Monday 31 January 2022

Live Albums (Part 2 - Not "The Also Rans", but "Not Really in The Running")

The previous posting on this guff I call a blog was my opinion on some of the best live albums released.
This posting is not the other side of the coin, but when assembling the candidates I noticed how some bands with an otherwise stellar catalogue haven't managed a properly great live album (or indeed any live album at all).

The first is perhaps not truly in keeping with the tone, but worth highlighting to show how quality control can drop off.

The Who - 'Whos Last'
The distance between this and 'Live At Leeds' is stunning.  A gap of 12 years, but much energy, attitude, and power has dissipated.  Admittedly this album was intended to record their final live moments and finish off the career (hence the title) but it's a bit of a damp squib, and you can hear why they called it a day at that stage.

The big names who "official" live record could've been better:

Faces - 'Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners'
Recorded in 1974 after Ronnie Lane had left, and Rod had started (seemingly) to prioritise his eyes on building his solo career.  The billing "Rod Stewart and ..." and the Rod-heavy track list show where the record companies mind was.  Faces get 2 tracks, there are 2 new cover versions, the rest is a quick romp through Rod's solo career (mostly in cover form, but still Rod's doing rather than the bands).
That said, the versions of "Stay With Me" and "Every Picture Tells A Story" are quite superb.

Simon & Garfunkel - 'Concert In Central Park'
The content of this album is not in question - all the songs are well performed and interpreted.  It's just that the relationship between the two has long since dwindled - the voice harmony may be there (at times) but it just feels a bit "here's a pay day"

Led Zeppelin - 'The Song Remains The Same'
You're the biggest live band in the US, if not the world.  Time to capitalise by releasing a live album and accompanying film.  But somewhere in all the production, and the selection of the best of 3 nights a Madison Square Garden, Led Zep managed to frame themselves with a bit of a sub-standard performance (as evidenced by the latter released 'How The West Was Won' from the same period).

The Jam - 'Dig The New Breed'
In late 1982, Paul Weller called time on The Jam.  Still owing one more record to Polydor, a wealth of live tapes were reviewed and a representative sample selected from the past 5 years.  The track listing is (very nearly) chronological, but unfortunately the live dates weren't giving a bit of a muddled feel to it all.  A missed opportunity perhaps, but at the time the only place you could get "Going Underground" on an album.  The later 'Jam Live' and 'Live At The BBC' showed how it could've/should've been

Those with no live album's in their (original) lifetime:

The Specials
The EP "Too Much To Young" was as close as it came.  The energy in those 4 tracks gives an insight to how a full album could've sounded, but alas it never happened.
A later released Live album did plunder a couple of 1980 shows, but its a fairly shoddy package and the sound isn't great.

The Clash

No live material was officially released in their recording lifetime.  The posthumous 'From Here to Eternity' goes some way to showing what it could've been like (and that there were plenty of recordings to choose from, but to be honest with the 5 core albums in 5 years (1 a double, and 1 a triple) did they really have time or space to release a live outing

The Damned
Admittedly 'Live At Shepperton 1980' did creep out at the time The Damned were playing musical record labels, Captain Sensible was wavering between the band, a solo career, and B-List Celebrity, and 6 of those tracks had already been used to bolster out Side 4 of 'The Black Album'.  There have been a slew of live recordings released since, many from the 77 to 82 period showing what a ragegdy, yet tight as a nuns chuff live band they were (and indeed, despite numerous line-up changes and advanicing years, they still are)

Sex Pistols
Not really surprising fro a band with a short life and only one official album (2 if you include the film soundtrack/McLaren cash-in).
Their reputation as a thrilling live affair is not properly recorded, and certainly not on the piles of unlicensed live albums (some worse than bootleg recordings) peppering the market.
Of the original life, The Original Pistols / Live at Burton On Trent is worth investigating, but it's not until the 1996 reformation shows brought forth 'Filthy Lucre Live' - 20 years after the original event, but sparkling with energy.

No live album - yet.  There's still time though:

Manic Street Preachers
I was lucky enough to see an early Manics show in a small club - "incendiary" would be an apt description.  And latterly (certainly since 'Everything Must Go') much of their material is geared towards the crowd-pleasing live spectacle.  A couple of Live cover versions have been included on 'Lipstick Traces', but no full live album has yet hit the racks.
(There are plenty of bootlegs out there though)

1 comment:

  1. Westway To The World is a curious album, jumping around from one show and time to another, but it just about works. The live at Shea Stadium as a missed opportunity I felt. If you're going to release a posthumous Clash live album, at least make it a gig with Topper on drums.