Typically, live albums are excellent additions to a die-hard fan's collection, but few people go out and buy a live album without owning some of the band's studio albums as well. However, these seven artists have released live albums that ended up being their most famous LP's.
1. MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (1969)
Most live albums are released after an artist has a few studio albums under their belt, but Detroit's legendary MC5 bucked this trend by releasing its classic live album Kick Out the Jams as its debut. It's undoubtedly MC5's best album, largely because it captures the band in its purest, noisiest, and most radical form. Along with the debut by fellow Michigan rockers the Stooges, this is the album that invented punk.
2. Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (1977)
Though only half of the tracks were actually recorded in front of an audience, Jackson Browne's Running On Empty captures the life of a touring band better than most other live albums. The album's other half was recorded in hotel rooms, backstage, and even on the tour bus, making for an eclectic and unique listening experience.
3. Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
Though Cheap Trick struggled to find an audience in the United States in the late '70s, the band became unexpected superstars in Japan. To capture the frenzy of its first Japanese tour in 1978, the band recorded a live album at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, which went triple platinum and finally brought Cheap Trick success in its home country. Today, you'll often hear the live version of "I Want You to Want Me" on the radio instead of the studio version.
4. Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison (1969)
Though Johnny Cash found a new audience in the '90s and '00s with his Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings series, the most famous album from his '50s and '60s heydey is 1968's At Folsom Prison, which, as the name implies, was recorded in front of an audience of inmates at Folsom State Prison in California. Cash would repeat the stunt the following year at San Quentin State Prison.
5. James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963)
James Brown was a famously energetic and charismatic live performer, and though none of his studio albums from the '60s are considered classics, his first live album Live at the Apollo is widely considered his single greatest LP, as well as one of the greatest LP's ever recorded. In fact, the album was cited by the MC5 as inspiration for its own classic live album, Kick Out the Jams.
6. Kiss - Alive! (1975)
Kiss is the ultimate example of a band whose live show is considered to be far better than its actual music, and while I think that opinion is greatly exaggerated (they're much better songwriters than they're given credit for), the band's commercial breakthrough was its 1975 live album Alive! Though there's much debate as to how much of the album was truly recorded live, it's still considered a classic nonetheless.
7. Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)
Not only is Frampton Comes Alive! the most popular album by Peter Frampton, it's also one of the most popular albums by any artist, selling 11 million copies and becoming the best selling live album in history. According to Wayne's World 2, the album was so popular that it was issued to you if you lived in the suburbs. Even I own a copy, despite the fact that I've never even bought one.