10 Best Live Albums
A list of the 10 best live albums must include a variety of music stylings and a host of different groups and singers. Live albums pose a problem with recording the performance and mixing it to keep the adventure of the live venue while at the same time making the music sound acceptable to listeners used to hearing studio versions of the song. While some of the groups are veterans of live recordings, several entries are the first and only live offering by the artist.
- "Life at Folsom Prison" by Johnny Cash. Released by Columbia Records in 1968, Cash's album of live songs was recorded at the infamous Folsom Prison. Cash was known for his song "Folsom Prison Blues" and he was a huge hit with the prisoners at the detention facility. The sparks from the live performance carried over in the live album so the listeners at home could enjoy the concert.
- "Live at Leeds" by The Who. This album captured the excitement of a live Who recording. Released twice, once in 1970 on vinyl and again in 1995 on CD, Who fans debate the merits of the two very different mixes of the same concert performance.
- "Live Rust" by Neil Young. As a solo performer and also as a member of a the groups Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Buffalo Springfield, Young was a veteran of live performances. "Live Rust" captured songs from the 1978 tour with his band Crazy Horse. This record allows listeners to hear the crackle of the live music performances in San Francisco in the fall of that year.
- "Live at Carnegie Hall" by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk. This live treasure from 1957 was hidden until researchers found the Voice of America recordings in the U.S. Library of Congress in 2005. Jazz fans can hear the legends in action on this recording.
- "Big Time" by Tom Waits. While Waits recorded later live albums, including "Romeo Bleeding" in Austin, "Big Time" his best live album "Big Time" was first released on vinyl in 1990. A re-mastered version on a compact disc hit the shelves in 2008.
- "Live at Fillmore East" by the Allman Brothers. The 1971 double vinyl recording by the Allman Brothers showed the talents of this Southern rock group. The duo guitar performances of Dick Betts and Duane Allman shine on this live performance that was released in re-mastered versions in 1997 and 2003.
- "Rock of Ages" by the Band. This album was the fifth offering by a group that came to fame as a backup group for folk singer Bob Dylan. The concert took place over the holiday in December 1971 at the New York City Academy of Music. The first release was 1971 and the second version hit the shelves in 1980. The double album was re-released in 1990 and 2001 with expanded versions of several songs.
- "Live 1975-1985" by Bruce Springsteen. Bruce is the master of the live show and has released several live albums and has added several live tunes on standard albums, but the collection of the top live performances released in 1986. The LP hit the Billboard 200 charts in the top spot.
- "Europe '72" by the Grateful Dead. The Dead are all about live concerts and have recorded many live albums including this triple album recorded in Western Europe and released the next year in the U.S. This recording was the last for "Pigpen," aka Ron McKernan before he died and also introduced the Godchaux husband/wife team.
- "Live 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue" by Bob Dylan. The Rolling Thunder group lead by Dylan toured over two years, 1975 and 1976, culminated with the release of this album. The tour introduced new Dylan tunes and a host of hand-selected musicians, including folk singer Joan Baez.