Our Top 10 Rolling Stones Live albums list starts off where we left off in our last article on the best Rolling Stones albums. The Rolling Stones are easily one of the greatest rock bands of all time to see live. At the start of the 2013 Hyde Park concert film, Keith Richards comments about how it never matters what the size of the audience they are playing for. Every time he and his bandmates take the stage they want to blow away the audience. Richards uses the term “murder it” That’s the Rolling Stones. There are no bad Rolling Stones performances. It’s impossible. Yes of course there are some better than others, but in the end, who doesn’t want to go to a Rolling Stones concert? If you can’t make it to a concert or have never seen them live, well then there are so many great recordings in which you can experience that classic live Rolling Stones sound.
The Rolling Stones have released a great deal of official live albums throughout their career. Recently, the band also started releasing live concerts on their website and in Google Play. Many of them had been previously bootlegged, but now are available in much better sound quality for a third of the prices we used to pay for the bootlegs. This list focuses on the official live albums released because there were so many good ones.
# 10 – Got Live If You Want It!
The Rolling Stones Got Live If You Want It! is not a single concert recording but rather a combination of various concerts blended together to simulate a single performance. It worked rather well as this 1966 Rolling Stones live album became a very popular Rolling Stones album for fans all throughout the 1960s and 70s. It’s not the best sounding Live album and two tracks were actually studio recordings with live crowd noise mixed in. Nonetheless, it’s the first Rolling Stones live album ever released (not counting an EP of the same name released a year earlier) and stands as more of a historic piece that needs to be mentioned in the great history of The Rolling Stones.
# 9 – Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78
Continuing with our Top 10 Rolling Stones live albums list we turn to the great concert film Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78. Originally, the CD was only released with the box set that contained the Blu-Ray or DVD of the film. However, the CD was released separately a few years after the box set had been released. This is a great document of their Some Girls tour which opens with the great Chuck Berry song “Let It Rock.”
The Rolling Stones performed seven songs from the Some Girls album in this show. Those are the songs that really stand out. The band seems to be really enjoying playing them live as they knew they had just released one of the best albums in their career. Jagger’s performance of “Beast Of Burden,” is not to be missed. Listen to Ron Wood and Keith Richards trade licks at the end of the song.
# 8 –Sweet Summer Sun – Hyde Park Live
The 2000s and 2010s defined a trend by record companies to release live albums issued in box sets that combined both audio and video presentations of the artists on CD, LP and Blu-Ray or DVD. These box sets often were released at high prices. When sales slowed down of these sets, record companies would release usually just a CD of the audio of the show. This holds true for this listing and the previous listing on our Rolling Stones live albums list.
The great box set Sweet Summer Sun – Hyde Park Live presented Rolling Stones fans with a 2013 concert held at Hyde Park in London. The show was part of their 50th anniversary year. It also stood as a tribute to the famous Hyde Park concert The Rolling Stones played in 1969 which also stood as the debut performance of guitarist Mick Taylor. In tribute to the famed guitarist, The Rolling Stones invited Mick Taylor to perform with them at the 2013 Hyde Park concert. This is a fabulous show that should not be missed by Rolling Stones fans. The sound is great and the video is spectacular.
# 7 – Love You Live
The great Rolling Stones Love You Live album was a two record set released in 1977. For Rolling Stones fans who came of age in the mid-1970s this is really the first live Rolling Stones album that we purchased brand new upon release. I love this album because it also contained songs from the Black and Blue record which was always one of my favorite Rolling Stone albums. Loved the cover and packaging of this great record. This is one you want on vinyl.
# 6 – Totally Stripped
The Rolling Stones Stripped album was always one of our favorite Rolling Stones albums. However, Totally Stripped completely blew our minds as one of the greatest enhanced issues of an album ever released. This one contained so much material both live and in the studio that you will be literally in Rolling Stones’ Heaven while you listen. Don’t miss this one.
# 5 – Still Life
The Rolling Stones live album Still Life presented fans with live performances from the 1981 American tour. One of the highlights of the album was a cover version of the classic Miracles song “Going to a Go-Go,” which was released as a single. It’s a pretty short album containing Rolling Stones classics as well as songs from Some Girls and their most recent single at the time “Start Me Up.”
# 4 – No Security
One of the reasons why we placed the No Security album in the number four spot on this top 10 Rolling Stones live albums list is the set list released on this live album is spectacular. So many of the songs released on the No Security have never been released on any previous Rolling Stones live albums before. I’ll be the first in line for any Rolling Stones live album that contains a live version of “Memory Motel.”
The Rolling Stones were touring to support the Bridges to Babylon album on this one so there were a few songs from that record released on No Security. Many of these songs never appeared on any of the Rolling Stones live albums again. I don’t know about you, but I like the rare stuff and this one is filled with it.
# 3 –Shine a Light
What is it about Martin Scorsese that gets the best out of actors and musical artists? Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and most recently Al Pacino gave some of the best performances of the careers in Martin Scorsese films. Martin Scorsese is no stranger to the rock and roll world. He has done the same thing in the music business. That was first defined when he produced and directed the film The Last Waltz featuring The Band. Some men and women just know how to get the best out of people. It’s clear that Martin Scorsese possesses that ability. The Rolling Stones concert film Shine A Light is further evidence of that. It’s a wonderful film that also produced a great soundtrack released in multiple configurations.
The Rolling Stones are the most unique band in classic rock history. They’re the only band that just keeps getting better and better on that concert stage. They never sold out, they have never milked it, they’re just gone on vacation. But when they come back, Boy do they bring it. Shine A Light is all the proof you need. The pairing of Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones was perfect. I could watch and listen to this one over and over again and never get bored.
# 2 –The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
The album The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a live album that serves as the soundtrack to a television special that The Rolling Stone had filmed n 1968 but never saw the light of day until it was released in the 1990s. The television special also featured performances by Jethro Tull (with Tony Iommi in the band), Marianne Faithfull, The Who, Taj Mahall, and a band called The Dirty Mac which consisted of (wait until you hear this), John Lennon, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Band and Eric Clapton. They only performed two songs along with a short rehearsal jam and that was it for the group. But so cool to see Eric Clapton and Keith Richards on both sides of John Lennon performing together.
Members of the Rolling Stones introduced each of the performances of the other artists while John Lennon introduced The Rolling Stones. The sound quality is very thin based on the medium. Yet, listening to all these legendary artists interact with each other and the Stones performances make this one very special. We also need to mention that one of the most significant aspects of this show was it served as Brian Jones’ final live Rolling Stone performance. There are much better sounding Rolling Stones live albums and so many more with better performances, but the historical significance of these albums and the presence of Lennon, Clapton and the Who fueled this one to be ranked almost number one on our top 10 Rolling Stones live albums list.
# 1 – ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert
As we get to the end of our top 10 Rolling Stones live albums list we turn to the most famous Rolling Stones Live Album ever released. There was no doubt about this one. The Rolling Stones’ live album‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert was released in 1970. All the songs released on the album were recorded live in New York and Baltimore during the month of November 1969.
The Rolling Stones played their hearts out during those shows. The nine minute version of Midnight Rambler that closes out side two may just be the greatest Rolling Stones live performance of all time. Every track is outstanding. The sound quality is great for a 1969 recording. The mix is very dry at times almost sounding like a monitor mix, but it helps separate the instruments more clearly so that every member of the band shines beautifully. ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert is not just the greatest Rolling Stones live album ever released, but one of the greatest live albums of all time.
Updated May 30, 2023
Top 10 Rolling Stones Live Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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