My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

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8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

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7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

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6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

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4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

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2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

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1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Favorite Lines from Songs Part 2

I did Part 1 over a year ago and it was a fun post. I’ve been meaning to do this again. I remembered some of the lyrics suggested by my friends hanspostcard and allthingsthriller on the last post…I have added those to list. Thanks to both of you.

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back, And started walkin toward a coffee colored Cadillac… Chuck Berry

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose, And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson

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And I need you more than want you, And I want you for all time Jimmy Webb

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Doesn’t have a point of view / Knows not where he’s going to / Isn’t he a bit like you and me…The Beatles

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Met myself a coming county welfare line, I was feeling strung out, Hung out on the line…Creedence Clearwater Revival

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And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above…Bruce Springsteen

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He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week / All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek…Kinks

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Well it’s too late, tonight, To drag the past out into the light, We’re one, but we’re not the same, We get to carry each other, Carry each other…U2

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You can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a firePeter Gabriel

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Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…The Beatles

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Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola, C-O-L-A Cola…Kinks

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It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart…Bob Dylan
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A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see oneThe Band

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And the sign said, The words of the prophets, are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls… Simon and Garfunkel

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I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around…Grateful Dead

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When I said that I was lying, I might have been lyingElvis Costello
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Though nothing will keep us together/We can be heroes/Just for one day…David Bowie
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Lose your dreams and you. Will lose your mind…Rolling Stones

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It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win…Bruce Springsteen

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The motor cooled down, the heat went down, and that’s when I heard that highway sound…Chuck Berry

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We were the first band to vomit at the bar, and find the distance to the stage too far…The Who

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Simon & Garfunkel – America

I could listen to this song on a tape loop for eons and eons and be happy. Paul Simon is on a different level than other songwriters. This song peaked at #95 in the Billboard 100 and #25 in the UK in 1972. The song was originally on the album Bookends released in 1968 but this record was released as single in 1972 to promote their Greatest Hits.

The first Simon and Garfunkel album I bought was the Greatest Hits in the 80s. None of the songs ever get old to me.

From Songfacts.

In this song, Paul Simon and his longtime girlfriend Kathy Chitty (from “Kathy’s Song”) are coming to America (moving from England). Paul is deeply confused and unsatisfied, but he doesn’t know why. He just knows that something is missing. It is also about the “American Dream” – the guarantee that you will make it if you stumble upon this country. That is why they are coming to America.

The song is a great example of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel singing in unison, which was a hallmark of their sound. Garfunkel is especially fond of the section where they sing, “And walked off to look for America.” To told Paul Zollo in 1993: “That has a real upright, earnest quality because we both have the identical soul at that moment. We come from the identical place in our attitude, and the spine that’s holding us up, we are the same person. Same college kid, striking out.”

There are no rhymes in this song, which is quite a feat of songwriting. In his Songfacts interview, Gerry Beckley of America (no relation) broke it down: “The entire song is prose. There’s not one line that rhymes and I will tell some of the best songwriters you’ve ever met that particular element and you can see them stop and go through it in their head. We’re oblivious to that being an ingredient because we’re so involved in the story. You’re not sitting there going, ‘That didn’t rhyme, wait a second.’ It’s not an issue.”

The prolific session drummer Hal Blaine played on this, and considers it one of his favorites. Blaine also played on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

Other musicians on the track include Joe Osborn on bass and Larry Knechtel on organ.

At their live show in Central Park, Simon & Garfunkel repeated the line “Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike” because the home crowd could relate to the image of massive traffic on New Jersey highways. 

This was used by James Leo Herlihy in his all-but-forgotten classic novel, The Season of the Witch. The story begins with a pair of teenage runaways traveling by bus to New York, riffing off the lyrics all the way. When they actually see the moon rising over an open field, they feel their journey was meant to happen.

In the movie Almost Famous, the teenaged character Anita (Zooey Deschanel) plays this song to explain why she is leaving home to explore the country. The song is included on the soundtrack to the film.

The progressive rock band Yes recorded a vastly different version which they released as a single in 1972. Their rendition, with layered vocals and musical breakdowns, made #46 in the US. The single version ran 4:06, but a full 10:28 version was also released on a sampler album called The New Age of Atlantic later that year, and included on their 1996 Keys To Ascension album.

In our interview with Yes bass player Chris Squire, he explained: “When Yes first formed, Simon & Garfunkel were very prevalent hit makers at the time and both myself and Jon Anderson were big fans of them. That’s why we covered the song ‘America.’ But we did it differently than their way. We wanted to expand things, which is basically what we did. When Pop tunes were expected to be three minutes long, our mantra was, ‘Let’s make them 10 minutes long.’ So that was really what we did.”

Paul Simon gave Bernie Sanders permission to use this song in a campaign ad when Sanders was campaigning for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Simon told Billboard magazine: “Look, here’s a guy, he comes from Brooklyn, he’s my age. He voted against the Iraq War. He’s totally against Citizens United, thinks it should be overturned. He thinks climate change is an imminent threat and should be dealt with. And I felt: Hats off to you! You can use my song.”

America

Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner’s pies
And we walked off to look for America
Cathy, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
Michigan seems like a dream to me now
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America

Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera
Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat
We smoked the last one an hour ago
So I looked at the scenery
She read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America
All come to look for America