closest-to-studio versions, to content, or to just being damn good. But I’m going to go out on a limb with this one. I used to play this eccentric/eclectic electronic track and more times than not there would always be someone who would come up and ask who it was. So for that, I nominate Yello – Live at the Roxy ’83.

  • "Live At Budokan" – Cheap Trick

  • Everything Everything – Underworld

  • Hard to leave out Seger "Live Bullet" and Little Feat "Waiting for Columbus"

  • Some weak choices in my opinion.

    Deep Purple's Made in Japan should be there without question.

  • Daft Punk? Kiss? And no Allman Brothers At The Fillmore? No Rory Gallagher Irish Tour or Live in Europe? Please. I can't take this seriously.

  • Good list. Deep Purple's Made in Japan has been my favourite live album since I bought it in the early 70's. Edgar Winter's White Trash Roadwork is another great live album that gets overlooked.

  • +1 on Zeppelin… I remember borrowing this album from my local library a few years ago… little did I know the treat I was in for.

    Also Nirvana -Live at Reading is a great live capture of the band at their peak, i much prefer it to the rushed compilation that was Muddy Banks.


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