Friday, August 01, 2008

Live by proxy - the rise and fall of the live album:

I have been thinking about this for a while, more particularly in the last few weeks during which I have had the pleasure to see almost forty bands truly live. I rather suspect that, on reflection, the decade 1975 -1985 was the zenith of the live album. These were almost always double albums and released on vinyl (but also on cassette and some in later cases, not to mention reissues, on CD).
While some were fairly genuinely live recordings of a single gig and some very much edited compilations from several sets, others were even extensively remixed but whatever their status some were genuinely worthwhile.
I have, in this regard, mentioned Live and Dangerous - Thin Lizzy (1978) already. This evening I was thumbing through the archives because we had, for some Friday afternoon reason, ended up discussing Tina Turner at work and in particular the track 'Nutbush City Limits'. Don't even think about asking how we got to this point but, as a result, and when I was browsing this evening I came across Live Bullet - Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band (1976) that you can fortunately still buy for a song, digitally remastered, on a sparkling new CD.
I'm even luckier still in that I don't have to wait for it to arrive, nor do I even have to download it. I can't remember when I last listened to it, probably late last century, but I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy the legal alternative again this evening and, as I paid pennies for it second-hand so long ago, to all intents and purposes do so for free. The opening track is, of course, a cover of Nutbush City Limits...

Live Bullet - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

This album was recorded over two performances at the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Seger's home city, on the 4th and 5th September 1975 and released in 1976. The cover may be scuffed but the LPs inside are fine and to be able to listen to the original double vinyl set (EMI/Capitol E-STS161 & E-STS162) makes it even better and maybe, in 2008, it would seem that way to me regardless of any other considerations.
It now seems all the more so however, to me at least, because of the recent revival in all kinds of American music - not least Americana - and which, by seamlessly fusing genres from the last half-century, is quite remarkable on many levels.

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