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10 Live Albums That Will Make You Wish You Could Time Travel

Posted by Thomas Spillane on

Dewey Finn from School Of Rock taught us that, “…one great rock show can change the world…” and he wasn’t wrong.

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Writing and recording an amazing record is only half of the work for a great rock band. Transferring your songs onto the stage and entertaining crowds, no matter how big or tiny, is no small feat. Capturing the essence of a live show on a record is another challenge altogether, but not impossible. Today we bring you a list of albums that have captured some of the best shows in rock.

10. It’s Alive-The Ramones

Recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on New Years Eve in 1977, It’s Alive (1979) features material from The Ramones first three albums. Almost inventing hardcore with this performance due to the speed the band were playing at, they almost covered every single song from their first three records.

9. S&M-Metallica

S&M (short for Symphony & Metallica) (1999) was an experiment done by the thrash metal band and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Recorded on April 21-22 1999 at the Berkeley Community Theatre, the concert saw Metallica playing most of their classic tunes with an orchestra accompanying them. The results are astounding.

8. Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium-Rage Against The Machine

Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium (2003) was recorded in Los Angeles on September 12-13 2000. Released after the break-up of Rage Against The Machine, it features songs from all of their albums. Rough, angry and sweaty, this set from the rap metal band captures the band at their rawest.

7. If You Want Blood You've Got It-AC/DC

AC/DC’s first live album, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (1978) was recorded during the band’s 1978 Powerage tour. It is the only live album to feature the band’s original lead vocalist, Bon Scott. An energetic performance from a still relatively young AC/DC, the set is balls to the wall rock ’n’ roll.

6. Kick Out The Jams-MC5

Kick Out The Jams (1969) is MC5’s debut album, and a rowdy one at that. Recorded on Devil’s Night and Halloween in 1969 at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, it was a great introduction to the raucous proto-punk band. Full of jagged guitars, noisy drums and the delirious vocals of Wayne Kramer, it is one of the most high-octane performances committed to tape.

5. Bullet In A Bible-Green Day

Bullet In A Bible (2005) documents one the biggest shows Green Day have ever played. Performing to a crowd of over 130 000 punters at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in England, the set was recorded over June 18-19 2000. Drawing heavily from their most recent album at the time, American Idiot (2004), the band also revisit a couple of classics from their previous records.

4. No Sleep 'til Hammersmith-Motorhead

No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (1981) is Motorhead’s second live album. A blistering set featuring tracks off of their first three albums, the album showcases the band doing what they do best: playing hard and fast. The album was recorded over different dates on Motorhead’s Short Sharp Pain In The Neck tour of 1981.

3. Live At Monterey-Jimi Hendrix

This posthumous record showcases the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s set at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. A legendary performance, Monterey was the show where Hendrix infamously set his guitar on fire. Playing a mix of Hendrix originals and classic covers, Live At Monterey (2009) captures the myth, the man, the legend, at his best.

2. Live At Pompeii-Pink Floyd

Live At Pompeii (1972) is a somewhat surreal release by psychedelic masters, Pink Floyd. Recorded over four days in October 1971, the album sees the band playing at Pompeii to absolutely no crowd. Accompanied with a concert documentary, the record shows Pink Floyd taking on, and reinventing, some of their classic early tracks.

1. Live At Reading-Nirvana

Loud, unapologetic and brutal, Nirvana’s set at Reading Festival 1992 is the stuff of legends. The raucous set draws heavily from the band’s breakthrough record, Nevermind (1991), giving the pop-influenced tunes a new sense of dirtiness. Live At Reading (2009) documents the biggest band of the ‘90s at their peak.

What's your favourite live album? Let us know!

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