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Old 04-14-2015, 07:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Live Albums: Fun but Unnecessary, or Important for "True Fans"

Saw a few live albums threads, but mostly for "best live album evar!!!" discussions, and I just wanted to ask whether people think they're anything but an indulgence. For the most part I've always thought they were -- although sometimes a live version of a song could actually trump the recorded one, but usually not.

The fact that they are recorded minimizes the spontaneity that makes going to a show exciting, since after you've heard the live album once, it's just another version, and likely one that wouldn't have been the take used for a studio album. There's a certain energy to a live album that you don't get with a studio album, but it's still just an inferior reproduction of the real experience, not to mention that the production can never give the recording the same sound quality as a studio one.

And yet, here I am listening to a live Acid Bath bootleg. I've just listened to their recorded material so much recently that I guess I need something less familiar, but there's also a different context to certain things that the band does that isn't as apparent on a studio recording. Like, on one or two songs on their studio albums, you'd hear the singer recite some kind of poetry, but I always figured it was just to add some color to the recording, but on this live recording he does that more than once before songs, and even opens the show with a poem, so now I know that he's using his performance to express himself in more ways than just through his singing, which is pretty neat.

I don't know that I'd be as interested in listening to live albums by bands with more recorded material than Acid Bath, since they only have two albums, but I can see myself trying to track down stuff like this by bands that I just can't listen to enough of.
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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From my experience, a live album serves to showcase the true talents of a band. They can't hide behind multiple takes, over dubs, or post processing (for the most part). The true musicianship of the artists are revealed, and I believe it can be a vital asset. But then I can think back to a few times where a bands live reputation overshadowed their studio accomplishments, and some bands will never make a live album, simply because they sound terrible. Every once in a while lightning does strike, and the live version of a song will be better than the studio version. Sometimes, you can only capture that chemistry in a live situation, and that's where the importance lies in recording that moment.
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The only live album that I listen to very often is The Band's Rock of Ages, almost more than their studio work. The production is fantastic and their performances are better than their studio work, it's pretty amazing and really showcases each member's musicianship. But 9 times out of 10 I'd rather be listening to a group's studio recordings.
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNZx...8ST8nrfha0wW9B
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It really depends. Live jazz albums are often better than studio albums because they capture the essence of the music more but a lot of time I agree with you that rock and metal type live albums seem sort of pointless. Unless of course the band in question has a really amazing live sound, like for example Alien Sex Fiend, whose live albums are some of their best releases.
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Live albums where the band/artist changes the arrangement, includes extended jamming, and you can really sense the audience feeding the band = awesome.

Live albums where the band/artist do carbon copy versions of their album tracks = boring.
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
Saw a few live albums threads, but mostly for "best live album evar!!!" discussions, and I just wanted to ask whether people think they're anything but an indulgence. For the most part I've always thought they were -- although sometimes a live version of a song could actually trump the recorded one, but usually not.
Depends on the genre, I think. A lot of jazz artists sound kind of sterile in a studio setting, so some of their live shows really catch what they're all about.

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The fact that they are recorded minimizes the spontaneity that makes going to a show exciting, since after you've heard the live album once, it's just another version, and likely one that wouldn't have been the take used for a studio album.
How long before a show do you buy your ticket usually? Sometimes I do it four or five months in advance since that artist is on a pretty tightly scheduled tour. Doesn't sound very spontaneous to me.

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There's a certain energy to a live album that you don't get with a studio album, but it's still just an inferior reproduction of the real experience, not to mention that the production can never give the recording the same sound quality as a studio one.
Not always. Usually when the people at the sound booth bootleg the recordings they can be pretty much studio quality, although the band may not be on its best night when they record it.

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And yet, here I am listening to a live Acid Bath bootleg. I've just listened to their recorded material so much recently that I guess I need something less familiar, but there's also a different context to certain things that the band does that isn't as apparent on a studio recording. Like, on one or two songs on their studio albums, you'd hear the singer recite some kind of poetry, but I always figured it was just to add some color to the recording, but on this live recording he does that more than once before songs, and even opens the show with a poem, so now I know that he's using his performance to express himself in more ways than just through his singing, which is pretty neat.

I don't know that I'd be as interested in listening to live albums by bands with more recorded material than Acid Bath, since they only have two albums, but I can see myself trying to track down stuff like this by bands that I just can't listen to enough of.
Bands that rule on tape usually rule in person.
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have the bootleg of this entire show. One of the best live recordings I've ever heard.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listen_to_This_Eddie

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Old 04-14-2015, 10:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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From my experience, a live album serves to showcase the true talents of a band. They can't hide behind multiple takes, over dubs, or post processing (for the most part). The true musicianship of the artists are revealed, and I believe it can be a vital asset.
not all music is meant to be played live.
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Old 04-14-2015, 11:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I used to use a live album as a way to get into a new band, as the chances were that they would play their hits on the album. So Supertramp, genesis, Bob Seger, a few others I all got into by first listening to their live material. But pretty much after that, once I had the studio albums I didn't really listen to the live ones again. It could be fun, yes, to buy a (slightly illegal, by which I mean totally illegal) bootleg on the way out of a gig, so you got to hear and relive what you had just experienced, but again, soon afterwards I found the gloss wore off. Oh, and they were a good way of demonstrating to someone who couldn't make the show what they missed. By and large though, bootlegs were bad bad quality; you could usually hear people singing along beside the bootlegger, talking about something else or just cheering. Hard to hear the music often.

These days I will seldom if ever buy a live record, for pretty much the reverse of what I used to do: now that I have the studio output I don't intend to pay for the privilege of hearing it live, esp when I'm not there. Plus you can get a better vibe usually from a DVD of the concert if you want it. There can be a certain spontaneity to a live gig however that you won't get on vinyl, sorry CD, showing my age there! I remember once I went to see Hawkwind and they were supported by a band called Bronz. The sound rig broke down and when it was fixed they asked the singer to test it, which he did by singing the Cadbury's Flake advert (you know: only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate, tastes like chocolate never tasted before) and the crowd went wild. Well, it was a spur of the moment thing but I went to the next night's gig and he did the same thing, revealing in Kerrang! that the promoters had liked the response so much the first night that they prevailed upon him to repeat it the second. But it wasn't as good because now we expected it, and it was more stilted because even he didn't really want to do it.

Now, a recording of the first night would have shown you the magic of that moment versus the calculated idea of the next night and the next. So sometimes yes, you can get things happening on stage that won't in the studio, but is it worth buying a whole album for that one moment? Not sure. Of course then you have the likes of Springsteen and Waits, and others, who tell entertaining stories before their songs when playing them live, so does that justify shelling out? Maybe. Some bands though just seem to play the songs the same as they would in the studio, and that for me is a real cop-out and it's pointless buying an album of that stuff.
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