The Crux of the Biscuit


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Crux of the Biscuit emerged fully formed on Jan 5 2009. The Crux primarily discusses music, makes fun of music, and celebrates music. The Crux also reserves the right to discuss movies, books, and other aspects of pop culture. And if you don't know what the crux of the biscuit is please, for the sake of humanity, educate yourself. Or look for the answer on my banner.


Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 17, 2009 9:49PM

The 20 Greatest Live Rock Albums of All Time

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The problem with many officially released live rock albums is that they usually suck. Most bands are not particularly improvisational minded and their note for note recreation of album hits can be redundant. Listening at home they sound like strange off-centered simulations of the songs you enjoyed on their proper albums.

There’s also the often stupid and inane stage chatter which is annoying when you’re trying to listen at home (“Hello out there Houston!” “You guys are the best crowd we’ve ever played for!” “Seattle, are you ready to rock!?”)

Finally, there's usually something not translated from the live concert experience to record.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a bootleg of a concert I’ve attended, a concert that left me spent and speechless, and was totally under whelmed with the recorded version. “This wasn’t the concert I was at,” I’ll tell myself. “No, this is wrong, I was crapping my pants right here, right here, during that guitar solo, I literally crapped my pants, but now…nothing. Not even a toot.”

Most bands release live albums either between studio recordings, to get a product in the stores for Christmas, or to fulfill contract obligations. They’re cheap and easy product to keep the fans happy and the band in the public consciousness.

This relegates most live albums to the “fans only” category.

But, occasionally a live album is released that somehow captures the energy and vitalness of a performance. Occasionally a live album transcends the realm of concert experience right into your headphones. It is rare for a band to catch lightning in a bottle like this, so when they do, they often have one of the best albums of their careers. Like I said, most officially released live albums are stinkers, but when they’re good—wooo boy. Look out.  

A few notes before we get to the list:

--You will not find Frampton Comes Alive here. If you want to hear Frampton live listen to Humble Pie’s Rockin’ the Fillmore (which actually almost made it onto this list), and never talk to me about fucking Frampton Comes Alive again. Ever. 

--You will not find Kiss' Alive! here. They were an influential band and all, but let’s not confuse influence with actual music.

--Do not get in a tizzy about the numerical listings (people always do—“hey asshole, the Stones should be number 1 man”). These are all great albums, and if I were to compile the same list next week the order would probably be somewhat different.

So here they are, 20 of the best live rock albums of all time:

20.    The MC5s—Kick out the Jams (1970)


Let’s imagine a hypothetical person who had spent their life in isolation, totally ignorant of rock n roll. If this hypothetical Tarzan-like person were to ask me what rock music was, I’d probably play them MC5’s Kick out the Jams. The hypothetical person would probably either be horrified or enthralled. Either emotion would be fitting. Now, if they were both horrified and enthralled, then I’d know they really get it. We could then commence to kick out the jams. Motherfucker.


19.   Cheap Trick—At Budokon (1978)

                    cheap trick

So Cheap Trick had to go to Japan to get famous. The performances on At Budokon are fun and energetic in a way I never got from their studio releases. The Trick’s brand of Beatlesque power-pop shines here on At Budokon. One of the most purely enjoyable pop albums of the 70s. Surrender...


18.   The Rolling Stones—Get Yer Ya-Yas Out (1969)


The Rolling Stones invaded America in 1969, their first tour of the states in two years, and they conquered America like some pillaging Roman army. There are perhaps hundreds if not thousands of fatherless 40 year old adults running around with giant lips. Get Yer Ya Yas out features killer workouts of classic Beggar’s Banquet/Let it Bleed era tunes. Mick Taylor’s first tour with the band (best Stones era IMO). The highlight is a smoking version of  "Midnight Rambler."

(Note: if you can name the song alluded to on the album cover you win a dinner..with me!)


17.    Lou Reed—Rock n Roll Animal (1974)

                     lou reed

Lou Reed glams up VU songs to glorious and powerful effect. Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter back Reed with virtuoso guitar performances (the intro to Sweet Jane is astounding).This is a sharp, spiky, and awesome rock album.


16.    Phish—A Live One (1995)

                      phish live

It may not be popular to say aloud, but the truth is that Phish was the most important live rock band of the 90s, and that is perfectly captured on this two disc nugget from their mid 90s peak.  In many ways their goofy and quirky virtuosity more accurately represented the decade more than any of the grim grunge bands. A Live One manages to capture the fun and virtuosity of one of the most accomplished and adventurous live acts in recent memory. Listening to this album will cause you to enjoy myself, yourself, and the world in general.


15.    Bruce Springsteen and the E StreetBand — Live /1975-85 (1986)


The album does a great job aurally recreating a Springsteen show—you can almost feel and see the sweat. Live/1975-85 was the first Springsteen album I ever owned (age 12), and after hearing it I vowed to see this man in concert, because if it was better to see him live (that’s what people kept telling me), well, that was something I had to see. 

I used to wonder what kind of magical power this man from New Jersey had. Listening to this album I imagine a rock n roll super hero, someone larger and grander than the rest of humanity. Someone who perhaps wears a cape. And yet this hero concerns himself with our petty problems and troubles! Okay, so Springsteen isn’t a hero, but this album is heroic.  


14.    Led Zeppelin—How the West was Won (2003/1972)


For a band who spent much of the 70s roaming and rocking the North American continent like a band of modern day Visigoths, it’s curious that Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest live acts ever, only released one disjointed live album (The Song Remains the Same—a soundtrack to an equally disjointed film). It’s not that SRTS isn’t good, it is, but it’s off somehow, not at all containing the visceral power of various bootlegs I’ve heard over the years. Finally in 2003 How the West Was Won was released. Taken from a 1972 concert, How the West Was Won finds Zeppelin claiming their rightful place as the lords of rock and of all creation. If SRTS didn’t exactly blow up my skirt, this release not only blew up my skirt, but  tore off all my clothes, leaving me naked, scared, and thrilled--raising a devil horn salute to the sky in thanks.


13.   Muddy Waters—At Newport 1960


The daddy of rock n roll backed by a rocking band, which included the great Otis Spann, lays down some deep blues in this essential live recording.


12.    Jimi Hendrix—Band of Gypsys (1970)


Taken from a string of Fillmore shows, Band of Gypsys hints at the more soulful and funky direction Hendrix would have charted had he continued. The first time I heard this version of “Machine Gun” I fell on the floor. He hits and holds a note that contains the truth of the ages. Pure brilliance.


11.    Nirvana—Unplugged (1994)


This album was ubiquitous in late '94 and much of '95.  The pain is obvious here, but Cobain was delicate and beautiful in a way he had never allowed himself to be before.  It was as though the gifted singer-songwriter were singing to us from beyond the grave. Haunted, painful, and real, the performances on Unplugged reveal just what was lost when Cobain took his life. His cover of Huddie Ledbetter’s “Where Did You Sleep Last night” is devastating.


10.   Neil Young—Live Rust (1979)

                     neil young

(note: Rust Never Sleeps doesn’t quite count as a live album)—Neil Young sends off the 70s with some of the most potent hard rock ever performed. Rock n roll will never die.  


9.   Otis Redding—In Person at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go (1966)

                          otis redding

Recorded a year before his breakout performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival Otis Redding’s In Person at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go is the definition of soul. This is beautiful and deep music. I actually get emotional listening to it; I want to sing, cry, dance, and hug people. It is that powerful. And that good. Testify Otis. Testify.


8.  Talking Heads—The Name of This Band is Talking Heads (1982)

                             talking heads

You are wondering about Stop Making Sense.  Yeah, that’s a good live album. Stick to the Demme film. For live Talking Heads The Name of this Band is Talking Heads is better. By a lot.

Taken from concerts in 1977, 78, 80, and 81 The Name of This Band is Talking Heads chronicles a band at their most innovative and powerful. The first disc reveals a lean and hungry Talking Heads brimming with passion and guts. But it’s the second disc that contains the stuff of legend. Here were find the Talking Heads with a smoking 10 piece band during their “Remain in the Light” tour, including guitar virtuoso Adrian Belew and P-Funk’s Bernie Worrell.

If you have a friend who isn't much of a Talking Heads fan, play him/her this album. If they still don't like the Talking Heads do yourself a favor and find a new friend. 


7.   Johnny Cash—At Folsom Prison (1968)

                        Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” So, you may quibble that this isn’t technically a rock album. Well, it’s Cash man. I don’t care what he sang or the musical genre he presented it in, the man was rock n roll, and At Folsom Prison is a historic and seminal album. It also kicks major ass. Dare I say that this album influenced more rock bands than C/W artists? Yeah, I’ll say it.


6.   Little Feat—Waiting for Columbus (1977)

                     little feat

If you only own one Little Feat album it should be this one. It crackles with energy and life. I dare you to put this album on and not feel better about the world. George Lowell leads this classic incarnation of Little Feat through funky, greasy Dixieland rock.  Feats, don’t fail me now.


5.   The Allman Brothers—Live at the Fillmore (1971)

                              allman bros

There are moments on this seminal live album that give me goose bumps. Chief among them is Duane Allman’s searing Coltranesque solo on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Egads. The first time I heard this version of Elizabeth Reed I almost passed out.

 There is so much here—from the crazy interlocked drumming of Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johnson to Greg Allman’s whiskey stained voice to Dicky Betts and Duane’s dueling virtuoso guitars. This is jazzy southern rock that sweats, moans, and soars. Outside of “Elizabeth Reed” the 22 minute “Whipping Post” contains some of the best improvisational playing I’ve ever heard. The passion and musicianship is beyond belief.


4.   James Brown—Live at the Apollo (1962)


Not only is this one of the greatest live albums of all time, it’s one of the greatest albums of all time, period. I don’t have much more to say about this album except to add that if you don’t own this album, I feel sorry for you.


3.   The Grateful Dead—Live/Dead (1969)


Live/Dead finds the Dead as a seven headed demonic beast playing rock music from the far side of Alpha Centauri. Compiled from a run of shows recorded in late Feb and early March 1969 at the Fillmore West, Live/Dead flows seamlessly from one intergalactic musical adventure to the next. From the modal technicolor inner-space of “Dark Star” through the psych-pop wonder-world of St. Steven, through the swinging The Eleven (yes the title refers to the meter—11 beats to the bar) the Dead finally land on some funky Venetian chicken shack where Mr. Blues, the late great Pigpen, turns on the lovelight in a devastating 15 minute funky, acid drenched, R&B workout. Turn on your lovelight, and leave it on!

I think Lenny Kaye said it best: “the music on Live/Dead touches on ground most other groups don’t even know exists.” Yup.


2.    Bob Dylan and The Hawks—Live 1966: “The Royal Albert Hall” Concert (Bootleg Series Vol. 4)



In 1966 Bob Dylan and The Hawks (soon known as “The Band”) set off on a European tour that would become one of the most contentious and historically important tours in rock history. Audience members who were eager to hear the scruffy, folky “Times Are-a Changin’” troubadour were shocked at the jaded hipster they saw on stage. They were confused with the introspective psychedelic acoustic songs performed during the first set, and were downright outraged at the loud riotous rock n roll unleashed during the second set. Amid catcalls and boos, Dylan and The Hawks toured the continent unleashing raw and scathing music, forever changing what rock n roll could be and sound like.


Dylan was clearly making a statement with this tour, the stage set a year earlier when he shocked the folk world at Newport with an electric set performed with the Butterfield Blues Band (Pete Seeger reportedly stormed around looking for an axe to cut the electricity). The Hawks had not yet embraced the Americana roots they would when they became The Band, their style on this album closer to the crunching straight ahead rock they played with Ronnie Hawkins (Note: the Hawks were minus Levon Helm who was disgusted getting booed every night—Trini Lopez’s drummer Mickey Jones filled in).


The concert featured on this live release features some of the most fearsome music of the tour. (The site of the concert is actually the Manchester Free Trade Hall. Though Dylan did play the Royal Albert Hall on this tour, bootlegs of this concert were misnamed). Dylan does not sing here as much as he seethes and spits the lyrics in contempt to his hostile  audience. The anger and emotion displayed by Dylan here is visceral and palpable, something the Sex Pistols could only approximate a decade later.


 When an audience member shouts “Judas,” the line is drawn (side note: that’s kind of a fucked up thing to call a Jewish guy isn’t it?).  Dylan spits back at the betrayed concert-goer, “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar!” and then, barely audible, he issues instructions to the Hawks, “play fucking loud!” Dylan and The Hawks launch into a blistering and venomous version of “Like a Rolling Stone.”

And they played it fucking loud.  


1.   The Who—Live at Leeds (1970)

                      the who

This is it. This is raw, primal, bone shattering Rock n Roll. You listen to the sonic crunch of this album and you not only forgive Townsend for spending the better part of the last decade as a corporate shill, you apologize for even daring to think ill of the man. You will be awed before the sheer power and force The Who unleash on Live at Leeds. This is music that still has the power to piss off parents. Hell, play it loud and piss off the cranky old guy on the other end of town.

Keith Moon is a man possessed—you will not hear a more ferocious display on the drums. Daltrey sings as though he were the god of thunder and lightning. And Townsend and Entwistle musically tell every other rock band who ever lived to go fuck themselves. Their take on Mose Allison’s “Young Man’s Blues” almost made me go blind. Seriously. That’s how bad-ass this is—it was effecting my other senses.  

The Who.

Live at Leeds.

The greatest live rock album of all time.  







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I know this is kind of skewed to the 60s and 70s, but there really aren't a lot of really important live albums released these days. Hmm.

Maybe Daft Punk, if you're into electronica
Gov't mule "Live at the Roseland"
My Morning Jacket "Okonokos"
Pickins are slim these days--
Love this list, dude. I remember the first time I got a good stereo record player, Live At Leeds had just come out. I ran out and bought it at EJ Korvettes. When I heard Entwhistle's bass booming out of my brand new speakers, I thought I went to heaven.

I may want to put these in a different order but I love the list and I love your number one pick.

BTW - Waiting For Columbus - very underrated. Interesting that you put it so high.
I LOOOOOVE your list...and the comments. That "Live Rust" album is my favorite...Neil Young is still one of the best live performers I have ever seen.

I would add only some Springsteen...maybe the recent "Live in Dublin" or the more rockin' "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live: 1975-85"

I'm gonna probably get some haters here...but U2 is the best live act I have ever seen...unfortunately, their "live" recordings are usually bootlegs...I have a great Stade de France performance from the Elevation tour in 2001 and a really great St. Louis show from that tour as well. The "Under a Blood Red Sky" performances, captured on film, but NOT released as a separate album (The album of that name only has 2 Red Rocks performances) are a great, raw recording of what I consider MY "dewy-eyed" Woodstock myth making Red Rocks. No...I didn't make it there...but I WAS one of the schlubs that made it to the "rain check' concert in Boulder the following night.

Go ahead...hit me now...I KNOW people consider U2 corny or pretentious, but in '83...they were so shockingly different and "real"!
Why not many good recent live albums? I think it's because most pop fans (and maybe artists) don't really care about musicianship. If you just want to hear a familiar song, why get the live album?

There's also the fact that, with portable digital players, the pendulum has swung back to singles. A live album generally benefits from being heard as an album.
Glad Cheap Trick made the cut. Bun E Carlos and his wife are good friends of ours. And Robin Zander's chops are as strong as ever!
Duaneart--yeah, I'm not sure about the order myself. I spent awhile with it. I rate "Waiting for Columbus" so high, because I feel it is that good. You're right, it is an underrated album. That's a shame because George Lowell was one of the most talented musicians of the era. Little Feat were one of the best live acts, and their music is very influential--Jimmy Paige called them his favorite band in the 1970s.

Yekdeli, no way did I forget The Boss! Live/1975-85 is number 15.
I always felt U2's live albums were those that just did not translate to record. Something is lost in the transfer from live experience to record. My opinion :- )

Benjamin the donkey--I think you're right about the move to singles as a reason live albums just aren't very good anymore. The era of the great rock album is over. It also has something to do with the fracturing of the music biz. For great live albums the electronica scene and the jamband scene are where you go. there are a few jam-type bands that are primed to take off big and have really good live albums....
I really like Tea Leaf Green, My Morning Jacket, Railroad Earth, and Umphrees McGee.
Excellent! You summed up my feelings about "live" albums in the 1st 3 paragraghs (which made me hesitant to visit your blog today--should known better).
Love your list, but most importantly, thank you for reminding my addled brain about Lou Reed. Holy crap! I forgot all about Lou Reed.

19. Cheap Trick—At Budakon (1978)

Shoot. I forgot all about that one. Oh man.... going back in time in my mind. Now I'm all homesick for my high school years and drinking beers on the beach.

BTW - my newest favorite live album is BERLIN Live - Lou Reed. Oh man - great movie to. Anthony kills Candy Says and Reed does an amazing version of Rock Minuet. Get into it.
What?! No Frampton Comes Alive? And you put The Talking Heads ahead of Live Rust? Shame on you, MJ.
Procopius--wow that's really cool. Carlos' drumming on At Budakon is fantastic. That album is just so much fun.

spotted_mind--yeah, most live albums just don't cut it. Although, as a Deadhead, and a fan of jambands in general, I normally listen to live music. The funny thing is that the Dead had maybe 5 really good studio albums, but literally hundreds of outstanding live albums. I was being objective here--no one (outside of maybe Beth Ingalls, Cap'n Parrotdead, and Hal M) wants a list of my favorite live Dead shows :- )

wakingupslowly--yeah! jam out to some Cheap Trick! A great summer record. Fun in the sun!

Duaneart--I'm unfamiliar with that record, but I'll be checking it out! Thank you for the heads up!
@ cap'n parrotdead:
fuck you cap'n
:-) :-) :-)
Fun list, and I agree with a lot of your choices and your introductory remarks about live albums in general seems spot on.
My only beef is with Lou Reed at 17 - I've never heard anyone commend Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter for jerking their guitars off all over classic Velvet tunes, no less refer to it as a virtuoso performance. The only good thing about this album is that its awfulness might have in some way inspired Spinal Tap. I'll give you that there is certainly a lot of 'fretwork' going on, but as for music...
OK, I was gonna berate you if I didn't see "Before the Flood" here, but Albert Hall is a worthy choice too. :-)
Speaking of Gov't Mule - a friend came to stay with me in NYC back in the 90's. I took her on a little live show tour: We saw Esta opening for Hassan Hakmoun and Zahar at Irving Plaza, then caught the Grasshoppers (Jason Appleton on the led guitar... he was good) at Flannery's, and there we met my man Chris, who was like "Warren Haynes' second set is starting at Wetlands in 15 minutes, y'all wanna come?"

Of the four acts we saw, she remembered Warren the most. "There was this schlubby looking guy on the stage with a guitar, and he made it cry," was how she put it later.

Fire in the Kitchen!
Great and diverse list. Lists are subjective and of course mine would differ (although there are a few that would be on mine) but this is some great work. I know how hard it is to get musical posts read, EP'd, on the cover and rated. I read and rated. Glad to see music on the cover!
Great list. Obviously lots of love put into this!
Santana Live at the Fillmore '68 Double CD bliss. Just sayin... :-)
Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
Love your list, great ones, especially Lou Reed! I know no one will probably agree with this but, I would add Rod Stewart's "Unplugged........and Seated (Live)." I was addicted to that for months.
Hey MJ...Congrats on the EP! And...*duh* yer right of course...I am not sure how or why I missed that #15! The Boss...
Could I add a few honorable mentions here? Like Bob Seger's Live Bullet, or even though it's been played to death Frampton Comes Alive? If either of them had released a studio album with that level of intensity they would have hit it big much sooner.
Jeff Beck live. Just sayin'
Allow me to cast my vote for Acoustic Syndicate: Live from the Neighborhood
BTW, the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.
Is the song Dylan's Song for Johanna?
LOVE Nirvana's Unplugged. I'd always thought of Kurt Cobain as an angry man. This performance revealed his deep sadness.

Another Unplugged I love is Jay-Z's. It showed him to be a relaxed, easygoing, superbly confident, and generous performer.

The best electronic live album ever IMO is Underworld's Everything Everything. It's actually culled from several concerts. It and the accompanying DVD are almost like being there.
"Live at Leeds" was the first Who album I bought, the original 6-song LP. Regardless of which version you own - I'm partial to the expanded edition that documents the entire Feb. 14th, 1970 gig at Leeds University - this album never ceases to knock my socks off. Agree wholeheartedly that this is THE FINEST live album ever.

And I will never speak ill of Pete Townshend. Regarding his position as a corporate shill, I actually admire him for saying, "they're my songs, and I'll do what I fucking please with them."
A tremendous list.
Cover, man! Rock on!!!
Nicely put together list. MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" album, Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys" and Led Zeppelin's "How the West Was Won" are all part of my collection.

What's your opinion of "Live Bullet" by Bob Seger? Also, I notice you didn't include a live album by Ray Charles in your list (and there are a few great ones).
Waiting for Columbus is one that I own, and Nirvana Unplugged. By the way, it's Lowell George, not George Lowell. Lately, I've been listening (again) to the fabulous Brian Eno-Phil Manzanera collaboration 801, a live album that has the fine sound quality of a studio album, and retains all the energy of a live performance. Quite amazing! Forty years takes nothing away from the greats.
Lot's of good opinions and suggestions from the commenters. Some I'll have to check out.

@ william morley--lol, yeah, I was waiting for someone to shred me on RnR Animal. I see where you are coming from, many folks (and most prominent rock critics) are of the opinion that rock music should be minimalist and primal, that technical ability runs counter to the heart and soul of rock music. I agree with this aesthetic insofar as I admire and dig many bands who are able to pull it off (VU, MC5, The Ramones, etc). I'm also a jazzbo, so I also admire many musicians who can actually play. I think I look for a balance between guts and technical prowess. So, I guess I disagree about RnR Animal. I love the fretwork there, and the new context Reed gives the songs I think is interesting and compelling But your criticism is valid as well.
Now, Let's talk about "Metal Machine Music"...
Very good list. However, I can think of two albums that you forgot. Warren Zevon's 1980 live album, Stand In the Fire, is brilliant on so many levels; you can feel the sweat pouring off this album given how hot he and his band played at the Roxy in the summer of 1980. Warren's West Coast brother, Jackson Browne (Abel to Warren's Cain), released a great road album in 1978 that we're all familiar with but don't really appreciate as much as we should; Running On Empty is still a masterpiece in spite of its flaws. By the way, thank you for not including the horribly overrated Frampton Comes Alive on your list. Paul
P.S. Bruce Springsteen is still a hero in spite of claiming that he isn't in "Thunder Road," and his concerts are still heroic even today!
Not a bad list. I usually detest ratings like this. Not a bad list at all, really...
you have some serious music criticism chops, my friend...congrats on the cover--a great read as always
Ricky B-- Before the Flood is actually around #23. I wanted to provide only one album per artist, and I think the '66 show is better. Gov't Mule is one of my favorite bands.

KoB--actually Santana's "Lotus" almost made it (#25)

bobbot--you didn't read my introductory notes did you! :-)
--No. No Frampton Comes Alive. Check out Humble Pie's "Rockin' the Fillmore" instead. This is a Frampton Comes Alive free zone. We like to pretend Frampton Comes Alive does not exist.

Hells Bells--Jeff Beck live was considered, but missed the cut. Sorry!

Moses--I'm not familiar with that album. I will check it out. Thanks!

grifftan--you're right about Jay-Z. I'd completely forgotten. Great suggestion!

LA Swamp Rat--you are right on. Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" is referenced on the Stones album cover. "Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule..." Well done!

Gus--thanks. I'll admit I've thought some rotten things about Townsend over the past few years.

David Cox--I'm not familiar with the BB King album. thanks for the suggestion. As for the Woodstock soundtrack suggestion, this list was purposely focused on individual acts who released live albums. If I didn't do that the top ten would have been littered with festival compilations--that would be an interesting post in and of itself though.

Kevin--Thanks. Bob Seeger's never really really done anything for me. I've heard the album, but I'm not impressed. I know I'm in the minority here, and I get his tremendous popularity. I just don't find anything about his music compelling or interesting. One day I need to give him another listen. Perhaps I'm missing something.
As for Ray Charles, I've got 5 of his studio albums, but you know, I don't have any of his live albums. I'm not even sure where to start with his live stuff. Which ones should I check out?
@ David Cox--"there's no such thing as southern rock"
Where to begin--
Well, first of all it's a descriptor that people understand. It applies to a particular style of music with particular characteristics. It's a musical shorthand.

While I'll agree that many of the influences that went into rock n roll are from southern strains of music, the simple assertion that "all"rock comes from southern influences discounts the influence of Northern European folk ballads, which were popular in the north.
The music that developed in the south was a blend of European folk music and African music so in this vain stating that rock is a particularly southern phenomenon is equally simple. I understand what you mean. The problem is that if I had to give a history of the various strains of American music and how it fits in the development of rock n roll every time I wanted to write about rock music, I'd go crazy. So I use shorthand terms that people understand--like "southern rock" or "country rock" or "folk rock." We use terms like "fusion" to describe rock inspired jazz even though rock is itself a fusion.
As for the "borrowing," you allude to--that is what all musicians from the beginning of time have done! If you don't think Robert Jonson or Son House were copping licks from the other musicians of their time, then you've got some reading to do.
Thanks for the comment though.
I had two in mind as I began reading your list. One was #5, the Allmans. The other might be a good candidate for number 21: "The Last Waltz."

"Hello Pennsylvania!"
MJ, I adore your funny music posts, but I think I love your "straight" ones even more. :-D

Now, about Frampton Comes Alive...

Solid list you've assembled. I couldn't help but notice though: there's nothing by women. That there are no good live recordings by female artists is not an argument I'd buy. On that front, I'd like to nominate Ani Di Franco's "Living in Clip".

She doesn't quite have the profile of any of the artists you've included; I'd say the fact that she has released all her music on her own label the entirety of her career has a lot to do with that.
I know it's not technically a wide release album, but U2 gave their fan club members a double disk of the Zoo TV show from Sydney Australia, the same show that's an amazing video. Seriously, the thrill I get from this album is medically dangerous. But then I love U2.
MJ: Good list, good comments. I'll step in an berate you (mildly) for not including the way-under-appreciated Dylan/Band double "Before the Flood." Listen to their rollicking opening version of "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine" and I try to resist. The album catches all the players at the height of their considerable powers.

Also, Jerry Lee Lewis issued a live album whose title I can't recall that captures him at his speed-freaking wild-man best. He hardly stops for a breather. He's so wired, so frenzied it's almost funny. Or maybe fearsome.

sorry to add more to this but I have to agree with mutant freak - Ani Difranco's Living In Clip - great!
Rated, if for MC5 alone! If you don't have it already, I urge you to check out Sonic's Rendezvous Band. They recorded only one record--the rest is live work.
Thanks for compiling an excellent and genuinely comprehensive list. There is an obvious pure love of music and lots of heart that went into each album’s brief commentary. Thank you for offering what is often missing in some music reviews.

The Allman Brothers Band At The Fillmore East,” “Hendrix - Band of Gypsys,” and “Get Yer Ya-Yas Out - The Rolling Stones In Concert” have been long time favorites.

I’d give “honorable mentions” to: “Live Cream Volume 1 and “U2 - Under A Blood Red Sky” but those reflect my personal taste.

Thanks again for your post. Rated and appreciated
Great list. It's interesting that live rock albums didn't really take off until after the summer of love('67) and really took off once rock audiences were filling arenas. Before that, live albums were largely the realm of jazz, r&b and blues. Most rock records were studio confections, often using overdubs when they could and studio musicians - (although there were many notable exceptions. In some ways, primitive rock recordings like Chess & Sun records were sorta live, in that they were done with few takes or tracks - they just didn't have an audience). Two rare official live albums from this period (although the recordings are tinkered with in the studio again) are 1964's "Beach Boys Concert" and 1966's "Got Live if You Want It" by the Stones - neither one terribly noteworthy.
YOU my friend know your stuff! To get from Muddy Waters at Newport to Neil Young to Bruce to.. .well you know your list. I'll just say Well done!
I would throw out the Dead and insert Pink Floyd's "Pulse". More obscure favorites of mine are Barclay James Harvest "Glasnost" (played before 200,000 East Berliners before the wall came down), Man "Maximum Darkness", with John Cippolina from Quicksilver Messenger Service as guest guitar, and Humble Pie "Rockin the Fillmore".
Ooh wait - where is the Concert for Bangla Desh? And Delaney and Bonnie with Eric Clapton?
Pretty good list, although I would move Bruce up a couple of spots. That was a great album.

Harrison's Bird Food
Stacey Youdin--Ahh The Last Waltz--I know, I know...

Mutant Freak--That's strange. No Females. I'll agree that Ani Defranco is a fantastic artist. Saw her a few years ago. The Jefferson Airplane's "Bless It's Pointed Head" was in strong contention.

Scott Christain--U2 is a potent live band, but I haven't heard anything that really came across on a live record. Maybe I should listen to some more of their love stuff...

Jeramiah--Before the Flood, I know, I know...I thought the live '66 more important and more raw...actually Live 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue would have beaten Before the Flood--Rolling Thunder=greatest tour ever.

Dennis Knight--thanks for the kind words. Live Cream was a serious contender. "NSU" is insane. I agree that passion is missing in rock crit. I avidly read and admire people like Robert Christgau but it's hard for me to actually picture him enjoying Lester Bangs on the other hand was a passionate and inventive writer, even if I disagreed with 70% of his opinions. Man I would have loved arguing music with him.

noah tall--great points. I agree.

Chicago guy--thank you. It was meant to be all inclusive--though I am disturbed that there are no women.

GeeBee--Pulse was a contender for sure, but "throw out the Dead"? Are you serious? One of the greatest live acts of all time not on a list of great live albums? Okay. So you don't like the Dead. Have you actually listened to Live/Dead? It is brilliant. There's more there than aimless noodling I can assure you. I understand the Dead is not everyone's cup of tea, that they are an acquired taste, but seriously man, Live/Dead is an important and inspired live album.

I suggest either Ray Charles' "In Person" or Ray Charles' "At Newport."

Both are really solid albums if you are into Ray Charles' music at all.
Tremendous list. Had I made it, I would have included about half of these as well (Neil, Bruce, Who, Stones, Cash, Nirvana, Heads, Reed) and there are about half of the others that I now NEED to listen to.

If you want something from the last decade, seriously, check out Bullet in a Bible by Green Day. Like Springsteen, they are better live.
Awesome list, and I agree with your first choice.
Awesome list, and I agree with your first choice.
Awesome list, and I agree with your first choice.
Begrudgingly, I won't argue with your reasons for not including "Kiss: Alive!" However, under your own guidelines, why then does Cheap Trick's "Live at Budokan" deserve to be in the Top 20? I just don't see much of a difference, and I would be just as happy if both were included.

No Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Pack Up The Plantation?"

Overall, I couldn't agree more with almost every choice, but of course I'd have my own order. Love the "Live at Leeds" at No. 1.
The supplementary material to the 40th anniversary edition of "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!" should probably knock it up a notch or two. Though, the addition of B.B. King and Ike and Tina Turner put it beyond just a Stones album. Good stuff though.