The “live” album has always been a way for a band to truly showcase to their fans and the general public just what they are about as a band. In many cases, a band’s true essence, excitement, and electricity is lost on studio albums. This can be due to many things. Maybe said band just feels confined in the studio and unable to break free from the restraints of the paneled walls and isolation booths. Regardless, when a band puts out a live album, they are saying, “This is what we’re about” or maybe even, “This is what you’re missing by not coming to our shows.”
Live albums are always debated as to just how “live” they might be. It’s no secret that bands “doctor” these albums up and pretty them up but at the end of the day, there’s still this level of excitement that manages to get captured. Here I have listed 10 of my favorite live albums. Did your favorites make the list? If not, what are your favorites and why? I’d love to hear about it but in the time being, here are mine! Maybe you’ll find something here that you didn’t have before. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite live album. If so, you’re welcome.
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
This was Iron Maiden’s first full length live album and in all honesty they couldn’t have picked a better tour to capture than 1984’s World Slavery Tour. I mean, what a bombastic fucking show. While this tour was visually amazing, Iron Maiden truly was at their musical peak at this point and they sounded fucking monstrous. The opening intro of “Churchill’s Speech” still gives me goose bumps and songs like “Revelations”, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, and “Hallowed By Thy Name” are performed flawlessly and even better than their own studio versions.
Black Sabbath = Live at Hammersmith
Dio era Black Sabbath saw a very surprising and much deserved comeback when Heaven and Hell emerged in 2006 blowing people’s minds playing nothing but Dio era Sabbath songs. In the wake of their success, Rhino Records released “Live at Hammersmith” which was pretty much a superior live album to the 80’s issued Live Evil. Now I fucking love Live Evil but Live at Hammersmith just sounds so much better production wise and also has the band playing with some serious fire.
Twisted Sister – Live at Hammersmith
Twisted Sister really shows what a powerful monster of a live band they were capable of being in their prime. Opening with “What You Don’t Know Sure Can Hurt You” is a like a freight train coming right at you full speed and then kicking right into “The Kids are Back” has my face on the floor every fucking time. “Stay Hungry”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll”, “Destroyer”, and even “I Wanna Rock” are so fucking heavy that it will blow your mind if you ever doubted what a juggernaut this band was. Anyone who was ever just a casual fan of this band needs to hear this album in order to truly get what Twisted Fucking Sister was all about.
Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live
Very few (if any) modern metal bands can pull off having a live album these days. The reason for that is that there are very few modern metal bands who are actually any fucking good at being a true LIVE band. After hearing (seeing) Sabaton live a few times, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Sabaton is pretty much the closest thing to Iron Maiden this generation will ever see. They are a visually stunning band with an amazing live performance that is interractive and full of energy. They are also a band that delivers the goods musically with a catalog of songs that is fucking amazingly mind-blowing.
Ozzy Osbourne – Tribute
Even though it’s been pretty proven that this album was doctored in the studio before its release, Tribute still proves to be one of my all-time favorite live albums. As a young lad, I was a huge Randy Rhoads fan so you can only imagine the excitement when it was announced that amazing quality live archival recordings of an Ozzy show with Randy had surfaced.
Hanoi Rocks – All Those Wasted Years Live
Hanoi Rocks is a band that without a doubt put out one of my all time favorite live albums. I never had the chance to see these guys live ever but this live album recorded on NYE of 1983-84 captured the raw energy and sleaze that would later be ripped off in full by Guns N’ Roses to the “t”. The opening of “Pipeline” and “Back to Mystery City” totally sets the pace for this album but it’s on songs like “Tragedy”, “Malibu Beach Nightmare”, and “Lost in the City” that has the band really turning it out and owning some fucking faces. If you really want to hear something fun, listen to the intro for “Don’t Never Leave Me” and it’s Guns N’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry” almost verbatim. I hope they fucking sued Paxil Rose.
Jorn Lande – Live in America
Recorded in Atlanta in 2007, Live in America is everything that Jorn Lande is about. This is one of the greatest voices in heavy metal and it’s sad that more people don’t truly recognize the greatness of this guy. On this live release, this is where I truly felt like the power and intensity of Jorn was captured in its true essence. Not only does it feature such stellar original songs like “We Brought the Angels Down”, “Duke of Love”, and “Out to Every Nation” but it also has Jorn paying his respects to legends such as Thin Lizzy (Are You Ready/Cold Sweat), Ronnie James Dio (Straight Through the Heart), and Deep Purple (Perfect Strangers). The two disc offering complete with over indulgent guitar/drum solos closes with a facemelting Whitesnake medley of “Come On”, “Sweet Talker”, “Crying in the Rain”, “Here I Go Again”, “Give Me All Your Love.” Jorn does a better David Coverdale than David Coverdale himself can do.
Deep Purple – Made in Europe
Deep Purple is one of those bands that I never really dug for some reason. I always thought “Smoke on the Water” was a lame fucking song and I just never liked the “hits” that I heard all the time. A good buddy of mine convinced me that I needed to look below the surface and once I did I discovered a band that I sadly ignored all these years. Well, just to sweeten the deal I dove headfirst into the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple and found that I fucking loved this shit so much. I mean, this was pretty much early Whitesnake with Richie Blackmore on guitar. How could that possibly suck?
Iron Maiden – En Vivo
I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably saying, “But Brainfart, you already picked an Iron Maiden live album. Well, this is my fucking site and I can do what I want and besides, it’s IRON FUCKING MAIDEN. These guys are pretty much right alongside KISS for being the kings of releasing live albums. Iron Maiden has released 10 full length live albums and one live EP (Maiden Japan) and while Live After Death will always be considered their greatest live release, I have to say that I was absolutely blown away by En Vivo which captured Maiden on their Final Frontier Tour.
KISS – Alive
How can I NOT include Kiss Alive? I mean, ok, I know what you’re going to say. “It’s not REALLY a live album” yadda yadda yadda. Get off my fucking lawn! I don’t care what you say but this is a classic live album from start to finish. Anytime I feel like I need to be reminded just why I feel in love with Kiss in the first place I put this one on and the minute “Deuce” kicks in I am reminded right away. There are so many songs on here that never fail to blow my face off. “Got To Choose”, “She”, “Firehouse” and “C’mon and Love Me” just kill me every time I hear them but the older I get, the more I find myself really gravitating towards the meat of the album with songs like “Watchin’ You”, “100,000 Years” and “Rock Bottom.” “Black Diamond.” Holy shit I must listen to this version 2-3 times every time I find myself listening to this album.