In a world full of singles, sampling, and streaming, the resurgence of vinyl has been like a breath of fresh air. This nostalgic investment in LPs is beneficial to both bands and fans. Physical album sales mean more money in the pockets of your favorite artists. For listeners, it means bonus tracks, limited-edition pressings, exclusive photos, and more. Music lovers are no longer content with digital downloads. Instead, they long for something real they can hold in their hands again. From perfectly imperfect sound to impressive album artwork, these are 10 classic live albums every music fan should own IRL.
What else needs to be on this list of classic live essentials? Let us know in the comments section below.
Aretha Franklin – Aretha Live at Fillmore West (1971)
With a stadium-sized voice, it’s just wrong to not let this record fill up a room with sweet sound. It features Franklin’s greatest hits, like “Respect”, plus covers of The Beatles, Bread, and Diana Ross. Ray Charles (attending the show as a guest) even decides to sing a song with the Queen of Soul.
Really Makes You Wanna: Sign up for singing lessons and watch old episodes of Soul Train on YouTube.
Bob Dylan and the Band – Before the Flood (1974)
Reuniting with his former band mates, this live collaboration from Bob Dylan and The Band oozes with brotherly love. With “The Weight” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” both etched into the wax, it’s a spiritual journey from start to finish.
Really Makes You Wanna: Move to a hippie commune far, far away.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Pack Up the Plantation: Live! (1985)
One look at the track list and Petty’s first live album can easily be mistaken for a greatest hits package. For a special treat, pay attention to the beginning of “Breakdown”. An audience can make or break a show, and this one knows exactly what they’re doing.
Really Makes You Wanna: Drive dangerously fast in a ’67 Camaro with your hand out the window.
The Who – Live at Leeds (1970)
Between the rare packaging and 14-minute version of “My Generation”, this vinyl is a collector’s dream. Locating one of these famous LPs stamped in red or blue isn’t a huge deal. Finding one stamped in black means it’s one of the first few hundred pressings. Also written on the label of each record is “CRACKLING NOISES O.K. DO NOT CORRECT.”
Really Makes You Wanna: Legally change your name to “Pete” and fake a British accent forever.
KISS – Alive! (1975)
A turntable plus a solid set of speakers is the only way to experience the first live KISS album. Mostly because no one likes headphones ripping out of their ears from rocking out too hard. The record isn’t easy to listen to “all night” or “every day,” but it’s a great special occasion one. Just don’t tell that to the shock rockers … or their Army.
Really Makes You Wanna: Skip 5th period and steal from your little sister’s piggy bank.
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense (1984)
Music and movie buffs both love this one from the avant-garde rockers. The concert film (of the same name) is the perfect visual accompaniment to the vinyl. Lead singer David Byrne knows a thing or two about keeping it weird. Just go with it.
Really Makes You Wanna: Walk a Great Dane and Lhasa Apso down the street in an oversized khaki suit.
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Babylon by Bus (1978)
Anyone into displaying their records as artwork should add this soothing long-play to their collection. The image on this classic from the father of Reggae himself mirrors the title taking shape of a bus. The windows are actually cut out of the cover, and the poster inserts inside peek through.
Really Makes You Wanna: Organize a peaceful protest on Facebook.
Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)
“Do You Feel Like We Do” is one of the most recognizable songs on Earth. Thanks to Frampton’s use of a tool called a Talk Box, his mouth, and a clear tube that essentially creates one of the wackiest guitar solos of all time. The futuristic vibes make it hard to remember if it’s 1976 or 2018.
Really Makes You Wanna: Undo the top three buttons of your shirt and let your manbun down.
MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (1969)
Of course, MC5’s debut album is a live one. The energetic proto-punkers waste no time launching directly into some good, old working-class rock ‘n’ roll. Knowing it’s recorded in their native Detroit (on Halloween weekend no less) makes the explosive songs come alive in a whole new way.
Really Makes You Wanna: Throw a house party while your parents are away and then Google, “How to fix a hole in the wall” the next day.
Molly Hatchet – Double Trouble Live (1985)
Crunchy, southern-fried rock is what makes owning this patriotic album a must. Think, the perfect record to spin for a 4th of July shindig. The best part of this All-American album, though? Well, the cover of “Freebird”, obviously.
Really Makes You Wanna: Wear shorts to your niece’s baptism and shotgun a beer before the service.