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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 16, 2006

Top Five Live Albums

Oooh, ooh, Simon requested this below, and this was relatively easy for me, since I don't tend to buy many live albums.

The live album should be a documentary, as much as anything, capturing something special, if possible, but certainly a snapshot of a time and place in history, regardless of the quality of the music. If the music is also good, so much the better.

5. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live at Alpine Valley, East Troy, Wisconsin, 1984. Early Born in the USA tour bootleg, before it'd really dawned on anyone how huge Bruce now was. For me, this is a nice boot with a good atmosphere, and finds him on the cusp, leaving behind his early, more intimate shows with their long stories, and before the act was really packaged and formulaic. Favourite moment: Thunder Road, the bit he does on the bass notes of his guitar after the line, "I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk...."

4. Bob Dylan Live at Budokan. 1978 document at the end of the long, long Rolling Thunder tour, finds Dylan playfully changing just about every song in his set, with reggae versions, waltzes, slowed-down versions... Not everything works, but it sounds great. Favourite moment: Dylan saying, "Here is an unrecorded song. See if you can guess which one it is..."

3. Keith Urban - Living Right Now - Cheating a bit, because this is a live DVD, but I bought it for the music, and it's the real thing. Urban's performance is from the end of 2004, and it's a cracker. Favourite moment: completely cheesy, but lying flat on his back to play the riff to "You Look Good in My Shirt".

2. The Band - The Last Waltz. They may have done better live work, but this document, on film and on record, shows a versatile and talented group of musicians able to make anybody - even Neil Diamond - sound good. Favourite moment: Rick Danko singing "It Makes No Difference," utterly sublime.

1. The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. When I was younger and didn't know the facts, I thought we'd been swizzed to only get two sides of live music from the whole of the Beatles at their peak, but then you realise that they only ever played 25-30 mins, so this is it. Two concerts, from '64, and '65, at the peak of their popularity, before drugs and Jesus, before Yoko and beards. Screaming girls, 3-track recordings, but still sounds pretty decent. Favourite moment: Lennon getting the words wrong in Help! and carrying on through his laughter - the audience couldn't hear anyway!


  • YES! The Hollywood Bowl giggle fit by Lennon always got to me (I have this thing for laughter on records: there's a great laugh on one of the tracks from Lloyd Cole and the Commotions third album - I forget which and currently I do not have a tape player so can't check back)

    And Cloud has never forgiven Dylan for the live version of I Want You from Budokan being so awesomely slower and more beautiful than the original Blonde on Blonde track.

    By Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg, at 3:42 am  

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