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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Frank Zappa and the Mothers, 'Roxy & Elsewhere' (1974)
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29. Frank Zappa and the Mothers, 'Roxy & Elsewhere' (1974)

Though many of his phases have great live albums to complement them, Roxy & Elsewhere is the apotheosis of mid-Seventies Zappa, oozing proof of his ability to recruit a first-rate ensemble (keyboardist George Duke, percussionist Ruth Underwood and, um, guitarist Frank Zappa), to follow through with unorthodox methods (he seamlessly collates recordings from Hollywood with ones from "elsewhere," occasionally editing them together into one song) and to pull off the frenzied arrangements of the Apostrophe(') days. The group performs at the quirky outer limits: The instrumental "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" has unpredictable light-speed whirrs of xylophone and synth and the 16-minute jazz-prog-rock sandwich "Be-Bop Tango" includes an explanation of how to dance to Duke's sung polyrhythm ("You're still too adagio," Zappa jokes). Meanwhile, the Nixon sendup "Son of Orange County" ("I just can't believe you are such a fool") contains one of Zappa's most soulful guitar solos. Zappa included this Zen-like note on the first CD release: "Sometimes you can be surprised that 'The universe works whether or not you understand it.'" Kory Grow

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