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Top 5 Live Albums That Mean The Most Personally

Once again to get myself out of a writing drought I have stolen an idea for an article from a podcast. A recent episode of the Decibel Geek Podcast had Luc Carl the Ayatollah of Jack & Cola and a Sirius/XM host on their show. During this episode they listed their 5 most personal live albums. These are not the best live albums in their opinions but the ones that meant the most to them personally. It was an interesting episode and as one that liked making lists, sounded like a fun exercise.

Dokken_-_One_Live_Night
5)Dokken-One Night Live-There always has to be an odd choice, doesn’t there? I know people are thinking if you are going to chose a Dokken live album, why not Beast From The East? It is a great album after all. True but it came out when that genre was at it’s apex and I wasn’t that big a Dokken fan back then. Fast forward 8 years later and Seattle has wiped away Dokken and all of their contemporaries. After a couple years of the grunge scene, the morose flannel wearers had gotten boring and people remembered they liked blow jobs. While Japan did embrace grunge they never shunned bands like Dokken. So after a very good reunion album, get the Japanese version, they got the band to do an live acoustic one too. To be honest it is pseudo-acoustic as George in plugged in. One Night Live showed how great the band is and it is a nice snapshot of those guys enjoying the music they created with each other. They did a nice job of reworking their songs to fit acoustically. Plus it’s where we first heard their cover of “In The Beginning” and “Nowhere Man”. The reason this resonated with me so much as it was a life line in some dire music times. While I did enjoy a lot of the Seattle stuff , the Dokken reunion helped re-ignite my love for the cockrock of 80’s & 90’s Hard Rock.

Maiden
4)Iron Maiden-Live After Death-Iron Maiden is a gateway band and I mean that as a compliment. I think most rock fans around my age grew liking KISS and as we got older wanting something new, Iron Maiden filled that bill. The way their album covers attracted fans could not be overstated. They were a huge draw to the teenage metalhead. Then upon hearing them it was all over. The dueling guitars and Bruce Dickinson’s air raid vocals you were hooked. Maiden was a great pathway to the Metallica’s & Slayer’s we later discovered. Live After Death was the first live album that featured Bruce and the band was arguably at their peak. Even to this day it holds up. Plus, think how many American kids know the Churchill speech just from listening to this album.

Wings-over-America-2-cover-
3)-Wings-Wings Over America-If you have cable you’ve probably seen the Wings concert “Rock Show” in the past couple of months. That is the more or less visual equivalent of the Wings Over America album. And if you’ve seen it you know how good the band was. When I was a kid my Dad was a huge Beatles fan and in turn I became one too. I took his copy of the White Album and traced a ball pen over the raised logo. He was not happy. So he had this album and in turn I had this album playing the 3 LP release incessantly. At first I was drawn to “Magneto & Titanium Man” because it was a song about comic book villains and I loved comics. But in true McCartney brilliance it was also a very catchy song. “Jet”,”Live and Let Die”, “Silly Love Songs” and the Beatles tracks still hold up to this day.

thin-lizzy-life-live
2)-Thin Lizzy-Life Live-Much like my Dokken choice, you are wondering why I chose this Thin Lizzy album instead of the much ballyhooed Live & Dangerous. Well, I came to be a Thin Lizzy fan a bit late in the game. Late being, they had just broken up. I read a blurb in my copy of Hit Parader, remember those, about the band calling it quits and recording several of the farewell shows. Several months later I saw the finished product in my local Sound Warehouse. It is an absolute stunner. The playing on it is so goddamned good and Phil is Phil in all his glory. It is a great showing of the bands history but it really showcased the recently released Thunder & Lightning. Add on that you get to hear a young John Sykes showing what he is capable of. Around that time I had just started getting into Gary Moore and knew he was once a member of Thin Lizzy. He’s here too and all of them play together on the finale “Rocker” and Sykes blows everyone off the stage.
This is a big album for me as it started me down the road to Lizzy fandom. Been obsessed with them every since as well as Gary Moore and whatever John Sykes is doing. Hell, I even bought the 21 Guns album that Scott Gorham did. It’s strange reading the Lynott biography and seeing how people hate the sound because I love it.

Alive_2_cover
1)-KISS-Alive II-I don’t know if people nowadays understand just how huge KISS was back in the day. Being a teenager during this time, they were my biggest obsession. The first time I heard them was when my uncle gave me his copy of Originals. I still have that on my shelf. The first song I learned the words to was “Making Love” even tough I had no idea what making love meant. So by the time Alive II was released they were my band. When you opened the album’s gatefold the pics inside showing the band in all its glory is beyond spectacular. At that time the only other time you would’ve seen this was either at a show or in CREEM or Hit Parader. It was everything a fan could dream of. After dropping down the needle, what came through the speakers was bliss. 3 sides of the Hottest Band In The Land doing what they do best. Plus there was Side 4 that had new songs. WHAT?!?! New songs too ?!?! Out of the 5 tracks 3 of them are keepers. I think they played “All American Man” live a couple years ago. “Rocket Ride” is arguably one of the best Ace songs, top 5 at least.
Even though I haven’t listened to the live stuff in years, it’s still my favorite live album for how it sucked me into the KISS vortex.
So there is my list in all its’ confusing glory. Unlike some of the other lists I’ve done I am pretty confident these picks.
What are your Top 5 live albums?

PS

Here’s the link to the Decibel Geek Podcast episode

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Iron Maiden-The Final Frontier

Metal stalwarts Iron Maiden have returned with the release on The Final Frontier. While most bands of their stature and age, are content with releasing Best Of’s and taking the easy payday with summer concerts. These guys have cranked out another stellar collection of songs that fit well with their classic catalog. Like many of their other album’s The Final Frontier has a loose theme, this one of  Space and exploration.. Hence the “Deluxe” package that resembles a porthole in a spaceship.
“El Dorado” was the first single released and it came out several weeks prior to the albums release. It served as a perfect taste of what was in store. This song along with the title track have a more “commercial” appeal that  “Can I Play With Madness” had which is great because it gives an easy access point for new fans. Let’s be honest with Guitar Hero and  Rock Band many of the classic metal bands are getting new looks from young fans from these video games. So by having tracks that are catchy and still showcase the band’s  trademark sound, everyone wins.
One of the hallmarks of the Iron Maiden sound is their lengthy songs that take the listener on a musical and lyrical journey. The latter half of Final Frontier is chockfull of these auditory adventures. To me the real standout is “Starblind”, a 9-minute trek that showcases some unique styling’s from Maiden.  What is so distinctive here is the off beat synchronization of Bruce Dickinson’s vocals to the music that the band is playing. At first is seems odd when heard but the genius of the track comes through the longer the song goes. The vocals are not always offbeat just on some of the choruses making it even more distinguishable and truly awesome.
The Final Frontier is another excellent chapter in Iron Maiden’s history. It shows that no matter a bands age, that creating good original music is a challenge that needs to be accepted and met.

www.ironmaiden.com

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