Any rock band knows that the stage might be the purest way to deliver your magic to the fans. Even though it’s nice to set up shop in the studio and tinker with your sound until you’ve found something that works, getting into the thick of it and actually delivering the goods to your fans directly gives you a sense of camaraderie along with your fans and fellow bandmates. It’s never an easy thing to capture, but the moments that it happens, it shines brighter than any overdub could hope to.
As much as all of these live recordings might have some blemishes here and there, they are definitely more than just your standard show from the tour. Going through each of these records, you can hear every one of these acts in rare form, pushing themselves with everything they have to make something spectacular for you to take in.
Then again, the greatest rock and roll albums tend to be going for something more than just spectacle, and some of the best live albums here are where the band gets real in front of their audience, either through the banter or the wounded parts of their setlist, where the audience practically carries them through the rest of the song. Live music might not be the easiest thing to do all the time, but when it works this well, it can almost be healing for both fans and artists alike.
10. Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Throughout his entire career, Neil Young has always been about moving onto the next thing. While some of his '80s work may have been journeys into great big ditches along the way, Crazy Uncle Neil is always about serving his muse, whether it means bringing in Crazy Horse or not. After the massive success of songs like Heart of Gold though, he wanted to strip things back to where he started onstage.
Coming off of his first run of success with Crosby Stills and Nash, Rust Never Sleeps is a bit of a hybrid record by Neil's standards, comprised of mostly live cuts of entirely new songs like Thrasher and Welfare Mothers. Being broken up by the tone of the songs, each side of the record feels like you're getting a different experience of what Neil has to offer, like the look behind the curtain of the acoustic side before bringing the house down with electric guitars at the end of songs like Hey Hey My My.
Neil has also never been too subtle about his words, and you can hear him ready to break free from all of the commercialism that was bringing him down, from the phoniness of rock and roll on the opening track to implying that Crosby Stills and Nash were just a bunch of dead weight for him on Thrasher. Neil may have been on top of the world at this point, but this almost serves as a reminder to fans about what success can bring. As much as it might sound fun, it's not always easy at the top.