Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tenuous segues are far preferable to completely ignoring someone's last post and starting a topic afresh in a manner that suggests the poster was barely able to refrain from starting with, "ANYWAY...". So I applaud the initiative, Mike!

As for the live album, like Derek, I don't I own very many. I prefer the studio or 'finished' product, though I recognize that this may well be a contentious statement. Some might argue that a song isn't ever finished, and that years of performance can add layers of nuance or complexity to a song or strip it down into more basic elements that come across as organic, cleaner, fresher... I'm willing to entertain that argument if directed to some examples but most of the live performances I've experienced in recorded version--watching on television or listening to on a stereo--are usually either pale imitations of the recorded versions (think Mick Jagger singing 'Start Me Up' on stage anytime over the past 25 years) or full of improvisational flourishes (Sting peppring a rendition 'Roxanne' with jazz scat, something I witnessed on television over 20 years ago but still makes me shudder to this day) that irritate more than improve.

Whenever I'm sitting around and listing albums with friends and a live album is mentioned, it is usually pointed out, rather quickly that the album is 'just' a live album, an almost knee-jerk reaction to qualify that suggests, to me, that on some level, we don't believe the live album counts towards an artists' legacy.

It is interesting that most of those albums you list are from the 1970s. I started buying music around the end of that decade and I guess the music I was into in the early to mid 80s didn't translate all that well to live performance (heavy synth, layered guitar, tortured vocals). While this may well be why I don't own as many, I do get the sense, from trolling through different websites, that there's a bit of a consensus that the live album reached its zenith in that decade. Did the 80s kill the live album?

To Derek's point that the relative ease with which we can find and play a seemingly infinite number of live performances may spell the end of the live album for good. But I'm guessing that there will always be completists who will want to own (by which I mean, have in their possession rather than bought) every possible recorded version of a band's output, even if these can be retrieved at any time on a handheld device within seconds. Those of you who seek out torrents can attest to the size and scope of some of the 'complete' collections of a band you may have assumed only released a handful of albums. Not sure if this means record companies will continue to release live albums but then again, there may not be such a thing as a record company in the near future.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I probably own somewhere around 2500 non-jazz or classical recordings and I can count on both hands the number of live albums in that collection. For me at least live recordings are simply not an integral part of an artists body of work.

The few times that I have been inspired to seek out a live album has usually been the result of witnessing a truly great live performance by the artist in question. I remember distinctly in the summer of 1982 attending the Police Picnic at Exhibition Stadium and being totally floored by the Talking Heads large ensemble performance and immediately after the show heading up Yonge Street with some buddies to purchase the double live album "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads" at Sam the Record Man. Probably one of my two favourite live albums. The other being Peter Gabriel's "Plays Live", the purchase again was spurred by seeing him twice at the Gardens and putting on brilliant performances.

A few of the other live albums I own by the Smiths and the Jam for example barely register for me in the band's catalogue.

Back in the day when attending 3 or 4 shows in a given month wasn't unusual I should have been much more receptive to seeking out a live album but somehow failed to end up with the more than 10 or so that I have. Not really sure why that is but these days when I am lucky to get out to 1 or 2 shows a year the likelihood of me rushing out to find a live performance of any act is much slimmer. Even someone I adore like Neko Case who happens to have all of her studio releases sitting in my cd rack is sadly absent her 2004 "Tigers Have Spoken" live album.

I notice Mike that most of the live albums you've listed are 30-40 years old and by fairly well established artists. Is there some sort of minimum album output that a band should reach before anyone feels it necessary to hear them recorded live? In this day of shortened band lifespans are we likely to see many more "live" albums especially given that you can dial up almost any band you care to mention and find a live performance somewhere on the internet.

And one more point re recorded live performances what is the impetus behind this sudden reuniting of aged musicians to peform live an entire so called classic album. Were bands doing this in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If so I don't recall.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This is a tenuous segue, but Kyle's opera post dealt with a live performance (and, as an aside, I also found the review amusing. It must be extraordinarily frustrating to have one's stellar vocal performance in an opera completely overshadowed by innovative but critically skewered staging and direction) and I have been thinking about live performances lately. It is generally true of independent acts that they come across better live than in the studio. But most successful bands overcome this issue, and generate studio albums that define them. Some bands, however, seem to be definitively captured by live recordings. A few examples culled from my own collection are:
- Greatest Stories Live by Harry Chapin
- Cheap Trick Live at Budakahn
- The Last Waltz by the Band
- Frampton Comes Alive
- Neil Diamond's Hot August Night
- An Evening with John Denver
- Ted Nugent's Double Live Gonzo

Several other live albums rate among my personal favorites for certain performers, although I can't claim that these are generally considered "definitive":
- Stop Making Sense by the Talking Heads
- Bruce Springsteen Live 1975-1985
- Big Time by Tom Waits
- Neil Young - Live Rust
- Fleetwood Mac Live
- Some Enchanted Evening by Blue Oyster Cult
- Rheostatics - Double Live
- Hiatt Comes Alive at Budakahn by John Hiatt& the Guilty Dogs
- Queen Live Killers

The question for the group is - what are your thoughts about live recordings vs. studio recordings? Are they significant elements of an artist's body of work? Or are they just commercial endeavors that don't fundamentally impact a given artist's importance or legacy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Know we don't post often on Opera and this review is less about the quality of the vocal performances than it is about the stage direction but I found it highly entertaining nonetheless.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I find myself curiously uninterested in hearing the new Beatles tracks. They were my favorite band for the longest time - I suppose they still are, but the music has become too familiar to engender any excitement or thrill anymore. Hearing the songs with modern technology to enhance the sound has only a mild academic interest for me. I guess I'm neither an audiophile or a collector at heart.
A great suggestion re: your birthday gift, Bri. An even better suggestion, I think, would be this. A far more managable $5 w/ shipping. Whadda you think guys?
Well I'm pretty interested to hear the Beatles music, given all the comments I've heard about it coming to life etc. It's probably the pop music I know best, listened to the most, etc, so the idea of it being refreshed is intriguing. The cost, not as intriguing. Of course, it is my birthday on Monday. It would only be $50 a CD club member or so. And I'd be willing to share them (eventually) .

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Also, initial digital album thoughts: yawn! A bunch of videos and art that I can look at on my pc/mac? Isn't that called a (free) website? Hardly seems worth the 40% markup at this point. Hope to be proven wrong by a future kickass version but for now, I'll save my ducats.
I think it would be worthwhile, and certainly cathartic, to itemize all the reasons I despise Dave Matthews but let's leave as a rhetorical for now.

As for the Fab 4's new digitalized remastered mono and stereo versions, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be buying/downgrading with the intention of restoring their collection to its original purity(mono)/upgrading with the benefit of hearing the sweat dripping down george harrison's back (stereo) with this new set. I have most if not all the Beatles albums I think I want or need already (Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Magical, Sgt. Peppers, White, Abbey, Let it Be) so I'm not sure why I'm supposed to shell out another $190 or $260 . Or should I join the legions of 21st century gamers? Wondering if someone can explain the merits to me. Otherwise, I'm going to put all my disposable cash into a robotic floorvac.
Ha! What is it about Dave Mathews that is so bloody annoying? Please treat that question as rhetorical.

Any excitement about this release? I'm definitely interested in hearing them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Now that it has been launched, I'm not sure if you'll find these new digital lps compelling but the product demo makes me wonder if there's an application I can download that will allow me to never have to hear a Dave Matthews song.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How to pick your new favourite indie band.

Friday, September 04, 2009

fellow beasts,

the etymology/ontogenesis of metabeats

1) since this is a place where we think about how we think about music, thought that the word 'meta' fit, at least in terms of its definition as an abstraction from another concept. thus metabeats is sharing how we felt (feeling the feeling, therefore meta) about a particular piece of music (beats)

2) it sounds cool

the other option would have been to just give it a simple name, like 'Barry'. but i thought this would be too cute by half.

as for stuart's suggestion that the video may distract from the song, it's a valid point but allow me to add this twist: i rarely watch the video itself.

once i find the song on youtube, i'll alt-tab over to another application and continuing doing something else while enjoying the song. youtube is just an easier place to find the song and provide a link or embed a track than any other site. granted, when i search for a song, i do try to find the best video or one that appears to be the 'official' video, so on some level, i must assume that you want to watch it, even if i don't. or perhaps i just want the option of alt-tabbing back to watch, should it strike my fancy. i'll spare you any further self-exploration as this is meta-enough for today.

as we head into the long weekend, though, any music that you're planning on playing?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Oops, OK I am editing that one! Simply for the sake of clarity (not out of any sense of embarrassment...), and thereby rendering your comment incomprehensible.
I've always assumed we were using definition 4b: "Derived from by a loss of water".

And to your point, Stuart - I've never liked the whole idea of music videos. Sure there have been some entertaining ones over the years, but I do find them to be generally a distraction from the music. The only ones I consistently like are those that simply show the band playing the song.

By the way - very nice little Freudian slip there, Brian.
Metabeast is awesome. It's actually the way I think of myself. Particularly the meta part. The meaning of which, incidentally, I debated with my friend Steve Ketola the other day. He very confidently stated that it meant "above" in Greek. I had thought it more like "beside" or "beyond". In fact, looking at the definition on m-w, it looks like like it is one of the more complex (and flexible) prefixes around. Which leaves me with the question, what did each of you think we've been meaning by Metabeats all these years?

Another nomination from me, a great track from a record that perhaps didn't get the kudos it deserved because the man in question made the poor career move of stabbing himself in the chest before releasing it. I say that in jest but actually am (or certainly was) v. saddened by it. From a Basement might be my favourite record of his.