Classic Rock albums we’d love to see played in full

With the announcement that they’ll play 1974’s Sheet Music album in full on their forthcoming UK tour, 10cc have become the latest band to dedicate a chunk of their live set to just one landmark album. The trend is hardly new - The Who took Quadrophenia on tour back in 1996, the Jesus and Mary Chain performed Psychocandy in its entirety just last week, while Manic Street Preachers are currently on the road performing The Holy Bible to mark the album’s 20th anniversary – but there’s no shortage of classic albums yet to be tackled. Here’s nine ripe for killer live performances…

A Night At The OperaQueen It’s okay, we know Freddie’s dead, but thanks for the reminder. But come on, Adam Lambert would nail this. We’re thinking a limited run – the Royal Opera House, The Met, Sydney, The Bolshoi Theatre, Monte Carlo, natch – tickets at 1975 prices, a hologram of Fred at the piano for Bo Rhap and staging by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Don’t say you wouldn’t be all over that.

Purple RainPrince For those lucky enough to snag tickets, this year’s guerrilla Hit and Run tour provided a glorious reminder of what a jaw-dropping talent Prince Rogers Nelson really is. Some hideously mis-judged PR decisions in the past left the Purple One open to ridicule, but with his focus sharpened and the brilliant 3rdEyeGirl serving as his most rocking backing band in decades, this would be a perfect time for the man to revisit his best loved album, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Prince made the cover of Kerrang! magazine in 1984, hailed as a guitar hero to rival Hendrix: see this show and you’d believe the hype.

Songs For The Deaf – Queens Of The Stone Age Josh Homme isn’t big on nostalgia, as evidenced by his continued refusal to participate in any Kyuss reunions, but QOTSA circa 2002 were such a god-damned fun band that the Ginger Elvis might yet be tempted to get the old gang together again for a run through what’s one of this century’s finest rock albums. He’s already made up with Nick Oliveri, Dave Grohl is only ever a phone call away, and Mark Lanegan seems like a pretty easy-going, amenable chap to us. Ahem. At a push we’d settle for No-One Knows played 10 times in a row, if that’s any easier Josh.

Ready An’ Willing – Whitesnake Pre-MTV, pre-botox and pre-Tawny Kitaen (sigh…), Whitesnake were a gritty, bluesy, soulful rock band of the highest calibre, and 1980’s Ready An’ Willing stands as their finest hour. Fool For Your Loving has never been off the ‘Snake set list since, but what a treat it’d be to hear The Cov belt out the likes of Ain’t Gonna Cry No More, Sweet Talker and empowering feminist anthem She’s A Woman once again, like 1987’s self-titled album never happened.

Tres Hombres – ZZ Top The phenomenal success of Eliminator means that ZZ Top will be stuck playing Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Sharp Dressed Man ‘til doomsday, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Mr Gibbons, Mr Hill and Mr Beard would relish the opportunity to mosey down dusty ol’ memory lane to lock horns with the shit-kickin’, whiskey-snortin’, hell raisin’ rumble of their classic 1973 album once again. Bonus points if they bring out the buffalo, rattlesnakes and buzzards on tour, but really, that’s not a deal-breaker.

Powerage – AC/DC Realistically, there’s only going to be one more AC/DC world tour, and while we’re loving Rock or Bust, we wouldn’t be totally heartbroken if we never got the opportunity to hear, say, Got Some Rock and Roll Thunder or Rock The House played live in 2015. Instead, how about the ‘boys’ exit on a high with a boogie through their finest album, the peerless Powerage? We’re not 100% convinced that Beano could pull off Bon Scott’s inimitable swagger throughout, but the opportunity to hear under-rated classics such as What’s Next To The Moon, Up To My Neck In You and Gimme A Bullet would make grown men – by which I mean ‘this writer’ – cry big, snot-laden tears.

Appetite For Destruction – Guns N’ Roses Okay, okay, we get it, the reunion that everyone wants isn’t going to happen. Soooo, how about Axl reminds us why we all fell in love with his band in the first place, with a romp through what is arguably the greatest hard rock debut of all time? It won’t be the same, obviously, but just go through Side One of Appetite… in your head and tell us you wouldn’t freak out like a Black Friday shopper in Currys to hear those tunes spat out one after another.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – David Bowie Granted the chances of getting any live gigs from Mr Jones in the future seems fairly unlikely, but the possibility of Bowie resurrecting Ziggy – famously killed off onstage at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on July 3, 1973 – would cause an internet meltdown that’d make the frenzy around Kate Bush’s comeback shows seem like small buns. The absence of Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder would be keenly felt, for sure, but we suspect there’d be a few musicians willing to step into their stack-heeled boots for this.

Heavy Load – Metallica But wait, you cry, Metallica never did an album called Heavy Load! This is true, but bear with us here. While we’re on this little fantasy trip, how about we pretend that in 1996 Metallica sat down and listened to the 27 songs they’d recorded with Bob Rock and instead of releasing all of them, as Load and Re-Load, they displayed an ounce of sense and edited the song list down to 10 killer tracks – Fuel, Until It Sleeps, Ain’t My Bitch, The Outlaw Torn, Bleeding Me, The Memory Remains, etc, - and released one single album which could actually have stood up against The Black Album and indeed any other metal album made in the last 20 years. Imagine that, and then imagine the subsequent album-in-full gig that could follow. That’s better, right? Our work here is done.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.