Metal bands release live albums quite a bit. I’m sure it’s the same reason these days but back in the day, a band released a live album so that anyone who had never seen these bands live could get an idea of what they were missing. Also, in some other cases, certain bands had a particular dynamic or electricity that never came through the recorded medium. Not all metal bands did this well. Some bands put out live albums that made you wonder why they put out live albums. For instance, why did Motley Crue put out a live album when they are a horrible live band? Why did Poison put out a live album? I mean, really? At the same time, bands from the hard rock/metal era over the years have nailed it and put out some truly stellar live releases.
Trying to pick just 10 of my favorites was nearly impossible so what I made myself do was to list TEN LIVE HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS without thinking about it. Well, as you can imagine, the minute I finished the list I immediately thought of a bunch more that I had forgotten. Well, with that being said, here’s a few of my all time favorite hard rock/metal live albums! What are yours?
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
When Iron Maiden released Live After Death, I was absolutely blown away. As you know, back in the day, Iron Maiden didn’t do ANYTHING small or half assed. Iron Maiden always had a way of delivering the biggest and the baddest so when it came to releasing Live After Death, it was no shock as to how epic this release was. First off, the artwork was Maiden’s most epic piece album art to date. When you opened up the gatefold there were tons of live photos and the inserts had lyrics to every song on the album. I remember lying on my band with the headphones on while Churchill’s Speech played and I could feel the goosebumps rising. Hearing “Aces High” made me feel like I was right there and to this day, I still get that feeling from listening to this album.
Black Sabbath – Live Evil
Shortly after I discovered that Ronnie James Dio was actually the singer in Black Sabbath after Ozzy, I went flying to the record store to buy the albums. I could’ve either bought Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, or I could’ve bought Live Evil which was the best of both worlds plus Dio singing some classic Ozzy era Sabbath. Much like the Iron Maiden album, the packaging for this album was absolutely jaw dropping. It was so much fun trying to pick out what song titles were depicted on the cover by characters and on the inside of the album, the live photos of the stage and crowd made me wish I was there.
Jorn Lande – Live in America
Jorn Lande has become one of my current favorite metal singers on the planet. Jorn, in my opinion, is the carrier of the torch for the late great Ronnie James Dio. Jorn’s voice is powerful and his material is off the fucking charts good. I will never understand why Jorn isn’t a bigger known name here in America but that is also probably because Jorn never tours the states. Back in 1996, Jorn Lande performed at Atlanta’s ProgPower Festival and his stellar performance was captured and then released as Live in America.
Sabaton – Heroes On Tour
Swedish metal titans Sabaton is a band that quickly became one of my all time favorite live bands. Much like Iron Maiden, Sabaton has released quite a few live albums. I can only assume that the reason behind this is that Sabaton is a band that delivers the goods live in a way that has yet to be captured on any of their studio albums. WIth their latest live album, Heroes On Tour, Sabaton completely captured the energy, the excitement, and the power of their live shows.
Twisted Sister – Live at Hammersmith
To this day, it still blows my mind that people will write off Twisted Sister as a joke band. They see them as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” band and think of them as cute or as funny. What many people fail to recognize is just what a fucking heavy band Twisted Sister was and still is. Live at Hammersmith, in my opinion, should very well put all the naysayers to rest as this album captures Twisted Sister in all of their punk infused heavy metal glory.
Ozzy Osbourne – Tribute
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was huge news that Ozzy Osbourne would be releasing Tribute which was a full live performance (one of the very few that was actually captured) featuring Randy Rhoads. At 14 years old, I was ecstatic and ran (well, walked about a mile because fat kids don’t run) to the record store and bought this album. I took it home and I can still remember to this day feeling the goosebumps rise as “I Don’t Know” filled my room. Song after song, I just found myself enthralled with this album and completely oblivious to my surroundings.
Rush – Rush In Rio
In my opinion, Rush in Rio is Rush’s greatest live release. There was so much energy behind this release. This tour was the band’s first tour back after a series of tragedies in the life of drummer Neil Peart which had us all wondering if they would ever return. Well, not only did they return but they did so with this new found energy, love, and connection to each other and the songs.
KISS – Alive
How can this list not include Kiss Alive? Yes, I know. We have all learned that this album isn’t necessarily “live” in the truest form of the world but again, this is KISS live and it captures them at their peek. At this point, KISS was a hungry band and just on the cusp of taking over the world and you can hear the fire and the determination behind every chord played and every note sung. This is also the first time we are introduced the phenomenon known as “Paul Stanley Banter.” This album has some great banter moments.
Deep Purple – Made in Europe
In my opinion, you just don’t get much better than Deep Purple Mk III. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the initial Rod Evans (Mk I) line up and there’s no denying the awesomeness of Mk II but man, you throw David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes into this mix and they are pretty much the Twix of hard rock. This line up possessed a power and an energy that just seemed to be lacking in the previous lineups. In my opinion, Burn and Stormbringer are two absolutely untouchable albums that I feel even Deep Purple themselves after this couldn’t come close to touching. The magic and the power of the Mk II lineup was captured on Made In Europe and trust me, this is a live album that you shouldn’t even think of living out.
AC/DC – If You Want Blood… You’ve Got It
When I first heard AC/DC, like many young lads my age back in the early 80’s, Brian Johnson was the first guy I was introduced to. After a few years, I found myself digging backwards into the Bon Scott catalog and for some reason it just didn’t do a whole lot for me. Yeah, I loved the song “Highway to Hell” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” but it would be as a teen in the 90’s when it hit not only how superior the Bon era was but how superior Bon was to Brian Johnson over all. Bon was the total package and for me, it wasn’t until I bought If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It back in 1990. How did I go that long without own this platter of awesomeness? I’m not sure but I have made up for it by pledging my allegiance to Bon Scott to this day and on forward.