It’s said that the best live albums mark important moments in the performers’ career. They represent defining moments. The Top 10 Live Albums are more than mere musical supplements but “definitive statements.” From our friends at UltimateClassicRock, and an informal survey of online critics and music fans alike, here are the Top 10 Live Albums:
10. Live! – The Police
This is a double-disc release that hit the stores in 1995. The first disc is especially praised. It features almost the entire November 27, 1979 concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. It was part of the Reggatta de Blanc tour.
9. Live at the Fillmore 1968 — Santana
Released in 1997 this platter presents Santana on a pre-Woodstock performance. Critics note, however, that the essential interplay between Gregg Rolie and Carlos Santana was already set. It features a noteworthy 30-minute jam and five previously unreleased tunes.
8. Bonfire — AC/DC
Another 1997 release, this box set is a tribute to late lead singer Bon Scott. It contains two live recordings: the soundtrack to their 1979 concert movie Let There Be Rock as well as a rare “live in the studio” set from 1977.
7. The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 – Bob Dylan Live 1966, The ‘Royal Albert Hall’ Concert — Bob Dylan
This 1998 album showcases Dylan’s 1966 U.K. tour. It’s half electric and half acoustic. It includes guest appearances by members of The Band and an interesting confrontational air between Dylan and his audience.
6. From Here to Eternity —The Clash
This 1999 CD contains half a decade of Clash concerts. It covers live performances from 1978 through 1982 both in the US and the UK. Some of the recordings here also appear in the movie Rude Boy.
5. Ramble at the Ryman — Levon Helm
This 2011 disc This is a solo album and yet it also serves to remind music fans that while Robbie Robertson might have been the main songwriter for The Band Helm’s “carnal Arkansas drawl” made the songs seem like his.
4. Live In Germany 1980 — ZZ Top
Many fans agree that ZZ Top‘s 1980 live appearance on the German TV show Rockpalast was “the crown jewel” of any hardcore fan’s video bootleg collection. Decades later, in 2011, fans were able to buy “the official career-defining live album” of the German gig.
3. Celebration Day — Led Zeppelin
This 2012 release captures the 2007 reunion among Led Zeppelin‘s surviving members. It was better than anyone expected and included fan favorites as well as a memorable 11-minute version of “In My Time of Dying”.
2. CSNY 1974 — Crosby Stills Nash & Young
This 2014 record showcases a tour fraught with friction. One can even hear a bit of it in the songs themselves. It’s more haunted, raw and scarred than it has ever been.
1. The Agora, Cleveland 1978 — Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Springsteen was in his (ahem) glory days in 1978, releasing one of his greatest albums and hitting the road for a historic tour. There are many great live bootlegs out there, but this official 2015 release from Cleveland ranks among his all-time best.
Did we miss your favorite live albums? What live albums do you feel are worthy? Let us know!