Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Who's The Best...Live Album?
Karen: What's your vote for best live album? There are some obvious choices (Live at Leeds by the Who, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton are two that immediately spring to mind), but let's hear some of your favorites.
Karen: I'll get things going with a few favorites,a couple well known and one rather obscure. Get Yer Ya-Yas Out by the Rolling Stones is a great example of the band as they transitioned from the Brian Jones era into the Mick Taylor era (which I think was their most musically creative period). The band is tight and energized, and the production is clean -although some of this may be attributed to some clean up in the studio later on. But it's an exciting album that might be the Stones' best live album. Some of these versions of songs sound better than the studio versions -Stray Cat Blues and particularly Midnight Rambler stand out here. I heard this version of Midnight Rambler on the greatest hits album Hot Rocks before I heard the studio version (the original studio version came out on Let It Bleed). It's telling that they used the live version on that collection - it's clearly superior, played with much more drive. Charlie Watts is a beast throughout the album (culled from four performances over a three day period in November 1969).
Karen: Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison is a classic. To me, Cash transcends genres. He's his own type of music. I love listening to his voice here, and it's a kick hearing his interactions with his prison audience and the officials in 1968. Everything here just screams authenticity, and Cash was certainly seen as an anti-hero type (the Man in Black), playing songs about bad men, regrets, and shots at redemption. I really like Cocaine Blues and I Got Stripes, but I think this is one of those albums where it's best to just listen to the whole thing rather than cherry pick tracks.
Karen: My obscure fave is by proto-punk godfather Iggy Pop. Recorded in 1988, King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents is a tour de force by the Iggster. A combination of old Stooges tunes and Iggy's later solo efforts, it's hard thrashing rock all the way. His backing band isn't particularly noteworthy -they're no Sales Brothers, unfortunately -but they do a good enough job with the material, and Iggy himself provides enough energy to send the set into the stratosphere. There are 17 tracks here and as Iggy says at one point, "we're gonna try to rock it to you straight, no bullsh*t" and they succeed at that. This album is practically worth the price just to hear Iggy's comments between songs. At this point in his career, he was obviously grateful to be performing. He comes off alternately humble ("thanks a f%$* of a lot for being here," "This is all the music I can give,") to crazed, confrontational ("You do it! Go ahead and do it mother f%@#er!"). In other words, prime Iggy. The sound quality is also surprisingly good -unlike some other live Stooges and Iggy albums I've heard.
Karen: All right, I've blathered long enough. Your turn!