Live after “Live After Death”

Think about the 1970s. Just about every great band you can think of during that period brought out a career-defining live album. Sometimes the album might have been the star attraction of a recording career like, say, Frampton Comes Alive or Rockin’ The Filmore or maybe it was one of a band’s many successful releases. Sometimes the live album represented a full stop in a band’s career before they would change tack (hi, Rush!), but always these great albums captured a high-point of success or peak performance.

So what happened to the live album?

I was reading an excellent post that sings the praises of Iron Maiden’s superb Live After Death the other day. And I started to wonder if, maybe, Live After Death (released in the mid-80s) was the last truly classic live album of all-time. I mean classic as in essential! Classic as in one of the albums you think about or recommend when you’re talking about that band.

I wonder why this might have happened. Maybe one factor is the concert film – why just listen to the concert when you can watch the show too? I can certainly think of a good few great concert DVDs. Also, a few 70s bands struggled to capture their sound on studio albums, possibly due to the available recording technology. So perhaps bands are just happy with their studio albums now and don’t feel the need to impress us all with their live sound, being that it’s probably pretty close to their studio sound. And is there a fear that a live album would just come across like a Greatest Hits with crowd noise over the top? Have we just written the live album off as an artistic statement? Hmmmm…

Pre-Live After Death I’d struggle to think of any bands that hadn’t brought out a brilliant live album. After it, I’m struggling to think of many bands that have. I can think of some… but are they classic? No, but maybe they should be. I’m going to see if I can come up with some contenders! And, if you have any suggestions, please get in touch.

Watch this space!

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21 thoughts on “Live after “Live After Death””

  1. Hello! I found you thanks to Mike Ladano’s blog. Love what you’re doing here – keep up the good work! I’m over at myleftthumb.wordpress.com if you want to see what I own (and what is being blathered about, by me), these days. I turn up as isaacandsophie because that’s my WP blog for pics of my kids.

    Anyway, this is hard for me to write. You see, I am a HUGE Rolling Stones fan. Scary big fan. I own all their records. It’s a mighty big pile of albums, and they are all my friends. The tough part, though, is that as far as the context of your post about definitive 70s live albums, I’d struggle to pick a great one for the Stones. What is there? Only two. First, there’s Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out. Well, it’s OK, and captures them in a moment, but it’s not one that springs to most people’s minds. Ditto to Love You Live, the double album that has some great versions, an album I love, but isn’t career-defining like you were seeking. And that’s it. Now, I love me some Stones, but their live records have never been the point of loving the band. So that might be fuel for your fire (much as it pains me, as a Stones fan, to say it).

    And to Mike, r.e. Sloan: He’s a buddy of mine, and I know he loves that Palais Royale album. And it is fantastic. Career-defining, though? When it’s the only live album (on CD) they’ve ever released in their 20 years as a band? I wonder. You, HMO, should definitely check out the Sloan, though. They are a band of many influences (including Beatles and AC/DC, largely). It’s a band that I have loved since 1993 (and seen live 5 times), and they always rule, and have never made a bad studio album. Not one. So awesome. Once you get started, you will want it ALL.

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    1. The Stones are a great band to bring up in this context. Neither of those albums comes to mind when you think of classic, definitive Stones albums. I’m sure they must have sold well enough but neither are in the same pantheon as Live At Leeds or the Allman’s Fillmore East are they?

      I’ve only got a few Stones albums (mostly Mick Taylor era) but I’ve noticed a few DVDs popping out lately. Ladies and Gentleman and the Some Girls tour. Are those better? I always enjoyed the Hyde Park gig footage.

      I’ll definitely be checking out Sloan! Are they pretty successful or are they more of a cult thing?

      Thanks so much for checking out and commenting on my blog! I’ll be checking out your Sexy Thumb for sure!

      Scott

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      1. You know, even in their whole career, can you name a live Stones record like what you mean in your original post? What, Flashpoint? Stripped? No. It’s interesting, it’s almost as though they would rather have just put on the show, and the live albums were a perfunctory gesture, or maybe a label requirement.

        Definitely Ladies And Gentlemen… needs to get in your collection. That’s the Exile tour (1972) and it is phenomenal. I don’t have the Some Girls re-issue, or the DVD, so I don’t know for sure.

        Mike and I are showing our bias with the Sloan thing. We really do love them. I got to see the XX tour (and meet Chris and Patrick after the show!) and they are flying high on a peak that most bands simply cannot sustain. Just awesome. You won’t go wrong jumping into their career at any point. But remember what I said and be prepared – you’ll want them all.

        Thanks for checking out the Sexythumb! It’s a total lark. These aren’t even reviews. It started with me just wondering what would happen if the house burned down. How would I prove to insurance I actually had owned all that stuff? WordPress’ servers seemed safer than a thumbdrive in a firebox, and this way you guys get to troll my collection too. So I threw up a few pictures, and it was fun. So, onward. When I run out of CDs (which will be a while, even at 5 per day), it’ll be DVDs and books too. Cheers, Aaron

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      2. It’s definitely odd. Especially for a band with such a great reputation as a live act. I really fancy the Ladies and Gentlemen DVD so i’ll need to pick that up for sure.

        Nothing wrong with a bit of bias! I would never have found out about them otherwise, they don’t seem to have made much of a splash here in the UK.

        I love the Sexythumb, it’s great fun. I really like how you and Mike are putting all these great photos of your collections on your sites. I’m going to have to put some of that into my own but i’m crap with cameras and it takes me long enough to do my posts as it is! I’ll give it a bash though!

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  2. Sloan had quite a few hits here and got signed to Geffen in the States in the early 90’s. Unfortunately I find in Canada we don’t seem to support our classic bands enough. Bands like Helix and Sloan don’t get their new material played on the radio like (ahem) Nickelback do, and it’s a darn shame. It’s particularly a shame because the last Sloan, the Double Cross (as in, XX, 20 years of Sloan) was a great record. I liked it so much I bought it twice for bonus tracks. isaacandsophie probably bought it twice too, but on vinyl if I know him!

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    1. You know what? I started with just crappy cell phone pics, I didn’t even get a camera until 2 weeks ago!

      In some cases I am hoping readers will be able to help me identify some albums. I have two Quiet Riot Japanese imports, or bootlegs, or promos…can’t tell exactly. But I have them and I will post pics, and then maybe someone can tell me what I own.

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      1. I’m just shooting a Canon 40D (dslr) on auto with the flash turned off (to avoid glare). I’m no photographer. I have to admit, though, even though it’s considered ancient by camera people, in the right hands this camera could still be used as pro gear. Funny, it was a New Year’s resolution of mine to figure out how to use it properly… hm. Since it’s August, I suppose I should get on that…

        I’m all for pics on your site, though. Even at low res and in a thumbnail… there’s something pleasing to the eye about having the accompanying pic. Not that we wouldn’t read your site without them, natch.

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      2. I’ve got a digital camera and a phone camera so I’m sure I can rustle something together… my laziness is the bigger obstacle! I don’t know how you manage to put up so many posts!?

        Doubt I’ll be able to help you with the QR but they sound cool.

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      1. I think I know which one he’ll be doing… it’ll be awesome. And soon enough, ALL of the Sloan records will be on Myleftthumb, so you can use the blog page as a shopping list. 😉

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      2. The number of posts is easy for me. I try to do five a day. I took a pile of pictures in advance, from stacks of CDs, so call that half an hour. And for posting, all it is is selecting a picture, then blathering for a sentence or two. I’m not trying for reviews or incisiveness, just record-keeping items, so there’s really not all that much thought into it (which is why I get surprised when people like the site!). To do those five posts, it takes 20 minutes, tops, and most of that time is spent waiting for the pics to load into WP. If I can get the kids to sleep early enough, I can even get 10 posts up in a day!

        Also, I doubt very much you’re lazy. You’re likely just busy, and posting online for the likes of us is likely lower on the priority list than, say, earning a living, etc. There’s a big difference.

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      3. It’s a fair cop, I’m not that lazy I guess… it is hard to find the time to do these posts. And I don’t even have kids!

        It doesn’t surprise me that people like your site. The short comments are great because they’re funny and personal. There’s a real skill in keeping things punchy like that.

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