The Rolling Stone 10 Best Live Albums list makes the point that a good live album could actually make a career, and that’s true.
The reverse was almost true too. There were some pretty bad – make that pathetic – releases that seriously damaged the image of some otherwise unimpeachable stars (at least for me).
Here’s the list:
1. The Who – Live at Leeds
2. Allman Brothers – Live at the Fillmore East
3. Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive!
4. Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-ya’s Out!
5. Kiss – Alive!
6. Deep Purple – Made In Japan
7. Little Feat – Waiting for Columbus
8. Nirvana - Unplugged
9. The Band – The Last Waltz
10. Bob Seger – Live Bullet
I wonder if it helps to have an exclamation mark as part of your title?
Some great music by some fabulous bands here for sure. Some are amongst my all time favourites.
The write-up talks about the colossal mistake Townshend made by destroying the rest of the recordings from the tour - featuring mostly material from Tommy, which is what dominated their shows at the time. But I remember how incredibly refreshing it was to not hear Tommy, how cool it was to hear The Who rock out, simple, pure and raw.
The albums on the list that had the most impact on me were the ones that were accompanied by films. The visuals helped overcome the poor sound quality.
To be fair, technology, professional standards and perhaps reduced or alternative substance abuse have tremendously improved what can be achieved in a live recording. But back then, things were a bit rough and uneven.
Speaking of visuals, when I first heard The Beatles at Shea Stadium, I was embarrassed. It sounded just awful. Remember, this was released not long after Abbey Road, one of the cleanest, best produced albums of all time. Now, when I watch the doctored-up clips on Anthology, I’m convinced Shea Stadium was the best concert performance of ever.
And I guess that’s the challenge of a live album: technology and taste aside, does the recording and the performance manage to convey the magic these musicians can conjure up?
Anyway, this list sure is a good representation of my generation.