Top 10 Favorite Live (not the band) Albums

Live music is something more than a simply part of my life. It’s part of my being. Yes, it’s true, I don’t really go to many shows as of late, but listening to live music in the comfort of my home has become an institution for learning and appreciating an extension of recorded music. This is why some of my favorite records are either recorded live in concert or live in the studio with little to no overdubs. There is something that happens as a group playing live that can never be reproduced in a studio with overdubbing parts separately.

  1. Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense
  2. Bad Brains’ Live
  3. Erykah Badu’s Live – Regardless of Erykah’s sick emotional and moving capabilities, Charles “Poogie” Bell, Jr’s performance on this record is worth it alone. He’s slick as shit.
  4. U2’s Rattle & Hum – As overdubbed as you can get, it’s still tremendous music. The intro to “All Along The Watchtower” still makes me cringe when I hear it. It’s just so overdubbed!
  5. Underworld’s Everything Everything – Wow, an electronic outfit you could honestly call a band. And they tour. Wild!
  6. Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison
  7. Fela Kuti’s Live! – There’s something about Nigerian funk that speaks to me. And this show is no exception. Fela was spot on.
  8. Frank Zappa’s You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol 2 – Helsinki’s greatest treat from 1974. Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson (and his gorilla), George Duke & Ruth Underwood were at their finest that night.
  9. Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan – “This next one…”
  10. Miles Davis’ Live at the Fillmore East – This is one dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty piece of music history.

What’s you Top 10 Favorite Live albums?

8 Responses to “Top 10 Favorite Live (not the band) Albums”


  • I can’t think of ten right off the top of my head, and anyway a lot of the ones you mention are mine as well. But I love this EFO show (http://www.archive.org/details/efo1999-06-26.shnf) and James McMurtry’s “Live in Aught-Three” is great fun.

    If you haven’t heard James McMurtry, I suggest you give him a good listen.

  • I also have a hard time putting 10 together in my head. But I can definitely do a top three: 1) Oscar Peterson Jam, Montreux ’77 2) Dave Matthews – Listener Supported 3) Ani DiFranco at 9:30 Club, 2004. Actually, I think that last one might only be out as a DVD, so maybe it doesn’t count.

  • A few on my list:

    GenesisThe Way We Walk Volume Two – The Longs – Polished, later Genesis taking on some of their best prog stuff from early and later eras. The Medley is incredible. Relistening to this over the weekend almost made me willing to shell out the $200+ for tix to see them this summer.
    Roger Clyne & The PeacemakersReel to Real – For my money, the best live band touring today, captured beautifully. It’s difficult to capture the energy of a really great live show on tape, and they nail it. They’ve got another great live album too.
    They Might Be GiantsSevere Tire Damage – Generally excellent sound, and the weird bonus “Planet of the Apes” suite as bonus tracks. Also notable for excellent reinterpretations of weird ass songs.
    Man Or Astro-Man?Live Transmissions From Uranus – All about energy energy instrumental surf-punk mixed with samples of 50s monster movies
    PortisheadRoseland NYC Live – Great example of a band that shouldn’t be any good live, but who managed to fill the space excellently.
    NirvanaUnplugged – Speaks for itself.
    BjorkLive Box – Heh heh. Mostly thrown in to vex Mat, but another good example of an artist taking stuff that shouldn’t even come close to working live, and making it happen.

    I think a lot of times it’s tough to separate a “best live albums” list from a “my favorite bands who have live albums” list, but it’s fun anyway.

  • Led Zeppelin-The Song Remains the Same.

    also, John… seriously. Yes. Nirvana Unplugged. Awesome.

    And what about the Woodstock soundtrack? Does that count? Because it would make my top ten.

  • Great list. I’d have to say anything by Miles’ band circa ’73 – ’75: Dark Magus, Agharta, Pangaea – I still go apeshit whenever I hear it.

  • I finally have most of my CDs out where I can see them for the first time in years. Amazing what shelves will do.

    I’m also very fond of “Show” by Cure. I don’t know if that’s cool or not, but for some reason I like their live albums but can’t take the studio ones.

  • 1) Frampton Comes Alive
    2) The Who Live at Leeds
    3) UFO- Strangers in the night
    4) Eric Clapton- 24 Nights
    5) Cheap Trick- Budokan (the Complete Concert)
    6) Rolling Stones- Get Your Ya-Yas out
    7) Grateful Dead- Dozin at the Knick
    8) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- Live 1975-1985
    9) Genesis- Three Sides Live
    10) Paul McCartney- Tripping the Live Fantastic

    PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER AS I FEEL NOBODY’S TOP 10 SHOULD BE.
    Also, I would love to include Dave matthews, who puts on an incredible show musically, he lacks in the personality/stage presence department. In fact, it was one of the most boring concerts I have seen. I could have sat at home and listened to the studio album and had a better time. No offense to Dave, but PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE MAN !!

  • My Top 10 studio Albums are easier. If you feel this should be moved to a new threat. Please do.
    Once again in no particular order:
    1) Born to Run- Bruce Springsteen
    2) Who’s Next- The Who
    3) Dark Side of the Moon- Pink Floyd
    4) Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band- The Beatles
    5) Pet Sounds- The Beach Boys
    6) Exile on Main Street- The Rolling Stones
    7) Physical Graffiti- Led Zeppelin
    8) L.A. Woman- The Doors
    9) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road- Elton John
    10)Rumours- Fleetwood mac

    There are more, but these are Definitive

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