Top 5 “Live” CDs (Official or Bootlegs)
Musical confession time: I actually notoriously dislike live albums because I generally think they’re pointless unless there’s something particular notable about them, like interesting/new arrangements of songs, cool guest appearances, or rare covers. So of all the live CDs I have, I only have one full, willingly purchased live album and a handful of other disks that came as bonus material with an album rerelease.
1. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under by Amanda Palmer This is a huge exception to the above statement in that it was recorded live but is an atypical live album in that it features all original/previously unreleased songs, most of which were recorded live. And it works pretty well and sounds awesome. And it features songs that started to tip me beyond being just a casual Palmer/Dresden Dolls fan, like “Map of Tasmania” and personal anthem “In My Mind.”
2. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac Yeah, Rumours isn’t a live album, but the anniversary reissue contains a solid live disk. Basically, it’s a great excuse to listen to Rumours two consecutive times while trying to tell yourself you didn’t technically just listen to Rumours two consecutive times. Plus–and this where I cave a little on my anti-live-album stance–if you’ve seen the musician live, live recordings do have a way of bringing that joy back. Basically, short of YouTube clips, Rumours’ live second disk is the closest I will come to actually reliving Fleetwood Mac live last weekend.
3. Good Evening New York City by Paul McCartney Again, see “Fast, Easy Ways to Relive a Concert.” Sir Paul–much like Fleetwood Mac these days–plays very similar sets city to city, so this album sounds quite similar to his Pittsburgh show a few summers ago. The real clinchers that make this a must-own live album for McCartney fans is version of “Something” played on ukulele and the “A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance” medley that’s just brilliant and can still literally take my breath away. Seeing that live was just on a whole other level.
4. Ben Folds with any symphony ever I have only ever seen bootlegs of these shows, but holy shit. Ben Folds playing with the symphony was one of the most gorgeous musical experiences of my life. The arrangements are perfect.
5. Assorted David Bowie bootlegs Okay, I mostly just mean that version of “Janine” he played for the BBC that’s on the Space Oddities release, but whatever. I fucking love that song. Sorry I didn’t put Reality on this list, guys, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe I encountered it at too young an age, back when I appreciated live recordings even less. Baby steps.