Advertise With Us||Links||
Submission Guidelines||Subscribe to Feed||Contact
Sweating Til You Bleed - Best Live Album
by Turtle Jones
Live albums. Always hit or miss. Most live albums are just a waste. Your favorite band screaming incoherently and saying stupid things like "Are you ready to rock?" or "You guys are the best crowd on this tour so far!" Right. I bet you say that to all the crowds. Really, the only people who love live albums are the people who don't mind 29 minute versions of 4 minute songs. You know who you are.
But once in a while you'll get a live album that really does stand out. We're not talking Frampton Comes Alive here, so get that out of your head. We each came up with an album that we think surpasses what the usual concert disc contains.
You don’t want to know some of the albums that came to mind when we picked this subject. I’m not really a big fan of live stuff and all the picks that I first thought of would have made me look like a damn hippie, so I’m not even gonna say. But then I thought some more about and it hit me. The live album that still gives me chills when I listen to it. The live album that is so amazing, it sounds studio produced. The live album that I put on about an hour ago and thought, damn. Damn you, Layne.
Alice in Chains - Unplugged.
Some will argue that Nirvana put out the best Unplugged album. It was pretty damn good, but I think AIC is just better in a lot of respects. Really, you can look at both the albums in the same way. Each is a lasting, haunting legacy of two talented musicians whose lives went to waste.
There’s something about these Unplugged sessions that is unlike any other live effort by a band. It’s personal. Intimate. And you can hear and - if you have the DVD - see how different it seems for the musicians, too. The lack of that vibrance and energy that comes with being plugged in is replaced with a solemn kind of emotion. It’s raw. Stripped down. You get to see and hear the bare bones of a song. Sometimes that’s a beautiful thing. And sometimes it’s unnerving.
A lot of people think Layne Staley sounds bad on this album. They say his voice is cracked and old and worn. Well, the band hadn’t played live in like three years, so cut the guy a break. Personally, I think he sounds great. How he looked at this show, though, that’s another story. And that, I think, is what makes Unplugged stick out. Just knowing where he was headed. Watching him sing, looking at his face and knowing the end of the story. He looked beaten and halfway to dead. You knew. Well hell, everyone knew from a long time before that he’d die a junkie death, but looking at him that night, you just knew it was all winding down. It took about six years after that for his way of life to finally take it’s toll, but any AIC fan who watched the show that night saw the end of Staley right then.
But the music. Wow. The playlist is the heart of AIC. The songs here are all laid out like raw meat. Cooking in reverse, kind of. Knowing what a steak looks and tastes and smells like when it comes out of the kitchen and then looking at a slab of meat and thinking, that’s what I just ate. Does that make any sense? Fuck, I’m tired. It makes sense in my head. Maybe I’m hungry, I don’t know. But anyhow. You take a song like Angry Chair and throw it out there unplugged and you think that just can’t work, but it does. It works so well. It gives you a new appreciation of the song and of the musicianship of the band.
Over Now. Damn. The harmony on this is beautiful. And sad in a way. I tend to think metaphorically when I’m tired. But I won’t bore with you that now. Just...listening to this makes me feel sad. And then, Down in a Hole. The fucking highlight of this album. This song, this version of this song, never fails to blow me away. Such a depressing song, yet so pretty in a lot of ways. It makes me feel down but I listen to it anyhow because there’s so much feeling in it and it’s just a reminder of things. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know everything is going to hell and you can't stop it. Not even having the urge to climb out of the hole anymore. Listening to the song this way, live, somehow kicks me harder than the studio version.
So this is a great album, musically. But depressing as hell.
I'm gonna put on some Love and Rockets and go back to thinking about steak. -M
Alcohol, amphetamines, LSD and pot. The most amazing live record ever. Something that you listen to and wonder why you ever thought guitarists and singers were so cool. They didn't do that much.
What album am I talking about?
The Who - Live at Leeds
From start to finish, you can see why Keith Moon was a damn god on the drums. Those fills didn't need to be there. He just did them cause he was out of it. Don't get me wrong. Playing high is hard but sometimes it is a hell a lot of fun. Cept for LSD. No bueno on playing on that stuff. The fucking strings feel like tree limbs.
But maybe that's just me.
This was the album that got me into the background of music. Guitarists? Meh. Singer? Meh.
Wanna know what holds a band together? Listen to this. Moon is so fucked up he can barely talk, but somehow his fills are incredible. Fucking amazing. Daltry and Pete don't even need to be there. They are just icing on the cake.
You want to know why this album worked so well?
Cause they all hated each other. That's a true story. The best bands all hated each other. Do their job and then go home alone. If you guys can tell me any band that hangs out with other when they are on off time, go for it.
The truth be told, everyone hates each other in a band after the end of a tour. The real good bands can come on, still hating each other, and put out something amazing. Something that no one wants to repeat or ever wants to forget. Something that you ask yourself how can that guy barely make out a sentence, but still pull off a drum fill like that? That wasn't on the real album was it?
I have seen the Who about ten times. I have never seen them with Moon. I’m only 11 years old for god's sake, but even their fill in drummers lacked. They died when Keith died. This was the ultimate live album of a band at their peak.
This is what they did.
Enjoy it or fuck off.
The attitude on this whole thing inspired me to pick up a bass.
RIP - John Entwistle
If there is a god and a heaven, you guys are fucking the place up right now. - T
So that's our take on Best Live Albums. We know that you will all have your own, but some will always be in our heads. Where you can just feel the power, energy, emotion, crowd, and the heavy breathing of the band.
Just imagining how tired you are and looking at the set list thinking you have sweated every kind of moisture, emotion and talent out of yourself.
Then seeing you are only on song two of the list.
But you just have to keep going.
So what's your favorite live album?