Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Live Music Is Better" Bumper Stickers Should Be Issued

I'm listening to live albums today. Here are six of my favorites:

Neil Young - Live Rust
Wilco - Kicking Television
Pink Floyd - Is there anybody out there? The Wall Live 1980
Thelonious Monk - Misterioso
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Live in Amsterdam / Carnegie Hall / Copenhagen
Jay Farrar - Stone, Steel, & Bright Lights

There are many other good live albums, but these six, in a way, redefine the artists who produced them. Put any of these albums up next to the studio versions of the songs covered, and you'll see worlds of difference, most notably in the way Neil Young discovered a new electric guitar sound half way through Like a Hurricane, or Dave Brubeck proved he could swing, or Jay Farrar proved his solo material wasn't just studio goop. One can hear, on these discs (I think), the artists really living into the songs. The way Wilco has to create the "studio noise" live, as a played part of the song, rather than a computer insertion. The way Thelonious Monk was the most stutteringly beautiful Thelonious Monk. Or how Pink Floyd, free of the studio, actually sounded like a band . . .

Some of the other live albums deserving honorable mention:

Dylan Live '66 - for obvious reasons
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall - where one can hear Coltrane really start becoming Coltrane.
Neil Young - MTV Unplugged - imperfect, but it does present better versions of the songs from Harvest Moon.

I also really like the bonus live disc that came with the Cracker album Forever.


Question of the day: Is it still plagiarism if Bob Dylan does it?


At 9/17/2006 7:43 PM, Blogger louise said...

I am with you, absolutely, on Pink Floyd

At 9/22/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger Matthew Thorburn said...

I've been listening to Monk's "Live at the It Club" double CD for the first time in a while. It's great, too, if you haven't heard it. That newly discovered Monk-Coltrane CD is amazing (of course!), but I love the Monk-Rouse interplay -- live or in the studio.

At 9/23/2006 5:17 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I haven't heard it. I'll put it on my, ahem, amazon list. Thanks!

At 7/18/2009 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you all need to start collecting bootlegs, i haven't listened to studio work since i last turned on the radio. it's great to hear what these guys really play like in a live setting. anything that is officially released isn't going to be the same either.


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