The live album is always a risky proposition. In years past, it was the other give up album (hello Greatest Hits) that was done to fulfill the contract with the record company. Not to say that there have not been great live albums but there have been some less than stellar albums that have not quite stood the test of time (“Frampton Comes Alive” anyone?).
I think, as music has progressed, the live album was a great way for bands to better connect with their audience. Some bands have earned the reputation as a great “Live” band and the live album was just an obvious avenue for them. Artists like Phish and The Dave Matthews Band have more live albums in their discography than studio albums. In 2000 Pearl Jam, in an attempt provide their fans with a better quality and affordable live recording, recorded all of their concerts.
So, here is a list of great live albums. This is by no means a list of the greatest live albums, but merely an installment of great live albums.
This album features Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony. Such a brilliant merging of two seemingly polar opposites sounds and styles. The set list takes a bit from each of the early works as well as their late 90’s work. Definitely worth adding to your collection.
Tom Petty Live Anthology
This album is a compilation of thirty years of live concerts. Petty is timeless and the music is amazing. Radio staples such as “Refugee”, “American Girl”, and “Free Falling” are comfortably arranged around deeper cuts like “Louisiana Rain”, “Angel Dream (No.2)”, and “”Straight Into Darkness”. The covers on this four disc set are a real treat including The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” and Fleetwood Mac’s ”Oh Well”.
The Dave Matthews Band The Central Park Concert
This is a three disc set that is a typical Dave Matthews jam session with the usual song suspects in the lineup and has a great cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” with Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers & Govt. Mule) and Dave sharing the vocals. It is not overly produced or reworked so you get more of the raw concert sound and vibe.
Ben Harper Live from Mars
If you are going to own one Ben Harper album, this is the one. This two disc set is a great cross section of his work as well as covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and The Verve “The Drugs Don’t Work”.
Counting Crows Across A Wire Live in New York
This two disc set is actually two separate concerts. Disc one is an acoustic set while disc two cranks up a bit electrically. The set list is comprised of songs from their first two albums “August and Everything After” and “Recovering the Satellites”.
Undone: A Musical Tribute to Robert Earl Keen
This two disc live album has great covers of Keen’s music by the likes of: Walt Wilkins, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, Reckless Kelly, Chris Knight, Cody Canada (Cross Canadian Ragweed), and Max Stallings. Robert also appears on the last few song son disc two.
Alice in Chains Unplugged
This album captured the essence and greatness of the late, great Layne Staley. All acoustic (hence the unplugged) set that include “Would”, “Angry Chair”, and ‘The Killer is Me”. This was one of the final performances of the original band.
Chris & Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes) Brothers of a Feather
This two man acoustic set is the brothers and their guitars at their greatest. The album is a variety of cuts from their shows at the Roxy Theater. It features songs from The Black Crowes and a few cover tunes. My favorite tracks are “Thorn in My Pride” and “My Heart is Killing Me”.
Rage Against the Machine Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium
Great album recorded during their last two shows in September 2000. The intensity of the album lasts al sixteen tracks. Standout tracks on the album are “No Shelter”, “Bulls On Parade”, “Bomb Track”, and “Killing In the Name of”.
Pearl Jam Live (any of the band produced live albums)
In an effort to better connect with the fans and provide quality and affordable live recordings Pearl Jam recorded a series of concerts in the early 00’s. Sets often included “Crazy Mary”, “State of Love and Trust”, covers of Neil Young’s “Rockin in the Free World”, Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”, The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. So, take your pick as any of the live series is a treasure.
Dispatch All Points Bulletin
This two disc set is the final farewell concert that was held in Boston that had over 100,000 fans in attendance. It is the subject of the DVD “Last Dispatch. This album has an early version of the State Radio song “Riddle In Londontown” and a fan sing along to the Dispatch tune “The General”.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live in New York City
Amazing two disc set that at the time of release has two new and unreleased songs “Land of Hopes and Dreams” and “American Skin (41 Shots)”. Both stellar songs but in my opinion, “Youngstown” is the gem of this album.
Paul Simon’s Concert In the Park
This live recording was done in New York’s famous Central Park on August 15th 1991. The album opens with one of my all time favorite Simon songs “The Obvious Child”. He also covers the Simon and Garfunkel period with “The Boxer”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and closes the set with “The Sounds of Silence”. This concert also featured many of the South American and African musicians that played on “Rhythm of the Saints” and “Graceland” respectively.
Rush Different Stages
It is a three disc set that covers several of their concerts in 1994 and 1997. Disc three is a concert in London from 1978. They cover quite a bit of their catalog but the one glaring omission is “Mystic Rhythms”
Bob Dylan The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration
This tribute concert was a star studded event with performances from: John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Eddie Vedder, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, George Harrison, The Band, and Roger McGuinn to name just a few! While all of the performances were amazing, Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready’s cover of “Masters of War” was the highlight of the show.
Also, if you have a facebook page, you can become a fan of the blog.
Great Music Awaits!