rock music comes alive in 1976

The best double live albums of the era

In 1976 Peter Frampton released "Frampton Comes Alive!" an album that ushered in the era of the live album. While there has been some debate over the validity of some of these "live" albums due to reported studio enhancements, there is no doubt that some of these recording are classics.

Here is a list of some of the greatest double album live releases from the era, some were more successful than others, but all of them were amazing albums.

Click the cover art if you want to order a copy and judge for yourself. email me at thom@caroniamediagroup.com if you think we missed one.

After years of flirting with super stardom, it all came together for Frampton on this album. Every live version of songs on this album is superior to the studio versions, and oddly enough his record label rushed him back into the studio to record a studio record to capitalize on the massive popularity of "Frampton Comes Alive!"

Frampton's massive success followed by the sub-par performance of the studio follow up "I'm in You" changed the recording industry forever, and instead of bands cranking out an album a year, fans often had to wait years between releases.

As far as double live alums go, this one set the bar high in terms of commercial viability and quality.  

Frampton comes alive! (1976)

Supertramp was at the height of their popularity when this double live album dropped. The mix on this album is superb, and the instruments and vocals really pop.

There is a great combination of shorter pop hits and longer numbers. The only thing missing from this great set is "Give a Little Bit."

Sadly, Roger Hodgson left the group just a few years later and never returned, so many fans were never able to experience the magic the original Supertramp lineup created. Thankfully we still have this amazing album.

supertramp paris (1980)

A friend of mine described this album as a "tight version of The Grateful Dead," and the description fits. There is not a bad note on this album, and each of the four sides on the vinyl edition has its own character.

Sadly. the band would split up not long after this record dropped, and guitarist/singer Lowell George left to pursue a solo career and then passed away in 1979 after a solo performance at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C, the same venue where the bulk of "Waiting for Columbus" was recorded.

little feat waiting for columbus (1978)

There has been a great deal of contention over how much of this album is actually "live." In many ways it doesn't really matter, the songs all sound great and many music critics still list it atop their list of the greatest  live albums of all time.

You will notice Huey Lewis listed in the album credits, as he was touring with Thin Lizzy during his time with Clover, a band that pre-dated Huey Lewis and the News.

The band split just a few years after they released this live set, and lead singer Phil Lynott passed away in 1986. 

Thin Lizzy Live and dangerous (1978)

LIVE RUST (1979)

Credited to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, it was Young's second live album but his first double live album. "Live Rust" captures two sides of Young, the strumming Americana solo artist, and the grunge rocker.

It took eight years for the release to go from Gold sales status to Platinum, and that is probably because new fans were discovering it year after year.

Now 40 years old, it still stands up well, and is even better than Young's golf game.

bursting out (1979)

Jethro Tull has seen their share of lineup changes over the years, this album captures the band right near the end of their most prolific and commercially successful period. Even as Ian Anderson was exploring the folkier side of his songwriting, the group's live set still packed plenty of punch.

This album is better than any best of packages, and would serve as a great introduction toJethro Tull for the uninitiated. 

Double live gonzo (1978)

Before Uncle Ted became a reality television star and outspoken political figure, he was simply the Motor City Madman. This set captures Uncle Ted along with the best lineup of his career, which included his on again, off again lead vocalist Derek St. Holmes.

The version of "Stranglehold" is worth the price of this double album, and while david Crosby might think Uncle Ted doesn't have the resume to get inducted in the Rock Hall, this triple platinum selling album might makes Ted's case.

seconds out (1977)

This album represents the end and the beginning of an era for progressive rockers Genesis. It is the last album to feature guitarist Steve Hackett, who was reprotedly not happy with the direction of the band and some sources say his guitar is mixed lower because of his departure.

There is no denying that "Seconds Out" stand as a monument to the Gabriel era, and alos showcases how Collins was able to take the reigns and lead Genesis onto even higher commercial heights. 

back to the bars (1978)

"Back to the Bars" was a blatant attempt by Rundgren's label to propel Rundgren's solo career fowrward in the same way "Farmpton Comes Alive!" did for Peter Frampton. It is a great album, and most of the live versions are superior to the studio versions, but the only thing Frampton and Rundgren had in common was drummer John Siomos, who appeared on Rundgren and Frampton's most commercially successful recordings.

While "Back to the Bars" didn't make Todd a superstar, it certainly introduced him to a lot of new and loyal fans, and is a great introductory work of his music for the uninitiated . 

two for the show (1978)

Coming of a pair of quadruple platinum selling albums, this album captures the original lineup at the top of thier game. Everything that made Kansas a great live band is included on this album, including the long proggy classic "Magnum Opus" and classic "Dust in the Wind."

The band split a few years later, and enver gained the same momentum they had from 1974-1978. 

live killers (1979)

Just off the heels of "Jazz" and right before "The Game," this collection captures Queen at a pivotal point in their career. Unlike many live albums, most of the live versions are inferior to the studio versions, but there are some real gems on this album including a straight ahead version of "We Will Rock You" and a blazing version of "Keep Yourself Alive."

The album's mix is raw, which stood in stark contrast to the polished studio sound, and maybe that's waht makes this album special.

live bullet(1976)

One can make the case that this is the greatest live album of the 1970's, Seger's voice is powerful and his band is on fire the whole night. There are so many highlights it is impossible to pinpoint one, but what really makes this album special is that it was recorded in his hometown and it sounds like it was recorded in his hometown.

If you don't already own a copy of this one, make sure you have some speakers that will allow you to crank it up!