Friday Five is back with a special theme this week — Road Trip albums. We’ve been spending some serious time on the road recently, and we have decided that nothing helps pass the miles like a great, live rock album. Whether you’ve got a lot of driving ahead of you, or just need something to listen to while you lounge around with a drink, get ready to rock with our go-to “on the road” albums.
Bob Seger - ‘Live’ Bullet
Bob Seger’s ‘Live’ Bullet’ could make this list solely off of the album version of “Turn The Page,” which is arguably the greatest “on the road” song of all time. The iconic saxophone part and the lyrics sung in Seger’s gravelly voice perfectly capture the less glamorous parts of travel. The rest of the album lives up to its biggest hit, and the driving drums, big horn and organ parts, and plenty of guitar will keep you moving. There are also other great road tracks like “Travelin’ Man” and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” that really match the spirit of the list. At times there’s some blues and honky-tonk sounds mixed in, and it brings the energy of a live show at a dive bar, which we are all about. As soon as you hit play, you can smell the smoky, beer-soaked venue where the show would’ve been played. And that’s pretty much all you can ask for from a great live album.
The thought of witnessing a full Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers show at a smallish, intimate venue like the Wiltern in Los Angeles is truly unbelievable, and one lucky audience got that experience in 1985. Something about Southern rock plays really well on long, empty highways, and Pack Up The Plantation: Live! was our choice from the genre for this list. Again, there are a lot of great, booming drum and guitar parts that help keep your foot on the gas. Petty’s music is also very upbeat and aspirational, which can keep you motivated and in a good mood while logging a lot of hours behind the wheel. The version of “Breakdown” on this album is particularly surreal, as there’s a lot of interaction between Petty and the crowd, and full choruses where he lets the fans sing. Finally, one of the best parts of any live show is being surprised by an unexpected cover, and Petty’s version of “Shout” is a perfect example, and a great way to round out the album.
Rolling Stones - Love You Live
If you’re looking for high energy live rock performances, the Rolling Stones are going to make your list 10 times out of 10. When coffee isn’t quite doing the trick, Love You Live can give you the boost you need, with big guitar parts, Mick Jagger’s infectious energy, and a loud crowd. The ending run on this album is absolutely ridiculous, with “Brown Sugar,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and “Sympathy for the Devil” all in a row. “Sympathy for the Devil” is also the ultimate live album closer, with an extended outro that brings out rock and roll magic. Jagger yells and makes random noises, Keith Richards shreds on the guitar, and everyone is just in a frenzy for seven minutes. There’s a reason why The Rolling Stones have been a must-see tour for almost half a century, and this album has it all on display.
Led Zeppelin - How The West Was Won
If you like the extended jam to end the Stones album, you’ll love getting the Led out. How The West Was Won clocks in around two and a half hours, which really kills time on a long trip. It opens with “Immigrant Song” which is one hell of a wake up call -- it’ll get you into the album, and will definitely snap you out of any sort of driving fog. The rest of the album features incredibly long, jam band-esque versions of some of Led Zeppelin’s most popular tracks. “Stairway to Heaven” is almost short by comparison! While you might not choose to listen to 20+ minute jams when hanging around with friends, they are a perfect way to pass the miles on the road. When else can you find the time to check out John Bonham crushing drum solo after drum solo on “Moby Dick?” Everything on this album is BIG, and of course Robert Plant’s iconic voice can give you a great jolt to keep you moving. It also closes with a terrific road song in “Bring it on Home,” a perfect ending to an album that should help you cover quite a bit of ground.
Warren Zevon seems pretty underrated, at least in our eyes. But whether you know him or not, we think he perfectly captures the vibe we’re going for with our road albums. Length-wise, Stand in the Fire is pretty close to Zevon’s studio albums. But the performances of all the songs are just bigger, especially when it comes to the vocals. Zevon really brings a lot of energy, full-on yelling on songs like “Werewolves of London,” and it’s great to hear the crowd react and feed off of it as well. You can just feel how much fun he is having on stage. There are a bunch of songs on the album about outlaws and the old west, which feels especially appropriate when driving through the deserts on the West Coast. Not to mention, there’s literally a song about not sleeping, which is sort of essential on really long drives. And when your drive is done? This is a pretty great album to listen to while having a beer (or three) once you’ve reached your destination.