What Are The Best Live Soul Albums Ever?

My aim is simple… to find out what readers think are the best live soul albums ever.

Have Your Say: What Are The Best Live Soul Albums Ever?

Will it be James Brown Live At The Apollo 1962, Otis Redding Live In Europe or Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Club or a less well known live soul classic (click to read my reviews).

At this stage I should point out that I’ve got separate polls for the best funk live album and the best disco live album.

You decide by voting in the poll and because it’s so difficult to narrow it down to one classic live album, I’ve given you the chance to vote for more than one.

What Are The FIVE Best Live Soul Albums Ever? (Click on the links to go to the reviews)

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If the writing is in blue, you can click on the link to find out more about the album elsewhere on the blog.

Have Your Say – Which Great Live Soul Album Did I Miss From The List?

Did I miss your favourite live soul album from the list in the poll?

Let me know by leaving a comment and if I get two mentions, I’ll add it into the poll.

Sadly I didn’t get as many recommendations as I’d hoped so at the end of October 2014 I’ve increased the number of albums listed and increased from three to five the number of albums you can recommend.

My Thoughts On The Results Of The Best Soul Live Album Poll So Far – October 2014

I have asked people to vote for their top 3 live soul albums and I’m very pleased that over 70 people so far have done it.

In First Place Sam Cooke With Live At The Harlem Square Club

Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Club

I remember how pleased I was when I discovered Live At The Harlem Square Club 1963 and I’m pleased to see it at the top on the poll. It’s been nominated by 33% of the voters.

James Brown And The 1962 Live At The Apollo Is Second

James Brown Live At The Apollo 1962

Some music critics say that Live At The Apollo is the best live album ever recorded – of any genre. This sweaty, full-on performance to an enthusiastic crowd has been recommended by 28% of the voters so far.

It’s hard to believe that the record company refused to finance it and James Brown had to do it himself.

In Third Place Donny Hathaway Live

Donny Hathaway Live 1971

I wasn’t aware of Donny Hathaway until a reader recommended this terrific live album. He had a troubled life and unlike Sam Cooke, he isn’t well known in the UK. If you’re not familiar with his solo work, check it out starting here.

Live, after a bit of a late start has received 20% of the vote and is just one behind the James Brown classic. There is then a big gap to…

Curtis Mayfied Live Is Fourth

Curtis Mayfield Curtis Live

This live album recorded shortly after he split with The Impressions is recommended by 12% of the voters it’s an album that frustrates me because I can’t rip my CD to an mp3. I probably haven’t heard Curtis Live as much as I should.

Those four albums have led this poll for several years and there then follow a number of albums who have some popular support but it’s not consistent.  Mind you, I ask readers to select their five favourite live soul  albums and that’s a tough ask.

 Maze Live In New Orleans

Maze Live In New Orleans album cover

Live In New Orleans is an excellent album but the funky rhythms backing the smooth soul vocals of Frankie Beverly mean it crosses categories so it’s included in this poll and the best funk live album poll.

Frankie Beverly and Maze have had little recognition in the UK but I couldn’t stop playing it when I first bought it. Despite the four studio tracks and the cuts made to it in the transfer from vinyl to CD, it is a great live album which deserves a wider audience.

Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall

Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall

Aretha Franklin Live At Fillmore West

Aretha Franklin Aretha Live At Fillmore West

Al Green Tokyo Live

Tokyo Live by Al Green


Bobby Womack Soul Sensation Live

Bobby Womack Soul Sensation Live

Solomon Burke Soul Alive

Solomon Burke Soul Alive

Hopefully we’ll see more votes that might make the order below the top four more fefinitive.

Recap – The Top Ten Best Live Soul Albums – October 2014

  1. Live At The Harlem Square Club 1963
  2. Live At The Apollo
  3. Donny Hathaway Live
  4. Curtis Live
  5. Live In New Orleans
  6. Live At Carnegie Hall by Bill Withers
  7. Soul Sensation Live by Bobby Womack
  8. Live At Fillmore West by Aretha Franklin
  9. Soul Alive by Solomon Burke
  10. The Womack Live by Bobby Womack
  11. Tokyo Live by Al Green
  12. In Person At The Whisky A Go Go by Otis Redding
  13. Live In Europe by Otis Redding

Those last four were tied in tenth place with recommendations from 5% of the voters.

I think the process is working very and I’m very pleased to see Bobby Womack recognised with Soul Sensation Live.

Are you surprised that there aren’t any albums by soul legends like Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder in the reckoning for the title of best live soul album?

Do You Agree With The Choices Made?

Have the voters got it right?

If not, please take the time to vote yourself for your favourite soul live albums.

What Are The FIVE Best Live Soul Albums Ever? (Click on the links to go to the reviews)

View Results

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We all have our opinions so as well as telling me about great albums that I’ve missed, I’d like to know what albums you think are over-rated or under-rated. It’s fun to discuss great music.

What Are The Best Live Albums Ever?

You may be interested in several other readers polls I’ve created to discover the best live albums.

A lot of the great soul artists only have a few live albums so there are few polls focusing on one soul singer or group. The exception is James Brown who recognised that he sounded better on stage.

My aim is to help you to find the best live albums through readers polls, my own reviews and from bringing in Amazon reviews.

You can see the complete list of readers polls at Live Album Polls.

3 thoughts on “What Are The Best Live Soul Albums Ever?”

  1. Make sure you check out Donny Hathaway’s Live recording. It is really great, and has some amazing covers and some really solid work on the keyboard.

    1. Thanks for the tip Brandon. I have to admit that I know next to nothing about Donny Hathaway’s music because he didn’t make much of an impression in the UK.

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