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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Talking Heads, 'Stop Making Sense' (1984)
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11/50

11. Talking Heads, 'Stop Making Sense' (1984)

Over the course of Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads gradually grow from David Byrne with an acoustic guitar and a boombox into a supercharged nine-member funk machine — the band supplemented by Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Brothers Johnson guitarist Alex Weir, among others. "If the curtain opened and everything was there, there'd be nowhere to go," Byrne once said in a pseudo-interview with himself. "[The film] tells the story of the band, and it gets more dramatic and physical as it builds up. It's like 60 Minutes on acid." Directed by future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme, the band-funded concert film combined tapings from three shows at Hollywood's Pantages Theater supporting Speaking in Tongues in 1983. "It was also the band's decision to put it into very small college theaters and art houses around the country instead of trying to open big," drummer Chris Frantz later told Rolling Stone. "That's one reason that it succeeded as well as it did: It was able to have long runs at art theaters. The audience would keep coming back." Even without the visual of Byrne's refrigerator-sized suit, this album showcases the band's manic creative peak. Reed Fischer

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