I think that we can agree that the thing that makes a great live album is when it not only captures the music, but the energy and vibe in the room. A special document of a moment in an artists career that transports you to that time and that moment when you put it on the turntable.
One of my favorite live recordings is Robin Trower Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour. Recorded in 1977 in New Haven, CT, this recording is one of the single most incredible live performances I’ve ever heard. No overdubs, no clean up, live to the radio, and later released on CD. Trower’s playing is vastly underrated, especially in a live setting. The comparisons to Hendrix are silly to me. His solo efforts were moody and brooding. James Dewar’s soulful voice is just as much of a star of this recording to me as Trower’s playing. I don’t think there is another live broadcast that compares, and there are some great ones!
When I’m recommending someone check out an act for the first time, it’s not often that I go for a live record, but there are a couple of exceptions that come to mind. One is Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush – Live, although their studio output has it’s moments, the Live album is a testament to Marino’s ability, and the ferocity of the band.
For us American’s we were vastly unfamiliar with Whitesnake until the mid-eighties, when they began their conquering of this side of the pond with Slide It In and the ’87 self-tilted masterpiece, but if you want the best introduction to early Whitesnake, Live In The Heart Of The City is truly the place to start! David Coverdale in fine form, alongside his Deep Purple bandmates Jon Lord and Ian Paice, the late Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody on guitar, and the incredible bass playing of Neil Murray. If you can find the expanded version it’s well worth it. It’s a great selection of early Whitesnake tracks, and the ultimate introduction to this era of the band.
Since I joined Deko I’ve been involved with bringing a couple of live albums to the table, Union’s Live In the Galaxy that we reissued on vinyl for the first time, complete with a bonus 7” and all new artwork, and a new release that I believe is one of those iconic recordings that captures an artist at a powerful and special moment in time, Sass Jordan – Live In New York ’94. Sass Jordan has one of the most powerful voices in rock, and this album puts that on full display. Sass’ band is on fire here as well, Stevie Salas on guitar, Nick Lashley on guitar, Tony Reyes on bass, Erik Gloege on percussion, and the late great Taylor Hawkins on drums, playing like a man possessed. Do yourself a favor and put on “High Road Easy” from this recording and prepare to be amazed! This album has no overdubs, no fixes, just a raw live rock band owning the stage. This is the first time that this recording has been made available, we did this one on Hot Pink 180 gram vinyl, in a gatefold jacket, and I’m very pleased with how this one turned out. The best part for me, is that we have more to come!
Here is a list of some of my favorite live albums for you to check out, in no particular order:
Aerosmith – Live Bootleg
Deep Purple – Live Archive – The Complete Recordings (Full show of the Made In Europe album)
Cheap Trick – Live At Budokan – The Complete
Derringer – Live
Robin Trower – The King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
Mountain – Twin Peaks
Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush – Live
Rolling Stones – Flashpoint (Steel Wheels Live)
Savatage – Ghost In The Ruins
Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – Made in Stoke
UFO – Strangers In The Night
Whitesnake – Live In The Heart Of The City
Pete Merluzzi - Special Projects/Vinyl Reissues