It may be a while before we can go to concerts again, but in the meantime, you can stream great live albums like these for free on Hoopla with your Livingston Library card.
Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads
A dynamic and irresistible document of Talking Heads’ signature blend of new wave, funk, and world music, taken from their 1983 concert tour.
In Concert – Nina Simone
Recorded during a series of Carnegie Hall performances in 1964, this album marks a pivotal point in Nina Simone’s career as she began using her music to address civil rights issues of the time.
Pack Up the Plantation: Live! – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Petty’s music ran the gamut from hard Southern rock to shimmering power pop, and this record contains rollicking renditions of some of his greatest hits, a few covers of his favorite songs, and a couple special appearances by the magical Stevie Nicks.
Live Rust – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Neil Young has recorded a number of great live albums, but this one especially captures the wide range of his style, from quiet beauty (“After the Gold Rush”) to electric fury (“Like a Hurricane”).
Miles of Aisles – Joni Mitchell
Compiling performances from Mitchell’s first tour with a backing band, this album includes memorable versions of classics like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Both Sides Now.”
The Living End – Hüsker Dü
Hüsker Dü combined manic hardcore energy with melodic songwriting like no bands before, and few since. As you can hear on this album recorded in 1987, their music became even more powerful on stage than in the studio.
Aretha Live at Fillmore West – Aretha Franklin
Quite simply, one of humanity’s most spectacular voices, at the peak of her power, performing a mix of original and cover songs for a captive audience, accompanied by other legends like Billy Preston and Ray Charles.
The Köln Concert – Keith Jarrett
The piano played by Jarrett during this solo concert was apparently in such poor shape that he nearly cancelled the show. You wouldn’t know it, however, just by listening to his hypnotically gorgeous improvisational performance.
Live Around the World – Miles Davis
Assembled from performances during the last years of his life, this album features the iconic Miles Davis reinterpreting songs like Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”
Live at the Apollo – James Brown
James Brown was known as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” and this album– chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry– is all the evidence you need to know why.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall – Dusty Springfield
Springfield reportedly struggled with stage fright throughout her career, but in this loose & lively 1979 concert, her divinely soulful voice beams with joy and charisma.
MTV Unplugged in New York – Nirvana
There are several excellent live albums showcasing Nirvana’s earth-shaking force as a rock n’ roll band (Live at the Paramount, Live at Reading, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah). But this acoustic set, both haunting and gorgeous, is equally riveting.
It’s Alive – Ramones
On New Year’s Eve in 1977, the progenitors of pop-punk recorded this 54-minute, 28-track blast of rowdy euphoria. Forty-three years later, it can still make you bop til you drop.
Band of Gypsys – Jimi Hendrix
Recorded in the last year of Hendrix’ life, while on a break from his bandmates in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the record of this 1970 concert helped draw the blueprint for funk rock, and influenced generations of musicians to come.
Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, Vol. 1
Woodstock is arguably the most famous concert in American history, and this album captures the most outstanding performances from a diverse lineup that includes Sly & the Family Stone, Crosby Stills & Nash, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Santana.
– Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian (who apologizes that there are no live Bruce Springsteen albums on this list, but hopes that some might be available on Hoopla soon.)