Live Album - Rock and Pop

Rock and Pop

Many successful recording artists have released a live album, however these albums are generally seen by either critics, fans, or the artist(s) themselves as expendable parts of an artist's catalogue, often failing to sell as well as studio albums. However, some pop and rock artists are known for live albums that rival or exceed the sales of their studio albums, such as Kiss's Alive! and Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive!. The best-selling live album worldwide is Garth Brooks' Double Live, having sold in excess of 21 million copies as of November 2006. In Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, only 18 albums were live albums:

  • Live at the Apollo by James Brown (#25)
  • At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band (#49)
  • At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash (#88)
  • Live at the Regal by B. B. King (#141)
  • Alive! by Kiss (#158)
  • Live at Leeds by The Who (#169)
  • Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service (#189)
  • Wheels of Fire by Cream (#203)
  • Live/Dead by Grateful Dead (#241)
  • Kick Out the Jams by MC5 (#290)
  • MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana (#311)
  • Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads (#345)
  • At Newport 1960 by Muddy Waters (#348)
  • Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young and Crazy Horse (#350)
  • Cheap Trick at Budokan by Cheap Trick (#430)
  • Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 by Sam Cooke (#435)
  • Live in Europe by Otis Redding (#466)
  • Live in Cook County Jail by B. B. King (#499)

In jam music, however, live recordings play a much larger role. Since, as in jazz, improvisation is such an important aspect of jam music, every performance is different and unique. Therefore, live albums from these artists offer not just the "concert experience", but new and unique musical ideas that cannot be experienced on studio albums. Many fans attempt to acquire as many live recordings from these bands as possible in order to have a complete musical collection. This leads many jam artists to release many more live albums than studio recordings. Notably, the band the Grateful Dead have released well over 100 different live albums documenting almost every part of their entire 30-year career, while only releasing 13 studio albums. Some bands, such as Show of Hands, prefer to release live albums as their debut albums.

In recent times, many live albums come with a live DVD. Examples include Green Day's Bullet in a Bible, Linkin Park's Road to Revolution, and Muse's HAARP amongst others.

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