Oh, I know, I left off Wings Over America. How could I? And where's that Springsteen box? And what about Yanni at Red Rocks or the Acropolis? And don't forget those two hundred Pearl Jam concert CDs! And the Dead! And Phish! And, aw see, it just goes on forever.
Some bands didn't shine in the live milieu. Most of my favorite performers either never made live albums or regretted doing so. They liked the recording studio, but then there were others who revealed something greater about themselves in front of a live audience and we need to look at what they accomplished, too.
Here are five live albums that give you new insights into old recording artists.
Live At Leeds--The Who: It was always said the early Who records didn't capture the band's true live thunder and once you hear the raw and ragged Live At Leeds you pretty much have to agree. They never sounded like this before. The original album wasn't much, either, just six tunes jammed on to two sides, but the expanded version now gives you a "true concert experience," which, hey, I'm all for having fun.
The Name of this Band Is...--Talking Heads: It was always supposed that once these guys hooked up with Brian Eno they couldn't possibly be a decent live band. After all, you hook up with Brian Eno to hide your inadequacies, not to sharpen your live potential. The early stuff here sounds like it was recorded in someone's living room, which it may have been judging from some of the photos of the time. The other stuff has an expanded band to help cover up the group's live inadequacies. Eno? Get in here!
Live At The Star Club, Hamburg, 1964--Jerry Lee Lewis: Jerry Lee Lewis specialized in finding ways to put his name into any song he sang. He was a menace on stage and nowhere is that more apparent than on this live album where he's determined to send his backing band to an early grave by playing too fast and demented throughout. He does tons of covers and at this point in his career, 1964, he wasn't really welcome in many musical circles since he had the bad taste of marrying his rather young cousin. She doesn't sing here.
390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo--Pere Ubu: Pere Ubu got plenty weird on record. But when they went out in front of people they could pulverize. And while their later work is interesting and worth discussing over tea and cookies, their earliest work sounds like a nuclear war is about to break out. And while that would NOT be a good thing, the audio equivalent is quite special.
The Homecoming Concert--Tim Hardin: Hardin died soon after. But before he went, he showed up in Eugene, Oregon at the Community Center for the Performing Arts, where between bingo games he performed the songs contained on this fine album. You don't often get to hear a man at the end of his rope singing like an angel. But when you do, you listen. You hear?