This not a live album for those who wanna get "mellow"..
The early 1970's treated us to some noteworthy "double" live albums.. Albums who's volume of sheer awesomeness could not be contained on one mere 12 phonograph record. No, this was going to take TWO albums. Grand Funk, Humble Pie and The Allman Brothers were front runners in the art of mind blowing, headphone cranked, epic live album. Heck, Yes offered up a triple live album, which still stands as one of the great all time live albums. The Grateful Dead's Europe 72 was a great triple offering which still stands up today.
Something strange happened in 1975. Peter Frampton was having a hard time getting his solo career going after leaving Humble Pie. He had released three solo albums, to great critical acclaim, but to a commercial strike out. In a masterstroke A&M records released Frampton Comes Alive as a hail mary. The album recorded well, with performances that sounded inspired, and a crowd that was whipped into a frenzy. It didn't take long for Frampton Comes Alive to be a staple of rock radio. It took off like a rocket commercially, causing music fans to ask themselves where this Frampton guy was hanging out, and how did they miss him?
Pretty soon, there was a flood of live albums in the market place. Double albums were soon released by everyone from Barry Manilow to Grand Funk (again) to Kiss (Twice within 3 years), The Bee Gees and Genesis. Record labels saw the live album as a way to jumpstart an artists career or breathe new life into a waning commercial career. This was all bandwagon jumping trying to cash in on the fervor of Frampton.
Aerosmith released "Live Bootleg" in 1978. Joe Perry told Hit Parader magazine that the album was made of bootleg tapes they had siezed, and they put a stereo mix to the tapes and released it. However, a standard practice would make his statement to be false. There were a lot of studio tricks going on, fixing a guitar solo here, a vocal here. Bass guitarist Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, UFO, Talas) lamented in an interview that he was sad to find that many of the live albums he grew up loving were in fact studio recordings, with drum tracks (and occasionally bass guitar tracks) recorded live. Both Kiss and Thin Lizzy came under fire for their use of studio "fixing" of classic live albums. Still the double live format continued. Ted Nugent's Double Live Gonzo was a must have for every hard rock fan that I knew growing up.
There was also a surge in single album released happening. The Pat Travers Band, Blue Öyster Cult and Foghat put out landmark live albums. Paul McCartney and Wings released the loaded "Wings Over America" triple album to great response.
Here is my list (in no particular order) of great single live album releases.
Blue Öyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening
Foghat - Live
Judas Priest - Unleashed In The East
Johnny Winter And - Live
AC/DC - If You Want Blood, You Got It
Joe Walsh - You Can't Argue With A Sick Mind
Cheap Trick - At Budokan
Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes - Survival Of The Fittest
Black Sabbath - Live At Last (seek out the remaster, the first pressing sounded awful)
Pat Travers Band - Go For What You Know
Motorhead - No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith
Here is a list of some of the double live albums I thought were really good. Some of them were popular, some, not so popular..
Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive (That's a given)
Kiss - Alive
Thin Lizzy - Live And Dangerous (Their follow up live album "Life" is also really good).
UFO - Strangers In The Night
Gary Moore - We Want Moore
The Bee Gees - Here At Last.. Live
Aerosmith - Live Bootleg
Humble Pie - Live At The Filmore
Allman Brothers - Live At The Filmore
Ian Hunter - Welcome To The Club.
Scorpions - Tokyo Tapes
Queen - Live Killers
Genesis - Seconds Out
Rush - All The World's A Stage
Ted Nugent - Double Live Gonzo
Jethro Tull - Bursting Out
There were a few live albums that looked good on paper. Both Grand Funk Railroad and Styx released double live albums called "Caught In The Act". Both albums suffered a disasterous reception, and a commercial failure that for all intents and purposes derailed their respective bands. Fleetwood Mac's live album from the early 1980's looked and sounded great, but went nowhere for the band. The Eagles' "Live", was an example of a good album that didn't connect with the listening public as well as it should have. The Rolling Stones live output has been dicey at best. "Get Your Ya Ya's Out" garnered "classic status among Stones fans, where their double live offering "Love You Live" did the band no favor. To my ear, 1982's "Still Life" (single album) stands as their best live recording, along with the recently released and deleted "Rolling Stones At Hyde Park" live album.
These days, the medium of the CD and the MP3 has blurred the single/double paradigm. The Clash's "From Here To Eternitiy" is another live recording which is ambitious and gratifying. Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Phish and The Grateful Dead have released many double and multiple live collections..
One album stands above the fray, with a release as a single disc, but then fattened up to a double album - and actually IMPROVED the album would be The Who - Live At Leeds. UFO's bonus track treatment of their "Strangers In The Night" album took om the musical appearance of the Mona Lisa wearing a T shirt.
I'd be interested in knowing what live albums that you the reader enjoy.
Open Mike Night is the longest running local music program in Central Pennsylvania. Every Sunday Night at 10 pm, Michael Anthony Smith brings you the best in local and regional bands and solo performers.
The show airs on Sunday Nights, between 10 pm and Midnight.
Whenever possible, I have bands come on the show. I use the first hour for an interview segment, and if they feel like playing in the studio we'll play a few songs live. I ask bands that wish to appear on the show to send me material beforehand. I'd like to play your material leading up to the visit.
I ask that all submissions be sent on a marked CD.
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Send your best material to:
The River's Open Mike Night
600 Corporate Circle
Harrisburg Pa 17110