Long After Dark’s Ten Best Live Albums
There was a great deal of hair-splitting when Long After Dark compiled this list, as live albums are a bit tricky to rank (apologies to Peter Frampton and Little Feet), but here they are:
10) Pulse, Pink Floyd-A bit of a controversial ranking as Roger Waters was not present for Pink Floyd’s 1994 tour, but this is by far my favorite of Pink Floyd’s live albums. Pulse reflects David Gilmour and Richard Wright’s status as sonic architects, as many of the guitar and keyboard licks they performed are simply mesmerizing. The best reason to place Pulse on this list is the absolute perfection Pink Floyd bring to their performance of Dark Side of the Moon.
9) Live At Reading, Nirvana – One of two Nirvana albums that could have make it to this list, Live At Reading captured the band’s 1992 headlining performance at the Reading Festival. Released in 2009, the album encapsulated Nirvana’s raw energy at the height of their popularity. One of the many must-listens on this album is “Come As You Are,” where Dave Grohl absolutely pulverized his drum kit.
8) Live At Wembley ‘86, Queen – The quintessential live album of one of the greatest live bands ever, Live At Wembley ’86 portrays Freddie Mercury and Co. at their best and serves as a must-have Queen record.
7) Under A Blood Red Sky, U2 – A very short record that floats in the gray area between EP or LP, Under A Blood Red Sky captured U2’s 1983 performance at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Filmed during their tour for the War album, Under A Blood Red Sky contains amazing performances of U2 staples such as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “I Will Follow.”
6) The Live Anthology, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers –Released in 2009, the four-disc Live Anthology contained a litany of live gems of Petty originals and several amazing covers that were recorded between 1980 and 2007. Highlights include: “Something in the Air,” “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me),” and “Goldfinger.”
5) At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash – I don’t think any other artist could ever perform at a prison and turn it into a triple-platinum record. The location is part of the album’s drawing card, but Cash and his talented backing band (including Carl Perkins) performed unbelievably well to give Cash one of his most famous albums.
4) Live at Leeds, The Who – The best of The Who’s lengthy live catalog, Live at Leeds contained killer performances of “Young Man Blues,” “Substitute,” and two marathon cuts of “My Generation” and “Magic Bus.”
3) The Song Remains The Same (Reissue), Led Zeppelin – Released as a companion to the like-named concert film, The Song Remains The Same was recorded over three performances at Madison Square Garden in 1973. Re-released in 2007, the newer version contained six additional tracks, including Led Zeppelin staples “Black Dog” and “Heartbreaker.”
2) The Last Waltz, The Band – Forget about how good The Band was that night, the guest list on their last concert ever boggles the mind. Among the guest performers to join The Band were Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, and The Staple Sisters.
1) Live 1975-1985, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – A situation in which a bit of cheating crept into the compilation of this list, Live 1975-1985 was originally released as a five-LP set in 1986. Springsteen’s first official live release, it captured the first phase of his tenure with the E-Street Band and several terrific live cuts of then-rarities “War,” “Because the Night,” “Paradise by the “C”,” and “Seeds.”