The JB List | Ten Favorite Live Archival Albums Of 2013

We’re huge fans of live archival releases as we love to hear classic, previously unreleased recordings of our favorite bands. While 2013 hasn’t been a great year for bands opening up their vaults in terms of quantity, many of the releases that did come out were exceptional.

With that in mind I’ve put together a list of my favorite 10 live archival releases of 2013. Now bear in mind each of these releases were available for purchase by themselves as opposed to the many “bonus” live recordings that were included in re-issues such as The Who’s Tommy box set or the Allman Brothers Band’s Brothers And Sisters deluxe set. Also, bear in mind “live archival” is different from “live.” I didn’t feature albums that contained shows which took place in the last few years. Let’s get down to it and be sure to share your favorites in the comments section.

10. Widespread PanicOak Mountain 2001 -Night Two

This year Panic has released the first two nights of a three-show stand at Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham, AL. While both releases are worth purchasing, Night Two’s setlist and performance is just ridiculous. The late Michael Houser was on fire throughout, reminding us just what a force he brought to Panic’s music. Miss ya, Mikey.

9. Jimi HendrixMiami Pop Festival

The Hendrix estate continues to mine the legendary guitarist’s vault with varying success. Some of the live releases haven’t been all that impressive, but I’ve really enjoyed my time with this recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. Many of the hits are here as well as debut live takes on “Hear My Train a Comin'” and “Tax Free.”

8. Grateful DeadMay 1977

There were many GD vault releases in 2013 between the four Dave’s Picks installments and a pair of multi-track sets. May 1977 is a 14-disc boxed set containing five complete shows from a marvelous year in the band’s history. The shows have never sounded better than they do on this release.

7. PhishNiagara Falls

The most recent Phish archival release comes from the legendary month of December 1995. Niagara Falls has one of my all-time favorite “Slave To The Traffic Light’s” and an otherworldly “Mike’s” > “Weekapaug” sequence, among other highlights.

6. Legion Of MaryGarcia Live Volume 3

The GarciaLive archival series had a phenomenal year in 2013 and we look forward to hearing Long Island Sound featuring both the JGB and Weir/Wasserman. My favorite release so far was Volume 3 which contains highlights of two Legion Of Mary shows, one of Garcia’s best projects.

5. Neil YoungLive At The Cellar Door

The latest Neil Young archival release, Live At The Cellar Door, comes out on Tuesday and contains recordings from Neil’s six-show solo run at Washington, D.C.’s famed The Cellar Door venue between November 30 and December 2, 1970. The release sees Young mix songs from his tenure in Buffalo Springfield with tunes off his solo albums along with a pair of debuts including the first-ever “Old Man.” There’s also a rare solo piano take on “Cinnamon Girl.”

4. PhishVentura

Earlier this year Phish released Ventura featuring pristine recordings of their outstanding performances in Ventura, CA from their famed Summer ’97 and ’98 tours. This is one of the best sounding Phish releases yet and contains one highlight after another including a transcendent “David Bowie” -> “Cities” -> “David Bowie” segment.

3. Frank ZappaRoad Tapes, Volume 2

This year the Zappa Family Trust has started a new live archival series called Road Tapes and each of the first two releases have been winners. We’re particularly fond of the just-released Volume 2 featuring one of FZ’s best bands ever (Jean-Luc Ponty!) performing in Helsinki in 1973.

2. The BandLive At The Academy Of Music 1971

At the end of 1971 The Band booked a residency at NYC’s Academy Of Music that ran from December 28 through 31. The Band employed New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint to compose horn charts for their most beloved songs that added new life to these tunes. A recently released box set pulls highlights from the run lovingly remastered by a team that included The Band guitarist Robbie Robertson as well as a complete recording of the group’s New Year’s Eve performance complete with a DVD and 48-page hardbound book with previously unseen photos.

1. Grateful DeadSunshine Daydream

After more than 40 years the Grateful Dead have officially released a documentary about their famed August 27, 1972 show at Springfield Creamery in Veneta, OR that also includes all-new stereo and 5.1 audio mixes of the audio from the show. This set has been a longtime coming as a bootleg version has made the rounds for years, yet it’s never looked or sounded better as it does in this release.

Written By: Scott Bernstein