The recent thread asking why was Frampton Comes Alive so popular? got me thinking - what were the best live albums ever. I’m sure we’ve done this before, I know, but who cares; let’s do it again.
What do you think are the best live albums ever? In order to be focused rather than exhaustive, let’s limit it to, say, no more than your top ten best live albums.
Here are mine:
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out - The Stones - everything (and more) you could ever hope for in a live album. It has no serious contenders for the title.
Live at the Filmore East* - The Allman Brothers. Just as Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out has no rivals for the top spot, neither does Live at the Filmore have any competitors for number two. (*the YouTube link is not the original album but, instead, includes a LOT of additional material).
Okay, those were easy (IMNSHO, of course ;)). Now it’s time for some controversy!
So, for number 3, and keeping the tag “controversy” in mind, I’m gonna go with . . .
Bless Its Pointed Little Head - Jefferson Airplane. Tremendous energy, terrific ‘feel’, great sound, and lots of improv for those already familiar with their stuff. And, when I say the album has a terrific “feel”, it’s hard to be precise, but basically I’m saying it captures the whole mood, the spirit, the . . . “feel” of a live concert. No matter how you slice it, though, the album is an absolute classic and is (almost) in a class by itself.
Speaking of capturing the “feel” of a live concert while also presenting an amazing, musically superb performance, I can’t leave out Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service. Simply stunning - there was a rumour that people were “balling in the aisles” as the band played. I, for one, have little doubt that it’s true. I mean, just listen to this. And feel it. Definitely “balling in the aisles” music. By the way, the album title “Happy Trails” was a nice little allusion to the trails, mostly happy trails, so prevalent among ‘the young people today’ circa 1969.
Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall was released WAY too long after the fact to become the classic it deserved to be. A pheonomenal performance, with many of what would later become classics played and heard here (publicly) for the first time. Outstanding sound and a nice feel throughout as Neil performs for an (appreciative) hometown audience.
And, before you start pounding away at your key boards, lambasting me (“how could you not put ‘X’ or ‘Y’ up there?”), of course I’ll add two ‘classic’ live albums:
Made in Japan - Deep Purple
Live at Leeds - The Who (I’ve never really liked The Who all that much and, maybe if I did, this one would rank higher - at least, all The Who fans would demand it that way)
Finally, I want to mention two other live albums which, for one reason or another as noted below, don’t quite qualify for “Best Live Album Ever” for the purposes of this thread. But, since each is a truly outstanding album, here goes:
Ummagumma - Pink Floyd. If this album were one hundred percent live, it would be right up there close to Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out. But, since it is not, I’ll have to settle for giving it an Honourable Mention (a very honourable mention).
The Köln Concert - Keith Jarrett. No question that this is a live album. But, better filed under the heading “jazz”, it doesn’t really fit in with the tacit assumption underlying this thread that we’re talking about the best live rock albums. Live or dead, jazz or rock, this is one of the best albums of any type, and of any genre, so would be at or near the top of a whole variety of lists.
And there you have it. What do you say?
ETA: As must be obvious from my selections above, I don’t have a good sense of rock music post 1990, and more like 1975. So, the fact that I didn’t include any more recent stuff should really be taken as an invitation for those who are into more recent music to add their choices. Thx!