Top Stuff 12
Sticking with the musical theme, I am presenting 7 of my favorite live records. A few of these have songs recorded at multiple shows and I almost disqualified them for that, but decided they still are pretty dang cool.
Nothing beats seeing a band live, especially if they perform favorite songs or explode with energy. Often, a live performance on vinyl or compact disc loses some of that “I was there” flair and some bands are honestly not very good in concert. I am well aware that my liking the following performances will have a great deal to do with my affinity for the bands themselves and am not implying these are the epic of the epic. Feel free to add to the list or debate my selections. I miss the conversation.
In no particular order.
Toad The Wet Sprocket-Welcome Home-A sucker for Toad for many years, this 1992 recording has them playing in front of a home town crowd. Fear had just been released and the band was receiving lots of radio play. The record has great performances of Jam, Before You Were Born, Stories I Tell, and Hold her down. The band still tours and if you can, I recommend going to see them.Excellent songwriting all around.
The Cure- Entreat Plus-The first version of this Disintegration album performance only contained 8 tracks and that was fantastic enough. This release (which came with the Disintegration reissue) has the full 12 tracks. The cure are quite fantastic live and they have released several live recordings. This one is my favorite for the version of the title track (Disintegration, which still blows my mind), and a wonderful version of Untitled and The Same Deep Water as you.
Porcupine Tree-Octane Twisted-As far as studio albums go, The Incident was not my favorite PT’s release. That said, this live recording of that album has completely changed my opinion. The songs are more poignant now and the musical themes resonate more. I am unable to find a live version from this record on YouTube so you get a non-live version of The Blind House and a live version of Arriving Somewhere But Not Here.
Nine Inch Nails-And All That Could Have Been-NIN can be brutally bad live. Their sound is often muddled and the over the top, destructive antics of Trent Reznor make it difficult for the musicians to play their instruments (as he is often smashing them up). Perhaps because this disc is a compilation of various tour stops, most of the songs are fantastically produced and presented. I have loved my experiences watching NIN live and this captures the experience at its musical best. Check out Reptile, March of the Pigs and Piggy as well as this video performance of The Wretched.
Isis-Live III-Everyone should listen to ISIS. Period. When I was tired of singers that wanted to impress me with their vocal range or their ridiculously self indulgent lyrics, this band saved music for me. The growling, often muddled singing intrigued me, allowing vocals to just be another instrument, not something that needed to dominate a song to be effective. This particular performance has great versions of So Did We and In Fiction as well as a fantastic version of Wills Dissolve (this version is not from the Live III disc, but oh my, it is so good).
Ministry-In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up-Just 6 tracks but these 6 tracks are mind-blowing-ly good. A late comer to Ministry (discovered them in late 1990), I was wary of their “new” more metal sound. I loved the Twitch record but The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste took a few years to really enjoy. I bought this live disc in the summer of 1993 and have listened to it too many times to count. The version of Stigmata is hilariously over the top but the unforgettable track has to be So What.
Oingo Boingo-Farewell-I was fortunate to catch this tour when it came through Salt Lake City. Boingo meant a great deal to me in my high school years and their later work, especially the Boingo record, was very instrumental in helping me through a crisis or two. This performance, the last show they ever performed is my favorite live album of all time. Too many songs to list but this version of We Close Our Eyes is a personal favorite. Only A Lad was the final song in the show and I have to admit, I get a bit teary every time.
I am anticipating thoughts from some of you. Share them.