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Top 100 Live Albums

Rock’s Top 100 Live Albums are more than just concert souvenirs or stage documents from that awesome show you saw last summer. The very best live rock ‘n’ roll albums chronicle significant moments in an artist’s career and can often stand as a defining moment.

The best live albums don’t even have to be entirely live. Several of the classic LPs on our list were, um, polished after the fact, with musicians, engineers and producers working together to replicate the perfect concert sound.

And then there are those live albums that are totally live, warts and all, as they pretty much just capture what unspooled onstage — from the banter and music to screw-ups and overeager (and occasionally lackluster) fan response.

But mostly the best live albums are somewhere in between a band’s rise and fall, that period where everything seems possible and they could do no wrong. Originals, covers, hits, deep tracks — live albums through the years haven’t changed much. Some are released to cash in on an artist’s surging popularity, some are released to kill time between studio records and some are released by greedy record companies when they want more, more, more product on shelves.

In the end, the Top 100 Live Albums are oftentimes more than just supplements to the artists’ careers — they are the definitive statements by the artist (see the MC5, who never topped Kick Out the Jams in the studio, or even Cheap Trick, whose career was made and will always be compared to by their Budokan success). In essence, these artists come truly alive on these 100 classic live albums.

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