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


Your favorite live album.

The folks at The Top 13 posted a list this week of their picks for the top 13 "essential live albums."  Being a list lover, The Top 13 website has become a recent favorite of mine, even though the thought of assembling my own personal top 13 list of essential live albums sends my head spinning.  Where to begin?

While I'm not going to go 13 albums deep with you here, I am going to share a few of my favorites with you, actually - let's just make it one, otherwise we'll be here all day.  I have always loved live albums, and those albums eventually led me to live bootlegs, the discovery of which sent me into full-on overdose, realizing that I could now potentially acquire a live show from each of my favorite tours for a band.

It began with tape trading, quickly followed by CD-R trading, all via snail mail.  And then it was time for the mother lode - using that high speed internet connection to download full-res wav files of shows via BitTorrent.

But before all of that, there were live albums.

Today's random live album:  Social Distortion's Live At The Roxy.

Live At The Roxy wasn't my first live album discovery - that honor might perhaps go to Bruce Springsteen's Live: 1975-1985 box set.  Live At The Roxy falls into a different category of live albums - the ones that are consistently a good go-to choice for random listening.  This Social D disc is not only a great career summary of the key points that you should be aware of regarding Social Distortion - it's also a great substitute for all of the great Social Distortion shows that you should have been at, but missed.

Until your next chance comes around, Live At The Roxy will take care of your needs.  Social Distortion vocalist Mike Ness spits venom before, during, after, and all over every single track on this album.  Believe it or not, I actually had this one for a few years (I got it as a free promo) in my collection before I actually got around to listening to it.  Once I finally heard it, I realized the error of my ways - pick a track, pick any track that you want on Live At The Roxy, and you'll hear Social D at their blistering best.

Unfortunately, the album isn't streaming on Lala, because if it was, I would embed the entire thing right here.

Here's a choice Amazon review excerpt that nails the greatness of this album:

Social Distortion has always been known for its live show. This CD really is the next best thing to being there. Live albums usually are a very mixed bag; however, this one lives up to all of the expectations. The sound quality is amazing and the setlist is a nearly perfect selection of their live performances during that era (it should have included sick boy though). It is also notable because this is the last Social Distortion recording featuring Dennis Danell before his death.

YES!  But then, the reviewer goes off track:

The only thing that could have been done better on this album is that the tracks should have started at the beginning of the songs rather than beginning with Mike Ness's long speeches before each tune. Sometimes, it would be preferrable to just hear the songs without having to listen to or fast forward through Mike's views on the punk rock scene, the establishment, the "old days", or the government. Still, that really is the only complaint about this cd.

Hell no!  That's one of the best parts about this CD - Ness was ON FIRE during the three nights that they recorded this disc.  Hearing Ness snarl through the introductions to the songs is classic stuff - see "The Creeps" for exhibit A.

This is just one great live album that comes to mind, only because I was listening to it yesterday.  Before I go off on a tangent, you should share some of your favorites in the comments!

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  • judd6149

    If you say so, Matt…I'l give this a listen based on that post.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again…my fave rave live album is: Otis Rush – “All Your Love I Miss Loving: Live at the Wise Fool's Pub Chicago” (recorded in 1976)

    This is gritty, raw, cocksure, relentless, stone-cold killer live blues. If integrity was something you could touch, it would feel like the sounds that Otis is squeezing from the neck of his guitar. These notes feel bulbous and alive. No gratuitous, showy solo work here.

    They are pure Otis: vibrato-laden, yearning, tortured and thick with tension. The excellent sound quality allows you to get feel of the room as if you were right there. This band is tighter than skin on bone, too. They cajole Otis through the song and give his solos room to ring out.

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  • neil

    Friday late night tv during my mid teens; The Midnight Special & ABC's In Concert influenced a lot of my music purchases. I was blown away by two shows one being Uriah Heep which sent me to the store the next day to buy Uriah Heep Live 73 as did a performance by Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust years. David Live rarely ever left my 8 track deck.

  • Rebecca

    two words. Live Bullet.

  • Kelly Wilson

    Official release vs Bootlegs……you know, live is live….been playing Humble Pie (most underrated band in history) Live at the Fillmore….this thing rocks….helps to have the greatest singer to ever come out of the U.K. on vocals. That's an officlal release.

    How about Slade Live? They absolutely kick-ass on this alboum. That's official too.

    Then we get to the bootlegs – Led Zeppelin or Guns and Roses rule here… many concerts then when you hear them, you would kill to go back in time for just a couple of hours.
    My two cents

  • Sterteo Dictator

    A topic near and dear to my heart…
    I vote for the following left off of the list:

    Allman Brothers – Live at the Fillmore
    CSN&Y – 4 Way Street
    J. Geils Band – Full House
    Elton John – 11-17-70
    Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More from the Road
    Ted Nugent – Double Live Gonzo
    Johnny Winter – Captured Live

    Note that each of my picks came from the decade of the live album – The 70s.

    Props to the mentions of Uriah Heep and Humble Pie in other comments. And for Social D and Otis Rush who are both awesome as well.

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