Why Live Albums Resonate So Well – And My Top Ten Of All Time

Who doesn’t remember their first concert? That time you saw your first musician standing before you on stage with his or her hands flying up and down the neck of the guitar, or the sounds of the bass drum as it pierced your bones and shocked your body. Or maybe you experienced the tranquility of a harp or the soaring pleasures of a violin solo. Each performance, whether crafted around the vocals or simply highlighted by a medley of sounds never heard before, touches your very spirit.

The last three months have taken this pleasure away from our daily life. But has it really? More time at home allows for my time to contemplate, explore, think, focus and experience. Kindling new thoughts is just as magical as the live experience. Creating the setting in your mind of what it was like to see your favorite act in concert can bring back memories of good times. While some see these times of dealing with the Coronavirus as isolation’s worst nightmare, I’d like to suggest you open your mind and reset.

Remember. Imagine. Explore.

I began my personal journey by thinking back on all the “live” albums I felt compelled to crank up one more time and take a deeper dive into the musician’s performance. Alto Reed the saxophonist on Live Bullet from Bob Seger resonated with me immediately. His sax work on the intro to “Turn the Page’ still stirs memories for me of being in Cobo Hall that magical night in 1975. “Beautiful Loser’ also struck a nerve I had forgot I had.

One album that changed my entire outlook on life and turns my daily routine into a desire to escape whenever possible was Jimmy Buffett’s “Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays”.

This album captured the energy of the crowd, the performer’s interaction with the audience and his uncanny way of making each concert a local event. He pulls a moment in time into his songs and the lyrics magically change into the topic of the moment. The crowd loves it, his legions grow and the connection is made to become a “Parrothead”. I confess – he hooked me.

I have another top 5 list for those keeping score for my top live albums of all time. You’d have to include the Allman Brothers’ “Live at Fillmore East”, Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison”, Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive”, James Brown’s “Live at the Apollo”, Little Feat’s “Waiting on Columbus” and finally, The Who’s “Live at Leeds”.

Honorable mention to my loyal Rolling Stones fans would be “Get your Yah, Yahs out!” and a personal must-have, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band’s “Live 1975-85 (Display Box). Would love to have you tell me some of your favorite live albums! Share them below in the comments.

– Jim Phillips has lived in Ellis county since 1995 with his wife Ann, they raised two children here. He owns KBEC radio which he bought in 2011. He lives for LIVE music and has seen Jimmy Buffett over 150 times.


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