Live Albums

Live Albums
Authored By John Nicholson
A while ago, I was speculating why I had so many live albums. It’s remarkable really. I have loads of them. They started out as budget records and were considered a bit of a rip off because they invariably featured pre-existing material. It hadn’t seemed to occur to anyone that some bands would jam on songs and make them very different. Even when they didn’t, the roar of the crowd added to the excitement and attraction of the live recording. In rock and blues I’ve long wondered what the first live album was. I think the Kinks live at Kelvin hall in Glasgow released in January 1968 beats Ten Years After’s, Undead by 6 months. Unless you know better.

By the mid-70s they were everywhere and a legitimate way to promo a band still sometimes sold at a lower price like Made In Japan by Deep Purple. That must be why I have so many from Black Oak Arkansas to Black Sabbath. There are so many that it’s easier to identify who didn’t release a live record in the 1970s and 80s.  I suppose technically Pink Floyd didn’t but half of Ummagumma was and that was 1969. Even obscure bands did like P.F.M ‘Cook’. It was almost a way to establish your credibility as a touring band. Could you cut it live? Almost everyone could, of course so it was a natural choice. Yes and ELP indulged us to a triple live offering in a typical prog move. Some records became part of the bands’ calling card. Live Dates was Wishbone Ash’s definitive live document. Live and Dangerous was Thin Lizzy’s, Rory Gallagher’s ‘Irish Tour 74’ was a classic.

Perhaps an overlooked reason for their popularity was the fact that you could easily imagine being in a band taking a solo. It indulged that level of fantasy. It also meant you had experienced the band live and that felt culturally important.

I often think I could make a section of the collection dedicated to live records, everything from the Allmans to ZZTop.

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