Best Live Albums Lists

On this page I bring you the highlights of other people’s opinions of the best live albums that have been published in the music press and on websites.

Have Your Say By Voting For Your Best Live Albums

I invite you to share your own thoughts about the best live albums by voting in my live album polls.

Are you like me? I’ve seen plenty of album polls and usually I haven’t had the chance to express my opinion. Now you have so please vote in the polls that reflect your musical tastes. These may also be a better guide for finding albums that better fit your tastes because the polls are by genre and by popular artists and groups and the most popular polls have hundreds of voters.

Vote in my live album polls.

On 31 March 2015, I summarised the results of the best live album genre polls to reveal the 74 greatest live albums ever released.

The 74 Greatest Live Albums Ever Recorded & Released

Here Are The Published Lists Of The Best Live Albums

When the albums are in blue, there are links to pages on the Best Live Album Blog where you can find out more about the album.

The lists suffer from missing recently released fantastic archive recordings like The Rolling Stones Brussels Affair and Bruce Springsteen Cleveland 1978 which I think would feature on most of these lists if the albums had been released soon after they were recorded.

NME 50 Greatest Live Albums Of All Time (March 2011)

  1. Live & Dangerous by Thin Lizzy
  2. Live Rust by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  3. Live At Leeds by The Who
  4. I Might Be Wrong by Radiohead
  5. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  6. Unplugged In New York by Nirvana
  7. Unplugged by JayZ
  8. Kick Out The Jams by MC5
  9. It’s Alive by The Ramones
  10. Alive by Kiss

You can read about the rest of the list at the NME’s 50 live albums page.

It’s an interesting list but there seems to be an unspoken rule that only one album by an artist is allowed and some of the choices are contentious.

The 100 Greatest Live Rock Albums (from DigitalDreamDoor.com)

  1. Live At The Apollo by James Brown
  2. Live At Leeds by The Who
  3. At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers
  4. Live At The Star Club by Jerry Lee Lewis
  5. In Person by Ray Charles
  6. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  7. Made In Japan by Deep Purple
  8. Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out by The Rolling Stones
  9. The Royal Albert Hall Concert by Bob Dylan
  10. Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton

You can read about the other 90 included on the list at the 100 Greatest Live Rock Albums

The Top 25 Live Albums from IGN

  1. Live by 801
  2. Under A Blood Red Sky by U2
  3. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  4. Live Rust by Neil Young
  5. Live Hardcore Worldwide by Boogie Down Productions
  6. MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana
  7. The Name Of The Band by Talking Heads
  8. Live At Leeds by The Who
  9. Live At The Apollo by James Brown
  10. Jane’s Addition by Jane’s Addiction

You can read the rest of the list at Top 25 Live Albums (unfortunately it’s one of those lists that forces you to keep clicking).

Stylus Magazine’s Top 50 Live Albums Of All Time

  1. Live 1966 Royal Albert Hall by Bob Dylan
  2. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  3. The Name Of The Band by Talking Heads
  4. Live At The Apollo by James Brown
  5. MTV Unplugged In New York by Nirvana
  6. Live At Leeds by The Who
  7. Minimum – Maximum by Kraftwerk
  8. How The West Was Won by Led Zeppelin
  9. Live From Here To Eternity by The Clash
  10. Live – Evil by Miles Davis

You can read about the other 40 albums at the Top 50 Live Albums Of All Time

Rolling Stone Magazine Top 25 Albums Of All Time

Unfortunately the list isn’t in order but it does feature the usual suspects like Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, The Who Live At Leeds, Nirvana Unplugged In New York and Live Rust by Neil Young. More controversially it also includes Rattle & Hum by U2.

You can see the list at Top 25 Albums Of All Time

Classic Rock 50 Greatest Live Albums Ever

  1. Live And Dangerous by Thin Lizzy
  2. If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It by AC/DC
  3. At Budokan by Cheap Trick
  4. How the West Was Won by Led Zeppelin
  5. Live at Leeds by The Who
  6. Strangers in the Night by UFO
  7. Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out by The Rolling Stones
  8. Alive! by Kiss
  9. Exit … Stage Left by Rush
  10. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith by Motorhead

This list embarrassingly forget Deep Purple and Made In Japan in particular (it apologised the next month and said it should have been in the top 3) but it’s still a very interesting list for classic rock fans.

You can see the others at 50 Greatest Live Albums Ever

ChordStrike The 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time

  1. James Brown Live At The Apollo, 1962
  2. Johnny Cash    At Folsom Prison
  3. Frank Sinatra Sinatra at the Sands
  4. Bill Withers    Live at Carnegie Hall
  5. Judy Garland Judy At Carnegie Hall
  6. Bob Dylan    Live, 1966: The Royal Albert Hall Concert
  7. Ella Fitzgerald Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert
  8. Led Zeppelin    How the West Was Won
  9. MC5    Kick Out The Jams
  10. Keith Jarrett The Koln Concert

As you can see, this list is very varied and includes easy listening and jazz. You can see the rest at The 100 Greatest Albums

Planet Rock Greatest Live Albums Of All Time

  1. Thin Lizzy    Live & Dangerous
  2. Deep Purple Made in Japan
  3. UFO    Strangers In The Night
  4. The Who Live At Leeds
  5. AC/DC    If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It
  6. Iron Maiden    Live After Death
  7. Pink Floyd Pulse
  8. Peter Frampton    Frampton Comes Alive
  9. Kiss Alive
  10. Genesis Seconds Out

You can see the remainder of the top 40 at Greatest Live Albums

Mojo Best Live Albums Of All Time

  1. The Allman Brothers    At Fillmore East
  2. The Band    Rock of Ages
  3. James Brown Live at The Apollo
  4. Tim Buckley Dream Letter : Live in London 1968
  5. Johnny Cash    At San Quentin
  6. John Coltrane The complete 1961 Village Vanguard recordings
  7. Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
  8. Cream    Live Cream, volume II
  9. Miles Davis    The complete live at the Plugged Nickel, 1965
  10. Dr. Feelgood    Stupidity

There’s only 21 albums on this list but can can see the others at Mojo Best Live Albums

Guitar World Top Ten Live Albums

  1. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  2. Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton
  3. Alive! by Kiss
  4. MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana
  5. Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out by The Rolling Stones
  6. At Budokan by Cheap Trick
  7. How The West Was Won by Led Zeppelin
  8. Live At Sin-E by Jeff Buckley
  9. Intensities In 10 Cities by Ted Nugent
  10. Metallic KO by Iggy & The Stooges

You can read the comments about the albums at Top 10 Live Albums.

Q Magazine 20 Great Live Albums (June 2006)

  1. Live At Leeds by the Who
  2. The Last Waltz by The Band
  3. Live Rust by Neil Young
  4. MTV Unplugged In New York by Nirvana
  5. Live At the Apollo 1962 by James Brown
  6. At San Quentin by Johnny Cash
  7. Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads
  8. Live by Bob Marley
  9. No Sleep Til Hammersmith by Motorhead
  10. Royal Albert Hall by Spiritualised

You can read the rest of the top 20 at 20 Great Live Albums.

Slate Readers Poll For The Best Live Albums Ever

  1. Live At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers
  2. Live At Leeds by The Who
  3. Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads
  4. The Last Waltz by The Band
  5. At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash
  6. Live Rust by Neil Young
  7. Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton
  8. Live 1975 – 86 by Bruce Springsteen
  9. Before The Flood by Bob Dylan
  10. Europe 72 by Grateful Dead

You can read about the other live albums recommended at the Slate Great Live Albums Poll.

I Love Lists

These lists of great live albums shows exactly what is so great. There are some classics that appear on most and some eccentric choices.

It shows that none of us can probably hear as much music as we’d like and that even if we did all hear all the same albums, our choices can vary wildly.

The most popular of my polls with hundreds of voters are:

Best Blues Rock Live Albums

Best Classic Rock Live Albums Poll

Best Heavy Metal & Hard Rock Live Albums

Best Progressive Rock Live Albums

I know I’m biased but I think these will help you to find more live albums that you’ll like.

What Are Your Top Ten Live Albums?

Feel like sharing your opinion on what you believe are the ten best live albums of all time?

Personally I don’t think I can do it without all the analysis which is going into writing this blog but I’ll be fascinated to see your lists.

14 thoughts on “Best Live Albums Lists

  1. Greetings! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

  2. My spouse and I stumbled over here different page and thought I may as well check things out.
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    Look forward to going over your web page for a second time.

    • Lester you will see much more about great live albums across rock, pop, blues, folk and even country, jazz and reggae.

  3. Just realised you haven’t got one of THE greatest pub rock r n b albums of all time = Nine Below Zero, Live At The Marquee! Can’t believe Rolling Stone missed this one off their all time top 20! Add it to your list! I’ll be going to see the inimitable ‘great white shark’ Mr Greaves and crew on April 20th this year and I’m sure they will be as cool as ever! Let’s hope we get an extended harmonica solo from the great blues harp player Mark Feltham!

    • Another really helpful comment Steve and it’s another album I’m not familiar with. Nine Below Zero are definitely from my period but they passed me by as far as their music is concerned. I knew the name but for some strange reason I thought they were a punk/new wave band. ha how wrong was I?

  4. 1-10

    1. Caught in the Act – Grand Funk Railroad
    2. Live at Leads (Original) – The Who
    3. Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out – Rolling Stones
    4. Made in Japan – Deep Purple
    5. Alive – Kiss
    6. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal – Lou Reed
    7. Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore – Humble Pie
    8. Greatest Hits Live – Savoy Brown
    9. Hank Live – Hank Williams Jr.
    10. Frampton Comes Alive – Peter Frampton

  5. Looks like I’m more than a year late reading this article, but even here in the comments section I’m surprised by the absence of Live at the Fillmore West by King Curtis. Not only was it his final recording, it is an absolute hallmark of the way live records should sound. Absolutely perfect in every way.

    • I haven’t heard that King Curtis album. I’ll have to look it up which I’m in the mood for sax and classic soul and r&B.

  6. The best live albums are

    Live at the fillmore by the Allmans
    Live from the road by lynyrd skynyrd
    Live at the apollo by james brown the first one.
    If you want blood you got it by acdc

    Anyone who doesn’t have those in their top ten don’t know what they are talking about.

    • Thanks for your comment. All your suggestions are generally accepted to be excellent live albums.

      I am bothered by your last sentence “Anyone who doesn’t have those in their top ten don’t know what they are talking about.”

      I want to hear people’s opinions but I don’t like jumping on other people’s opinions in such strong terms. There are no right or wrong answers. Liking music is subjective and personal.

      You may be right as far as you are concerned – although to say it so strongly suggests that you’ve heard all the live albums ever released – but you shouldn’t decry other people who don’t share your thoughts.

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