No.1 - Adele, Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Adele is a vocal talent who sounds equally at home live accompanied with either just a guitar or piano or neither or even with the full backing of a band/orchestra. That she can sing live effortlessly was already evident in the expanded version of her debut album '19' which included a live acoustic set recorded at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. The Boston Globe said it best in their review when they wrote ... With the voice of an angel – and the potty mouth of a sailor – she's a force throughout.
No.2 - Diana Krall, Live in Paris
Diana Krall has toured Kuala Lumpur a few times but I never could afford the tickets to her shows. Me and the missus nearly made it to her concert once but then life happened and any excess budget we had was wiped out paying unexpected bills and such. So I settled for her first live album instead. Her vocals here are sublime as are her piano playing, both backed beautifully by her band and an orchestra. The DVD version of this album actually has more song performances in it and that one is worth getting just for her rendition of the classic jazzy blues ballad Cry Me A River alone.
No.3 - Eric Clapton, Crossroads 2 (Live in the Seventies)
Great as they sound, it is unlikely the jamming sessions found in this live album can ever be recreated. If I recall correctly, Eric Clapton himself said something to this effect in his autobiography. A combination of drugs and alcohol meant a lot of the guitar licks were likely played in a stupor and haze. In fact if you listen closely you might even catch Clapton forgetting the words to the lyrics a couple of times. Imperfection begetting a near perfect album for blues rock guitar aficionados.
No.4 - Gary Moore, Blues Alive
If there was only one a musical fantasy I could ever have come true, it would be to play Parisienne Walkways as well as Gary Moore. During the live performance, the sustain he manages on his electric guitar is simply unbelievable. This live album would've easily made my Top 10 on the strength of that song alone. But Blues Alive is more than just one song. It's electric blues at the top of its game.
No.5 - Joe Bonamassa, Live from The Royal Albert Hall
At the tender age of four, he was inspired to pick up a guitar after watching Eric Clapton perform at The Royal Albert Hall. At the age of 12, he opened for the legendary B.B.King. And at the age of 32, blues rock musician Joe Bonamassa recorded his fourth live album at the same venue on which Clapton first inspired him. Bonamassa's live performance in this album would undoubtedly inspire many other youngsters in turn. Oh, and that double drummers act was just wicked.
No.6 - John Mayer, Where The Light Is (Live in Los Angeles)
In case you haven't already noticed by now, the electric guitar is predominant in my list of favourite live albums. Nothing is cooler musically to me than the solo singer songwriter blues rock guitarist. Before my time were greats like B.B.King, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Hendrix and Robert Johnson. In more modern times, you have Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa and of course John Mayer. While I'm not too much of a fan of Mayer's celebrity shenanigans, I am a fan of his music. His live album Where The Light Is showcases his talent and brings blues rock to the fore in a pop era.
No.7 - Rory Gallagher, Irish Tour
Yet another Northern Irish guy with a guitar playing blues rock. (If you were wondering, the first was Gary Moore). And unless you are a blues rock fan you'll most likely never even heard of Rory Gallagher. A musician who was at his best only when playing live, Gallagher's mastery of the electric guitar is evident every time he's on stage fretting the guitar. He wasn't as commercially successful as other artists in this list but Irish Tour is to me one of the best blues rock live albums ever made.
No.8 - AC/DC, If You Want Blood
AC/DC live was a different beast entirely, especially during the Bon Scott years. The energy that projects through the speakers is so infectious that you want to strut around your room lip-syncing to the lyrics with a sneer in your face. Of course there is riff-master Angus Young backing up Scott's in-your-face vocals - a match made in rock heaven. AC/DC would eventually have critically-acclaimed commercial success with Back In Black and new front-man Brian Johnson. But for me, their best ever album would be their live effort If You Want Blood (You Got It). Bon Scott was one of a kind.
No.9 - The Allman Brothers, At Fillmore East
Although I'm not strictly an Allman Brothers Band fan, their live album At Fillmore East is a must-have in any blues rock enthusiast's music collection. Some songs on this live show would turn into 20 to 30 minute jam sessions, all of it good.Technically they are a rock band but there are some elements of the blues and jazz incorporated into their music. Rock, blues and jazz ... enough said.
No.10 - Nirvana, Unplugged in New York
Nirvana Unplugged in New York is an emotionally haunting live performance. In retrospect when taking into account the fact Kurt Cobain wanted the set decorated like a funeral and was eventually found dead a year later, the pain and heartbreak that showed in his vocal performance was perhaps all too real. If melancholy made an album then this was it. Ironically this album got me out off some bad moments in my life as if it was osmotically sucking out any depression into its own black hole.
Honorable mentions outside my Top 10 Live Albums
|Clockwise from left to right - Johnny Cast (At Folsom Prison), Deep Purple (Made In Japan), Eric Clapton (Unplugged), The Corrs (Unplugged), Iron Maiden (Rock in Rio) and Led Zeppelin (How The West Was Won)|
Then there are those just outside my Top 10. They, to name a few, include live performances by Johnny Cash (At Folsom Prison), Deep Purple (Made in Japan), Eric Clapton (Unplugged), The Corrs (Unplugged), Iron Maiden (Rock In Rio) and Led Zeppelin (How The West Was Won). All good albums in their own right. And all part of what constitutes a good painting session. Normal service will resume in the next post with a figurine update on my T-55A project. If you had taken the time to read this post (or even parts of it), I thank you for your patience. See you soon on my 401st post.