My favorite live albums

I got to thinking about my favorite live albums so in no particular order: (my initial draft got eaten by Firefox 😦 so this one is a little shorter and perhaps more concise)

    • The Neville Brothers – “Live on Planet Earth” –  a classic New Orleans jamboree with lots of classics, fantastic singing and music and enthousiasm which is contagious. This one always reminds me of the three times I had the luck to attend the Jazz&Heritage Festival in ‘Nawlins back in the early 90’s and once actually saw the Nevilles perform there.
    • Bob Marley – “Babylon by Bus” – an essential document of the Kaya tour with Marley burning them down like no one else can.
    • Rush – “Exit, Stage Left” – an album that I loved as a kid that contains most of the classic Rush from the early 80’s. Brings back lots of pre-high school memories.
    • John Coltrane – “Live at Birdland” – the unaccompanied solo on track 2 is one of the most incredible recordings that I have ever heard. The entire album is just as amazing and insightful.
    • Keith Jarrett – “The Köln Concert” – The energy and emotion of this improvised performance defies description apart from the grunts and cries as Jarrett pounds the notes out of his piano. I once heard this in concert in an apartement in Paris. I don’t know how the person managed to transcribe all the notes but it was a faithful attempt at reproducing this incredible recording.
    • The Who – “Live at Leeds” – how much energy is rock-n-roll capable of? The Who seems to attempt to push the needle way off the right end on this recording from 1970.
    • Jeff Buckley – “Live at the Sin-é” – an acoustic, heart-breaking set from the prematurely passed away Mr. Buckley. Released just before “Grace” and captivating to listen to, I just got a copy of it and am really enjoying it.
    • Bob Dylan – “Bootleg, Vol. 6” – Dylan back in 1964 was amazing. I had two aunts that saw him play at this period in his career. The thing is that even now, his work carries on and is just as fresh. How he can do this over a span of almost 50 years is mind-boggling.
    • Johnny Cash – “At Folsom Prison” – the definitive Cash recording with June Carter and the legendary Luther Perkins. Incredible songs at such an unlikely and yet appropriate venue, this one is a must for anyone that wants to understand the Man in Black.
    • The Clash – “Live at Shea Stadium” – recently dug out of vaults somewhere, this set from the Clash’s 1983 tour with The Who shows the Clash not long before their breakup but still capable of volcanic stretches such as that at the end of this album “Clampdown”, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “I Fought the Law”. I am so jealous of the two or three people I know that actually saw the Clash live.
    • Honorable mention: U2 “Under a Blood Red Sky”, Peter Gabriel “Plays Live”, The Doors “In Concert”, The Allman Brothers “Live at the Atlanta Int’l Pop Festival”, Jimmy Hendrix “Live at Berkeley”, Frank Zappa “You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol 3”, …

      Comments welcome and solicited 🙂


      About mfinocchiaro

      IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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      4 Responses to My favorite live albums

      1. Steve Ingham says:


        Greetings from Chicago !

        I like your list…funny cause I just made a playlist of live music for my squeezebox. I totally agree with the “Live at Leeds” selection. Another one you might want to check out is Little Feat “Waiting For Columbus”. The Peter Gabriel you mention is also good but I would say to go with the recording from his Secret World tour (actually it is available as great DVD…I’m a hugh PG fan). Believe it or not another live recording I’ve come to appreciate more and more is Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same”…I think it was remastered. Oh…and anything live from “Yes”…I have a bootleg from the late ’70’s that’s awesome.

        • mfinocchiaro says:

          I will check out that Little Feat suggestion Steve! Thanks.
          As for Gabriel Plays Live, I just get the goosebumps like all over when I hear that particular rendition of Biko. Reminds me of those Amnesty Int’l and US festival concerts in the early 80’s when I was a naïve kid suddenly learning about evil in the world in the form of apartheid.
          “Song Remains The Same” was always disappointing in its original mix (I still have ALL the original Zep LPs and that has to be my least favorite). So, you’re saying that the new mix is better? Sounds worth checking out as wel.
          Ah man, its been years since I listened to Yes. So much music, so little time!
          Cheers and HAPPY NEW YEARS from Paris!

      2. Steve Ingham says:

        Totally agree that back in the day the “Song Remains The Same” was my least favorite as well. The sound on the remaster is a little better and there are some additional songs / different versions. However…I think the reason that I like it better now comes from a better appreciation on just how raw Zep sounds live. Quite a contrast to the multiple layered tracks of Page on all the studio recordings …which some consider over-produced (not me though).

        “Secret World” would be the “Biko” equivalent on the Gabriel I mentioned….and like you having attended the show makes it very memorable.

        Check out this free site for some cool live stuff:


      3. Pingback: Top 10 Jazz Albums | Fino's Weblog

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