25 Top Live Albums-I
Ah, the live album. In the days pre-dating the internet, the only way to experience your favorite band live was to hope they’d be playing a city near you so you can attend the concert, bootlegs from private recorders and soundboard audio and, yes, an officially released live album! Capturing the perfect performance is always elusive and partly why so many live albums take recordings from multiple shows. Sometimes it’s done to mask flaws in the set and other times to boost the power of a performance to ensure fans receive the full impact of a lights out performance (and their money’s worth for purchasing the album). Without any visual accompaniment, it can be hard to place yourself in the show, but rock and metal’s best have been able to transcend this barrier with positively devastating live records. A great live album allows you to feel the energy of the crowd, the rumble of the bass, visualize the sweat dripping off of a frontman’s face and, most importantly, place you in the front row of the greatest show you never got to see – or were lucky enough to attend! Glance through the gallery below as we count down the 25 Top Live Albums 1 (from No.25 to No.16) in Hard Rock & Metal :
25. Rush – ‘Exit…Stage Left’ (1981)
Let’s just get this out of the way early: Rush delivered truly flawless performances on the legendary ‘Exit… Stage Left’ live album. Recorded between three shows in 1980 and 1981, the prog luminaries brought out 13 songs that run like a greatest hits album rather than a setlist, showcasing the caliber of Rush’s catalog. From opener “The Spirit of Radio” to the epic closer “La Villa Strangiato,” the band is on point every inch of the way. The sound, in particular the bass, is warm and completely full, but with all of the band’s busy musicianship, the live feeling doesn’t deviate much from the studio recordings, ultimately responsible for the record bringing up the rear on this list.
24. NOFX – ‘They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live’ (2007)
The hardest part about deciding what makes NOFX’s ‘They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live’ so great is which is better: the songs or the banter? Known for their live antics, main man Fat Mike is engaging throughout the show, cracking jokes and displaying his self-deprecating sense of humor and affinity for boozin’ hard along with the rest of the group. Subbing in new lyrics to fit topical themes on “Franco Un-American” and “What’s the Matter With Parents Today?” NOFX exemplify the purpose of a live record: to capture a moment in time. The fun is never-ending as they tear through a carefree set lined with fan favorites.
23. Black Sabbath – ‘Live Evil’ (1982)
Exchanging Ozzy Osbourne for ex-Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio helped breathe new life into a deflated Black Sabbath. The new frontman was, in certain ways, the opposite of Osbourne, which led fans to wonder if he could handle the established classic era.
‘Live Evil’ was recorded across four U.S. concerts, mixing in ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Mob Rules’ material with Ozzy standards like “War Pigs,” N.I.B.” and “Children of the Grave,” all of which Dio handled with aplomb, delivering powerful renditions without compromising a moment of any song.
22. Slayer – ‘Decade of Aggression’ (1991)
Slayer’s double live album, ‘Decade of Aggression,’ celebrated the band’s 10th anniversary and was their first ever live offering. Recorded on the legendary ‘Clash of the Titans’ tour (Megadeth, Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies), it captured the band’s, well, raw aggression and the palpable sense of danger wrought from Slayer’s lyrics of death, murder, war, anti-religion and Satan.
Tom Araya’s seemingly light-hearted banter only adds to the atmosphere, as if Slayer were making a mockery of such horrific themes found in all-timers like “Dead Skin Mask” and “Angel of Death”.
21. The Clash – ‘Live at Shea Stadium’ (2008)
Opening for the Who, the Clash seized the moment and recorded their second performance at Shea Stadium in New York in 1982. Appropriately dubbed ‘Live at Shea Stadium’, the recordings were discovered by singer-guitarist Joe Strummer when he was moving, but didn’t get released until 2008, six years after Strummer passed away. The punk rockers played an electric set to raving mad fans as rain poured down and the intro man told the crowd, “Rain’s a load of rubbish, don’t worry about rain!” Running through iconic tracks like “London Calling”, “Rock the Casbah” and “I Fought the Law”, among others, ‘Live at Shea Stadium’ is one of the band’s finest moments.
20. Twisted Sister – ‘Live at Hammersmith’ (1994)
For those who have never seen the pure rock ‘n’ roll tour de force of Twisted Sister live, take solace in ‘Live at Hammersmith’. Recorded at the height of the Twisted frenzy in 1984, the band never sounded more dominant. The songs are played with haste, backed by a 30,000 watt PA system as Dee Snider noted and captures the frenetic energy of the band’s indomitable live act. Snider’s between song banter is of legend and a blueprint for any novice frontman, accentuated by a flawless delivery on hits like “Destroyer”, “The Kids Are Back”, “S.M.F.”, “Under the Blade” and the fan favorite, TV hit staples of the era.
19. Metallica – ‘Live Shit: Binge and Purge’ (1993)
Hey, they called it ‘Live Shit,’ not us! We’ll respectfully disagree and call Metallica’s first ever live album, ‘Live Shit: Binge and Purge’ one of the greatest live metal albums in history. Recorded two years after the release of ‘The Black Album,’ it saw the thrash icons at their highest peak in popularity yet. Opening with the all-time great “Enter Sandman,” James Hetfield screamed, “Fuck yeah we’re ready, you ready my friends!?” before going into “Creeping Death.” The momentum was unyielding through the entire Mexico City set, running through other staples in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets” and so many more.
18. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Tribute’ (1987)
Shelved after the death of Randy Rhoads, the fittingly titled ‘Tribute’ was released five years to the day following the tragic loss of the guitar player. The album is a testament to Rhoads’ unchallenged greatness, helping to move heavy metal forward with his flashy yet catchy lead guitar work and fleet-fingered solos. Ozzy’s efforts are among his best in the live setting as well, letting loose on songs like “I Don’t Know” and “Flying High Again.” The extended guitar solo was spliced in from a separately recorded show, but nobody will wag a finger at the post-production work because, after all, this was a tribute to one of metal’s all-time greats.
17. Suffocation – ‘The Close of a Chapter – Live in Quebec City’ (2005)
Those who have seen Suffocation live understand there’s an incredible difference between their studio recordings and the blunt force trauma induced from their live sets. Truly the heaviest live act on the planet, Suffocation’s masterful work was properly captured on ‘The Close of a Chapter: Live in Quebec City’. Able to discern every nuance of each instrument, the band’s chops are on display with heart-stopping palm mutes and chugs and Mike Smith’s inimitable cymbal catches and stickwork. Of course, it wouldn’t be a live Suffocation show without some charming banter from imposing frontman Frank Mullen, who is as entertaining between songs as the band is during them.
16. Iron Maiden – ‘Flight 666’ (2009)
Iron Maiden are one of the greatest live bands on the planet and they proved they were still dominating on a global stage nearly 30 years into their career on ‘Flight 666’. Recorded around the world on the band’s ‘Somewhere Back in Time’ 2008 / 2009 tour, each track is culled from a performance in a different country. This isn’t sheepishly making an attempt to find the band on a good night, showcasing the exact opposite: that Maiden are at the top of their game each and every night as Bruce Dickinson even piloted the band’s custom Ed Force One airplane around the globe. Scream for me, planet Earth!
(Source : loudwire.com)
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