2014 Live Album or Video of the Year – 4th Annual Ultimate Classic Rock Awards
Last year gave us a chance to reevaluate some of our favorite bands through newly released live albums and concert videos. Now, the 4th Annual Ultimate Classic Rock Awards give you a chance to decide the 2014 Live Album or Video of the Year. Some -- like Jeff Beck, Heart and Toto -- made bold statements, fashioning new chapters in their lengthy careers. Others -- like the Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Queen -- were reborn through archival releases tracing back to their best-known eras. But which one will you choose? Vote below for the 2014 Live Album or Video of the Year.
Jimmy Page's gorgeous reissue of Led Zeppelin's 1969 eponymous debut was paired with a previously unreleased concert performance from the same year at Paris' L'Olympia. An eight-song blast of heavy blues, the companion disc found the band tearing through gems like 'Good Times Bad Times' and 'Communication Breakdown,' while offering an extended reading of 'Dazed and Confused.'
This 1974 concert bore witness a much more primal version of Queen, in the days before they'd even become big names in their own country, much less overseas. Filmed just after the release of their third album (but before 'Sheer Heart Attack' became their breakthrough moment), 'Live at the Rainbow '74' finds the band playing in a brash and far heavier style in keeping with its early sound.
Recorded during Beck's first shows with an incendiary new touring band, 'Live in Tokyo' included the usual array of favorites from across his storied career, but also, notably, never-before-released songs. Beck opened and closed the set with fresh material, all of it set to be included on a soon-to-be-issued studio album. Elsewhere, highlights included 'Cause We've Ended as Lovers' and 'Stratus.'
This multi-format release also saw ZZ Top working in a new format. Long a trio, they expanded into a quintet for a tribute to Montreux festival founder Claude Nobs, who had recently died. ZZ Top's first concert release since 2008's 'Live From Texas' also included a series of familiar tracks like 'Tush' and "Legs,' plus songs from their 2012 album 'La Futura.'
This From the Vault series release found the Rolling Stones at a crossroads moment, just after Mick Taylor was replaced by Ron Wood. As such, the shows start off a little sluggishly. Before long, however, the Rolling Stones are firing on all cylinders again, as heard on the bulk of this 25-song set. Highlights include 'It's Only Rock 'N Roll,' 'Star Star' and 'Rip This Joint.'
One of the final large-scale opportunities to enjoy Deep Purple's Mk III lineup, 'Graz 1975' featured David Coverdale and Ritchie Blackmore moving more confidently away from songs based in the Ian Gillan era that came before -- something that made it a favorite bootleg target before this belated official release. Unfortunately, Blackmore would exit after just two more dates.
More than just your typical live document, 'Through the Never' also included a parallel storyline that finds a crew member on a mission carried out during a Metallica show in sold-out arena. (One insider memorably described it as "a concert movie meets [Pink Floyd's] 'The Wall' meets Metallica.") 'Through the Never' had earlier debuted coast to coast at IMAX locations in 2013 as a 3D film.
The first video concert from Guns N' Roses since 1992, 'Appetite for Democracy 3D: Live at the Hard Rock Casino' celebrated both the 25th anniversary of GNR's debut 'Appetite for Destruction' as well as the fourth anniversary of their latest album, 2008's 'Chinese Democracy.' Key covers included the Who, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Bob Dylan -- all presented in a 5.1 Surround Sound mix.
A groundbreaking 30-year-old stadium jaunt finally saw a deluxe release from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The arrival of 'CSNY 1974' followed years of painstaking work by Graham Nash, who pieced together the best performances to provide a cohesive 40-song box. It stands as a testament to CSNY's onstage power, even if they were coming apart at the seams once the microphones switched off.
This 35th anniversary concert document gave us a rare chance to witness Yes' classic-era lineup in action. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, both critical to the group's emergence in the '70s, have since left, giving instant gravitas to Yes' 2004 date at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass. The original concert was bolstered by a second 70-minute show from Lugano, Switzerland.
Heart's career-spanning HD concert souvenir from a show the Caesars Colosseum in Windsor, Ontario, boasted a refreshing sense of tension, from both the band and the crowd. That's because 'Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum' was actually recorded before 2012's 'Fanatic' arrived on store shelves, meaning the new tracks had never been tried out before a live audience.
Taken from a Dio tour following Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice's brief return to Black Sabbath, 'Live in Hammersmith 93' includes music from both camps -- as well as newer songs like 'Hollywood Black.' Reportedly demoed for the Black Sabbath reunion project 'Dehumanizer' before finding a home on Dio's 'Strange Highways,' it might be the best late-period Dio song of them all.
Most devoted Rush fans probably already owned the first five discs of this Blu-ray set. But that sixth one? That's where 'R40' got good, as it took us through a career-spanning set of bonus material. Along with appearances from 1976, 1988, 1997, 2011 and 2013 comes a Laura Secord date in 1974 highlighted by a trio of never-before-released songs. The 1997 content features a rare run-through of all seven segments of '2112.'
A comprehensive box set focusing on this group's 1971 performances at the Fillmore East did more than spruce up the original album. This reissue expanded to six discs, including all of the Allmans' March 12 and 13 performances as well as their June 27 show, closing night for the Fillmore's New York City location. Taken together, these shows will yield a whopping 15 new performances.
This set's consistent mix of Toto deep cuts fills in a lot of blanks, giving new context to their hits. Along the way, 'Live in Poland' makes perhaps the best argument ever for reevaluation of the oft-dismissed Toto -- and it arrived just in time to provide perspective before Steve Lukather and company completed their first new album in almost a decade.