The B List: 10 Best Live Archival Releases of 2011

Our look at the best releases of the year kicks off today with an annual traditional around these parts that we don’t see elsewhere – a list of the best live archival releases from the past 12 months. These are all albums which feature music pulled from the artists’ archives that had never been officially released until 2011.

All in all 2011 was an exceptional year for archival releases as more acts and labels are realizing the benefits of opening their vaults. For this list we focused on straight live archival releases, so I didn’t include live shows that were included with studio remasters such as the wonderful Paramount show Nirvana put out with the 20th edition of Nevermind and the superb Wembley ’74 tracks that rounded out the Immersion Edition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.  I also shied away from the free download compilations released by Phish (Live Bait) and the Grateful Dead (30 Days of Dead) which each deserve recognition for their awesomeness. With that said, here’s my list of live archival releases that caught my attention in 2011.

10. moe. – December 7, 2000

[Photo by Rob Chapman]

While jam stalwarts moe. have launched two archival series, Warts & All and Dr. Stan’s Prescription, over the years, both series seem to be on hiatus, with the last installments coming in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Without much fanfare moe. added an outstanding show from 2000 to their collection of live shows on LiveDownloads.com and the whole performance absolutely smokes. They come out of the gates with a 20+ minute Time Ed and don’t relent with strong versions of Head, Bring It Back Home, Four and Meat scattered about, but for me the highlight is a Dr. Graffenberg > Linus and Lucy > Dr. Graffenberg sandwich that features at least four distinct sections of improv.

Where You Can Sample This Release: LiveDownloads.com

9. The Bridge School Concerts – 25th Anniversary Edition

Neil and Pegi Young celebrated 25 years of the mostly acoustic Bridge School Benefit concerts by putting together a two-CD set filled with highlights from throughout the years. This collection features outstanding tracks from a diverse selection of artists that ranges from Metallica to Thom Yorke to R.E.M. to Sonic Youth to ol’ Neil himself. Standout tracks include Fleet Foxes’ Blue Ridge Mountains, an acoustic Get Back by Macca and Norah Jones’ cover of Jesus, Etc.

Where You Can Sample This Release: Official Trailer

8. Jimi Hendrix – Winterland

Just when you thought Experience Hendrix had tapped all the material worth releasing from Jimi’s career comes this stunning 4-CD (five if you buy it from Amazon) box set featuring the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s two-year anniversary shows at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. The action starts with the best version of Tax Free these ears have ever heard and continues with stunning versions of the best tunes in Hendrix’s catalog up until that point and kickass covers of Like A Rolling Stone, Sunshine of Your Love and Dear Mr. Fantasy. Even the repeats are worth it because the solos are so different from each other.

Where You Can Sample This Release: “Sizzle” Reel

7. Neil Young – A Treasure

 

Back in the mid ’80s Neil Young put together an eight-piece band of all-star musicians called The International Harvesters to play a batch of country-tinged songs he wrote at the time. The latest installment of Young’s Archive Series features 12 outstanding tracks hand-picked by Neil and the late Ben Keith from the only International Harvesters tour. Standout tracks include countrified versions of Buffalo Springfield’s Flying On The Ground is Wrong and an ode to becoming a father in Amber Jean.

Where You Can Sample This Release: Amber Jean Video

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3 Responses

  1. having heard a god portion of these releases, I have to commend Scotty on compiling a great list for folks to check out.the Hendrix and Zappa sets, in particular, are fantastic.

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