Not all live albums are created equally – many are built in the studio after with overdubs, some just feature crowd-noise endlessly, Neil Young’s brand new live album has him substituting out the crowd for animal noise. There are some great, great live albums out there – where the energy of the crowd is so crucial to the vitality of the performance, where there’s a lift because of it. Then there are some albums where it just feels like a repeat of all the major hits but with clapping and cheering at the end. I love a good live album so for this round of Five Songs For Friday it’s to five great live tracks from five great live albums…I could have listed 50 favourite live albums, so this is top-of-the-head stuff. Anyway, happy weekend:
Tom barely gets a word in. The crowd taking the first verse and chorus. Petty leans into the mic and mumble-grins about how they’re going to put him out of a job. A top song too – with great performances from The Heartbreakers.
The whole album is a must-have/must-hear. Just one of the best live records from one of the best soul voices but this version of Chain Gang in particular…Sam just drives it home here and the band is cookin’.
I love the Live at the Regal album – a classic. But I’ve always had more of a thing for Cook County Jail. Very kindly I was given a copy of the album by someone I’ve never met in person. I was a fan of the album for a long time before that, the CD one of my go-to car-trippers. And the standout for me is this version of one of King’s greatest tracks; the hairs on my arms still prickle when he gets to the bit, “I gave you seven children and now you want to give them back” – it’s a perfect swell of voice, band and crowd – all working together.
4. Ween, Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down) from Live in Chicago
The album track is its own special magic but I’m choosing this because any chance to share a Ween clip is a chance worth taking. And because I sat down with the DVD of this show just recently. Also Ween’s other live album, Paintin’ The Town Brown was my introduction to this weird and wonderful group.
A favourite track to DJ, a favourite record to sit down with, extraordinary to think that this was the warm-up band on that night. Not only that they pulled double duty, heading straight back out to record the performances on another Live at Fillmore West album recorded the same nights – as the backing band for Aretha Franklin. By the time the world heard this record King Curtis was dead, stabbed outside his house by a junkie after some cash. A sad end to a great talent.
So there’s five to get us started. I’m going to add in a bonus clip Peter Frampton’s live album, Frampton Comes Alive just turned 40. One of the records I grew up with. So here’s Do You Feel Like We Do. One of my favourite songs when I was a little kid.
What are some of your key cuts from favourite live albums?