Let’s be real– live albums get a lot of flack, many times unfairly. Granted, an artist who has an amazingly tight studio presence does not automatically have an awe-inspiring stage presence. But when it’s pulled off well, a live album is a privilege to behold. It’s ability to enrapture the audience is a testament to the skill of the artist to be a part of you, not vice versa. It’s a shared experience, a gift to the listener, that makes you feel as if you are part of the adoring crowd. Still unconvinced? Never had a great live album experience? Don’t worry, Pigeons and Planes compiled a list of the greatest live albums of all time, and that should be more than an adequate starting off point for you.
Radiohead: I Might Be Wrong: The Live Recordings
Radiohead is always pushing themselves to the sonic limit, never content with where they are and ever unsure of where to go next. But this meandering through sound does not mean all is lost. Technically proficient and absurdly creative, every Radiohead recording is a gem in it’s own special way, as it defies genre limitations in an exploration of uncharted seas of sound. Interestingly enough, they’ve only released one live album over the course of their 20 year career. It came during the period following the release of Kid A and Amnesiac, which signaled a shift to a more electronic sound. But their live approach was multi-layered; it wasn’t enough to signal a change in direction in the studio. Each song played from those two albums on stage is remarkably different from their studio counterparts. No good artist replicates their studio sound on stage, but Radiohead took it to a whole new level.
Notable Tracks: National Anthem, Spinning Plates
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same
This cut is the paragon of hard work and great payoff. Sheer satisfaction of your musical efforts. The idea “OK guys, it’s our last night on tour, let’s give it all we’ve got.” This album was recorded at the end of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 Tour, in New York’s Madison Square Garden. It was also accompanied by a film, How the West Was Won, which has proved to be inseparable from the music. The film uses fantastical imagery throughout, but there is no reason to ignore the concert footage for it. And what’s more is that this concert is the only legitimately available record of the legendary band live. And until they released several bootlegs in 2007, it was the only record of them live. No reason to pass it up.
Notable Tracks: Dazed and Confused, The Rain Song