50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone ranks the 50 best live albums ever, from Jimi Hendrix at Monterey to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

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Donny Hathaway, 'Live' (1972)
50
48/50

48. Donny Hathaway, 'Live' (1972)

Backed by a combo that included Chicago session vets such as guitarist Philip Upchurch, bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Fred White (who later joined Earth, Wind & Fire), Donny Hathaway swings with vividness on this brilliant live set and the audience responds ecstatically. When he runs through a 12-minute version of "The Ghetto," playing the Rhodes electric piano with intensity, his fans soul-clap in time; a woman screams delightedly when he gives a gospel lilt to Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." Meanwhile, "Little Ghetto Boy," which was released the following year as a classic single from the Quincy Jones soundtrack collaboration Come Back, Charleston Blue, earns a life-affirming preview. Live cracked the Top 20 and became Hathaway's first gold album, but the noted perfectionist was typically self-critical. "I'm naturally happy with the sales but the album itself isn't as good as I would have liked it," he told Blues & Soul magazine. "I've got to polish myself up for the next one." Sadly, he never got that chance: The album closes with a 13-minute rendition of "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)," a song that inadvertently predicted his struggles with schizophrenia, and his eventual suicide in 1979 at the age of 33. Mosi Reeves

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