9 Top Live Albums

9 Top Live Albums

ramones, 1977
Ramones live, 1977. Photo by Howard Barlow/Redferns.

The all-hallowed live album is ironic in its majesty. Moments of perfection may leave you awestruck, but it’s the moments of imperfection that make it unique. Because it’s an artform about spirit, embracing the chaos of a frenetic crowd and capturing that monstrous energy on tape. To make up for the particular lack of that energy right now, here 9 top live albums, packed full of career-making moments and epic jams.

1. BAD COMPANY: Live in Concert 1977 & 1979

English hard rockers, Bad Company’s live concerts rivalled some of the best, bringing primal, menacing riffs with shades of light and dark. Their Live in Concert 1977 & 1979 is stacked with classic gems in the two-and-half hours of music, taken from two concerts – The Summit in Houston, Texas on May 23, 1977 and the almighty Wembley Arena in London on March 9, 1979. This is the kind of set that would inspire an arena full of people to spark their lighters and sway as one.

Bad Company | “Bad Company” [Live at Wembley, 1979]


Neil Young and Crazy Horse recorded Live Rust during their 1978 ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ tour. The album is composed of performances recorded at several tour stops along the way. The collection of setlists are carefully considered, spotlighting a host of material audiences had never heard before, including "Powderfinger" and "Sedan Delivery" along with the duo of "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" – the songs that inspired the Pixies’ “Into The White,” which in turn inspired Nirvana to fulfil Neil’s prophecy and put rock back on top of pretty much everything for the decade that followed. 

Neil Young | “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” [Live Rust]

3. ERIC CLAPTON: Live in San Diego with special guest JJ Cale

On 15 March 2007, Eric Clapton performed at the iPayOne Center in San Diego and was joined by JJ Cale. Live in San Diego followed the pair’s collaboration on 2006’s The Road To Escondido album. The curiously spotlight-shy Cale joined Clapton midway through his blues-charged set to perform a selection of five of his classic songs. 

Cale said at the time: “This is the realization of what may have been my last ambition, to work with the man whose music has inspired me for as long as I can remember.”

Eric Clapton & JJ Cale | “Anyway The Wind Blows” [Live From San Diego]

4. GARY MOORE: Live from London

Gary Moore appeared at London’s Islington Academy on December 2nd, 2009, for a defining one-off showcase of some of blues-rock’s biggest names, doing what they do best in an intimate club setting. Nobody in the sell-out crowd that night suspected they were witnessing one of his final shows, but when Moore passed away fourteen months later in 2011, at just 58 years old, the show took on a new level of sentimentality. Live From London captures the blazing performance which is widely cherished as one of his great last stands.

Gary Moore | “Since I Met You Baby” [Live from London]

5. SIMPLE MINDS: Live in The City of Angels

Live in the City of Angels is the seventh live album by Scottish rockers, Simple Minds and documents their largest-ever North American tour to date, recorded on 24 October 2018 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, California – aka the City of Angels. The album’s title is actually a reference to their first live album from 1987, Live in the City of Light, which was recorded in Paris – aka the City of Light. It’s an apt reference point for the career-spanning 40 song collection – aka a must-have for any Simple Minds fan! 

Simple Minds | “Love Song” [Live in the City of Angels

6. THE STRANGLERS: Live (X Cert)

New Wave punk-rockers, The Stranglers released Live (X Cert) back in 1979. It was the first live album of their career, but by no means their last. Naivety is undeniably captivating and, taking nothing away from the many live albums that followed, Live (X Cert) is definitely the one that perfectly captures a thrilling point of time in their career.

The Stranglers | “Hanging Around” [Live X Cert]

7. SKYHOOKS: Live! Be in It 

Live! Be in It was the Skyhooks’ first live album, made up of live recordings taken from various concerts around Melbourne, in venues as wide-ranging as the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Council Club Hotel, from December 1975 to July 1978. The double album has 15 classic tracks from the legendary rockers’ 70s live set. 

Skyhooks: “Mercedes Ladies”

8. LINDA RONSTADT: Live in Hollywood

Linda Ronstadt released more than two dozen studio albums during her stellar five-decade career, but Live in Hollywood is her first and only live album. The recent release features amazing performances from a concert that Ronstadt recorded 40 years ago in 1980 for her acclaimed HBO television special, presented exactly as it happened on the night. 

Linda Ronstadt | “You're No Good” [Live In Hollywood 1980]

9. RAMONES: It’s Alive

Originally released in 1979, It’s Alive is a blistering double album of the Ramones’ live takes on classic tracks from the band’s well-loved first three albums, recorded in London on New Year’s Eve in 1977 and originally released in 1979. 

The Ramones | “Blitzkrieg Bop” [Live at Rainbow Theatre, London, NYE 1977] 


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