Wednesday, 6 February 2013

15 Favourite Live Albums...

As the VO is primarily in it for the 'live' experience I have long considered compiling a list of my own favourite live albums and inspired by the recent Quietus list of the same thing I decided to give it a go. On first consideration I thought that I would only have a handful of live albums and rather than being a list of the best it would be a pretty lame list of every Live LP I own. But on closer inspection I have bunches of the things. Some of them are dreadful (where did Barclay James Harvest come from?) and most are barely even worth mentioning as their difference from studio to live is minimal to say the least (Oasis' Familiar to Millions?). I have decided to not include Peel Sessions (so no Fall) or 'Live Studio' albums as thats surely cheating.

So here is a list of my 15 (ten is never enough) favourite live albums. Please feel free to add your suggestions to this list below.


Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl

Bonkers level of screaming from the first second to the last and I doubt the man to woman ratio has ever been so skewed anywhere. Ever. I read an account of a guy who was at the gig who claimed the crowd was the loudest thing he had ever heard and that after the gig he had more sex than he had ever had before or since. Not sure what to make of that but its a lot more eventful than the usual VO night. The music? Sometimes you can just about make out some of the drums. The opener Twist and Shout is a highlight.
Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
Whilst this is undeniably all about watching the movie of the same name and its gradual on stage build up of musicians and sounds, the LP is a great art-funk addition. If you haven't heard the live versions of Psycho Killer and Once In A Lifetime I suggest you do so asap.

Radiohead I Might Be Wrong
Worth its inclusion in this list alone for containing their best non-album track True Love Waits which sees one of Thom Yorkes finest vocal performances. Also it’s never a chore to hear Radiohead's (other) finest moment Idioteque live in all its bleeping glory.


Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert
I’m not the biggest Rolling Stones fan but I do love this one, which is here as much as anything for the fun Jagger has with the screaming crowd between each song: “I think I popped a button on my trousers, I hope they don’t fall down. You wouldn’t want my trousers to fall down now, would you?” What a cheeky champ he was.
Street Fighting Man, Honky Tonk Women and Jumpin’ Jack Flash are three more good reason whys this is a truly, great live album.
David Bowie – Stage
This double LP of the 1978 tour covers the two (best) albums of the previous year, Heroes and Low, and also relies heavily on Station to Station and oddly Ziggy Stardust. About as good as it gets in my book.
The instrumentals from Low and Heroes sound incredible live and there is a great version of Station to Station, which apparently is made up from several different live recordings. This either shows how good Bowie and the band were live, or how slick Tony Visconti was at recording it as it sounds fantastic. The tracks are presented in a chronological order unlike the actual concert which began with Bowie entering the stage conducting the band into an epic Warszawa. Wish I was there.
Death in Vegas Satans Circus (live in Brixton)
I know they wish they were Kraftwerk, but so do I. Every single fucking day. This live CD that accompanies their (underrated) 2004 album is a great modern live electro album piping the likes of Justice and Daft Punk from my collection.


The Cramps – Smell Of Female
Possibly the finest charity shop 50 pence ever spent (aside from the Bowie LP above which was also purchased for 50p at the same time- someone obviously hated their live albums). six tracks of super-pumped and frantic psychobilly make this one of the most exciting 30 minutes of plastic in my possession and if these were in any particular order would probably be at number one. A live show that you really wish you were at, which is surely a live albums intention. Also one of my favourite album sleeves.
Throbbing Gristle - Heathen Earth
Christ knows what it was like to be in that room when they recorded this, but I have a (slow) growing warped fondness for this record and I think it does one good to dance like a demented loon every so often. Tracks like Don't Do As You're Told, Do As You Think make that quite easy, although most are a little harder to find a way into. The World is a War Film sounds like its title suggests and the words on the sleeve ‘Can the world be as sad as it seems?’ makes me feel sadder every time I look at it. Mint.
Pulp- This is Glastonbury
A fan club mail out mini CD from 1998, Jarvis is on fine form for these seven tracks. Highlights include the industrial opening guitar suspense of the Fear and a blinding version of Party Hard.

Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box
When the Velvet Owl Time Travel Gig Collective starts this will be the first stop. I think the Seeds made five of the best songs EVER made. (If you're interested to know which ones they are check out No Escape, Mr Farmer, Pushin' Too Hard, No Escape, Can't Seem To Make You Mine). EVERYTHING else they did sounds EXACTLY the same as these songs. in fact they ALL sound the same as each other. In fact the WHOLE live concert sounds like one 3 minute psychedelic garage pop song on repeat. But what a brilliant tune it is. Remember kids, No Seeds = No Fall. 
Hawkwind - Space Ritual
On my quest to discover the roots to something or other this gem came my way and it instantly made a large chunk of my CD collection seem a little pointless. For me this dispels a few prog myths as it isn't posh kids blending longwinded, rubbish re-writes of Beatles songs with even longer classical influences. Its far more interesting, in fact it's fucking bonkers. Who actually went to this gig? How do you recover from that and try to lead a normal life? My Dad once told me that when my Grandad was a milkman in the 70s, he met Hawkwind the morning after the night before on his rounds outside the venue they had been at the previous evening. Feeling somewhat indulged they shared a crate of milk and smoked some Woodbines. Cosmic.
DJ Shadow - In Tune and On Time
Bit biased as I saw DJ Shadow on this tour, but as far as I’m concerned this recording, just after his second album the Private Press, is James Lavelle at his very best.


Ash - Live at the wireless
One of the first CDs I ever bought. All the good un’s from 1977, plus (the best) Ash song Petrol and a blistering Ween cover What Deaner Was Talking About. Whilst Ash feel a little out of touch these days this makes me want to thrash about like a teenager in a way nothing else could ever do.
Eels- With Strings Live At Town Hall
Could be trimmed down a bit but does what I want a live album to do; something a bit different to the studio versions and its a good reminder of how many lovely songs Eels have penned.
Hookworms - Live Vol 1.
And something new! The mini-album recorded in Leeds in 2011. Five tracks of looping, psych-rock that when live sound transformed from the studio.

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