Favourite Live Albums - Johnny Marr, Anton Newcombe, Andrew Loog Oldham & others give us their favourites


What was it that John Lennon said about live shows? – ‘I was never too bothered about catching Gene Vincent or any group/artist if they were in town, it was always about the record for me, not the live performance…gimmie the record every time’…well I wonder what he thought to the live album then? Though actually not everyone’s cup of tea (as I found out putting this list together) its safe to say most of us have got at least one favourite.

I’ve got a few myself and though it’s not actually a live album release, I’ve recently – and rather incessantly been listening to a Youtube upload which for me catches everything the live album should be about.

May 4th, 1984 The Smith’s played Hamburg’s 1,000 capacity Markthalle for the TV show ‘Rockpalast’. This show came less than 3 months after the release of the band’s debut album The Smiths. With over 1.3 million views its quality live mix caught by the Rockpalast soundboard presents the band at their early best.

I suppose its hearing the tunes you know so well but with that added energy and emotion of the night combined with all the little nuances and ad-libs of a live show. Sometimes hearing them live can give you a whole new appreciation and perspective for not only the songs but the groups/artists themselves. But not every live album ticks all those boxes.

So which are the ones to pick out, and who’s best to ask? I shopped around for a favourite ‘live album list’ made up from not only the artists/musicians we all love but a spread of people including music press/industry, venue owners and artists. And who better to ask first but Johnny Marr ( his new solo album ‘Call The Comet’ to be released this June) as he and others pick out their own top favourite live albums below. Made up of either tracks taken from those picks or the full album players themselves, an excellent selection. Some I’d never even heard before..which is why I put this together- check em out and enjoy!

Johnny Marr

johnny marr 2

(singer-songwriter/guitarist – The Smiths, The The, The Pretenders, Electronic, The Cribs, Modest Mouse, The Healers, solo artist)


Wire ‘Document and Eyewitness’


Iggy Pop – TV Eye


The Birthday Party ‘Live 1981-82’


Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians ‘Gotta Let This Hen Out’


Fela Kuti & Africa 70 ‘Live’


Matt Carroll

matt carrroll

(artist/album artwork, Central Station/Factory records)

above – Matt Carroll with his sister Maria who has downs syndrome at their exhibition at Salford art gallery, with cousin Shaun Ryder.

Matt Carroll – “I found it difficult to pick these really because there’s not that many live albums around worth listening to and the whole point of seeing a band or artist live is not the sound but the being there and the atmosphere of it all. But if I had to pick any 5 these would be the ones.”


Johnny Cash live at San Quentin


Neil Young & Crazy Horse ‘Rust Never Sleeps’


Bob Dylan live at the Free Trade Hall Manchester 1966


Happy Mondays ‎– Baby Big Head Bootleg Album

(album artwork – Central Station)

big baby head mondays


Otis Redding – Live in Europe

Peter Guy

(one of Liverpool’s leading music journalists & www.getintothis.co.uk editor)




Nirvana: Unplugged in New York

Peter – “An enduring testament to the power, raw sadness and musicality conveyed by one of punk rock’s greatest bands. Not only shining a light on their brilliant songbook but a magikal introduction to the Meat Puppets and Leadbelly, with perhaps Kurt Cobain’s greatest vocal performance laid bare on the finale Where Did You Sleep Last Night.””


Prince: One Night Alone… Live!

Peter – “Though he’d been bootlegged throughout his career it wasn’t until 2002 that pop’s greatest live performer finally unveiled this 180-minute career-expanding official triple CD live show. From early classics When You Were Mine through to transcendental epics Joy In Repetition this was the definitive statement from Prince at the peak of his powers.”


MC5: Kick Out the Jams

Peter – “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers! 1969, and still sounds as hardcore today.”


Neil Young: Live Rust

Peter – “Worth the inclusion alone for this version of Cortez The Killer. I saw Neil Young during his Chrome Dreams tour in 2008 at the Manchester Apollo – half acoustic, half frazzled epic glory, what a musician; he makes the guitar sing like few others managing to eek out emotion from one note we’re others need a whole symphony.”

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii

Peter – “I’m cheating here as I realise it’s a live concert film – but it’d be plain wrong not to include The Floyd playing the 21 minute version of Echoes in the abandoned amphitheatre in the sweltering heat. A tie with Prince’s Sign O’ The Times for magnificent live cinematography.”


Anton Newcombe


(Brian Jonestown Massacre singer-songwriter -frontman, composer/producer/remix specialist)


Woodstock Live

Anton – “Top five live! – wow… this is tough. I have to say Woodstock, because I love the Richie Havens tracks like ‘Freedom’ etc – the album doesn’t have the power”


Rock’n’Roll Circus

Anton – “and same goes for the ‘Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus’ event- the live ‘Song for Jeffery’ pisses all over the Jethro Tull Studio version”


The Smiths – The Peel Sessions

Anton – “The Smiths compilation of John Peel tracks to create an album was genius”


Johnny Cash – ‘At Folsom Prison’

Anton – “Johnny Cash live in prison albums San Quinton & Folsom”


Johns Children …???…

Anton – “Johns Children – love it because it isn’t even live you know.”


Gary Whelan


(Happy Mondays drummer, solo groups – ‘Monkey Mafia’, ‘Love & The Family Tree’)


Marvin Gaye Live


Sex Pistols -Winterland live


Leonard Cohen – ‘live at the Isle of Wight’


Bob Marley live/1975



George Harrison – Concert for Bangladesh

Gary Whelan Twitter – https://twitter.com/KrishnaDiNapoli


Andrew Loog Oldham


(Original & founding manager of The Rolling Stones, Immediate Sounds records, radio, author & writer)


Beauty & the Beat 

Andrew – “George Shearing quintet with Peggy Lee”


Lenny Bruce live

Andrew“..anything by Lenny Bruce”


Joan Rivers – ‘What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most’


The Rolling Stones – ‘Got Live if You Want it’


Jimmy Cliff – ‘The Best Of Live


Tracey Donnelly

(ex Factory Records Staff ,Hunky Dory Promotions)

Thin Lizzy ‘Live & Dangerous’

Tracey – “I bought this album after going to see Thin Lizzy play live at The Kings Hall 1978 (though not recorded that gig). I was blown away by them plus there was a family connection as Johnny The Fox meets Jimmy The Weed is written about my uncle Jimmy ‘The Weed” Donnelly . I went to the Belle Vue gig with my Uncle Jimmy, Rita & my cousins Tony & Dominic. So this album is special me.”


Johnny Cash At San Quentin

Tracey“I was listening to this aged about 9…not that I was a super cool kid its because it was the only cassette tape that we had in the house, my dad is a Johnny Cash fan.
I had one of those big buttoned cassette players with no handle on but would actually take it out with me when I played out. The album accompanies the documentary filmed at San Quentin its worth a watch.”


Sam Cooke Live at The Harlem Square

Tracey“Sam Cooke is my go to chill out vocalist. I love this album as all the audience participation make it sound like the best night out. One big party that I’d of loved to have been at.”


Various Greater Manchester Punk 1977- 81

Tracey – “Not sure this is an album I would listen to now but I played it to death as a kid. I was a massive fan of Slaughter & The Dogs and I mean they were my Bay City Rollers. I would of bought an album of them whistling if they had released one. They were from Wythenshawe like me, and to go to London to play a gig seemed such a big deal to me at the time..not forgetting The Buzzcocks are on this album too.”


Bob Marley & The Wailers Live

Tracey“What can I say ..its Bob Marley! My mum was big into Blue Beat & Trojan stuff as far back as I can remember so I’d always been aware of him but then as I got to teen years he got bigger and more mainstream I had every one of his albums, He’s part of the soundtrack of mine and my friends teen years. I still play this album.”


Jeff Horton

(owner/manager of ‘The 100 Club’)


David Live – Bowie


Hope and Anchor Front Row Festival


Live at the Marquee – Nine Below Zero


Living Ornaments – Gary Numan


Live In Concert – Ray Charles


Tim Abbott

(former Creation Records/Oasis, UB40, The Blinders)


David Bowie Live, Nassau Coliseum


Live at Leeds


Patti Smith Bootlegs

Major Lance live at the Torch


Paul Rutherford

pr %%%

(singer, musician & dancer – Frankie Goes To Hollywood)


David Bowie – David Live


Before The Dawn


Bette Midler – Live At Last


Roxy Music – Viva


Carl writes for Louder Than War and his author page is here.

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  1. There’s “Live at the Electric Circus” – the one with Warsaw, JCC and Steel Pulse the Fall + Buzzcocks. That’s good. And “Stupidity” Dr Feelgood live. And “Frampton Comes Alive.” That was shit.

  2. Mogwai: Special Moves
    Radiohead: I Might Be Wrong
    Coil:…And The Ambulance Died In His Arms
    Throbbing Gristle: Live At Oundle School
    Portishead: Roseland NYC

  3. I can’t believe no one picked The Ramones It’s Alive. Captures their peak dumb rock n roll joy perfectly.

  4. That Lizzy album, while I love it as it was a big part of my early teens, is a massively doctored album. I know the engineer who worked on that album, most instrumental parts were re-recorded and all the audience reaction massively enhanced. Big fake-o. Was super gutted when I was first told :-(


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