The best live album polls are the centre-point of the blog and I think it’s good to produce summaries of the albums that are leading the polls from time to time.
If you don’t agree with the results, you need to cast your votes.
Best Live Albums By Genre
Best AOR Live Album – Kansas Two For The Show
I haven’t heard this one (yet) but I haven’t been too impressed by the Kansas material that has come my way so I think this is a shock.
Best Art Rock Live Album – Deaf School Second Coming
A surprise result but someone put the poll on the Deaf School facebook page and the votes cam flooding in. I should mention that the second placed album is Stage by David Bowie. It’s not a favourite of mine as I don’t get on with the Berlin period of Bowie except for the hit singles.
Best Blues Live Albums – BB King Live At The Regal
This recognised classic is streaking away with the title of best blues live album and I agree, it is a great album.
Best Blues Rock Live Albums – The Allman Brothers Band Live At The Fillmore East
This is one of my favourite categories and it’s hard to argue against the popularity of this 1971 live recording by Duane Allman and the rest of the band even if it doesn’t quite gel for me.
Best Classic Rock Live Album – Peter Frampton Comes Alive
It sold millions of copies but I never understood why. I think the second placed Wings Over America is much the better album.
Best Country Rock Live Album – Grateful Dead Europe 72
This is the Grateful Dead at their most accessible showing their country and folk roots. If you don’t think that’s a genuine country album, then second is Johnny Cash Live At Folsom Prison which is just beating the San Quentin live album.
Best Disco Live Album – Donna Summer Live & More
It’s funny how 30 odd years changes your perspective. I hated disco at the time but now I must admit that it’s so much better than modern dance music.
Best Funk Live Album – Earth Wind & Fire Gratitude
I’ve nothing against EW&F but it feels wrong to me that James Brown isn’t winning this category, especially because I think the P-Funk live albums are disappointing and we don’t have a Prince live album from his peak period close to Sign Of The Times.
Best Heavy Metal & Hard Rock Live Album – Deep Purple Made In Japan
This is a very popular category and the Purple album has bee recognised as exceptional by 42% of the voters and is winning the category easily from the second placed The Who Live At Leeds. Things would be different if the Led Zep vote wasn’t split so evenly between two of their live albums.
Best Indie & Alternative Rock Live Album – Nirvana MTV Unplugged In New York
Proof that great live albums can come from acts that didn’t start in the 1960s and 1970s even if it is untypical of the normal Nirvana sound. The MTV Unplugged series helps to reinvigorate interest in live recorded music.
Best Power Pop Live Albums – Wings Over America
A great album that showed that Paul McCartney didn’t need the rest of the Fab Four to create superb music. Even if you’re suspicious of Macca’s solo work, you should give this album a try.
Best Prog Rock Live Album – Genesis Seconds Out
It seems funny to think that people thought that Genesis without Peter Gabriel would struggle as this album compiled from the tours for A Trick Of The Tail and Wind & Wuthering is extremely highly thought of. I also love the second placed Yessongs.
Best Punk & New Wave Live Album – The Ramones It’s Alive
Fast, simple rock, the Ramones live album is a genuine punk classic but I wish there was a better album from The Clash to compete with it.
Best Reggae Live Album – Bob Marley Babylon By Bus
Popularity and the high profile meant that it had to be Bob Marley so it was just a question of which one would top the poll. If you want more than one or two reggae albums, it’s worth investigating those albums that get votes by the other artists.
Best Singer Songwriter Live Album – Neil Young Live Rust
This is a very competitive category but Live Rust shows both sides of Neil Young with his acoustic songs and the blazing guitar workouts.
Best Soul Live Album – Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Club
It’s a great album but soul is well suited to live albums and their are plenty of other excellent concert recordings.
Best Southern Rock Live Album – Lynyrd Skynyrd One More From The Road
An excellent album that represents southern rock extremely well but the Allman Brothers just miss out on having a double category winner as Live At The Fillmore East does well again.
Best Live Albums By Artist Or Group
AC/DC – If You Want Blood You’ve Got It
No surprise because it is an excellent hard rock album.
Personally I don’t think that there is a great Aerosmith live album that has yet been released but I’m hopefully that we’ll get an archive release from the Rocks tour.
I think it’s a controversial choice that a live album with Ronnie James Dio rather than Ozzy Osbourne is considered to be the best Sabbath live album.
Blue Oyster Cult – On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
I like this one a lot and the remaster sounds even better although I haven’t invested yet.
David Bowie – 1976 Nassau Colisseum
This famous bootlegged concert was legally released as a bonus to the special edition of StationToStation and I think it rightly tops the poll for the best Bowie live recording. David Live is also growing on me and the remastered version should encourage the dodgy reputation of the original release to be upgraded.
James Brown – Love, Power, Peace: Live At The Olympia, Paris, 1971
The R&B soul of Live At The Apollo is perhaps surprisingly beaten by the funk of Love, Power, Peace. I like them both.
I always think it’s easy to knock Eric Clapton but, if you can remove any biases, he has made some excellent blues rock based live albums.
Bob Dylan – Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert
Another famous bootleg that finally received a legal release although I prefer Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue and At Budokan.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends
This recording from the tour to promote the Brain Salad Surgery studio album is ever bit as grand and bombastic as you’d want if you’re a fan of ELP.
An excellent blues rock album and, 2014 has seen a deluxe version of it extended to include the Belfast, Dublin and Cork concerts in full.
J Geils Band – Blow Your Face Out
A terrific album that benefits from being longer than the earlier Full House.
Personally I’m surprised by the success of this album in both the Hendrix and the blues rock polls as I prefer the albums by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Tull are another group that might have something even better in the archives since it’s a big gap between the Isle of Wight album in 1970 and Bursting Out from 1978.
Journey – Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour
In my weaker moments I’ll admit to liking both Boston and Journey and I approve of the selection of this album.
King Crimson – The Great Deceiver vols 1 & 2
The poll rates the albums from 1973 and 1974 particularly highly with The Great Deceiver Vols 1 & 2 coming out top. Personally I find Crimson a tough group to like.
This is one of the more predictable results and Alive 2 is rated the second best.
Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won
The blues rock and hard rock polls suggested that the vote for the best Led Zep live album would be close but this one ramped away with it. If you’ve ignored BBC Sessions I recommend it for the 1971 concert recording just before the Four Symbols album was released.
Van Morrison – It’s Too Late to Stop Now
A great album but I hope van The Man opens up his archives like Bob Dylan and Neil Young have done. I bet their are some treasures to be found there.
Ted Nugent – Double Live Gonzo!
Another poll where the result was predictable.
Pink Floyd – Live At Wembley 1974
Pulse is doing very well in the prog rock poll but I cheated in the Pink Floyd poll because I think what we really want is a live album from the mid 1970s with Roger Waters in the band. Most of the 1974 Wembley concert has been released on the special editions of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here and I’m sure many Floyd fans have done exactly what I did i.e. combine the live recordings together on an iPod.
This late recording is the clear winner but it will be interesting to see how quickly the Rainbow 1974 album rises in the poll. Of course, now that we have one archive release, we may get more from the A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races tours. I hope so.
The Rolling Stones – The Brussels Affair
Another famous bootleg that gets an authorised release but the Stones have been slow to give us anything between this one from 1973 and Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out from 1969 but I’m sure there are plenty of us who want to hear more Sticky Finders and Exile On Main St songs played live by the Mick Taylor version of the Stones.
At the moment it is just ahead of All the World’s a Stage.
Bruce Springsteen – Hammersmith Odeon 75
Springsteen has finally started to open his archives at the same time as the EU copyright laws mean that radio recordings of the 1978 tour can be released. This 1975 recording is excellent but so is the authorised version of Agora Cleveland from 1978 which is available from Springsteen’s download website. I expect these 1978 recordings to rise in the polls in future years and hopefully we’ll also have some official live recordings from the early to mid 1980s.
Some polls don’t have many votes yet but you can check them out for yourself at http://www.bestlivealbums.com/live-album-polls/