10 Standout Live Archival Releases Of 2018
2018 was a slow year for live archival releases, but of those that were issued many are sublime. Below is a list featuring 10 standout live archival sets from the past 12 months. The list is presented in no particular order and the only caveat is that there’s just one entry per band. Included within are stellar releases from jam titans the Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers Band as well as the Jerry Garcia Band. However, legendary rockers are also represented, namely Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones. The oldest recordings date back to 1973, while the most recent comes from a 2017 The National show. Spotify embeds are included when available and if not there are links for where you can purchase the release. Let’s get down to it:
Grateful Dead: Pacific Northwest ’73 – ’74
Pacific Northwest ’73 – ’74: The Complete Recordings features six complete Grateful Dead concerts recorded in the Pacific Northwest in 1973 and 1974. The massive box set includes every note played by the group at P.N.E. Coliseum in Vancouver on June 22, 1973; at Portland Memorial Coliseum in Portland on June 24, 1973; at Seattle Center Arena in Seattle on June 26, 1973; at P.N.E. Coliseum on May 17, 1974; at Portland Memorial Coliseum on May 19, 1974 and at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle on May 21, 1974 spread across 19 discs. In addition, highlights from the collection were released as Pacific Northwest ’73 – ’74: Believe It If You Need It.
Frank Zappa: The Roxy Performances
Three years after the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) finally released Roxy: The Movie, long considered the “holy grail” of Frank Zappa releases, the ZFT issued the definitive box set The Roxy Performances. Included within are all four shows Zappa and his band performed at The Roxy on December 9 and 10, 1973 as well as a private invite-only performance/soundcheck/film shoot on December 8, 1973. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also bonus material from a session held at Ike Turner’s Bolic Sound in nearby Inglewood from a few days later. Frank’s band at the time featured keyboardist George Duke, multi-instrumentalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, bassist Tom Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, Ruth Underwood on percussion and Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson on drums.
Phish: 8/12/98 Vernon Downs
Jam titans Phish played a show chock full of highlights at Vernon Downs racetrack in Vernon, New York on August 12, 1998. The concert was their last before the Lemonwheel festival. An official recording of Phish’s lone performance at Vernon Downs was released via LivePhish.com. The quartet tipped their hat to the venue by turning a one-time-only cover of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House” into “Vernon Downs The House.” Other highlights include a transcendent “Ramble On” -> “Slave To The Traffic Light” sequence.
Widespread Panic: Knoxville 1995
Widespread Panic kept live archival releases flowing all year long. The best of the bunch is Knoxville 1995, a multi-track recording of the band’s September 28, 1995 concert at the Tennessee Amphitheater in Knoxville, Tennessee. Panic enlisted former guitar tech and longtime fan Sam Holt to pick the installment. He either saw, worked or played at hundreds of shows and considers this one of the best. Between the “Dear Mr. Fantasy” opener, a stellar “Gimme” and the second-ever “You Got Yours,” he chose well. Head to LiveWidespreadPanic.com to purchase.
The Allman Brothers Band: Cream Of The Crop 2003
The Allman Brothers Band were at the top of their game in 2003 after the release of what wound up being their last studio album Hittin’ The Note. Guitarist Warren Haynes served as supervising producer for Peach Picks: Cream Of The Crop 2003, a compilation featuring 36 tracks recorded by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers between July 25 – August 10, 2003. The lineup at the time included Haynes, bassist Oteil Burbridge, guitarist Derek Trucks and percussionist Marc Quinones along with founding members Gregg Allman, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks. Cream Of The Crop also contains tracks with guest appearances from Susan Tedeschi, Karl Denson and Branford Marsalis.
Neil Young: Songs For Judy
The latest live archival release from Neil Young was recorded in November of 1976. Songs For Judy features 23 tracks Young performed during solo sets as part of that legendary tour, which marked one of the peaks of Neil’s career. The audio sounds fantastic and includes such iconic songs as “After The Gold Rush,” “Heart Of Gold,” “Mr. Soul” and “The Needle & The Damage Done.”
Bruce Springsteen: Helsinki 2003
Bruce Springsteen’s vault was opened wide in 2018 for a series of live archival releases put out by nugs.net. The best of the bunch features Springsteen and the E Street Band’s stop on The Rising tour in Helsinki, Finland on June 16, 2003. Fans had been waiting with bated breath for an official recording from the tour and technology hampered the effort as there were forward-compatibility issues with the system used to document the run. Thankfully, it was worth the wait as The Boss and his band were in fine form during the marathon concert that included a bunch of rarities. Helsinki 2003 is available for purchase via live.brucespringsteen.net.
Jerry Garcia: GarciaLive Volume 10 – May 20th, 1990
Hawaii held a special place in Jerry Garcia’s heart after he spent time in The Aloha State recuperating from a diabetic coma in 1986. The lone 2018 installment of the GarciaLive series of live archival releases captures a special show the Jerry Garcia Band played in Hawaii from 1990, one of just two the group performed in the state. GarciaLive Volume Ten: May 20th, 1990 Hilo Civic Auditorium features every note from an incredible night in Hilo. Highlights are numerous and include a rare version of “Tears Of Rage,” an inspired cover of Peter Tosh’s “Stop That Train,” a loping “They Love Each Other” and an emotional “Forever Young.”
The Rolling Stones: No Security – San Jose 1999
The Rolling Stones followed the over-the-top production of 1997 and 1998’s Bridges To Babylon tour with a more stripped down approach for the No Security tour in 1999. From The Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999 contains 20 songs the legendary band played as part of the stops at San Jose Arena in San Jose, California that brought the North American leg of the tour to a close. The Stones were in fine form throughout as they mixed Bridges To Babylon material with some of their most beloved material. Unlike the other entries on the list, From The Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999 is available as video too. There’s DVD, Blu-Ray, DVD + 2-CD, 3-LP and digital releases.
The National: Boxer Live In Brussels
The National offered a complete performance of their 2007 studio album Boxer on November 9, 2017 at Forest National in Brussels, Belgium. The performance in celebration of the acclaimed record’s 10th anniversary was initially issued on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day before getting a wider digital release. The live album presents all 12 Boxer tracks in order of the original studio effort, which includes such favorites as “Fake Empire,” “Squalor Victoria,” “Slow Show,” “Apartment Story” and the rarity “Ada.”