Question Of The Week: Death After Live
It’s fun to re-live your awesomest concert experiences via a live album. Or it’s a relief to jam a live record by a band that u have never witnessed in person. In either case, a curiosity is satisfied: Does it sound as rad as a I remember? Or, What’s the banter like? and Do they mess with arrangements? and Can they hack it with no do-overs? So any live album is entertaining for a spin or two.
But the purpose of the best live albums is upgrade. That is, if the artist has improved since prior albums, it’s amazing to hear them invigorate the work of their slightly/really younger selves. And then there’s another type of concert release, like Humble Pie’s Performance: Rockin’ The Fillmore, on which one original appears amid an hour of frontman Steve Marriott’s slick revamps of cutting-edge songs. Anyway let’s talk about all kinds of live albums — and ones that should exist but don’t (yet) — in today’s awesome MetalSucks Question Of The Week. Turn the lights down!
Inspired by High On Fire’s cool new live records and the format’s potential for awesomeness, we asked our staff the following:
What is the Metal’s best live album, real or imagined?
Ha what does that even mean?! You’ll see :) lol Have an awesome wknd :)
No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith by Motorhead. There’s no argument that will sway me. The songs on that record perfectly balance sounding like the recorded music and having a raw, live performance feel. Lemmy’s stage banter is semi-coherent and incredible. And Hammersmith collects the best of Motorhead’s first four albums — which, I might argue, is the greatest body of rock and roll in recorded history. The production is clear, there’s attitude in spades, and the music is just crushing. I can’t even imagine a live album better than this one.
Live albums occasionally annoy me. When I want a low-quality, raw, “real” album, I go see it in person or watch the DVD. Otherwise I pay for music that’s clear and polished. Still, Iron Maiden‘s Rock In Rio captures that adrenaline punch of an actual concert without the annoyance of lower sound quality. Brucie is pretty much the only singer that I’ve seen who sounds the same live and recorded. And that’s what I want.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s Atrocities In All Cities: Agoraphobic Nosebleed At Vermont Deathfest. That album’s only handicap is that it’s pretend. Otherwise, there’s no topping that three-hour set, the penultimate set of VDF’s second night (opening for a 35-minute performance by Pig Destroyer, of course). It covers only a fraction of ANb’s catalog and relies heavily on pre-recorded stage banter by Paul Stanley and Cronos (as mainman Scott Hull quietly drinks craft beer). For most of the show, JR Hayes and Kat Katz alternate on vocals; the rest is handled by drugged homeless people contorted by night terrors. Things get a little hairy around the second hour: Scene kids with audibly crispy hair start to realize that Pig Destroyer-style mosh isn’t happening and proceed to complain. But ANb’s throng of fat and/or degenerate fans take care of this problem quickly — it helps that they all carry claw hammers for no discernible reason. But it’s back to normal for a finale: all of Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope, then an encore of “Question of Integrity” (below) to show off the integrity of modern metal’s best drummer. Soon to be available through Robotic Empire for $259.95 on seven hot pink 180-gram vinyl records.
One night at the beach I was all shooting my mouth off about Between The Buried And Me’s pointless live album, Colors Live. It’s their Colors album performed start to finish and roughly as tightly as the album, I told a group of buds. Not bothering to veil their boredom, they still listened charitably when my brah piped up like, “Wait a second stupid, don’t u worship that Queensryche live album, Operation: Livecrime? lol” and then explained that O:Lc is just like Colors Live: a big masterpiece recreated in full, in order, and with no significant fireworks. A pause and my clueless expression generated a round of laughs and concluded the discussion, but later I got to thinking: Not quite, not really, no comparison! Why? Cuz Queensryche goes buckwild at a few points in the show: They stretch the Genesis-style interlude of “Spreading The Disease,” they adjourn the smash-and-grab assault “The Needle Lies” (below) for some crowd stokage, and O:Lc‘s finale (SPOILER) adds a crafty, euphoric resolution not found on its source album. Enough deviation to excite listeners but not enough to bore (like Colors Live). That’s a live album that matters.
I thought we were clear about this: metal fucking SUCKS. So my vote is for the Spin Doctors‘ first official release Up For Grabs…LIVE. This 1991 jamfest at NYC’s infamous Wetlands Preserve (RIP) is tr00ly the Doctors at their finest.
DAVID LEE ROTHMUND
With live albums, the tricky part is properly transferring those live feels without shitting all over production quality. I mean, you can’t recreate a concert experience on a CD, yet that’s what too many bands end up attempting. But an artist can at least capture some spurting, spontaneous energy while keeping in mind that it’s headed for an actual record. So if you’ve heard Pantera‘s Official Live: 101 Proof — and I’m sure you have (yes, I’m glaring at you) — then you know what the fuck I’m on about. It’s the way that tracks melt together but maintain coherence; it’s about how Dimebag never missed a fucking note; and it’s about Anselmo topping his already high levels of badassery. And they threw in two new studio tracks to boot!