Top 10 Hit Songs That Were Recorded Live in Concert

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Top 10 Hit Songs That Were Recorded Live in Concert

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These live music performances rock! For this list, we're looking at popular songs from artist's back catalogs that were recorded live during performances. Our countdown includes “Baby, I Love Your Way”, "Comfortably Numb”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and more!
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Top 10 Hit Songs that Were Recorded Live in Concert


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hit Songs that Were Recorded Live in Concert.

For this list, we’re looking at popular songs from artist’s back catalogs that were recorded live during performances.

What live recordings are you partial too? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “An American Trilogy” (1973)

Elvis Presley
The King of Rock ‘n Roll certainly knew a great song when he heard one. He was equally great at making them his own. Elvis’ performance of “Suspicious Minds” from the “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” concert was one of those instances, as was his version of “An American Trilogy” from the same show. Presley had long been including this medley from songwriter Mickey Newbury in his shows, but the version recorded on this night shot all the way to number eight on the U.K. Singles Chart. The performance itself possesses all the bravado, pomp and circumstance you’d expect from Elvis - not to mention a stylin’ rhinestone-studded jumpsuit. Hail to The King, baby!


#9: “Baby, I Love Your Way” (1976)

Peter Frampton
There are few album covers out there as indicative of a decade as Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive!” From Frampton’s curly mop of hair and come-hither stare to the soft-focus photography and white typeface: this live album helped define the 70’s. And good thing, too, because Peter Frampton’s solo career hadn’t been going too well after leaving the hard rocker group Humble Pie. “Frampton Comes Alive!” changed all that, selling over eight million copies in the U.S. alone. This was thanks to the strength of songs like “Do You Feel Like We Do,” “Show Me the Way” and especially, “Baby, I Love Your Way.” Frampton’s delivery is the sound of the soft rock seventies!

#8: “Everlong” (2009)

Foo Fighters
When was the last time a song appeared more than once on a greatest hits album? Well, Foo Fighters fans thought “Everlong” was so nice, they wanted it twice. And, so, that’s what they got on the Foo’s 2009 “greatest hits” package. This was due to the popularity behind an impromptu acoustic performance of “Everlong” by Dave Grohl on the “Howard Stern” show, stripping down the song to its basic essence. Considering it was unplanned, the execution and sound quality are surprisingly great. So, it’s no surprise that it quickly gained traction with Foo Fighters fans. The band even took to performing “Everlong” acoustically on tour, continuing to acknowledge both versions today. And for that, we thank them.

#7: “Comfortably Numb” (1995)

Pink Floyd
Classic Rock fans don’t need to be told how brilliant David Gilmour’s solos are on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” They’re the stuff of legend! The band’s final full tour in 1994 for “The Division Bell” was broadcast on pay-per-view, and later released as a live package titled, “Pulse.” Here, “Comfortably Numb” goes beyond prog rock, beyond psychedelia and heads straight into a religious experience. This live version was almost twice as long, and featured extended soloing from Gilmour. Honestly, the guitar legend could have continued playing for another hour and we wouldn’t have complained one bit!

#6: “Better Man” (2003)

Pearl Jam
You know that you’ve connected with the audience when a sold out Madison Square Garden sings your lyrics back to you. That’s what happened to Pearl Jam when they performed their hit, “Better Man,” to an appreciative crowd that knew every word. It’s the sort of magical experience every musician dreams of, and Pearl Jam lived it on this night. The audience was all too happy to share that energy and give it back to the band. When the song finally kicks in, the rocked out, excitable nature of Pearl Jam’s playing is on full display, making it a truly iconic moment. Oh, to be there live!

#5: “I Want You to Want Me” (1978)

Cheap Trick
“I Want You to Want Me” is a staple of classic rock radio. It’s also one of the only times you’ll hear the live performance of a song played over the studio version nearly every single time. That’s because Cheap Trick’s “at Budokan” is one of the shining stars of the live album medium, an example of a band’s stage energy being captured on tape and pressed to vinyl. Cheap Trick’s story was similar to Peter Frampton, in that their studio recordings weren’t initially doing so well. But, the sound of screaming fans, hard-edged guitars and big-time melodic hooks turned “Cheap Trick at Budokan” into a certified phenomenon. The whole album is incredible, but the live version of “I Want You to Want Me” is simply lightning in a bottle.


#4: “Big Love” (1997)

Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac fans were over the moon when the band’s lineup during the “Rumours” era reunited in 1997 for an MTV special and live album titled, “The Dance.” The resulting physical release turned out to be one of the highest selling live albums of all time in the United States, thanks largely to the phenomenal performances by everyone involved - in particular, guitarist Lindsay Buckingham. The finger-player’s technique is on full display during the raw and blistering performance of “Big Love,” boasting an arrangement that’s far different from the studio version found on the album “Tango in the Night.” Gone is the processed eighties production and the danceable rhythms. In its place is an intensely personal and mesmerizing one-man show. Simply amazing.

#3: “Rock and Roll All Nite” (1975)

KISS
The odds are probably pretty good that you know “Rock and Roll All Nite” by KISS, even if you’ve never heard a studio album by the band. It’s just one of those radio rock staples that’s played all the time, both the “Dressed to Kill” studio performance and the version that officially “broke” the band. We’re talking about KISS’ “Alive!,” a live album that’s largely regarded as one of the best of its kind. It’s also continually cited as a turning point for KISS’ career. It’s here where the energy of “Rock and Roll All Nite” is transferred from the comparatively standard studio version into the high-octane anthem it’s gone on to become for both the bands and their legions of fans.

#2: “All Apologies” (1994)

Nirvana
The “MTV Unplugged'' series led a number of bands to release some of the most defining albums of their careers. Nirvana was one of these groups! When they stripped down their arrangements for music television, it resulted in the very popular rendition of “All Apologies.” Believe it or not, however, former frontman Kurt Cobain was reportedly not satisfied with the band’s performance on this night, telling MTV that they had “played that song a lot better before.” This didn’t stop fans from gravitating towards this moody acoustic version though, thanks largely to the accompanying music video that made the rounds on MTV’s daily rotation. No apologies necessary!

Before we name our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions!

“Respect” (1971)
Aretha Franklin
Live from the Fillmore West, with Soul & Groove to Spare

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1982)
Bruce Springsteen
We Can All Recite Bruce’s Banter by Heart

“Fingertips - Part 2” (1963)
Stevie Wonder
Actually, Make that LITTLE Stevie Wonder

“She’s Got a Way” (1981)
Billy Joel
We Just Love Your Story Songs, Billy

#1: “Folsom Prison Blues” (1968)

Johnny Cash
All it takes is that iconic opening line, and you’re there. At Folsom Prison, country legend Johnny Cash performed his classic “Folsom Prison Blues” for a raucous, incarcerated crowd that simply couldn’t get enough. Cash thrived in the live arena, and connected well with his audience. This could also be seen at San Quentin Prison with the live recording of another smash hit, “A Boy Named Sue.” And sure, the studio version of “Folsom Prison Blues” was great, but the live performance simply took the song to another level. It also helped certify Johnny Cash as the king of country cool. No arguments here!
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