Sure, even in the digital age people listen to full albums. With the rise of the mp3, however, most listen to individual tunes loaded to an iPod or other mp3 device instead of listening to a full album, start to finish. It is for that reason that the heyday of the live album format really was in decades past, and to find the best live albums of history, we need to look to the past. Here, for your consideration, are five of the best live albums ever made.
“Live!” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
This live recording by the late Bob Marley is a seminal recording of the reggae genre. It features tracks such as “No Woman, No Cry,” “I Shot the Sheriff”, and other popular Marley songs that are perfect for chilling out and listening to through a headset. Marley’s comforting, but strident live vocals set against a reggae beat offer up a tone of independence and mellow joy.
“Johnny Cash at San Quentin” – Johnny Cash
This classic live album from the 1960s showcases the talents of country music icon, Johnny Cash. Recorded in full at a concert for inmates at San Quentin State Prison, this album features live vocal performance of Cash’s hits, including favorites such as “I Walk the Line” and “A Boy Named Sue,”the humorous song that became one of Cash’s most memorable recordings.
“Live at Leeds” – The Who
Aptly described by Slate.com as a “deeply pleasurable listening experience,” this album by British band The Who is a long-playing musical journey. It includes everything from the classic earworm tune “My Generation” to selections from the band’s psychedelic rock opera, “Tommy,” the story of a “pinball wizard” that was eventually turned into a movie starring Roger Daltry and featuring Elton John.
“Take No Prisoners” – Lou Reed
In this live album, Lou Reed riffs on all sorts of subjects, creating a live album that meanders through observations, stories, and takes listeners on a true musical journey. It features songs such as the once-popular and still memorable “Walk on the Wild Side.” Take a listen to see why Reed is considered to be a forefather of the punk and new wave musical genres.
“Wings Over America” – Paul McCartney and Wings
Here, former Beatle Paul McCartney performed with the band that backed him after The Beatles disbanded: Wings. It’s a three-record set that mixes McCartney hits with Beatles tunes, including favorites “Blackbird” and “Yesterday.”
These five suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of great live albums for you to consider. Some of the best recordings of live performances are from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and make for some great listening, indeed.
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