1. The Who - 'Live at Leeds
At the time, the group felt that Tommy had overshadowed all their other work. Live at Leeds didn't have a single cut from the rock opera, even though they played the bulk of it at the show. Instead, it featured covers like Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over" and Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues." Side two began with a 14-minute "My Generation." This was the Who at their absolute peak as a live band.
2.The Allman Brothers - 'Live at the Filmore East
Seven months before Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident, the Allman Brothers Band played a two-night stand at New York's Fillmore East. The resulting live album captured the original lineup of the band at their absolute peak. "Whipping Post" lasts 23 minutes, while "Mountain Jam" goes well past half an hour – but in both cases the energy never lets up for an instant. Producer Tom Dowd is responsible for the glorious sound and clean mix of the LP. It's impossible to even tell that some songs were shortened, and in some cases he even combined two takes of the same song into one
3. Peter Frampton - 'Frampton Comes Alive!
In 1976 the live album – taped on Frampton's 1975 summer tour – spent 97 weeks on the Billboard charts, selling millions of copies. The former Humble Pie frontman had some minor solo success before the release of the double live album, but nobody saw the explosion of Frampton Comes Alive! coming. Singles "Show Me the Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way" and the 14-minute "Do You Feel Like We Do" went into super heavy rotation on radio. He was loved by teenage girls, and their older brothers
4. The Rolling Stones - 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
The tour was a long time coming, and up until Altamont it had been a complete triumph. They packed large venues all across the country and in many ways laid the groundwork for all arena tours that followed. This was also the time when bootlegs started popping up in record stores, most notable Live'r Than You'll Ever Be, which was taken from a 1969 Stones show in Oakland. The obvious move was to release their own live album from the tour. Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! was taken from shows in Baltimore and New York, though some of the vocals were touched up later in the studio. The Stones have released many live albums since this one, but none have sounded quite as vital.
5. Kiss - 'Alive!
Their songs were also light years better onstage than on record, so they made the smart decision to tape a bunch of gigs in mid-1975. In typical Kiss fashion, they hedged their bets by doctoring the tapes in the studio afterwards. Today, nobody is quite sure what parts of Alive! were actually taped live. It hardly matters. The album was a monster success. It flew off the shelves and instantly made them one of the biggest bands in the world. Kiss gets a lot of shit these days. Much of it is deserved, but it's hard to deny that songs like "Cold Gin," "Deuce" and "Black Diamond" are classics. They've never sounded better than they did on Alive!
6. Deep Purple - 'Made In Japan
The classic Ian Gillan-led lineup of Deep Purple (dubbed Deep Purple Mark II by the fans) had only been on the road for three years when they hit Japan in 1972. It was a very fruitful time for the band. They had three incredible albums under their belts (In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head), and their live show was absolutely stunning. They had no intention of making a live album, but they were talked into releasing material taped in Osaka and Tokyo for a Japanese-only live album. Their label loved it and released it worldwide. These are the definitive versions of "Highway Star," "Child in Time" and other Deep Purple classics. They've done countless shows since in countless permutations, but they've never sounded quite this perfect.
7. Little Feat - 'Waiting for Columbus
Little Feat is one of those bands that can't be fully appreciated until you see them live. It's no surprise that their 1978 live disc Waiting for Columbus is the most beloved album in their vast catalog. Taped on their 1977 world tour, the double LP features extended arrangements of "Dixie Chicken," "Tripe Face Boogie" and other Little Feat standards. The Tower of Power horn section was playing with the band at the time, and their presence greatly enhances the material. Little Feat never became true household names like many of their peers, but anyone who spends time with this album will be quickly converted.
8. Nirvana - 'MTV Unplugged in New York
Taped in November of 1993 – five months before Kurt Cobain killed himself – the concert is one of the band's crowning achievements. They skipped most of the obvious hits (including "Smells Like Teen Spirit") and focused on covers of songs by Lead Belly, David Bowie and the Meat Puppets. They even invited the Meat Puppets onstage for a few songs, even though few MTV viewers had ever heard of the group. It's impossible to say how Nirvana would have evolved had Kurt lived, but Unplugged in New York is proof positive they had plenty more to say.
9. The Band - 'The Last Waltz
Robbie Robertson was only 33 in the fall of 1976, but he'd been on the road since he was a teenager. He wanted off. The other guys in the Band didn't totally agree, but they did agree to participate in a grand farewell show at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day. Martin Scorsese (who worked on the Woodstock movie before he became famous) agreed to direct a documentary about the gig. The biggest names in rock were brought in to guest, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell.
10. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - 'Live Bullet
It took Bob Seger a really, really long time to find a wide national audience. Back in 1968 he scored a decent-sized hit with the garage rock classic "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," but after that his career took a nosedive. He toured at a relentless pace and released roughly an album a year, but nothing seemed to connect. In September of 1975 he taped a two-night stand at Detroit's Cobo Hall, releasing it as Live Bullet in stores the following April. The first time the wild energy of his stage show was captured on tape, the set included the haunting "Turn the Page." The album reached Number 34 on the Billboard chart, and when Seger released Night Moves later that year he found himself with a huge fan base.
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