Chances are, that if you listen to Rock or Metal music, you’ll have come across the idea of the seminal, incendiary live album. An album that just absolutely scorches, and where the versions of the songs are heavier, bigger and more bombastic than their studio counterparts.
After about a year, or two years at the most, nobody needs to be told to check out Live And Dangerous, Live At Leeds, Live Killers, Live After Death, Alive, Alive II, Unleashed In The East, No Sleep Till Hammersmith, Made In Japan, Playing The Fool or 101 Proof Live.
The following is a list of albums that are every bit as good as those, but for whatever reason aren’t just quite as famous. If you like Rock or Metal music at all, of course you should pick up those aforementioned records, but you also should get yourself a copy of these:
1. Jethro Tull – Bursting Out
: This album sees Jethro Tull touring Heavy Horses, with a really powerful performance, witty stage banter, and a phenomenal set list. They manage to mix in a few acoustic numbers without killing the energy and have a drum solo that isn’t boring
(an absolute miracle as far as live albums go). The songs are so much bigger and heavier than their album counterparts; hear how ‘Sweet Dream’ absolutely comes to life. The version of ‘Thick As A Brick’ on here is indescribably brilliant. This record mixes up tracks from many different Tull eras and makes them sound cohesive and related.Material from Stand Up sits proudly beside material from Songs From The Woods and sounds absolutely natural in so doing, all owing to the fact that the band are absolutely on fire, and deliver the material so well. As far as live albums go, this is hands down one of the best ever to be released. In Fact; Not only is this a brilliant live album, or a brilliant Tull album, its one of the best albums ever released. If you haven’t got it I’d strongly urge you to find out what you’re missing.
2. King Crimson – USA
: This is an absolute rager of an album, the performances are out of this world. The setlist pulls together some of the absolute best tracks from the Wetton period, and adds ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ in there too for good measure. If you haven’t explored the band any further than In The Court Of The Crimson King yet, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this. Prepare to have your hair blown back.
3. Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More From The Road
: Quite how this album isn’t the most famous Skynyrd release really is beyond me. This album is absolutely fantatic. So much energy. There’s not one song on here that’s better in the studio. This takes every Skynyrd track worth thinking about from the first four albums and makes them faster, heavier and better. There’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ ‘Tuesdays Gone’ and ‘Free Bird’ for the casual fans, and just about every gem going for the rest of you. The version of ‘Travelin Man’ on here is quite possibly the best thing that Skynyrd ever recorded. Instead of buying a greatest hits, buy this.
4. Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Live
: This is a recent addition to the list. I only got into Saxon last April after being a bit skeptical of them. I’ve been listening to the first six studio albums a lot since then, but it took me a while to realize that this live album which I got as part of the same boxset I got all those records in existed, and was worth listening to. Not only is it worth listening to though, its absolutely brilliant. I don’t know why people don’t talk about this more often. It contains absolutely all the best songs from Saxon’s best three albums, performed with power and precision. Long story short, you listen to this and you’ll walk away thinking Saxon are brilliant. If you only buy one Saxon album, it should be this one. The only thing I would say about this album at all is that it doesn’t have the song “Denim And Leather” on it, although I fixed that for myself in iTunes by moving the live bonus track of it from The Crusader over to the end of this. If you ever wonder why Saxon were considered equals to Maiden and Motorhead at one stage, listen to this and you’ll see why. All of their best stuff with none of the filler, great solos, great riffs, an appreciative audience and a killer performance. You can’t beat it.
5. Marilyn Manson – The Last Tour On Earth
: I think you’ve gathered the idea of this list by now. Consequently, you’ll probably understand that if its included here, then The Last Tour On Earth is an absolutely cracking live album, that takes the best songs available at the time it was recorded, and makes them even better. John 5 really adds extra style and class to the material. The whole thing just absolutely jumps out of the speakers. No fan should be without this.
6. Foghat – Live
: I think I might go so far as to say that this is all you really need from Foghat. They had some great songs but the albums were often a bit hit and miss, you’d get one or two absolute ragers on an album, then the rest would just be “OK.” There’s none of that here though. This takes six of their ever best tracks and delivers them in a really energetic, exciting way. The musicianship is absolutely stellar. If you like guitar solos then this is definitely an album for you. In fact, if you like Classic Rock at all you really should give this album a try.
7. Biohazard – No Holds Barred
: Everything that I just said about Saxon’s album; that all goes for this too. No Hold Barred is all of the band’s best songs at the time of recording, played hard and with passion, to an audience that gives a crap. Its one of those albums that makes you feel like you’re at the concert. Anytime you forget how good Biohazard are, or any time that you start to think that the rapping is a bit much, a bit cheesy or whatever… this album shows you just what a serious, creative and powerful band Biohazard are. The recording quality isn’t the best (due to the band’s strict no-overdudbs policy) but the passion and umph more than make up for that.
8. Blackfoot – Highway Song Live
: Blackfoot in my opinion are what you would get if you crossed 70s Judas Priest with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then made it twice as fun. This album captures them at the absolute height of the powers, with a setlist comprised mostly of their best material, absolutely smashing it. Its loud, raucous and its very, very fun.Its hard to hear something like ‘Good Morning’ without breaking out into a giant grin. Every song on here has that effect, Ricky Medlocke really knows how to force you to have a good time. If you like Blackfoot its mandatory listening and if you haven’t tried them yet, you should give this a shot. Its a fine, fine introduction.
9. Machine Head – Hellalvie
: This album may have been released as a contractual obligation; there might be a few cover songs that the band played live removed from the album to save money, two of the songs may be taken from a different show and the setlist may contain more music from the controversial Burning Red and Supercharger albums than a few fans might care for, but do you know what? This album is absolute solid gold. There is such a brilliant energy and power to this performance. Tracks like ‘Nothing Left’ and ‘Supercharger’ are a thousand times better live than their studio counterparts, and the songs from the first two albums crush just as hard. Don’t be too proud to give this album a chance or else you’re missing out big time, because its an absolute gem.
10. Led Zeppelin – How The West Was Won
: Don’t be put off this because it was released so long after it was recorded. Don’t worry about things like “nostalgia” or “cash in.” Just listen to the version of ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and be absolutely decimated by some of the best live performances anyone has ever captured on tape. As a gigantic, triple album taken from different concerts you’d think it might be a bit bloated and bitty, put it really works. I have to admit that if I’m listening to it, I’ll give the gigantic Drum Solo and Guitar solo a miss, but when the songs are being played, this is one of the best records on the market, period.