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Live Album Awareness

The Positive Spin on Drums 

by Chris Belin

  There is something about a live album that has always captivated my interest. Whether it’s a typical album opening with crowd cheers, or the fact that a live album usually captures a specific moment in time for an artist, they’ve always been an extremely integral part of my music collection. Sometimes live albums have been my intro to a new group or genre of music. Other times they’re just a more raw in-the-moment interpretation of songs from a band I’m interested in. Above all the most important influence I get from listening & absorbing live albums is the desire to be a part of a live concert experience, as a performer or attendee.    

  I started playing drums along to live albums as a kid. Back then my music collection was mostly cassettes & some vinyl. So i’d play through the first side & when complete I would flip it as fast as possible, pretending that I was playing a real concert. Even though I was an energetic 11 year old I would get tired after a few tunes, especially since the gap between songs is approximately 2 seconds on a album! Regardless I would trudge through usually completing every song. Over time it got much easier to finish. This helped me tremendously when I started really playing live.   

   As I got older & started to drive, the live album, now on CD, became a great soundtrack to a road trip. Just like playing I still loved listening from beginning to end. Nowadays I still play live albums in my car via the iPod. I usually tend to shuffle them, especially with one artist, listening to tracks that span portions of their career.    

  The following is a list of what I feel are the quintessential live albums for all the major musical genres. Do yourself a favor and check some of these out. They are in alphabetical order as there is NO way I could pick a “best live album of all time”. I would love some comments, your lists, reviews, recommendations, etc. Hope I didn’t forget any!!


Aerosmith-Live Bootleg 

Allman Brothers-Live at Fillmore East  

Anthrax-Live, the Island Years  

Average White Band-Person To Person 

Erykah Badu-Live 

The Band-The Last Waltz 

Blink 182-Mark, Tom, & Travis show 

Clifford Brown / Max Roach-Live at Basin Street 

James Brown-Live @ the Apollo  

Dave Brubeck Quartet- Live at Carnegie Hall  

Jeff Buckley-Mystery White Boy 

Johnny Cash-At Folsom Prison  

Cheap Trick-Live at Budokon 

John Coltrane-Live at the Village Vanguard 

Miles Davis-Live Evil 

Deep Purple-Made in Japan  

Eric Dolphy Live at the Five Spot 

Bela Fleck & the Flectones-Live Art  

Peter Frampton-Frampton Comes Alive 

Genesis-Seconds Out 

Dizzy Gillespie-A Night in Tunisia  

Grand Funk Railroad-Live Album 

Grateful Dead-Europe ’72  

Jimi Hendrix-Band of Gypsy’s

Iron Maiden-Live in Rio  

B.B. King-Live at the Regal 

Jack Johnson-En Concert


Led Zeppelin-The Song Remains The Same  

Lynyrd Skynyrd-One more From The Road 

Bob Marley-Babylon by Bus  

Dave Matthews-Live at Red Rocks

Medeski Martin & Wood-Tonic  

Thelonious Monk Quartet w/ John Coltrane @ Carnegie Hall  

Nirvana-Unplugged in New York  

Maxwell-MTV Unplugged 

Ted Nugent-Double Live Gonzo 

Pearl Jam-Live on Two Legs 

Phish-A Live One  

Poison-Swallow This Live  

Portishead-Roseland NYC live 

Prince-One Night Alone Live  

Rage Against The Machine-Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium 

The Ramones-Loco Live 

The Rolling Stones-Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out 

The Roots Come Alive  

Rush-Exit Stage Left  

Jill Scott-Experience Jill Scott 

Shleigho-Live @ Ho-Down 2000 

Slayer-Decade of Aggression 

Spin Doctors-Homebelly Groove 

Steely Dan-Alive In America 

Tower Of Power-Soul Vaccination Live! 

U2-Rattle & Hum 

Stevie Ray Vaughan- Live Alive the raw 

The Who-Live at Leeds 

Widespread Panic-Light Fuse Get Away

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