A number of years ago I penned two series of articles devoted to the best live Rock and Jazz recordings for All About Jazz. These articles are:
The Ten Best Live Rock Recordings
The Best Live Rock Recordings - The Best of the Rest
The Ten Best Live Jazz Recordings
The Best Live Jazz Recordings - The Best of the Rest
These articles are now somewhat dated and at the time received a great deal of comment (and argument) when first posted. I want to initiate a more inclusive list addressing the fifty best live recordings in any genera. This provides me the chance to address music other than Rock and Jazz and consider recordings like Bob Marley Live, B.B. King Live at Cook County Jail, and Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison. Additionally, I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of great music while considering (and reconsidering) which belong on such a subjective list.
Live recordings have always been dicey affairs. Under the best circumstances live music recorded for release display hungry performers taking artistic risks that either result in an historic performance where musical standards are set—or end in an uninspired fulfillment of a contract, where money and time are both wasted. When everything clicks on a live recording, it can be a special event, like The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East. When less than inspired or arrogantly bloated, a live recording can be worse than a bore, it is a waste of time, like Led Zepplin's The Song Remains the Same.
Gratefully, the live recordings that are exceptional can make a listener forget the chaff and chattle of the industry. These recordings will be presented in their own articles and not in a specific order.
© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2006