Live from The Vault Presents Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Greatest Live Albums Countdown Each Week on Saturday Nights

Attention music aficionados and live performance enthusiasts! Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey through the annals of rock history as Live from The Vault radio show presents Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 50 Greatest Live Albums Countdown. From the electrifying guitar solos of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey to the soul-stirring ballads of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, this countdown promises to celebrate the very best in live music recordings.

Starting from the bottom and working our way up to the pinnacle of live album greatness, join us as we count down from number 50 to the ultimate number one spot. Each week, listeners will be treated to a showcase of legendary live performances, spanning multiple genres and eras, curated by the esteemed editors of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Expect to hear iconic live recordings from rock gods like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Bruce Springsteen, alongside groundbreaking performances from artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, and Nirvana. From intimate acoustic sets to stadium-shaking spectacles, these live albums capture the raw energy and emotion of some of music’s most memorable moments.

As we journey through Rolling Stone’s meticulously curated list, we’ll delve into the stories behind each album, exploring the impact and influence they’ve had on both artists and audiences alike. From legendary concerts that defined an era to hidden gems that deserve greater recognition, this countdown promises to be a captivating exploration of live music at its finest.

So tune in to Live from The Vault radio show as we countdown Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, celebrating the power and magic of live music in all its glory. From the adrenaline-fueled guitar solos to the spine-tingling vocal performances, these albums are a testament to the enduring legacy of live music and its ability to transcend time and space. Don’t miss out on this epic journey through the greatest live albums ever recorded!

50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone ranks the 50 best live albums ever, from Jimi Hendrix at Monterey to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison


Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop Festival. MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO capture the frenzy of a live show on record, but it’s not for lack of trying. Here are 50 of the best attempts from Jimi’s historic Monterey Pop guitar incineration to less than 200 people crammed into Abbey Road for Fela Kuti and Ginger Baker; from Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison to Cheap Trick at Budokan. We tried to avoid albums that are mostly overdubs (see Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps) or completely fake (the nonetheless essential Cheap Thrills from Big Brother and the Holding Company) and focused on groundbreaking moments, career-making albums and epic jams. 

The Replacements, 'The Shit Hits the Fans'


The Replacements, ‘The Shit Hits the Fans’ (1985)

A pre-sobriety Paul Westerberg, Chris Mars and Bob and Tommy Stinson alternate between the best and worst bar band of all time on Twin/Tone’s cassette-only The Shit Hits the Fans. Recorded with two hanging mics at Oklahoma City’s converted church venue the Bowery in 1984, these 24 songs (19 of which are covers) are a lubricated mix of blues, metal, soul and spilled-beer wankery. “I asked Paul or somebody if he minded that I record the show,” Bowery manager and DJ Roscoe Shoemaker recalled in the Replacements oral history All Over But the Shouting. “‘Why? We suck.’ Typical Westy response.” Between the comical breakdowns, the ‘Mats show off the bruised slack-rock template of the Let It Be era that eventually inspired Nirvana, Wilco and thousands of other pop-loving punks. Faithful and furious takes on “Sixteen Blue” and “Can’t Hardly Wait” are balanced out by decidedly insincere covers of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” and Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” By the time it’s done, they’ve artfully mangled R.E.M., U2, Thin Lizzy and the Rolling Stones. Reed Fischer

Little Feat, 'Waiting for Columbus'


Little Feat, ‘Waiting for Columbus’ (1978)

The album that brought Little Feat back to their, well, you know, Waiting for Columbus was recorded in London and Washington D.C. in August 1977. It was released six months later to become the band’s best selling record, renewing the Feats’ credibility in the process. The notion to record a live album was pushed by their producer, Lowell George, whose flagging writing chops had alienated his bandmates. Columbus, however, demonstrated that the band was still a New Orleans-funk powerhouse, with energy and improv skills to spare, as demonstrated by “Dixie Chicken” and “Tripe Faced Boogie.” Lowell later overdubbed most of his lead vocals and many guitar solos to great effect, giving the album an engagingly punchy sense of detail. Indeed, Columbus‘s reputation has grown steadily over time, with Phish complimenting it with a live cover version on Halloween 2010. Richard Gehr

Donny Hathaway 'Live'


Donny Hathaway, ‘Live’ (1972)

Backed by a combo that included Chicago session vets such as guitarist Philip Upchurch, bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Fred White (who later joined Earth, Wind & Fire), Donny Hathaway swings with vividness on this brilliant live set and the audience responds ecstatically. When he runs through a 12-minute version of “The Ghetto,” playing the Rhodes electric piano with intensity, his fans soul-clap in time; a woman screams delightedly when he gives a gospel lilt to Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” Meanwhile, “Little Ghetto Boy,” which was released the following year as a classic single from the Quincy Jones soundtrack collaboration Come Back, Charleston Blue, earns a life-affirming preview. Live cracked the Top 20 and became Hathaway’s first gold album, but the noted perfectionist was typically self-critical. “I’m naturally happy with the sales but the album itself isn’t as good as I would have liked it,” he told Blues & Soul magazine. “I’ve got to polish myself up for the next one.” Sadly, he never got that chance: The album closes with a 13-minute rendition of “Voices Inside (Everything is Everything),” a song that inadvertently predicted his struggles with schizophrenia, and his eventual suicide in 1979 at the age of 33. Mosi Reeves

Boogie Down Productions, 'Live Hardcore Worldwide'


Boogie Down Productions, ‘Live Hardcore Worldwide’ (1991)

Between its birth in 1973 and the release of “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, hip-hop was exclusively a live concern. However, until the internet age, this period was mostly archived via tape-trading and bootlegs — so leave it to hip-hop historian KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions to not only provide the live era’s most vivid retelling (the 1986 single “South Bronx”), but also its most bombastic revamp with this groundbreaking 1991 album. Recorded in New York, Paris and London, KRS connects the dots between the spoken-word poetry of forebears like the Last Poets, the interjections of reggae toasters and, when “I’m Still #1” falls apart, the crowd-pleasing freestyles of rap’s earliest days. Christopher R. Weingarten

Thin Lizzy, 'Live and Dangerous'


Thin Lizzy, ‘Live and Dangerous’ (1978)

In 1978, the then-red-hot Thin Lizzy decided that they wanted to work with producer Tony Visconti, who had made his name working with fellow glam travelers David Bowie and T. Rex. Time was tight, so a live album was in order: Live And Dangerous was the snarling result, a document of a band that took no prisoners even on mellower tracks like “Dancing In The Moonlight.” How exactly the Irish outfit came to be captured so effectively is still in dispute; Visconti has asserted that 75 percent of Dangerous was recorded in the studio in order to smooth out the rough spots, but the band vehemently disagrees. “We are a very loud band,” guitarist Brian Robertson told Guitar Player in 2012, “me being the loudest of all of us. So how are you going to replace my guitar when it’s so loud that it’s going to bleed all over the bloody drum kit?” Maura Johnston

Motörhead, 'No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith'


Motörhead, ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’ (1981)

If Motörhead are the “most primal expression” of heavy metal, as Rolling Stone once described them, then No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith is Lemmy Kilmister and Co. at their most primal. The British bombers’ songs are generally nasty and brutish in their original studio versions, but the band played them impossibly faster and harder on their 1981 Short, Sharp Pain in the Neck tour — named for the time drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor broke his neck during some drunken horseplay — on which all but one of No Sleep‘s tracks were recorded. The result is Motörhead’s definitive statement, the best versions of their best songs, the sound and the fury of the group’s most iconic lineup at the peak of its powers. No wonder Metallica named their demo No Life ‘Til Leather after it, the Beastie Boys nodded to it with “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and, despite its raw, merciless charge, the record stands as Motörhead’s most commercially successful release. “Of course, when you’ve peaked, there’s nowhere to go but down,” Kilmister quipped of the record in his autobiography White Line Fever. “But at the time we didn’t know we’d peaked. We didn’t know anything.” Brandon Geist

U2, 'Under a Blood Red Sky'


U2, ‘Under a Blood Red Sky’ (1983)

A live recording that features real danger. When U2 played Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver on June 5, 1983, the weather was so terrible that less than half the sold out crowd showed up, and both opening acts (the Alarm and Divinyls) canceled over safety concerns. That did nothing to deter U2 and especially Bono. In 2004, guitarist The Edge told Rolling Stone that Bono “scared the shit out of me” by climbing a lighting rig to wave a white flag during “The Electric Co.,” coming close to live wires. But the real lightning came from this live album, concert film and the fog-shrouded “Sunday Bloody Sunday” music video. Even though most of Under a Blood Red Sky‘s album tracks came from shows in Boston and Germany, the Red Rocks visuals stand as U2’s last moment of young, ragged glory before mega-stardom set in. “It was a benchmark,” said Adam Clayton. “We could say now: ‘Right, we’ve got to a point where we’re contenders. We’re at the starting gate.” David Menconi

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 'Arc-Weld'


Neil Young & Crazy Horse, ‘Arc-Weld’ (1991)

Neil Young was in the middle of a career renaissance when he hit the road with Crazy Horse in early 1991. Their new album Ragged Glory was hailed as their finest in a decade and the group was playing songs old and new with a stunning level of energy and passion. The live album Weld captured the best moments on a two-CD set. The 14-minute rendition of “Like A Hurricane” remains one of the best version of the tune, while concert staples “Cortez The Killer,” “Powderfinger” and “Hey Hey, My My (In The Black)” have never sounded so vital. It’s hard to pinpoint a live peak for Crazy Horse, but this very well might be it. The album originally came packed with Arc, which was a single 35-minute track of various feedback-soaked beginnings and endings of songs. “Now here I am, 45 years old, and this is the essence of what’s happening to my mind,” said Young of the extended noise suite. “I really made Arc for people who ride around in the Jeeps with the big speakers. If you pull up beside somebody on the street and you’re playing that, that makes a fucking statement.” Andy Greene

Phish, 'New Year's Eve 1995 - Live at Madison Square Garden'


Phish, ‘New Year’s Eve 1995 – Live at Madison Square Garden’ (2005)

Perhaps more than any other show, Phish’s New Year’s Eve 1995 (to 1996) extravaganza at Madison Square Garden set the commercial and artistic bar for the jam legions that followed. Bordering on musical theater starring four longhaired nerds, their three sets packed in one stunt after another. But as always, the band’s most impressive tricks were in their improvisation, including a delicate second set-ending delay loop motif that later turned up on Trey Anastasio’s homemade side project One Man’s Trash as “That Dream Machine.” “It felt like an era was coming to an end,” Anastasio told Parke Puterbaugh of the band’s massive extended fall 1995 trek, featuring some of the Vermont quartet’s all-time noisiest excursions. New Year’s ’95 would prove to be a renewable resource, yielding an instant classic tape, months of fan debate (“Did Trey tease ‘Fire on the Mountain’ in ‘Drowned’?”), a three-CD set and, most recently, a six-LP Record Store Day edition. Jesse Jarnow

Peter Frampton, 'Frampton Comes Alive!'


Peter Frampton, ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’ (1976)

In the summer of ’76, nothing was in the air like Frampton Comes Alive!, the ultimate example of the double-live album with gatefold cover — it was supposed to be just a single album until A&M Records took the unusual step of insisting on a second disc. Frampton, a journeyman Humble Pie guitarist gone solo, happily obliged. “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Show Me the Way” and most of all “Do You Feel Like We Do” came to life in the live setting (all 14 minutes of it). Even the crowd noise sounds sensational. Frampton Comes Alive! quickly became the biggest-selling album of all time until the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack topped it. “A year before Frampton Comes Alive! we had released the studio version of “Show Me The Way” as a single…and it totally tanked,” Frampton told MusicRadar. “It was pretty strange to put out the live version and watch it go through the roof. It was still the same song. What had changed? AOR was the big radio format at the time. And they were playing Frampton Comes Alive! like crazy. If you put on an AOR station — any station — you’d hear pretty much all the songs from that record.” David Menconi

B.B. King, 'Live in Cook County Jail' (1970)


B.B. King, ‘Live in Cook County Jail’ (1970)

B.B. King’s openers had a rough time. As an announcer welcomes the likes of Sheriff Joseph Woods to the stage before the blues legend takes the stage for a 1970 show at Chicago’s Cook County Jail, the prisoners greet the officer with aggressive boos and jeers. It was a tough crowd, but King entranced them with ease and humility. He was gracious, flirtatious and even self-deprecating as he effortless ripped through songs like “Worry, Worry” and “Sweet Sixteen.” “It was the best show we ever had,” said the Department of Corrections Superintendent Winston Moore who had invited King to perform for the prisoners. By the time he finished on a sweet note with the ballad “Please Accept My Love,” King had the crowd on their feet, hollering ecstatically. Brittany Spanos
Joni Mitchell, 'Miles of Aisles'


Joni Mitchell, ‘Miles of Aisles’ (1974)

Joni Mitchell’s first live album arrived at the peak of her fame. Recorded a couple months after her breakthrough Court and Spark debuted, the Canadian singer-songwriter documented the California stops on the tour supporting the new LP. Performing an expansive collection of tracks from her 1968 debut Song to a Seagull onward, Miles of Aisles carefully avoided the hits. “No one ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a “Starry Night” again, man,'” said Mitchell before playing “Circle Game.” In 1991, she revealed to Rolling Stone why she made the comparison: “I never wanted to turn into a human jukebox. I haven’t used up all my ideas yet. But I’m working in a pop field, and whether they’re going to allow an older woman to do that is an open question. It requires a loyal, interested audience who believes in my talent.” Brittany Spanos

The Velvet Underground, '1969: Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed'


The Velvet Underground, ‘1969: Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed’ (1974)

For decades, 1969: Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed offered the only halfway decent live document of the band that launched a million other bands. Released only months after Lou Reed’s 1974 hit live LP Rock N Roll Animal, and just on the cusp of punk, 1969 offered a stripped-down Reed for hungry ears in downtown New York and beyond. Performing future standards to tiny crowds in Dallas and San Francisco, 1969 features almost entirely new material for the band, songs the Velvets never properly recorded (“Over You,” “Lisa Says,” “Ocean”), song-drafts they’d record in different forms (“New Age,” “Sweet Jane”), and at least one song that Patti Smith would — by the year after its release —be opening sets with at CBGB (“We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together”). Jesse Jarnow

Neil Young, 'Time Fades Away'


Neil Young, ‘Time Fades Away’ (1973)

Neil Young should have been on top of the world in 1973. The incredible success of Harvest finally took him out of CSNY’s shadow, “Heart of Gold” was a Number One hit in 1972, and a 62-date arena tour sold out all over America. But the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, a painful back disorder and the endless infighting of his backing band turned the tour into an endless slog. He had a ton of hits by this point, but he opted to devote a big chunk of the set to gloomy, brand new tunes like “L.A.,” “Don’t Be Denied” and “Yonder Stands The Sinner.” The new songs were captured on the live LP Time Fades Away. It was greeted by a collective shrug when it came out in 1973 and its been out of print for decades, but Neil diehards recognize it as an absolute classic and original vinyl copies are highly prized. Unsurprisingly, Young has a wildly different take. “My least favorite record is Time Fades Away,” he said in 1987. “I felt like a product, and I had this band of all-star musicians that couldn’t even look at each other. It was a total joke.” Andy Greene

Frank Sinatra, 'Sinatra at the Sands'


Frank Sinatra, ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ (1963)

Before he became Mr. New York, Frank Sinatra’s signature town was Las Vegas, and Sinatra at the Sands captures him at his ring-a-ding-ding peak — complete with an adoring casino crowd and an epic “Tea Break” monologue where the chairman cracks harsh on his Rat Pack subordinates. Sands might be the ultimate period piece for those who prefer Johnny Mercer’s songbook to Jagger-Richards’, with Quincy Jones conducting Count Basie’s Orchestra and the 50-year-old crooner still at the height of his warm-yet-threatening vocal powers. The music is sensational, including definitive versions of signatures like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” And for an added bonus, there’s the introduction — “The Sands is proud to present a wonderful new show…” — by William Conrad, the well-traveled character who also narrated Rocky and BullwinkleDavid Menconi

Aretha Franklin


Aretha Franklin, ‘Live at Fillmore West’ (1971)

“Does anybody feel like hearing the blues?” Aretha Franklin asks, introducing “Dr. Feelgood.” She actually had to ask: At the time, San Francisco venue Fillmore West was more famous for bringing rock acts like Jefferson Airplane. Earlier in her set, she even covered Simon and Garfunkel to some chatter. But by then, the crowd answered with a resounding yes — and Franklin’s reply is well worth hearing. In “Dr. Feelgood,” she throws her head back in an ecstasy that sounds both sexual and religious. And for a reprise of “Spirit in the Dark,” Ray Charles appears, even though he wasn’t set to perform. He was only there to watch. “If you listen to the record, you can tell I don’t know it,” he told Rolling Stone in 1973Christina Lee

Bob Marley and the Wailers, 'Live!'


Bob Marley and the Wailers, ‘Live!’ (1975)

Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1975 Natty Dread tour began in America, where some 15,000 fans watched the reggae band perform in Central Park. By the time they crossed the Atlantic, the verdict was in: After two sold-out shows at London’s Lyceum, a Melody Maker cover story pronounced Bob “possibly the greatest superstar to visit these shores since the days when Dylan conquered the concert halls of Britain.” Neither of these gigs were intended to be recorded, but when Island Records founder Chris Blackwell witnessed the madness of the first, he made sure that the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio was parked outside the venue for the second. The result was a song collection of pointed lyrics, political chants and funk grooves enlivened by new guitarist Al Anderson. The seven-minute “No Woman, No Cry” reached the U.K. Top 10 and remains the definitive version of the classic song, eventually appearing as track two of the 15-times-platinum Legend set. Even the mic feedback that echoes over the first verse has become imbued with emotion. Nick Murray

Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa '70 with Ginger Baker, 'Live!'


Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker, ‘Live!’ (1971)

Though already celebrated as one of rock’s greatest drummers from a three-year run in Cream and Blind Faith, Ginger Baker’s curiosity brought him from England to war-embattled Nigeria to learn more about rhythm. “I don’t dance,” he said about hearing his old friend Fela Kuti’s new band Africa 70, “but I just had to dance to Fela’s stuff.” This intimate collaboration was actually recorded in Abbey Road studio instead of a traditional rock venue, but was electric nonetheless. Said Baker in his autobigraphy, “an audience of 150 crammed into a large studio…with colored spotlights dancing about the walls to give it the feel of a proper live gig.” Baker and Afrobeat bricklayer Tony Allen handle the grooves, and one of the world’s funkiest bands gets a little free-rock pummel. Christopher R. Weingarten

Deep Purple, 'Made in Japan'


Deep Purple, ‘Made in Japan’ (1972)

In just seven cuts, Deep Purple deliver four sides of excitement and indulgence. From Ian Paice’s dizzying drum solo during “The Mule” to Jon Lord’s winking organ vamp at the start of “Lazy,” from the trick ending of the 20-minute “Space Truckin'” to Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore’s voice-and-guitar duel during “Strange Kind of Women,” the metal progenitors plunder (and arguably establish) a near-complete arsenal of onstage tricks and tropes. Cheaply made, wildly popular and frequently reissued, Made in Japan was captured during three nights in Osaka and Tokyo. The set feels ever casual, as if the band is performing less for the crowd or the tape machine and more for the sheer enjoyment of stretching these tunes out like playdates. “We were all so unconcerned about the whole thing that nobody was actually aware of being recorded,” Lord later confirmed in Dave Thompson’s Smoke on the Water. “There was no diminution of the interplay, spontaneity and feeling that we usually got onstage.” Grayson Haver Currin31

Keith Jarrett, ‘The Köln Concert’ (1975)

Circumstances were inauspicious when pianist Keith Jarrett and ECM Records owner-producer Manfred Eicher rolled into Cologne, Germany, in January of 1975. Jarrett hadn’t slept the night before and was in pain. Worse, the Bösendorfer piano they’d requested had been replaced by an inferior model which, according to Jarrett, “sounded like a very poor imitation of a harpsichord or a piano with tacks in it.” Yet the hour-long solo concert he performed around midnight at the city’s opera house, wearing a brace and nearly falling asleep at his instrument, was a deeply entrancing meditation on rhythm, whose double-vinyl recording became both the best-selling solo jazz and solo piano albums in history. Jarrett’s extemporized fantasia drifts seamlessly from idea to idea, sometimes settling into a two-chord vamp for minutes at a time. More relaxed than most of his other solo recordings, it boasts a full complement of Jarrett’s whooping, sighing and foot-stomping affectations while still offering a ravishing introduction to the art of improvisation. Richard Gehr

Iggy and the Stooges, 'Metallic K.O.'


Iggy and the Stooges, ‘Metallic K.O.’ (1976)

Side B of the first Stooges live album is, purportedly, one of the gnarliest rock shows ever recorded. For weeks before the February 1974 gig, Stooges frontman Iggy Pop had gleefully engaged in public beef with a motorcycle gang called the Scorpions. They showed up in droves, along with all kinds of objects with which to pelt the band — fruits and vegetables, bottles, yard tools. That hardly bothered Iggy, though — his band was hungry, close to broke, and at the end of their rope. Sloppy on purpose, discordant and gut-churningly raw, the entire set-list is a big screw-you, down to the song selection. The non-album tracks “Rich Bitch” and “Cock in My Pocket” lead into the most gleefully, barely competent cover of “Louie Louie.” Here’s how little the band fretted about charming at this point. In his book Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop, Joe Ambrose reports this bit of Pop stage patter from the night: “Hands up, who hates the Stooges? We don’t hate you. We don’t even care.” Arielle Castillo

Frank Zappa and the Mothers, 'Roxy & Elsewhere'


Frank Zappa and the Mothers, ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’ (1974)

Though many of his phases have great live albums to complement them, Roxy & Elsewhere is the apotheosis of mid-Seventies Zappa, oozing proof of his ability to recruit a first-rate ensemble (keyboardist George Duke, percussionist Ruth Underwood and, um, guitarist Frank Zappa), to follow through with unorthodox methods (he seamlessly collates recordings from Hollywood with ones from “elsewhere,” occasionally editing them together into one song) and to pull off the frenzied arrangements of the Apostrophe(‘) days. The group performs at the quirky outer limits: The instrumental “Echidna’s Arf (Of You)” has unpredictable light-speed whirrs of xylophone and synth and the 16-minute jazz-prog-rock sandwich “Be-Bop Tango” includes an explanation of how to dance to Duke’s sung polyrhythm (“You’re still too adagio,” Zappa jokes). Meanwhile, the Nixon sendup “Son of Orange County” (“I just can’t believe you are such a fool”) contains one of Zappa’s most soulful guitar solos. Zappa included this Zen-like note on the first CD release: “Sometimes you can be surprised that ‘The universe works whether or not you understand it.'” Kory Grow

The Ramones


Ramones, ‘It’s Alive’ (1979)

This amphetamine-paced double-LP served as a Ramones career retrospective, smack at their peak, and shows the Queens crew almost stumbling across hardcore around the same time California was inventing it. Over four nights in 1977 at London’s Rainbow Theater, the punk pioneers blasted through 28 songs from their first three albums. (Thanks to their tidily short length, they squeezed in nearly all of ’em.) The final LP version came mostly from the last night, charged with an energy so electric that fans are said to have ripped seats from the floor and thrown them at the stage in enthusiasm. It’s no surprise, as the entire record pulses with American punk’s promise, a spittle-spewing Joey Ramone barely pausing between “Pinhead,” “Do You Wanna Dance?” and “Chain Saw.” He even barely pauses long enough to get out all the lyrics, the band buzzing away behind him like they’re in a machine shop. During post-production, the speed was something with which even the band itself struggled to keep up. In his book, Hey Ho, Let’s Go: The Story of the Ramones, Everett True writes that Dee Dee needed extra fuel to record bass overdubs: an extra-heavy helping of black coffee. Arielle Castillo

Bill Withers, 'Live at Carnegie Hall'


Bill Withers, ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ (1973)

This rainy Friday night in October 1972 was less than a year and a half after Bill Withers’ commercial breakthrough allowed him to quit a day job in an aircraft parts factory, but the rising soul star holds the stage at one of the world’s most prestigious venues like a seasoned pro. Withers reminisces about his grandma’s church (“At the funeral they used to have tie the caskets down!”) and describes the dating scene (he’s encountered many “ladies who are not too prone to trust anybody”) as coolly as if he’s entertaining guests in his own living room. His band, propelled by drummer James Gadson and led by pianist Ray Jackson, roughs up “Use Me” to accentuate its carnality and plays the sweaty closer “Harlem/Cold Baloney” like part of a revival meeting. Keith Harris

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, 'Live Bullet'


Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, ‘Live Bullet’ (1976)

Bob Seger had released eight albums and had been on the road for nearly a solid decade when he played Detroit’s Cobo Hall on September 4th, 1974 — but he was still largely unknown outside of the Midwest. The main problem was that he simply couldn’t capture the magic of his stage show on in a studio, which is likely why Live Bullet made such a huge impact. His cover of Ike & Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits” got a ton of national airplay, and suddenly Live Bullet was selling like crazy. It was also fueled by “Turn The Page,” a 1973 track about the rigors of touring life that has been a mainstay of classic rock radio for the past 40 years. “We were doing, like, 250 to 300 shows a year before Live Bullet,” Seger said in 2013. “We were playing virtually five nights a week, sometimes six, as the Silver Bullet Band and we just had that show down.” Andy Greene

Duke Ellington, 'Ellington at Newport'


Duke Ellington, ‘Ellington at Newport’ (1956)

The gig couldn’t have started less promisingly: four probably drunk band members failed to show up, and Ellington played the premiere jazz festival for all of 12 minutes before realizing they couldn’t continue. But late at night they returned en masse and burned the hides off the hipsters with a set that gave his career new meaning. Everything comes down to “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” a then-decades-old dance tune that flowered at Newport into a six minute, 27-chorus jam by tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves that bumped, grinded and talked in your ear. Duke shouts at Gonsalves, “Higher!” A blond woman in a black dress got up to dance, and then a lot of women did. A month later, Duke was on the cover of Time magazine. Bebop had made big band music seem almost corny, but Newport showed that mastery is mastery. “I was born in 1956, at the Newport Jazz Festival,” the Duke later declared. RJ Smith

The Quintet, ‘Jazz At Massey Hall’ (1953)


The Quintet, ‘Jazz At Massey Hall’ (1953)

“The atmosphere was pretty difficult,” Quintet drummer Max Roach recalled of this 1953 gig. “The people in that dressing room and the issues and problems they all had, it would need a whole conference of psychologists to work it all out.” Geniuses, addicts, brawlers, goofs. Pianist Bud Powell had been institutionalized and labeled legally “incompetent”; saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie had history (this would be the last time they’d record together), bassist Charles Mingus might punch out those whose solos offended him. Here came bebop’s original wild bunch, Parker armed with a borrowed plastic sax. “It was pure spontaneity. That’s the thing about that date,” said Roach. “We just went on the stage, and things began to happen.” They played definitive versions of bop standards “Night in Tunisia” and “Salt Peanuts,” as well as proto power ballad “All the Things You Are.” At the end of the night the promoter paid them with recordings of the show, and Mingus ended up re-recording his solos before it was released. RJ Smith

Led Zeppelin, 'How the West Was Won'


Led Zeppelin, ‘How the West Was Won’ (2003)

Led Zeppelin are undoubtedly one of the greatest live acts of the 1970s, but their only live album from the era — the soundtrack to 1976’s The Song Remains The Same — captured them on a rather limp night. This situation was finally resolved in 2003 when Jimmy Page combed through hours of tapes from the band’s 1972 tour and cobbled together this killer 18 track set. There are tons of Zep bootlegs floating around, but none of them sound this crisp and alive, even though they occasionally cheated and combined multiple versions of a song into one. Highlights include a ferocious “Immigrant Song,” a 25-minute “Dazed and Confused” and a 23-minute “Whole Lotta Love” jam. “It’s Zeppelin at its best,” Page said in 2003. “Every single member of the band is in tip-top form. It’s the magic point where it takes on a fifth element.” Andy Greene

The Band, 'Rock of Ages'


The Band, ‘Rock of Ages’ (1972)

The Last Waltz is the Band’s most famous live album — it’s the one with the big-name guests, the end-of-an-era gravitas and the Scorsese film. But it’s not the Band’s best live album. That would be Rock of Ages, recorded four years earlier in New York, capturing one of rock’s greatest live acts at their peak. They’re on fire from the opening cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It” (a showcase for Rick Danko’s sly low-end groove-itude) through ridiculously tight deep cuts like “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” and “The Unfaithful Servant,” many of them featuring horn arrangements by Allen Toussaint. Organist Garth Hudson’s mad jam on “The Genetic Method” into “Chest Fever,” taking up nearly an entire side of the double LP, is the stuff of psychedelic roots-rock legend. This is the sound of five guys in telepathic sync, before they got jaded. The Last Waltz tells you that the Band were great; Rock of Ages shows you. Simon Vozick-Levinson

Miles Davis, 'The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965'


Miles Davis, ‘The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965’ (1995)

Near the end of a tour in 1965, one date to go, the Miles Davis Quintet cooked up a berserk idea: Everything people expects us to play, we’ll play the opposite. When the band (Davis with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams) got to the Chicago club, they discovered label reps setting up to record the stand. This amazing 8-CD package captures every note over two nights of anti-music, jazz upended and shot through with quiet. At first trumpeter Davis is tentative, but by the end he’s leagues ahead at the band’s own game. “When I heard those guys dropping the bottom out from under me, I knew it was ‘Go for it’ time!” Shorter recalled. “I’d been in the band for a little over a year, and the next thing I knew we were way out there. It was like…this is what freedom means.” RJ Smith

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ (1986)


Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ (1986)

A guy who once said “I cannot allow myself anything less than to produce the best live LP ever,” Bruce Springsteen had a lot to prove on his first live album. He had built a reputation around his live shows, and when it came time to illustrate the point on record, he thought big: assembling 40 songs spanning Hollywood gin joints to Jersey arenas, boardwalk hood rat to Rambo Bruce, filling five LPs (or three CDs). The core of this epic box is four sequential songs: “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Seeds,” “The River” (with a deep story about Springsteen, his dad and the draft) and Edwin Starr’s “War.” “These four songs together were telling different things, things never heard  before on any of our albums,” said manager/producer Jon Landau. RJ Smith

Grateful Dead, 'Europe '72'


Grateful Dead, ‘Europe ’72’ (1972)

Steppin’ Out was the original title of this triple-vinyl distillation of the Dead’s first extended European tour. With Bill Kreutzmann masterfully drumming alone following the resignation of Mickey Hart, and augmented the previous fall by Keith Godchaux’s elegant piano, the Dead leaned toward the pared-down sound they’d perfected on their previous studio albums, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Indeed, Europe ’72 arguably completes an acid-Americana trilogy insofar as it features a handful of sepia-toned new tunes: “He’s Gone,” “Jack Straw,” “Brown-Eyed Women,” “Ramble on Rose,” and “Tennessee Jed.” It also eliminates nearly all crowd noise and contains enough post-tour overdubs (mainly in the vocals department) to suggest a live-studio hybrid, with Jerry Garcia’s joyously apocalyptic “Morning Dew” as its show-stopping closer. The Dead’s best-selling live album also marked the group’s final recording with singer-keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who died the following year. Richard Gehr

Jimi Hendrix, 'Jimi Plays Monterey'


Jimi Hendrix, ‘Jimi Plays Monterey’ (1986)

These nine songs from the iconic, guitar-charring 1967 show have appeared in many editions, first as the incomplete Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival, a wonderfully strange split album which contained about half of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s set and all of Otis Redding’s. The complete 1986 edition marked the first full performance, wherein Hendrix updates the blues (“Killing Floor”), shouts out his hero Bob Dylan (“Like a Rolling Stone”), turns one garage rock standard into electric mourning (“Hey Joe”) and soaks another one in feedback before soaking it in lighter fluid and creating the most important free noise coda ever caught on tape (“Wild Thing”). Joe Gross

The Rolling Stones, '"Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!" The Rolling Stones in Concert'


The Rolling Stones, ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” The Rolling Stones in Concert’ (1970)

to GoldmineBlues guitarist Mick Taylor had joined the Rolling Stones in 1969, and they entered a new deep groove, one sparked by guitars nipping each other like wolverines in a barrel. The concept of Ya-Ya’s was just to document their brilliant sound: “It’s about as un-tampered with as possible,” Keith Richards said. Live, every part of the band was louder and meaner; never before had drummer Charlie Watts sounded so sure of himself. Bassist Bill Wyman to Goldmine: “The Stones were a better live band then any other band at that time…. Me and Charlie were really always on the ball, always straight, always together and had it down. If we had our shit together we got it right.” Recorded just a week before Altamont, the Rolling Stones play two Chuck Berry songs, “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Stray Cat Blues” and what might be the definitive “Midnight Rambler.” RJ Smith

Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘Live at the Star Club, Hamburg’ (1964)


Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘Live at the Star Club, Hamburg’ (1964)

Recorded at one of the Hamburg clubs where the Beatles cut their teeth two years earlier, Live at the Star Club remains one of the most electrifying performances from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. The concert took place six years after the rock icon’s career plummeted after the public learned he had married his 13-year-old cousin, but at age 28, Lewis was at a musical peak. He blazes through “Great Balls of Fire” in less than two minutes and sounds like he’s dismantling his piano in “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” And on wild covers of “Money” and “Hound Dog,” he slays the audience who cheer throughout. “Oh man, that was a big monster record,” he said in his 2014 semi-autobiography. Kory Grow

John Coltrane, 'Live! At the Village Vanguard'


John Coltrane, ‘Live! At the Village Vanguard’ (1962)

The four nights in November, 1961 that John Coltrane and various lineups of his group were recorded at a Manhattan club yielded a lot more music than the three tracks here — most of his subsequent album, Impressions, was drawn from those gigs, too. But Live! At the Village Vanguard is an argument as much as it is an album. At the time, the jazz world was bitterly divided over whether what John Coltrane’s extended, discursive soloing was brilliant innovation or, as one review called the album, “musical nonsense…being peddled in the name of jazz.” When DownBeat magazine asked Coltrane to defend himself upon its release, he patiently explained that “the main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe.” The music on Live! At the Village Vanguard puts it more bluntly: We are the train to the future, and you’d better chase us. Douglas Wolk14

Sam Cooke, ‘Live At the Harlem Square Club, 1963’ (1985)

The elegant Sam Cooke was one of the most successful crossover R&B stars of the Sixties. On this January night in 1963, performing for a black audience in a packed Miami club, he let his raw, soulful side break free (“don’t fight it,” he tells the audience, “we’re gonna feel it”). Cooke’s connection with the rapturous crowd is electric, the band swings like crazy and his versions of classics like “Having A Party” and “Bring It On Home To Me” rock as hard anything else going at the time. RCA Records found the results a too intense for his pop image, and shelved the performance — when they did release a live album it was 1964’s comparatively toned down At the Copa. The album was finally released 20 years later to critical acclaim. Jon Dolan13

Cheap Trick, ‘At Budokan’ (1979)

By the end of 1978, Cheap Trick had three albums on the shelves and a great catalog of songs like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me,” but they’d yet to attract a big audience in America. They did have a huge following in Japan and were treated like the Beatles when they arrived in April of that year, leading to a wild night of music at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. Originally released solely in Japan, the label wisely released it in America after radio stations began playing the live version of “I Want You to Want Me” and import copies began selling at hugely inflated prices. The album came out in the States in February of 1979, and “I Want You To Want Me” hit Number Seven on the Hot 100. Their cover of “Ain’t That A Shame” by Fats Domino also got tons of airplay. “We owned that material,” guitarist Rick Nielsen said in 2013. “We played everywhere we could, we toured constantly, we knew what we were doing.” Andy Greene

Muddy Waters, 'At Newport 1960'


Muddy Waters, ‘At Newport 1960’ (1960)

Bob Dylan going electric at Newport’s sister festival gets all the lore, but Muddy Waters beat him to the plugged-in punch by five years. At the height of the folk revival, the Chicago electric-blues icon brought an amped-up, scarifying-ly powerful combo into Newport Jazz Festival. Between Waters’ bull-roar voice, stinging guitar and swinging band, nobody could stand still, not even Muddy — during “I’ve Got My Mojo Working,” he left the mike long enough to do a twirl with harmonica player James Cotton as the crowd shrieked. For a finale, poet Langston Hughes wrote “Goodbye Newport Blues” on the spot, and pianist Otis Spann sang it because Waters was too worn out from “Mojo” to sing anything further. At Newport quickly became a guidebook for young blues-rock enthusiasts: Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were among those paying close attention. David Menconi

Talking Heads, 'Stop Making Sense'


Talking Heads, ‘Stop Making Sense’ (1984)

Over the course of Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads gradually grow from David Byrne with an acoustic guitar and a boombox into a supercharged nine-member funk machine — the band supplemented by Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Brothers Johnson guitarist Alex Weir, among others. “If the curtain opened and everything was there, there’d be nowhere to go,” Byrne once said in a pseudo-interview with himself. “[The film] tells the story of the band, and it gets more dramatic and physical as it builds up. It’s like 60 Minutes on acid.” Directed by future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme, the band-funded concert film combined tapings from three shows at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater supporting Speaking in Tongues in 1983. “It was also the band’s decision to put it into very small college theaters and art houses around the country instead of trying to open big,” drummer Chris Frantz later told Rolling Stone. “That’s one reason that it succeeded as well as it did: It was able to have long runs at art theaters. The audience would keep coming back.” Even without the visual of Byrne’s refrigerator-sized suit, this album showcases the band’s manic creative peak. Reed Fischer

Nirvana, 'MTV Unplugged in New York'


Nirvana, ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ (1994)

Strip away the fuzz and bluster and Nirvana were nothing but raw emotion. For a taping of MTV’s Unplugged series, they gave the most legendary performance of their brief career, stripping down deep cuts and select covers to acoustic guitars, softly played drums and Kurt Cobain’s gravelly, heartbreaking voice. Special guests and underground heroes the Meat Puppets joined the band on stage for a trio of songs (“[MTV execs] thought a bus from Seattle was gonna come down and Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were all gonna come out and and jam with Nirvana,” said director Beth McCarthy-Miller with a laugh), but it’s the hauntingly unhinged delivery of the Leadbelly arrangement of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” that steals the show, capping off the series’ most iconic episode on an unsettling note. As revealed in Charles Cross’ biography of Cobain, Heavier Than Heaven, the melancholy nature of the show had been aesthetically intentional: the singer confirmed to the show’s producers that the set should be decorated “like a funeral.” Brittany Spanos

Bob Dylan, 'The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall Concert"'


Bob Dylan, ‘The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall Concert”‘ (1998)

In the three decades before its official release in 1998, this was the most famous live bootleg around, breeding both mythology (a heckler calls Dylan “Judas”; Dylan yells back, “I don’t believe you! You’re a liar!”) and myths (it was recorded in Manchester, not at London’s Royal Albert Hall). The legend goes that Dylan’s shift from acoustic folk revivalism to electric rock & roll had left his old fans feeling betrayed, and he and his new band (assembled mostly from members of Ronnie Hawkins’ group) had to win over a hostile audience by force. In fact, he opened the show, like every show on that tour, with an acoustic set. However, on the electric half of the concert he becomes maniacal and riveting, spitting out every word like a curse. “It could be arsenic music, or perhaps Phaedra music,” he told Playboy that year. “Folk music is a bunch of fat people.” Douglas Wolk

MC5, 'Kick Out the Jams'


MC5, ‘Kick Out the Jams’ (1969)

Forget flower-power, the crash-bang throttle of the first 10 minutes of the MC5’s debut made garage-rockers of the era sound weak and tentative by comparison. “I wanna hear some revolution out there,” unapologetically militant singer Rob Tyner, quoting Eldridge Cleaver, screams. And while not everyone was ready for revolution — writing for Rolling Stone in 1969, Lester Bangs said the Motor City 5 used noise and aggression to “conceal a paucity of ideas.” — history shows the album pushing underground rock towards an aggression precipice. It’s quaint to think of now, but the opening command — “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” — so riled the band’s label, Elektra, that the company prepared both edited and unedited versions. Peter Doggett reports in his book There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars and the Rise and Fall of ’60s Counter-Culture that an unedited batch went to the retail chain Hudson’s. When they sent back the stock and refused to stock either version, the band had an even more choice message to them in a series of national ads: “Fuck Hudson’s!” Arielle Castillo7

Grateful Dead, ‘Live/Dead’ (1969)

Grateful Dead, ‘Live/Dead’

Live/Dead may not have been the first instance of a band refinancing their studio bills with a relatively inexpensive live release, but it may have been the most successful. The Grateful Dead — $180,000 in debt to Warner Bros. — jacked into the first 16-track mobile facility in early 1969. “We were after a serious, long composition, musically and then a recording of it,” said Jerry Garcia. The double-vinyl Live/Dead opens with a side-long “Dark Star,” explores the cosmos further in “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven,” continues with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s lascivious side-long take on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light,” and brings it all back home with a Rev. Gary Davis blues followed by “Feedback” and an a cappella “And We Bid You Goodnight.” On the greatest advertisement for a band’s in-concert capabilities recorded to date, the Dead proved themselves both serious avant-gardists and impeccable roots revisionists — and spent the rest of their career reaffirming it onstage. Richard Gehr

Kiss, Alive! (1975)


Kiss, ‘Alive!’ (1975)

“You wanted the best, and you got it — the hottest band in the land!” From that swaggering intro all the way through guitarist Paul Stanley’s banter about audience members’ preferred beverages, Alive! neatly summarized Kiss’s gritty early-Seventies catalog and extremely outsized charm — in turn, the 1975 double LP wound up being the band’s first Top 10 album. Muscular takes on white-knuckle glam classics like “Strutter” and “Cold Gin” reveal just how much sweat seeped into the band members’ makeup on any given night. Chatter over just how much of the album was sweetened in the studio persists to this day, but that hasn’t dimmed its legacy. Not only has Alive! spawned multiple sequels, the 2015 lineup of Kiss will recreate it in full on this fall’s sailing of the Kiss Kruise. Maura Johnston

B.B. King, 'Live at the Regal'


B.B. King, ‘Live at the Regal’ (1965)

When he stepped onstage at the storied Regal Theater on Chicago’s Southside in November 1964, B.B. King had 30 R&B hits but had barely creased the pop charts. Recorded that night, King’s first live album would become an entry point for many white listeners, and blues aficionados still speak of it with awe — Eric Clapton was rumored to spin Live at the Regal to prep for his shows. Newcomers encountered an urbane but never slick professional, backed by a killer horn section, who belted each number with class and grit, all the better to showcase the jazzy yet terse yet economical solos he coaxed from his beloved black Gibson, “Lucille.” His set here begins, as it did those days, with “Everyday I Have the Blues” — not a lament, but the boast of a touring workhorse who performed more than 300 shows each year. Keith Harris

The Who, 'Live at Leeds'


The Who, ‘Live at Leeds’ (1970)

The Who spent most of 1969 and 1970 on the road, playing their rock opera, Tommy, as the centerpiece of epic concerts. They’d become a fearsomely powerful live band, as fluid as they were brutal: four wizards at separate corners of the stage, raising a golden demon together. The original version of Live at Leeds, recorded at a college gig on Valentine’s Day, 1970, was three cover songs and three transfigured Who standards, packaged to look like a warts-and-all bootleg LP (which explained the crackles from a faulty cable). As singer Roger Daltrey later put it, it’s “the end of a two-and-three-quarter-hour show…it’s just the jamming bit at the end.” Tommy itself was omitted, although some of its riffs show up in the course of a 15-minute jam that evolves out of the proto-punk headbanger “My Generation.” Later editions have gradually added the other 27 songs played that night. Douglas Wolk

Johnny Cash, 'At Folsom Prison'


Johnny Cash, ‘At Folsom Prison’ (1968)

Cash’s 1968 live album came at the right time for the country legend who had found himself spiraling out with alcohol and drug addictions — not to mention suffering a lull in success, having not scored a Top 40 hit in four years. Though he had been performing in prisons for nearly a decade at the time he arrived at Folsom, Cash’s first live recording at the site that inspired the iconic 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues” turned out to be exactly what his career needed. “That’s where I met Glenn Sherley,” said the signer in a 1973 interview with Rolling Stone, referencing the Folsom prisoner whose song, “Greystone Chapel,” Cash debuted during the set. “That’s where things really started for me again.” Brittany Spanos2

The Allman Brothers Band, ‘At Fillmore East’ (1971)

Complete with Pabst-clutching roadies on the sleeve, the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East might be a double-LP from blues-rock central casting were it not for the soaring jams on sides B, C and D. Recorded at Bill Graham’s East Village venue in March 1971 and released four months later, it is the last Allman Brothers album under the stewardship of Brother Duane, whose conversational, Coltrane-influenced guitar provides transformative grace on a 23-minute “Whipping Post” and points the way beyond longhaired blues noodles. “It’s like what B.B. King did on Live at the Regal, which is just like one big long song, a giant medley,” Gregg Allman told band biographer Alan Paul. “He never stopped. He just slammed it.” On the flipside is a portrait of an absent road manager Twiggs Lyndon Jr., then incarcerated for stabbing a Buffalo club-owner over unpaid proceeds. Jesse Jarnow

James Brown


James Brown, ‘Live at the Apollo’ (1963)

King Records founder Syd Nathan declined to jump on James Brown’s idea of a live album — they hadn’t been established as a profitable venture and he wasn’t particularly interested in anything but singles at the time. “Didn’t nobody believe us — none of the company executives believed us,” recalled hypeman Bobby Byrd. “But see, we were out there. We saw the response as we run our show down.” In turn, Brown self-financed the show and was even prepared to self-release it. Though Wednesday was usually Amateur Night inside Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business was in his prime. Despite the 27-minute run time, he was a tease: At first, he tries alternating between the locomotive rhythms of his revue, the Famous Flames, and acting cool in formal ballads like “Try Me.” The longer he tries to restrain himself, though, the more his voice quivers before he eventually caves, shouting and screaming as he begs and pleads. Christina Lee