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I’m a huge fan of live albums and have collected a lot of them over the years. We all know the regularly acclaimed live albums such as Free’s Free Live, UFO’s Strangers in the Night and the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East, but what about some of the less celebrated ones? Here’s my pick of three live albums that are superb but which you may not own.
Todd Rundgren & Utopia - Another Life
Recorded on a US tour in summer 1975, this was the second Utopia release but annoyingly for collectors like me who stress over whether to file it under Rundgren or Utopia, it is the only release under Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. Argh! But it is a wonderful record. The first side are three brilliant originals, the second some covers and a wonderful soaring version of Just One Victory from A Wizard A True Star. The Seven Rays is classic far out, Utopia jazz-rock full of twists and turns. Throughout, Todd’s on fine lead guitar form. For whatever reason, it didn’t sell, peaked at #66 in USA, didn’t chart in UK. The UK copy has a different cover to the USA.
John Martyn - Live At Leeds
Initially a mail order only release which you had to buy directly from John himself, Outside In and Solid Air aren’t even recorded at Leeds University as originally claimed, but it matters not. Here he gives a full sonic outing to Outside in running to a spacey 18-minutes. This is truly far out music reaching for the higher consciousness. When he takes flight on that Echoplex it sends shivers through your body. The only live release from the 70s it is a brilliant document of a destructive genius.
Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper
After recording the SuperSession album which was a big seller in USA, making the top 20, they decided to do some live shows at the Fillmore East with the help of Carlos Santana - one of his earliest recorded appearances and Elvin Bishop. It’s raw and rough around the edges and wonderful because of that. Kooper’s playing on keys is tremendous, especially on Her Holy Modal Highness. Bloomfield delivers some of his best taut solos too. It peaked at #18 on the Billboard charts. Cover is painting by Norman Rockwell.