7 Awesome Live Albums

7 Awesome Live Albums


Live albums. I love 'em. I think it’s because I love going to see bands live, where you get a little extra involved with the music, the band, and other fans. Live albums have the ability to take you to a place and include you, hearing the banter between band members, and between the band and the audience. It’s like getting an extra dim sim in your fish and chips that you didn’t ask for, the small bonuses are what makes for a great live album. So I had a quick think and jotted a few of my favourites down. I’d love to hear what yours are too, so remember to hit the comments section and tell us why you love your favs.

Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same

Ok, so is this a live album or a soundtrack to a live film? Meh, what’s the difference? Sure it was recorded over 3 live shows at Maddison Square Garden, but it’s a live album none the less, and it’s a ripper, despite the band believing it’s not a true representation of the band live.

Zep were in full flight in 1973 and their North American tour of that year was HUGE. There are a couple of oddities about this album though. As I said, it’s a soundtrack to a movie of the same name, but a few of songs feature in the movie that aren’t on the album, and vice versa. Was this a mistake, or a genius marketing plan to ensure that fans bought both?

Alice In Chains: Unplugged

This is a personal favourite that I still listen to. I bought it on CD, I bought it on VHS, yep, massive Alice In Chains fan right here. The 90’s of course was red hot for MTV unplugged albums, and as much as we hear about Nirvana’s night, this is the one for me. Eric Clapton gets an honourable mention as well.

Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell’s voices combined made for some really spine-tingling stuff, and them doing an unplugged set amplified their talents. I will always compare Layne and Scott Weiland as truly unique voices of the era.  Able to evoke passions and emotions that no others could for me in the 90’s, and that’s what makes this live album a true great.

AC/DC: If You Want Blood You’ve Got It

I was going to include Acca Dacca’s 1992 live album, but I had to be honest to myself, I like this one better. Recorded in 1978 at a few different venues including Glasgow in Scotland, this live album kinda went against what others were doing at the time.

Instead of including extended songs (as is often the case at live shows) this was 10 tracks that cut the fat and got to the point. I like it because it also highlights Bon’s proficiency as a front man, cheeky, funny, super talented. I’m too young to have seen Bon live, but his legend lives on strong on this cracking live album.

Queen: Queen At Wembley

This is my favourite live album of all time. I’m an unashamed, massively biased Queen fan when I say that. I LOVE these cd’s. Played them to death. I love the 4 songs medley in the middle of "You’re so Square/Hello Mary Lou/Tutti Frutti/Gimme Some Lovin".

I adore the call and response that Freddie did so well (I don’t think anyone does it better), Brian May’s "Brighton Rock" solo, I mean, I love it all. I super fanboy listening to this, and I will try to sing along to the whole thing all the time. Yep. I’m that guy. Ask yourself, what’s not to love? It’s 1986. There was 72,000 Queen fans who went almost deathly silent when the band played "Is This The World We Created". This gig had everything. Queen was ON FIRE that day. AND our very own INXS opened proceedings!

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense

Like Zeppelin earlier, this is a concert film but features a live performance from the band shot over 3 nights in Los Angeles in 1983. I guess what made this odd was how it begins, with lead singer David Byrne walking on to an empty stage, with just a boom box and his guitar.

Gradually, he’s joined by other band members and equipment and everything starts to make sense. This was also where we were introduced to the ‘large business suit’. By the time they get to "Girlfriend Is Better", the suit is massive. The size of which is really highlighted when Byrne later takes the jacket off to reveal massive pants. Slightly weird band, super catchy songs, great idea for a live movie, definitely rates as one of the best.

Metallica: Live Shit: Binge and Purge

I remember when this box set was announced, Metallica fans lost their minds. This thing was huge. 3 CD’s (or cassettes if you preferred), 2 VHS tapes, booklet, access pass, T-Shirt, this had everything.

The live gear was taken from shows on the Nowhere Else To Roam tour, and earlier live tunes and footage from the Damaged Justice tour, most notably in Seattle, 1989. THAT show itself is worth the price of admission and is still recognised as one of their best live shows caught on film after the passing of original bassist, Cliff Burton. Pure fire. (Watch for the guy fully inverted in the mosh pit)


Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!

Quite simply one of the greatest live albums of all time. This is near the tippy top. The Rolling Stones were touring through North America at the time (1969) and this live album is the last to feature JUST The Rolling Stones band members before they started touring with extra backing musicians. This was the first live album to reach number 1 in the UK, despite the fact that overdubbing occurred resulting in new vocals on just about all tracks. Not that it was unusual for bands to do that back then, a little magic dust sprinkled on never hurt anyone. (Just ask KISS)

So if this little collection of great live albums doesn’t get your brain ticking over, I don’t know what will. Maybe you haven’t listened to some that I’ve mentioned? One thing I know for sure is that you’ll have your favourites that you like to rave about, so let us know! What about Neil Diamond - Hot August Night? Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive? Kiss – Alive? Cheap Trick – Live at Budokan? Deep Purple - Live in Japan? Fire up and share your love of great live albums!

- Higgo 

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