Great Live Albums

Great Live Albums
Authored By John Nicholson
One of the greatest arguments in rock is what is the greatest live album. Everyone has a favourite, many feel some are too ‘in studio’ and have too many overdubs. But one thing everyone agrees on is that live albums are not the budget release they were once thought by the business to be. Pictures at an Exhibition by ELP was a budget release even though it was almost entirely new material. An odd decision.
All of this changed with the success of Frampton Comes Alive. Finally the industry saw there was money to be made in live albums, And over the next 5 years pretty much every band released one, usually a gatefold double.
So prolific was the production of live albums that it was easy to miss some good ones. So here’s just a few more obscure ones that get forgotten and you may not have heard for a while.
James Gang In Concert. Joe Walsh’s guitar is given free rein, but on the Ashes, the Rain and I, an acoustic number, the bands quieter side finds full expression. Lost Woman on the other hand is an 18-minute powerhouse from Walsh.
Todd Rundgren. Another Live. It wasn’t unusual for Todd to do things differently. Here the first side is 3 new songs, the second is some Todd faves and cover versions. The stand out is Seven Rays. This is cosmic Todd in his proggy phase. Great guitar and keys. It closes with Just One Victory a classic Todd anthem from A Wizard A True Star. It’s just a single album and is often overlooked in the Todd canon, but it’s tasty.
Allman Brothers. Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas. Their Fillmore album was a must have with its almost telepathic jamming. This came out after Duane had died and after Brothers And Sisters had topped the charts. A double, it’s a far more country affair. Dickey Betts hits top form. Ramblin Man is a delicious work out. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed is classy and Ain’t Wastin Time No More is wonderfully world weary. In conclusion, it was overlooked and was always in the shadow of the Fillmore release, but judged on its own is wonderful.
Grateful Dead. Live Dead. An early double live. It is the very essence of classic acid rock. Someone once told me that Dark Star is a state of mind and I know exactly what he means. It is early Dead in full flight.
Little Feat. Waiting For Columbus. They never released anything that didn’t hit the spot. A lovely combo of rock, funk and a kind of folk blues it’s so deep in the pocket that it almost hurts. Lowell’s great gift to us.
Rock Of Ages. The Band. They were an epic band and this live album released as two singles as well as a double, shows you why. There’s telepathic jamming on The Genetic Method and the roots of modern Americana on King Harvest (has surely come) A band like no other, they remain unknown outside of rocks cognoscenti.
Mountain. Flowers of Evil. They released a double live, Twin Peaks but the second side of this is very special. Essentially one long piece of music, it features the keyboards of Steve Knight which fleshes the whole thing out. Dream Sequence is 25 minutes long and is a proper stretch out, so settle in for the ride. There’s also Mississippi Queen, the hit single. For me, this is classic Mountain, heavy but textured.

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