What are the greatest and best power pop live albums ever recorded?
It sounds a simple question but first..
What is Power Pop?
Power pop sits between melodic pop songs and hard rock.
According to Wikipedia, power pop has “strong melodies, crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs. Instrumental solos are usually kept to a minimum, and blues elements are largely downplayed”.
That sounds right to me. It has it’s origins in the sixties and has been influenced by both The Beatles and The Who (especially their singles released before Tommy like Substitute, The Kids Are Alright, I Can’t Explain, Pictures of Lily etc that you can find on their compilation album Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy).
Power Pop groups fro the early 70s include Badfinger, Big Star and the Raspberries and its interesting to see where the grey areas reach.
What Are The Greatest & Best Power Pop Live Albums Ever?
I haven’t been able to find a well respected live album by all the artists and groups I consider to be power pop so if you know differently, please let me know by leaving a comment.
Artists I think are missing because there isn’t a live album, or not one good enough for inclusion are – Flamin Groovies (from their Shake Some Action period), City Boy (one of my favourites), Nick Lowe and the Small Faces.
My Thoughts On The Results Of The Power Pop Live Albums Poll
Since my definition of power pop is the space between The Beatles and The Who, I shouldn’t be surprised at the two albums fighting it out for top position. These are Wings Over America and The Who Live at Leeds. Both are excellent live albums and amongst my favourites.
Who knew that Paul McCartney would sound so good away from John, George and Ringo and he didn’t even cover many of his former band”s songs. Instead we are treated to thrilling versions of songs from Band On The Run, Venus And Mars and Wings At The Speed Of Sound. It’s easy to sneer at his later songs but little sign of falling standards in 1976. Highly recommended.
Live At Leeds is one of the greatest live albums ever released but The Who were much tougher on stage than in the studio. It feels more like hard rock than power pop to me and it is doing very well in the hard rock and heavy meal poll.
Next is Cheap Trick At Budokan and it’s an exciting album from 1978.
I only know the complete concert version as I got to it late.
In fourth place is another English rock band from the 1960s, even if this album was recorded in 1978. It’s One From The Road by The Kinks.
The Kinks are too often overlooked outsideof a few singles but Ray Davies has crafted many excellent tunes and live, the band who can claim to have invented heavy metal with the riff to You Really Got Me, are noisier and more exciting than you may expect.
At #5 is a band who are legendary for their influence on indie rock but were largely ignored at the time, that’s Big Star with Big Star Live from 1974.
Their first two studio albums are now regarded as power pop classics and this live album catches them promoting the second. Together with Badfinger and The Raspberries kept power pop going in the early 1970s when many acts were either heavy or prog.
At the time of writing, only 32 people have cast their votes so this category results could change quickly with a little social media attention.
Do You Agree With The Results So Far?
Let me know if you think my readers are getting it right. If not, why not?
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Thanks. It’s great to talk / discuss music and polls are usually controversial.
Other Best Live Album Polls
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2 thoughts on “Best Power Pop Live Albums”
Please consider maroon 5 – Live Friday the 13th. It’s a great live album.
Thanks Paulo. I don’t know much about Maroon 5. I’ve listened to the Amazon track snippets since you recommended it and I’m not sure I see much in it.
Do other people Maroon 5 are power pop and Live Friday The 13th should be in the poll?