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Thursday Discussion: Live Albums; Love 'um or Hate 'um?

Posted by - 03:22 PM on 03/22/12
A few day ago, I was searching for something to listen to in the car ... doing one of those "scroll through everything in the iPod and still can't really figure out what I want to hear" things. I ended up putting on the Foo Fighter's live album, Skin and Bones. I've always loved the renditions of the tunes, and the sing-a-long-ness of the live recording. While listening - I got into a discussion with my wife about live recordings in general. Her take was that she just preferred to hear the studio recording, that while listening to a live album, most of the time, it just spurred her desire to go listen to the album instead. Understandable in some ways. Nine times out of ten, I'd probably prefer to just put on the studio album. There are, however, some live albums (and bootleg performances) that blow me away. So, in a moment of marital-rebellion, that's what this week's "Thursday Discussion" topic is about. My top 10 favorite live albums (and I'm including bootleg sets for two very apparent reasons).

Feel free to join in and include your own favorite live performances/albums. And if you want to get into the whole debate about if you even like or listen to recorded live performances in the first place ... I'm all about having the discussion with someone that won't make me sleep on the couch if I disagree too stringently. Ummm ... kidding.

1) Jesse Lacey - Live at The Downtown (Bootleg)

NoteThe kind of thing that makes me totally get bootlegs. The recording isn't perfect - not all the notes are hit just right - but it's just Jesse, a guitar, and one helluva performance. Do a google search for it if you don't have it. You'll be singing along in no time.

2) Blink 182 - The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (Live Album)
NoteIgnoring all of the "is this really live" and "they cleaned it up in post" drama -- I'm just going to say it's obvious the songs have been tweaked in post (at the very least), I've seen them enough times live to know that. However, the album is still fucking great. The banter is hilariously stupid. I memorized all of it. Satan makes an appearance and the songs are played faster? Do I really need to sell you on it? You already own it.

3) MxPx - At the Show (Live Album)
NoteMxPx was one of the first bands I ever saw live. When this album came out - I ordered it from some fan-club mailing list thing or something. This was during my full time obsession with Blink and MxPx. I've always loved the renditions of favorites, the "KKK Took My Baby Away" cover, and the pure energy in the album. Pretty sure they're the band that got me into live music and live shows. I'd grab this CD daily on my way to the bus stop (holy fuck I feel old) because it was like a good mix of my favorites.

4) Thrice - Live at the House of Blues (Live Album)
NoteThis gets bumped up the list just because the DVD was also undeniably awesome. The track-listing on this is perfect. The way the songs all play together ... I think the Alchemy Index tracks work better in this sequencing then they did individually.

5) Foo Fighters - Skin and Bones (Live Album)
NoteThe album that I was listening to that got me thinking about this entire topic. It's the Foo Fighters. They just don't release crap. Ridiculously consistent - and a great album.

6) Butch Walker - Leavin' The Game on Luckie St. (Live Album)
NoteButch Walker live sets the bar very, very high. Ridiculously good performer. Great vocals. I love this album (and DVD) with a weird passion. There's a certain kind of emotion that this album captures perfectly.

7) The Format - Live at the Mayan Theatre (Live DVD)
NoteI have the audio from this DVD on my iPod - that's how much I love The Format, and this performance.

8) Dustin Kensrue - Ursus Veritas (Bootleg)
NoteThe second bootleg to show up on my list. No one should be shocked it's by one of my favorite songwriters, ever. This was from when Dustin was performing under the "Ursus Veritas" name -- before he wrote his solo album, I believe. It's got a bunch of great covers, Thrice songs, some solo stuff, and the production quality is top notch. Honestly, not even sure how one would find this bootleg now ... but the songs/listing are here for those searching.

9) Acceptance - Sessions at AOL (Live Sessions)
NoteThese count as live album. Or, for my list they do at least. The tracks basically serve to showcase how ridiculously talented Jason's vocals can be. The acoustic/piano renditions of "Different" and "Take Cover" are jaw dropping good.

10) Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive (Live Album)
NoteExqueese me? Have I seen this one before? "Frampton Comes Alive"? Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of "Tide."

 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 232
03:26 PM on 03/22/12
#2
jhotmann21
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Never been a big fan of live albums...except the Mark Tom and Travis show...maybe because back when I was 15 my mom wouldn't have approved of all the cussing and sex/gay jokes.
03:26 PM on 03/22/12
#3
Zack Zarrillo
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Have never heard The Format one. Would love that

MTTS is definitely my favorite live release of all time. Lacey's is also wonderful

A few months ago an "approved" bootleg of a Kevin Devine show at Maxwell's in NJ was released as well and that's incredible. I love KD live
03:26 PM on 03/22/12
#4
Alex_Burton
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In general I don't care for them, with two exceptions: NOFX - I heard they Suck Live and the Phoenix - Live 30 Days Ago. That NOFX one was a soundtrack to my formative years and the Phoenix one was just so impressive in how incredible the band sounds.

I'm not totally opposed to live albums, but there should be something that makes them special.
03:27 PM on 03/22/12
#5
brook183
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Oh my lord, I NEED that Ursus Veritas set as a whole. I have like half of those on my pod now.

Yeah, Live at the House of Blues is insanely good.
03:27 PM on 03/22/12
#6
georgedcc
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Live albums are never an essential listen for me. If it's somebody I really like, then I'll buy them, but 99% of the time I prefer the studio versions of the songs. That said, here are some of my favourite live albums;

The Who - Live At Leeds
MC5 - Back In The USA
James Brow - Live At the Apollo, 1962
Sam Cooke - Live At the Harlem Square Club
Bob Dylan - I like a lot of the many Bootleg Series that he's put out, I'll go for number 4 as my favourite overall
Bruce Springsteen - Live 1975 - 85

And more recent ones:
Green Day - Bullet In A Bible
Thrice - Live At The House Of Blues
Tegan and Sara - Get Along
NOFX - I Heard They Suck Live / They've Gotten Even Worse Live!
Bad Religion - 30 Years Live
03:27 PM on 03/22/12
#7
Chris_B
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I listen from time to time. Finch's live album was pretty bad though.
03:28 PM on 03/22/12
#8
t.web4
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TBS's Live at Orensanz is the only live album I own. It's pretty solid. In general though, I'm not really a big fan of live albums.
03:28 PM on 03/22/12
#9
The Revisionist
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Rage Against The Machine - Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium.
Rush - Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland
Bruce Springsteen - whatever, really
the Weakerthans - Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre
03:28 PM on 03/22/12
trojanick
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I really like TBS's Live From Orensanz - makes you wish we heard more of Fazzi's vocals on New Again.

And of course, Dashboard's Unplugged set.
03:28 PM on 03/22/12
KenneyBN
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Literally came here to say Live at The Downtown.
03:28 PM on 03/22/12
Jason Tate
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In general I don't care for them, with two exceptions: NOFX - I heard they Suck Live and the Phoenix - Live 30 Days Ago. That NOFX one was a soundtrack to my formative years and the Phoenix one was just so impressive in how incredible the band sounds.

I'm not totally opposed to live albums, but there should be something that makes them special.
That NOFX one is hilarious.

I have never heard the Pheonix one. I'll check it out.
03:29 PM on 03/22/12
Raarzipan
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I only like live albums if something has changed in the music: IE Enter Shikari - Mothership/Motherstep.

If a band modifies a song for the better, or even covers a song they didn't write themselves I love to hear the song, and the bands never go in and re-record the songs/record covers most of the times. In those cases I like getting copies of the live music but I prefer the studio sessions any day. That or if a band tends to scream more live then on album I like that.
03:29 PM on 03/22/12
Charles777
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Love em. Sometimes the live versions are better than the original.
03:30 PM on 03/22/12
Jason Tate
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Never been a big fan of live albums...except the Mark Tom and Travis show...maybe because back when I was 15 my mom wouldn't have approved of all the cussing and sex/gay jokes.
It's gotta be on everyone's list ... even if they don't generally like live albums.

I will admit, the whole live/bootleg thing is definitely for more of the die-hard fans. I doubt I'd go listen to a live set from someone I don't listen to all that often. But for my favorite, favorites ... it's just more material to get into. Kinda explains this list.

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