Most Impressive Live Recording

I am looking for great recordings of live music. Something with impressive dynamic range that knocks your socks off and makes you feel you are really there.

So far, the top five most impressive Live CD recordings I own are;

#1: (And this one wins by a long long way) Tower of Power, Soul Vaccination, "What is Hip?"....if this doesn't completely blow you away then you may have a problem with your system.

#2: M People, Bizarre Fruit Live & Remixed, "Search for the Hero" (live version)

#3: Eagles, Hell Freezes Over, "Hotel California"

#4: Dire Straits, Money for Nothing, "Telegraph Road"

#5: Bryan Adams, MTV Unplugged, "Heaven"

Sadly there is a big difference between the quality of number 1 versus number recordings, it seems, are simply very hard to do well.

Anyone care to throw out some of their favorites? ( Note: This is not a favorite artist/musician thread....just great live recordings....whatever the genre)
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many of my best live recordings are on Lp; and i am most familiar with the sound on that medium. one of the very best live recordings to me is;

George Benson, 'On Broadway', from "Weekend in L.A."

i can't say how the CD sounds but the Lp is stunning. it is a cure for whatever ails ya.

another great one is;

Eric Clapton, 'Cocaine'. from "Just One Night".

really a tour de force performance.

a recent find;

Nils Lofgren, 'Keith Don't Go', from "Acoustic Live". if you love great guitar recordings, not to be missed.
Eva Cassidy's "Live at Blues Alley" is a great sounding live recording as is Patricia Barber's " Companion". Some folks don't like the music on these recordings (but I do) however they are excellent at portraying the physical surroundings of the venue.

Lots of folks don't like PB and I agree that her studio albums are a bit odd. However "Companion" is an inspired performance by an artist on top of her game. The band at the session was very good too.

Cassidy would likely have become a huge talent if everyone had heard "Live at Blues Alley" before she passed away. I can't speak for her studio records, but if playing covers and standards at Blues Alley was any indication of her talent, well, we all missed out on a potentially great career.

If you like folky rock, the Indigo Girls "2000 Curfews" is a great live anthology of "the Girls" in their prime before they became too, uh.... "political".

I really like Willie Nelson's "Willie and Family Live" and of course Johnny Cash's "Live at Folsom Prison", however they aren't the greatest sounding recordings. They were simply excellent performances.


You might check out Mapleshade's "Drink Small: Blues Doctor." This is a live recording that sounds utterly real. The music isn't what I'd call great, but the sound is.
Everything old is new again. Do a search of the archives, there are at least five threads asking exactly the same question. Try this one,
Comes immediately to mind...Chuck Mangione - "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" - "Children of Sanchez"
Harry Belafonte's "Live at Carnegie Hall" is outstanding. "Jazz at the Pawnshop" on Propius is excellent. I like Diana Krall's "Live in Paris". "A Friday Night in San Francisco" by Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin is an interesting recording.
Cream--Royal Albert Hall,2005
"Live Rust" by old Neil. I don't have a clue what "Powderfinger" is about but it always blows me away.
Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense

At least the LP is fabulous, don't know about the CD.
Zachary Breaux "Groovin" Live at Ronnie Scott's Club.
Led Zeppelin How the West was Won
Eric Clapton just one night
Deep Purple Ma de In Japan
Janis Joplin In Concert
Doors Absolutely Live,
and one classical - very bad quality recording, but fantastic music: Beethoven Violin concerto, Furtwangler with Schneiderhan, DG Testament label.
Thanks Everyone. I took your advice. Only sorry that I could not buy every album suggested...may be I will in time.

I also happened to find the CD version of Doug Sax Re-Master of Aerosmith's classic "Toys in the Attic" ...this is not live but I have heard the SACD, which was released long berfore this CD, and I know this master to be an incredible improvement over the orginal. (No wonder Doug Sax has won so many awards for his mastering work)

Here is my order...
1 "Live Rust"
Neil Young; Audio CD; CDN$ 14.99
1 "Weekend in L.a."
George Benson; Audio CD; CDN$ 17.99
1 "Live At The Hollywood Bowl"
Chuck Mangione; Audio CD; CDN$ 23.99
1 "1996 Live At Blues Alley"
Eva Cassidy; Audio CD; CDN$ 15.99
1 "Stop Making Sense"
Talking Heads; Audio CD; CDN$ 13.99
1 "Live In Paris"
Diana Krall; Audio CD; CDN$ 9.97
1 "The Collection: Aerosmith/Get Your Wings/Toys in the Attic"
Aerosmith; Audio CD; CDN$ 29.99

Thanks again for all the suggestions. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
You've got some great music headed your way.

I'd like to mention one more...

Brand X - "Livestock". Every time I play it, I'm amazed that it's a live recording. Just outstanding.
Art Pepper- More for Les at The Village Vanguard
Gil Evans & the Monday Nite Orchestra- Live at Sweet Basil's.
Great Guitars at Charlie's.
The Crusaders- Scratch.
Ernestine Anderson- Live from Concord to London.
Charles Lloyd- Forest Flower at Montery.
Keith Jarrett- At the Blue Note
Kurt Elling- Live in Chicago. Blue Note.
Kenny Werner Trio- Live at the Blue Note.
Mulgrew Miller Trio- Live at Yoshi's Vol.II.
Eric Clapton Unplugged sounds freaking awesome. The remastered Who Live At Leeds really impressed me. Excelent sound and imaging.
I agree Eric Clapton Unplugged is excellent.

Kana13 thanks for the suggestions - some alltime greats there.
"Git It, Beau Jocque", by Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-rollers. Live energy!

Live in San Francisco.
She might have been drinkg some...
china chrisis-acoustically yours
If you are LP capable try to find "FATRAS! Live in Montreal" by the zydeco singer Zachary Richard. His band features a very young (and ridiculously skinny) Sonny Landreth on guitar. The recording is a touch bright at times, but mostly spooky realistic. The music smokes!

On CD, some of the Richard Thompson tracks from Two Letter Words and Ducknapped sound unusually good, as does much of Marti Jones "Live at Spirit Square. The latter features classic Don Dixon (her husband) sound; a bit bright here and there, but I don't know anyone who does a better job recording a rhythm section.
Just finished listening to Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison" again. Truely a landmark recording. I love it!

Listening to this record it becomes painfully obvious how much times have changed since 1968. It would be hard to image a current artist going into the same situation, playing songs about crime and criminals and having an audience show so much respect. Oh, "the good old days"! Even the inmates at maximum security prisons were well behaved!


Rush....Rock in Rio

I'm an old Rush fan. I started listening to Rush in about 1976/77. I think Rush in Rio is one of the worst live albums of all time!

I really dislike how the crowd noise dominates the entire recording. Yes, it's really cool that the crowd was so enthusiastic, but it is just too distracting to be considered a "great sounding recording". It's good music marred by bad editing! Heck, there is no dynamic range, just a constant drone from the crowd.


I have to say I like "Exit Stage Left" much more than "Rush in Rio" for many of the reasons mentioned by Reubent.

Back to the Most Impressive Live Recording...Bill Evans Trio "Waltz for Debby", especially the 20bit remastered version sounds so real it's scary.
Agree with LedZep, "How the West was Won"--band at peak and a great recording.

Also, I too was floored by the re-mastered Who, "Live at Leeds". Another great recording of a peaking band. Actually, these two make an interesting comparison.

A good bit of Zappa's early 80s work is live and exceedingly well recorded--crystalline, with body. I'm thinking of "You Are What You Is" and "Tinseltown Rebellion", but then again, you've got to put up with "Panty Rap".

Clapton, "Unplugged" is great, but ... well ... um ... he is unplugged.

I look forward to checking out some of the others suggested above. Good thread.
And so far, the winner is George Benson Live in LA "On Broadway"! (As you know I went out and bought many of the recommeded CD's and will buy more if any of you have any other suggestions)

Thanks MikeLavigne for the George Benson recommendation! The vocals are not very forward on this recording but this helps 'cause when you really crank it up it just blossoms! I had the pleasure of drummer Harvey Mason right there in the room jammin' away with George and the boys....absolutely awesome of THE best!

Runner up was Chuck Mangione Live ay Hollywood Bowl Children of Sanchez....thanks Tvad for that recommendation! This recording is extremely impressive too but I did not quite get the feeling they were in the room ...maybe it was the 70 piece orchestra that didn't fit!

Also deserving a mention was Eva Cassidy Live at Blues Alley: it was very pleasant and nice sounding but honestly lacked the convincing edge or dynamics that you expect live (piano and drums seemed to be lost or a bit distant and lacking dynamics whilst Eva's vocals dominated and were of course very real). IMHO Eva was there in the room in front of you but her backing band was not quite there! Overall very pleasant souding but not quite there. (BTW: It must be relatively easier to get a female vocalist to sound like she is in the room as I know lots of this type genre that sounds excellent)

Thanks again for all the recommendations. BTW: I am not a jazz fanatic, I actually prefer pop/rock so I am sorry that I could not honestly say that any of the rock/pop recommendations were impressive .....they simply weren't.....some were awful....Talking Heads was pretty well recorded (especially the bass) but the venue had so much reverberation in the mid range that no matter how well this was recorded the venue just muddied the sound.

Any more suggestions....Keep 'em coming ....
Runner up was Chuck Mangione Live ay Hollywood Bowl Children of Sanchez....thanks Tvad for that recommendation! This recording is extremely impressive too but I did not quite get the feeling they were in the room ...maybe it was the 70 piece orchestra that didn't fit!
I have to admit that my CD version, while excellent, doesn't have the same visceral impact as the vinyl copy that I wore the groove off of in the late 70s.

You might check out the original studio release of "Sanchez". The recording sounds live, even if it isn't. Very, very impressive. The musicians will definitely be "in the room".

Another suggestion of a recording that will put the band in you listening room is Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band "Swingin' for the Fences". It's a studio recording, but you'll swear the band's in front of you.
The Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Sessions.

There is such a sense of "you are there" with this recording that it's downright spooky at times. Certain ambient cues, like a poor ground on one of the amplifiers (or maybe the PA???) footfalls, background noise from the musicians. Slightly out of tune, slightly off key moments only add to the spontaneity this recording harnesses.

Very, very demonstration quality capture of a "Live" session.
These are all great live recordings-

Luka Bloom- Amsterdam
Guy Clark- Keepers
James Taylor- Live
The Waifs- Live
Lyle Lovett- Live in Texas
Paul Kelly- Live at the Esplanade
Lucinda Williams-Live at Filmore
Diana Krall- Live in Paris
Snooks Eaglin, live in Japan. One for the blues fans out there.
Nine Inch Nails - "All That Could Have Been".
download for free either of the lossless versions of Yo Miles shows from You will be stunned. Shut up and do it now.

a recent discovery for me Bernard Allison, Energized, Live in Europe. Smokin blues , marries the tradition to the current, elements of SVR with soul
Colosseum "Live", Chris Farlowe leaves all "charted territory", so does the band, stunning!

Then there is a record (triple LP, don't know whether it was ever released on cd) that, sadly, I never bought (courtesy of my youthful empty wallet): Glastonbury Fair Festival mid or late seventies, I would guess, in particular the Edgar Broughton Band ("Out Demons, Out") and Gong, when the PA collapses but they just keep going on, keeping the audience in that magic mood only Kevin Ayers' lot could create.

Also, agree with Led Zep and, if that happens to be your music, try Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes "Live at the Greek"

To round it off, I would mention 2 technically perfect records where the excitement will grow with the excellence of your system:
Sarah K & Chris Jones "Live in Concert", one of the many strokes of Günter Pauler's recording genius
Antonio Forcione "Live!", the Hendrix of the acoustic guitar at his best.

Grover Washington Jr. "Live at the Bijou"

Eric Clapton "Unplugged"

....and anything you can find live by Frank Sinatra, he always had the best musicians and engineers working for him. His live stuff is truly great.
Bill Frisell, "East-West"
Given your preferences so far, you might try Frank Sinatra "Live at the Sands" with Count Basie's Orchestra.
Okay, here are two; one is truly live and the other ought to be, but isn't:

Marian Mc Partland & Friends-85 Candles--Live in New York
Stunning sound on this CD. Pay attention to the following cuts:
1. The Nearness of You with Nora Jones on vocals and Marian Mc Partland on piano (Disc 1, Track 2)

2. All Blues (the Miles Davis classic) (Disc2, Track 1)

3. Lester Leaps In (Dics 2, Track 11)

The second recording is not live, but if you haven't heard it, live or not, it is a MUST have if you want to own some of the best recorded sound that most of us will ever hear. Believe me, on the right system, it will sound live.
You will need an excellent vinyl playback system however for Louis Armstrong's Satchmo Plays King Oliver. This was originally released by Audio Fidelity which has gone out of business, but if you do a Google search, you should be able to find a new, clean copy. I believe that I got mine from Classic Records Be sure to order the associated long playing, one-sided 45 which contains only two songs from the regular LP. The song which you have to hear is St. James Infirmiary, which is probably the best recording that I have ever heard, period.
Thought of a few more (Colloseum still takes the cake, though)

The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East. I hate to admit it, but you should prefer cd over vinyl here and definitely go for the "Deluxe Edition" (Mercury 0044007735329) with the full versions of "Whipping Post" (22.53) and "Mountain Jam" (33.39 and believe me, it doesn't get boring for a second)

I've noticed Cream "RAH 2005" above and second that, but don't forget the live half of "Wheels of Fire"

And also, particularly the B-side of "Welcome to the Canteen": Steve Winwood, Rick Grech, Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, Reebop, Jim Gordon (no, it doesn't say "Traffic" anywhere on the record sleeve, better search under "Winwood")

Try out Peter, Paul & Mary live recording in 1970s. I only have vinyl, but not sure if CD is available. There is no dynamic at all, but the recording sound is goreous. Very transparent, a lot of ambience. If your system is set up right, you can feel the hall size.
Thanks everyone. I wish I could buy every suggestion. I know they are all excellent.

Just bought Cream Royal Albert Hall 2005, Marian McPartland 85 Candles and Sara K with Chris Jones "Live in concert"

I already have the unplugged of Clapton and I agree it is awesome.
I second Tvad and Jtogofish:

Diana Krall Live in Paris is a landmark recording. As is Bill Evans Live at the Village Vanguard - long regarded as one of the quintessential you are there albums - right down to the drinks on the table. Both are tremendous artistic accomplishments too IMHO

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison is also a tremendous accomplishment though its perhaps a better concept then a recording - no doubt though that the times have changed...

A lot of the older jazz recordings are tremendous - try Ben Webster "At The Renaissance" which many regard as a definitive live recording
morton gould conducting the west point band from a master tape. i was lucky to hear a master tape. you can't get better than that. i have never heard an instrument sound so real. the stereo system didn't matter.

folks, find the best sources you can. the stereo system is less important.
GRP Live In Session. Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour. Excellent music that was recorded extremely well.
another one that seems to have been overlooked: Bruce Springsteen's Hammersmith Odeon, London 75: at the height of his powers indeed.
"Absolutely Live" The Doors
Emmylou Harris - Spyboy Many spine tingling moments.
Joe Jackson - 1980-1986 Just excellent songs, musicianship,and performance.
I just bought the remastered version of Willie Nelson's 1978 live recording called "Willie and Family-Live" and I love it! It is a great live recording. If you like Willie or even think you might like Willie, get this recording!

This 2-CD set has ALL of Willie's hits prior to 1978. The audience is very enthusiastic, but in an additive way, not in a distracting way. This recording really highlights Willie's unique guitar and vocal "style". I think it may be a love/hate thing with many people. I'm on the love side. This is a great recording. Get it if you like Willie, like country, like Americana, like American classics, etc.

One caveat-There is noticable tape hiss throughout. If you're purely an audiophile, this might be enough to bother you. If you are a music fan, you'll likely forget about it once you fall under Willie's spell.

I suggest drinking a couple of Lone Stars (or your local equivalent) before/while sitting down to this one.....


Trust me on this one or trust your ears. As a person that has always shyed away from live recordings because I could not be moved with the sound quality I listened to The Counting Crows new live Cd yesterday "Live At Heineken Music Hall" and to put it mildly it blew me away. In my system it is the first live CD that has captured the emotion and feel of the musicians on stage.I do not know what kind of microphones were used in the recording but there is no simbelence in the vocals what so ever which I think makes this offering so stellar since the lead singer Adam Duritz is write everything and conveys the emotions of the songs.The sound quality is unbelievable and the song selection is a great representation of the groups catalog except I wish Mrs.Jones or Round Here was on it. Was this CD mastered using Vandersteen speakers I don't know but I was in audio heaven sitting in the sweet spot last night. I picked this up in the cut out bin for under 6.00 so if you have a place that sells promos look there first. As I said trust me on this one ya here.
Who - Live at Leeds LP
Dire Straits - Alchemy Quiex LP
Eric Clapton - Just One Night Nautilus Lp
S & G - Live in Central Park Lp
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds - Prism Coffee House 4-22-93 (SB recording)
Neil Diamond - Hot August Night - MFSL LP
Jazz at the Pawnshop - LP