Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


The Top 12 Punk Rock Live Albums

Editor's Note: This recent post from Brian at Broken Headphones was too good not to share here on Addicted to Vinyl. With his permission, I'm sharing it here for you to enjoy. If you're not visiting Brian's site on a regular basis, shame on you....add that sucker to your RSS!

P.S. Brian's original post featured a video of Bruce Springsteen singing Social D's "Bad Luck" with Mike Ness. Since the publication of that post, Bruce pulled out "London Calling" at the Spectrum in Philly. It seemed appropriate to share that video here, prior to Brian's post.

I have always been a fan of live shows and will always be. It’s one of those things in life that I enjoy doing and can not see myself quitting anytime soon. The atmosphere alone with screaming fans and endless smiles makes the experience worth returning to. I love being a part of the evening and telling friends what I saw the next day followed by a bold “I was there” bragging statement about something only the ticket holders that night got to see before anyone else.

I admit I do not attend as many shows as I used to but I still make an effort to hit a few local venues and festivals every year just to keep the momentum going. If a band I am a fan of rolls through town I do what I can to make arrangements to get to the venue that night to see them.

When not driving downtown to see shows I like to occasionally listen to a live show from the comfort of my home. It’s easy to say I would rather be in a packed club listening to live music as the experience is like none other, but sometimes just hanging out at home is good enough as well.

Having a decent collection of live albums I thought I would narrow things down a bit and ask myself:

What Are My Top 10 Live Punk Rock Albums?

Scratch that…

What Are My Top 12 Live Punk Rock Albums?

Twelve is much better of a number to work with where there is so many live CDs to choose from.

Sure I could have a top live shows list from all genres but that would take me forever. As a music lover there are a ton of recorded shows out there that I own or have listened to that have had a huge impact on me. I think it would be best to start with baby steps with the genre of music that means the most to me; punk rock. I also decided to keep it to actual releases by record labels and include no bootlegs (although I have some amazing live shows that never were released…)

After pondering this question for a couple of days I soon realized how hard this was for me to answer. I had a nice sized list of live shows in my head but found it was no easy task to narrow down. For the record, this was a very difficult list to compile for me as a fan. There are so many other bands that deserve to be on this list but these top twelve mean the most to me.

In no particular order here are my top twelve live punk rock CDs:

Social Distortion - Live At The Roxy
Mike Ness and crew always put on a good live show and this CD is living proof. Having been a long time fan of this band it was clear that this CD needed to be on my list. Mike Ness more than a punk rock legend, the guy, to me, is a god and will be playing his heart out on stages all over the world until he is 100 years old. I will never grow tired of this CD ever.

NOFX - I Heard They Suck Live
Without a doubt this was one of the most entertaining live CDs I have ever heard. I remember buying the cassette and playing it over and over memorizing even the talking in between songs. NOFX puts on a fine show as well featuring all sorts of independent hits. I find it humorous that I list this CD directly after Social D because this show was played at the Roxy as well to a crowd of rowdy fans. If you have not heard it you are missing out, unless you are not a fan of NOFX.

The Clash -From Here To Eternity Live

Ok I am sure you are wondering why this album has a big line through it. Truth is I loved this CD for years until I heard a recent live release…

The Clash -Live At Shea Stadium

Now before you all jump on me and remind me that this CD is just The Clash (minus the original drummer) playing more popular songs hear me out. This show was not even a headlining show (they were opening for The Who) and the year was 1982; right about the time The Clash was headed on a downward spiral that would lead to the demise of the group. The set was shorter than their other live CDs but to me it was a great listen start to finish. I have listened to this CD a lot since it was released and it has made me reignite my love for one of the greatest punk bands of my time.

The Dead Kennedy’s - Live At The Deaf Club
Just thinking of how this show was recorded in 1983 still amazes me. My first and only taste of a live performance by this band was when I heard the improv “Night Of The Living Rednecks” on Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death. I was sucked in by Jello Biafra’s method of story telling on this track and of course was a fan of The Dead Kennedy’s so it was more or less a bonus to me when a full length live CD was finally released. It also kills me that I was 2 years old when this concert took place. I’d love to hear from someone who was at this show just to hear their personal experience.

Ramones - Loco Live
Do I really need to explain myself here? Over thirty quick punk rock classics on one CD from the band that started punk rock in the States. I don’t think many folk can disagree that this CD belongs in anyone’s live punk CD list. It’s not top quality but it sure is fun as hell.

Bad Religion - Tested

This CD was not added into my collection for quite some time mainly because the CD was not readily available locally to me. Once I did get my hands on it though it became one of my favorite CDs to listen to by Bad Religion. I loved how the band recorded this CD, by plugging directly into their mics which in turn eliminated a lot of the crowd making for a more solid listen. With a solid setlist and exceptional performance by the punk rockers this is one of my favorite live CDs out there.

Flogging Molly - Alive Behind The Green Door

This Irish punk rock act is, without a doubt, one of the greatest bands to see live in my opinion. One thing I love about this disc is that it was released before any of their studio albums and recorded at Molly Malones, the bar where this band got their start. There are not a lot of bands out there that have followed this approach by releasing a CD full of songs that later would be studio recorded on to various releases over the years. The performance is clearly under the influence but ever so much fun.

Misfits - Evilive

The recording of this live show is horrible yet I love it. It is about the closest listen I have ever gotten to true live Misfits from back in the day. I did once witness the Misfits when Michael Graves took over the singing duties but it was no Glenn Danzig and in spite of the good time I had it was not a genuine Misfits experience. This is a show I only dreamed of saying “I was there.” Full of classic songs, I also loved hearing Henry Rollins guest sing on “We Are 138.”

Death By Stereo - Death Alive
Many people may have not heard this CD when it was first released as it was first given out for free with issues of the Volume 3 issue of Law of Inertia magazine in 2003. In 2007 the live performance was reissued by the band as Law Of Inertia went out of print and many fans missed out on this incredible recording. If you are a fan of Death By Stereo or just good wholesome hardcore punk you really should check out this CD. This benefit show is full of so much energy I am surprised no one was hurt in the recording of it.

Face To Face - Live: Face To Face
Trevor Keith and crew have always had a special place in my punk rock heart. I love this band, always will, and this CD is listening proof of how great they are. The songs are all raw and full of energy and just impress track after track. When I think of a live album that I could listen to over and over again this is the one.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Live From The Middle East
Ska is not dead, never was, never will be. Ska may not be very popular these days but if you are a fan of the genre I suspect will be making a comeback soon, I am sure you know who the Bosstones are and very well might have heard this CD. The performance contained in this CD makes it worthy of multiple listens. Such a great CD from beginning to end.

Against Me! - Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!!

Singing and shouting and good times for all on this CD. If you only have New Wave in your collection I think it would be best to put that down and go out and find this CD. I find myself singing along as if I were actually at the show while listening to this CD. That to me is a good live album.

Again, this list was so hard to compile. I would make a list of a whole bunch of band’s live CDs and then start crossing them out once I thought of another. I am sure I will be hearing from a lot of folk telling me I missed someone and at that time I will smack myself in the head and hate myself for 9 seconds because I forgot about a phenomenal show. I am ok with that though because I know there are a lot of awesome shows out there. A lot of artists can be put in this list but after all, it is my top 12.

I’d love to hear what your top 12, 10, even 2 are! As music fans we are entitled to what we like and sharing the love for music is a great thing.

Related Links:

Broken Headphones

Brian's interview with Face to Face frontman Trevor Keith

NOFX - Backstage Passport DVD review

  • Mike Hayward

    Great list of punk bands.

    A college buddy’s bro who played drums for “Fly Spinach Fly” started a fight w/ the “Bosstones” during a gig in Boston back in the early ’90s.

    Love “Social Distortion’s” version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

  • Layla

    Good list. I was there when Mike Ness joined Bruce on stage…it was pretty damn cool.

  • BloggingJason

    Face to Face. Hot Damn. There’s a band that makes me feel like I’m a teenager again.

  • Matt Wardlaw

    Yes J-Man, and you still look like a teenager, too with that baby face and all.

  • ferris

    If you want to take it all the way into hardcore, then Agnostic Front’s Live @ the CBGB’s (the first one) is a stone-cold classic. People debate how “live” it actually is, but F’em. It rules. Short, furious songs get faster and harder.

    Huh, I saud “harder.”

  • mr. cosmik

    ok so I just got home from 10 hours of drinking at the local American Legion. I've been looking for Fly Spinach Fly an this comes up. You had me at #12 with Social D. then the Clash!!!! But you go and drop Face to Face and the Bosstone! F yeah! Face to Face had me when they opened for NOFX! The Bosstones should put out a live Home Town Throwdown every year! If I had a couple more live cd's to throw in they would be fIREHOSE, The Queers, The Pistols, oh F 12 isn't nearly enough. to the Fly's drumers friend. BS that guy never started a fight with anyone!

  • mr. cosmik

    ok so I just got home from 10 hours of drinking at the local American Legion. I've been looking for Fly Spinach Fly an this comes up. You had me at #12 with Social D. then the Clash!!!! But you go and drop Face to Face and the Bosstone! F yeah! Face to Face had me when they opened for NOFX! The Bosstones should put out a live Home Town Throwdown every year! If I had a couple more live cd's to throw in they would be fIREHOSE, The Queers, The Pistols, oh F 12 isn't nearly enough. to the Fly's drumers friend. BS that guy never started a fight with anyone!

  • craigmoorhouse

    Husker Du – the Living End?

  • Dan Kinney

    DOA – Talk Minus Action Equals Zero
    Sloppy Seconds – Live – No Time for Tuning

  • Anna Girkout

    Stung Out – Live in a Dive
    The Bouncing Souls – Live