September 4 – ‘Nine Tonight’ Did Better Than That On Charts

Many bands have reputations as great live acts. However, few of them carry that over and are able to sell many live albums; Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton were definitely outliers in the ’70s in that respect. But one more exception is Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band. They had a hit with Live Bullet in 1976, when they were just rising to national fame, and took another shot at it five years later with Nine Tonight which came out this day in 1981. Once again, he seemed to hit the winning formula.

It came out a year after Against the Wind, which elevated him to superstar status and the record was pulled from concerts on the tour for that album, one from Boston and one from his hometown of Detroit. And, while two live albums in five years might seem excessive, most of the 16 tracks came from records made after the previous live one. Seger had written all but three tracks and one of the trio done by others was known as “his” song – “Old Time Rock’n’Roll”, written by George Jackson and Thomas Jones. A cover of Chuck Berry’s “Let it Rock” was the finale, and he added in an older soul song, ”Trying to Live My Life Without You.” That one had been done originally a label mate of Al Green’s, Otis Clay in 1973, but despite being performed on Soul Train hadn’t taken off… until Seger got to it! Other tracks included a number of his familiar hits, mostly from the end of the ’70s and Against the Wind, like “Night Moves,” “Her Strut” and “Against the Wind” itself, with a few lesser-known ones like “You’ll Accompany Me.”

The tour it was culled from was their first that crossed Europe, and according to backing vocalist Shaun Murphy, “this was when the frenzy started to kick in…we had crossed the precipice.” She added “you’d look out in the audience and people were all singing all the words. That hadn’t happened to Bob (before)”.

Latter reviews were mixed for it. Ultimate Classic Rock called it his “victory lap” while allmusic gave it 3-stars, significantly less than the first live album’s 5. They didn’t seem to think it was a bad album, but did note “”the live versions here stick pretty close to the studio versions,” although “the cut of ‘Old Time Rock’n’Roll’ included here proves to be better than the original.”

His fans may have thought so too. Either way, the album made it to #3 at home and #6 in Canada, and hit the top 30 in Britain and Australia. Much of that was from “Trying to Live My Life Without You”, which hit #5 – his fifth top 10 hit song – in the U.S. and #11 in Canada. “Feel Like A Number” made it into the top 30 in Canada while the live take on “Hollywood Nights” did reasonably well in the UK. When all was said and done, the release (a double album, but put out later as a single CD with the Chuck Berry song shortened from its 10-minute plus length to make it fit) went 4X platinum at home, the biggest selling live record since the Eagles live one a year earlier.

August 30 – John Said If George Can Do It, So Can I

Call it playing catch-up or call it being a terrific humanitarian…likely both were true, and about 30 000 New Yorkers were all the better off for it this day in 1972. That was the day John Lennon held two concerts, an afternoon and an evening one, at Madison Square Garden. The concerts were quickly arranged benefit shows, and although no one knew it at the time, they’d be the last full concerts Lennon would ever give. He was the only one of the Beatles who never toured as such after the Fab Four split up.

Lennon decided to do the shows to raise money for the Willowbrook School after seeing a TV news story about it. Willowbrook was a state-run school for mentally disabled kids and none other than Geraldo Rivera, an up-and-coming newsman at the time, brought to light stories of both abuse of the children and poor conditions at the school caused by disrepair. Lennon and Yoko Ono felt moved to act, and so the concerts were arranged, with all proceeds going to the school. They brought in Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and Sha Na Na to play on the bill as well; in a surprisingly magnanimous move, Lennon also invited Paul McCartney, who declined.

The idea was wonderful, but it was also highly reminiscent of a double concert George Harrison had done the year before to raise funds for Bangladeshi relief at the same venue. As even the Beatles Bible point out, “the success of George Harrison’s ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ the previous year may well have influenced his decision.” No doubt it irked him a little to see Harrison come to the Big Apple – John’s adopted hometown – and become a hero, not to mention score a hit record, with a charity event that was exactly the type of thing they’d expect Lennon and Ono to do.

Whether a bit of jealousy played a role or not, it was hard to argue with Lennon’s gesture. They sold tickets at between $5 and $10 (depending on seat location) and both shows sold out quickly. ABC filmed it and turned it into a TV special, paying $350 000 to the cause for the rights.

Lennon and his wife brought in session drummer Jim Keltner, and the Elephant’s Memory Band (a group of session musicians from the New York area who often backed Lennon at the time) to play, with John playing rhythm guitar himself. They rehearsed for three days. After Rivera welcomed them to stage for the afternoon show, it was apparent to some that a bit more practice might have helped. The sound was a bit off, and at one point John joked “welcome to the rehearsal.” They played 17 songs, starting with “Power to the People” through a finale of “Hound Dog”. He powered through his Beatles tour de force “Come Together” and a number of his early hits or near-hits like “Imagine,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma”. Yoko took center stage to do a couple of numbers, “Born in a Prison” and “Sisters, Oh Sisters.” The evening set apparently sounded a bit better, and had 14 songs, including “Give Peace A Chance” to end it. The two Yoko songs were dropped from the bill, with no record of if any fans felt short-changed because of it.

The shows ended up raising over a million dollars for the school, making it a great humanitarian success. Commercially, it wasn’t a massive, or immediate hit. In 1986 (after John’s death of course) a live album and videotape of it were put out, produced by Yoko.

Two surprises came of that fact. One, she chose the afternoon set to use, which even the musicians themselves thought the lesser of the two, performance-wise, and two, that she had an unusual lack of egotism, basically editing herself out of the record. Her songs weren’t included and on songs where she was singing harmony, her voice was mixed very low so as not to detract from Lennon’s. The video had a different selection of songs. Rolling Stone would say of it while it “could have used a few more hours of practice” it was still a decent listen as “classic Lennon, because it’s all here – his humor, pain, anger and unshakeable faith in the power of rock’n’roll to change the world.” Traits his ex-bandmate George Harrison would no doubt admire. The album was a minor success, hitting #41 in the U.S. and eventually going gold.

What no one there knew of course was that it was going to be the last time to see John do a concert of his own. Even though he was active recording through the ’70s and up until his death in 1980, he gave up playing live entirely after this show. The only exception was a brief appearance, also at Madison Square Garden, to be on stage with his friend Elton John in 1974 at one of his concerts.

May 7 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Live Albums Encore

Today we finish our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’ve had six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites? So far we’ve had rave reviews of live records by the likes of the J.Geils Band, Who and Aerosmith.

Today, we wrap it up with a few thoughts about the concept from me here at A Sound Day:


I want to thank our six guest contributors this week who’ve looked at the Live Album, and shared some of their favorites. It shows that some bands can indeed put out great records straight from the stage with a minimum of studio enhancement, and at their best they can really give listeners a sense of the excitement of being there as well as great music to listen to for its own enjoyment.

For the most part, I share the sentiment a few of our other contributors had – I’m not usually a big fan of live albums. I’ve bought quite a few in my day, and had a big percentage of them gather dust more than most LPs or CDs in my collection. I think there are several reasons for this.

One is that most are merely live sets of songs we already knew. If they play the song like it was on the original record, it rarely sounds as good … it always sounds just a bit “off” compared to what we “know” it should sound like. The vocals are off a little or the drums are too prominent, or they add in a few extra bars of the bridge that jar my ears. But then, if they reimagine the song and make it something entirely different-sounding than the song we “know”, usually it seems wrong too. And then there’s the whole fact that while being at the concert is probably fun, hearing it later doesn’t match up. We might be happy and love hearing the singer scream out “hey Winnipeg, how ya doin’? Who wants to rock” if we’re in Winnipeg in the crowd and want to rock, but after hearing it a hundred times on the record later, it tends to get a bit tedious. And all the more the singers who break in the middle of a song to tell some story. Fun in person, annoying to listen to repeatedly, yes, Gord Downie notwithstanding. Funny, unexpected, adlibs or side stories are great when you’re there…but get tiresome when you hear the same adlib every single time you hear the song. Even the crowd noises often come across as distracting and superfluous.

All that said, there have been a few live ones I’ve listened to a lot and liked. Early on, two of the ’70s biggest come to mind – Cheap Trick at Budokan and Peter Frampton‘s Frampton Comes Alive. Both were huge sellers and I loved both. One reason for that is to me, they were new artists. I hadn’t heard the originals of the songs so the live ones sounded right. To this day Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” should be the Budokan one, not the rather sleepy studio original from a couple of years earlier. Same goes for Frampton and songs like “Show Me The Way”. Plus, his talkbox feature on the guitar (best heard towards the end of that track) was undeniably cool…it would get tired fast if every guitarist decided to use it, but it was a novelty that worked.

Earlier this week, Christian wrote about a live J. Geils Band album, Full House. In the early-’80s, I became a big fan of them through their (overdue) commercial breakthrough hit albums, 1980’s Love Stinks and especially ’81’s Freeze Frame. So I quickly grabbed a copy of Live Showtime, their 1982 live album (the third of their career). It had been recorded on the Freeze Frame tour earlier in that year, and it turns out probably was a mere place-holder. Like many live albums, its primary purpose might have been to buy the band some time between releases and fulfill a contractual obligation to EMI Records. Singer, frontman extraordinaire Peter Wolf had quit the band after that and they were scrambling to come up with a new direction and new album, so they put out another live recording. But to me, it was a rather cool, energetic effort. While the versions of the singles “Love Stinks” and “Centerfold” both suffered compared to the studio originals I knew, most of the other songs were new to me – even though old, and showcased how good a live act Geils had always been. I especially took to the new single off it, “I Do”, an old ’50s R&B song, and “Land of A Thousand Dances”, a song popularized by Wilson Pickett two decades prior. To me, the band seemed almost dual-personalitied… smoothly produced, fun pop singles (like “Centerfold”, “Come Back”) in studio and high-energy, party rockers and on stage. If not for this album, I might have missed out entirely on that other part of their presence.

Close to the same time in the ’80s a couple more live albums caught my attention and hold up well to me. One was Roxy Music‘s The High Road, which was really an EP more than an album…a four-song release. It appealed to me because I was really getting into Roxy Music at that time and had seen them on the same tour (for Avalon) which was the first real concert I went to. So there was a sentimental component for me but it was a good record and it had the advantage of having a couple of “new” songs on it, their cover of Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” and the John Lennon cover “Jealous Guy.” They played both all through the tour. Now, before you British readers shout at me, let me point out that they had a #1 single there with the studio cut of “Jealous Guy”. But it wasn’t on an album of theirs and unfortunately flopped in North America, so it was pretty much a new song to us over here. Another was U2‘s Live Under A Blood Red Sky. U2 is a bit of a rarity among “new wave” bands or those labeled as such by being one who had a reputation for putting on exceptional live shows – high energy, interesting commentary from Bono. This one showcased them at their best, at least for the early part of their career, and at least one track, the singalong  “40” their traditional closer in that time period, seems to be a lot stronger and more emotional than in its studio version.

One more recent live album that I, maybe to my own surprise, like a lot and have listened to frequently is The Stranglers Friday the Thirteenth, a ’97 release. It was the ninth live album put out by “The Men In Black” which gives an indication that their fans really like their live sets. I saw them twice in concert, once in the ’80s and once in the early-’00s. Both times they were fantastic live players and a fun show. But as I’ve pointed out, that doesn’t always translate onto live records. But with The Stranglers, it often does. I think that is primarily because of the nature of the band. Unlike most rock (or punk if you prefer) acts, they’ve always been dominated by bass and keyboards rather than guitars and drums. J.J. Burnel plays the bass like a lead instrument and is wildly entertaining to watch as was the late Dave Greenfield in his jet-cockpit like bay of keyboards he spun around to play simultaneously. Often though, their contributions were muted a little in the studio mixes, but on their better live recordings they really come through front and center. This album also had a string section behind them, which added another layer to a few of their songs that worked nicely. Any fan of the band needs at least one record with their live version of “Down in the Sewer” (a possibly tongue-in-cheek “punk” anthem which has always been a standout in their concerts), for me this was mine.

That all said, there have been a number of other acts that I absolutely love, and in some cases enjoyed seeing live whose live albums really… well did very, very little for me (except at times curse myself for spending money on them.) I won’t bother to badmouth any of them, because as I said, they’re acts who do a lot of things right. Just putting out live albums isn’t one of them. So for me, my final take is, live records can be good and on rare occasions can outshine the studio originals. But it takes a certain flair and energy on stage, good recordings and perhaps a set list that isn’t merely one old hit single after enough to make them memorable or worthwhile. That’s my take, I’d love to hear yours, dear readers.

May 6 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Jammin’ A Lot Of Pearls Into One Set

Today we continue our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites? So far we’ve had rave reviews of live records by the likes of the J.Geils Band, The Who and Aerosmith.

Today, we jump forward a couple of decades from those and have Lisa, from Tao Talk, talking about Pearl Jam. Lisa a poet who writes about quite a range of topics ranging from foreign movies to current affairs to examples of her poetry at her site, which we encourage you to check out! Here’s what she’s got to say about Eddie Vedder and the boys-

The moment Dave named the topic of live albums, I knew that I wanted it to be one of Pearl Jam‘s, but I wasn’t sure which one to choose. Probably my most favorite one is Live at the Gorge, a “seven CD box set that documents the band’s three performances at the Gorge amphitheater in George, WA in September, 2005 and July, 2006,” but that one seemed a little too ambitious to write up, so instead today’s essay will be about the two-disk, Live at Benaroya Hall. The benefit concert was done on October 22, 2003, to raise funds for youthcare, an organization to end youth homelessness in Seattle, Washington. What makes me love PJ’s live albums are Eddy’s comments between songs. He’s a preacher in his own way and his flock are adoring of his pronouncements.

I decided to put this essay in a format where I will listen to the disks and while doing so write whatever bubbles up during the listen. Notes will be made on Eddy’s comments between songs, as I will also do for audience response. The plan also developed into including what album, if any, each of the songs are on and any orienting tidbits for each of them.

Disc 1 of 2

Of the Girl”

Gossard wrote this one and describes it (elsewhere) as “pretty somber.” And the crowd goes wild. The Jamily is feeling blessed that they are there with the band.

Low Light”

On the Yield album, this is bass player Jeff Ament’s first lyrics contribution. Listening to a live Pearl Jam album is like going to church. Every member is “on” and tweaking it with the vibe of the audience. I love the sound of the wood resonating in the rhythm guitar. Now here comes McCready with his soul-driven flourishes. Eddy’s singing like the benevolent God that he is. There truly is nothing other than the now of the music.

Thumbing My Way”

From Riot Act. “I love you, Eddy!” someone shouts from the audience. Too many hoots and cheers to count. This song is an anthem for every traveler going through this world.

Thin Air”

On the Binaural album. There is something about “Thin Air” that is deceptively simple yet deep and profound. The wordplay and the delicate manifestation of the melody brings tears to my eyes every time. One of the most magical things about live music is that you’ve got thousands of listeners communing with the band at the same time. “taken on on on on” crooned by Eddy urges an almost orgasmic experience. Multiply that by so many supercharged people in the audience and the energy of resonance has got to be off the charts. For those of us listening to a recording at home, we are aural voyeurs that feel it less intensely but are still satisfied. Where’s my cigarette?

Eddy comments about hearing beforehand about the good acoustics of the venue (Benaroya Hall) and talks about his mistake on the “Thin Air”. He introduces a new song, “Fatal,” that is coming out soon on, Lost Dogs, which is a collection of b-sides.


Written by Gossard. From the Lost Dogs album. Previously unreleased and was an out-take from the Binaural album. Lost Dogs is an often-overlooked album, and it shouldn’t be. It’s one I’ve listened to just as much as any of the others. There is more of a potpourri aspect to it than any conceptual thread, but that’s ok. It’s like walking around an amusement park.

Some loudmouth in the crowd is screaming unintelligibly. There is one in every crowd.

Nothing as it Seems”

Written by Ament, from the Binaural album. Rocking sweet McCready solos. Those long, lonely notes. Many audience members are howling and screaming.

Eddy says that Tim Burton sent “Big Fish” to PJ and asked them to write an ending song for it. They had just recorded it a few days before; they asked Tim if it was OK if they performed it at the show and he was ok with it. The song? “Man of the Hour.”

It appears on the “Man of the Hour” CD single. The chord progression in “Man of the Hour” is another one of those songs that seems to squeeze the tears out of my eyes.


On Vitalogy. Rhythm guitar jamming out. Bass prominent. Eddy waffles on whether or not this song was about Kurt Cobain (but not at this concert.)

Off He Goes”

From No Code. One of my most favorite of the favorite of their songs. How many of us have known someone like him? How many of us are him? McCready wails on his guitar to show support for our sorrow and for his lonely way of being.

Around the Bend”

From No Code. Such a sweet serenade! Written by former drummer, Jack Irons, as a lullaby for his son.

Eddy says that one of ushers notified him that someone wanted to talk with him. The person verified he was Eddy and then the man tried to serve Eddy legal papers. Eddy comments that it was, “the most punk ass mother fuckin’ move I ever heard of.”

I Believe in Miracles” (This is a Ramones cover.)

Appears on the 2003 Annual Vinyl Single. How this bridge starts and goes sends me into orbit: I close my eyes and think how it might be. I can’t tell you the number of times this one has done an earworm on me.

Sleight of Hand”

From Binaural. Existentialism is best not dwelled upon too long. McCready uses his wah wah pedal. The acoustics in Benaroya Hall are excellent.

All or None”

From Riot Act. It’s open to interpretation. Extremes are to be avoided in my experience.


From No Code. Stone Gossard introduces the song. The song is short, sweet, and damned intense. It’s about when a woman was stalking Eddy to the point that he was avoiding his own home. Also it is reported that it’s short and sweet because someone criticized PJ’s songs as being too long. Funk dat!

Disc 2 of 2

Parting Ways”

From Binaural. Looking through some comments on websites about this one, there are interesting theories but the consensus seems to be this was about the imminent breakup between Eddy and Beth.

Eddy gives a Public Service Announcement (PSA): 60,000 young adults have been helped through Youthcare. Eddy asks for a round of applause for the staff and the kids involved with the organization, and then to the audience for supporting them.


On the Lost Dogs album, written by Gossard, McCready, and Vedder. Originally on the, “I Am Mine single”. An up-tempo song with a line that is also the title of a Howard Zinn book, You can’t be neutral on a moving train.

Encore Break 1

Can’t Keep”

From Riot Act. Eddie on ukelele, singing about going to “the other side,” and the refrain is, “you can’t keep me here.” There is a definitely mystical aspect to this song.

Dead Man”

Included on the Lost Dogs album. Originally from the “Off He Goes” single. Originally intended for the Dead Man Walking soundtrack, but passed over in favor of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walkin.” (Wrong choice, in my opinion.)

Masters of War”

Written by Bob Dylan, I wish I could say this song is obsolete. It feels ever-fresh with new blood being spilled. Why young people continue to choose to die to serve their world chess playing masters is one of the great mysteries of our species.


This may the best known Pearl Jam tune. It’s unquestioningly one of their signature tunes. The poetry of the lyrics, the way Eddy sings it, and knowing he poured his all into it, trying to get over the one love of his life. Many times he sings with every drop of raw emotion. This time he sings as if the sting of anguish has subsided and it’s more in retrospect. Eddy invites the audience to sing along and it gives me the goosebumps to hear it sung in unison with Mike’s accompanying soulful guitar.

Crazy Mary”

One of my personal favorites. Surprisingly not written by PJ but by Victoria Williams. If you can listen to this song and not feel at least a little compassion for Crazy Mary, you have no heart. I also like the mystical aspect to this one. I wrote a poem in honor of Crazy Mary a few years ago. You can read it here.

25 Minutes to Go”

Johnny Cash wrote this one. It’s about a guy facing capital punishment by hanging. Eddy does it up right with some real nice flourishes by McCready on guitar.

Daughter” A quote from Eddy about it:

“The child in that song obviously has a learning difficulty, and it’s only in the last few years that they’ve actually been able to diagnose these learning disabilities, that before were looked at as misbehavior; as just outright rebelliousness, but no one knew what it was. These kids, because they seemed unable or reluctant to learn, they’d end up getting the shit beaten outta them. The song ends, you know, with this idea of the shades going down—so that the neighbors can’t see what happens next. What hurts about shit like that is that it ends up defining people’s lives. They have to live with that abuse for the rest of their lives. Good, creative people are just f***g destroyed.” – from Jones, Allan. Pearl Jam – The Illustrated Story, A Melody Maker Book. Hal Leonard Corp, 1995.

Eddy introduces the members of the band (Gossard, Ament, Cameron, McCready, and “you know my name, look up the number…”) He sings a few bars of “You’ve got to hide your love away.” and then sings, “you don’t have to hide your love away.”

Encore Break 2

Yellow Ledbetter”

Another song of theirs that got a lot of radio play. About a guy whose brother who has gone off to fight in war and the guy hopes he doesn’t come back in a box or a body bag. The guy gets a letter saying his brother has been killed.

OK, there you have it, a template for how I grok live albums, or at least how I grok live Pearl Jam albums. The musicianship is superior, they sound just as good live as they do on their sanitary studio versions, and you just never know what Eddy is going to say.

Thank you for the prompt, Dave. I enjoyed writing this very much.

I was going to link each song separately, but I found the whole concert out on youtube. There is a track listing where you can click to each song, which is always helpful.


May 5 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Who Knew Live Music Better Than Pete?

Today we continue our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites?

Today, we have Max, from Power Pop blog, one of our favorites. He looks at rock and pop of the ’60s through ’90s as well as some great vintage TV shows there daily, so we encourage you to have a look. Here, Max talks about one of his favorite bands:

First of all…Thank you Dave for hosting Turntable Talk and coming up with the different talking points we all appreciate it. 

Now to Dave’s question. Is there an act that actually come out better on live releases than studio ones?

First, let me say…overall I’m more of a record guy…I usually like the studio version of songs but yes there are some bands that can come off better live. I would say The Who, Allman Brothers, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, The Stones (1969-1972), and Bob Dylan’s “1966 tour” fit that description. However, there is one condition to this.

I think you have to take into consideration the era you are talking about with each band or artist. If we are talking about the peak years then yes. The Rolling Stones for instance…for me it would be 1969 through 1974. When they had Mick Taylor on guitar…they had a huge raw sound live they haven’t had since. With Dylan, the ’66 tour for me was the top and I could listen to those versions all day. The Who it would be 1969 through 1976 when they were untouchable live.

When The Who took Tommy on tour I think the live recordings beat the studio album by a long shot. That leads me to…my favorite live album of all time.

The Who: Live at Leeds. If you are a rock and roll fan, a rock fan, or even a heavy metal fan…everyone can find something on that album. This is guitar rock at its best. Listening to the sound of that record, it’s no telling how loud they played. They weren’t the loudest in the Guinness Book of World Records for nothing! When Pete hit a power chord you could almost feel your eardrums retract in and out like a speaker.

It’s not being loud though that makes it so great. Personally, I’ve never heard a band as tight as they were during this tour. They wanted to release a live album and soundman Bob Pridden had 38 shows taped. Pete wanted Pridden to go through all of the shows and tell him which one was best. Because of constant touring Pridden could never get through all of the shows. The day came and Pete asked him ok…which shows. He couldn’t give Pete an answer.

They had a show at Leeds and Hull coming up on the schedule. In a move he’d later label one of the stupidest decisions of my life,” Townshend told Pridden to burn the tapes so that they’d never wind up in the hands of bootleggers. So, instead of more shows from that era…we have very few.

So…now the tapes were burned and the Leeds and Hull concert was coming up. They had a lot of pressure to get it right for the live album.

Pete Townshend: “I played more carefully than usual and tried to avoid the careless bum notes that often occurred because I was trying to play and jump around at the same time. The next day we played a similar set in City Hall in Hull. This was another venue with good acoustics for loud rock, but it felt less intense than the previous night.”

They played most of the Tommy album and their “oldies” on this tour which at the time were songs only around five or six years old. The original Live at Leeds didn’t have any Tommy songs on it. This album was like a marker for the pre-Tommy Who coming to an end. The deluxe re-released version had the complete show full of Tommy material

The recordings had a few clicks in the tape and Townshend tried to maneuver around them.

Townshend tried slicing out the clicks with a razor blade and quickly realized it would be impossible to get all of them. But subpar-sounding bootlegs were flooding the market at this time, so the band just added a note to the label saying the clicks were intentional! The album cover was a faded stamp reading The Who: Live at Leeds on brown paper, mirroring the look of illegal vinyl bootlegs of the era. Later on, Aerosmith had a similar live “bootleg” album cover (which Deke looked at a couple of days back here!)

What impresses me is the only overdubbing on the album was the backup vocals because they were poorly recorded. John Entwistle and Pete did the backup vocals in one take in the studio to stay true to the live album. What you hear on the album is what the good people at Leeds heard that night. No massive overdubbing to tighten anything up. 

By 1970 The Who had been touring almost non-stop since 1964 and it showed on this album. After the album, the band didn’t tour as much as before. They worked in the studio on more complex albums Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. Their tours were not the marathon tours of the sixties.

This was before “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Baba O’Riley”, and  Quadrophenia‘s complex music that required backing tapes live. This album was The Who as nature intended… a very loud tight rock band and possibly the best live rock album.

BTW…Bob Pridden worked as The Who’s soundman until 2016 when he retired. 

Here are three examples. “Young Man Blues”. Listen to Moon and Entwistle intertwine with each other. You also have “Summertime Blues” and “A Quick One, While He’s Away”.

The Who : Maximum R&B at it’s best.


May 4 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – A Stageful Of Blues

Today we continue our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites?

Today, we have Keith, from The Nostalgic Italian blog, a guy who says he just likes “classic stuff” – be it TV, movies or rock music. He writes about these things and more on his site, which we recommend highly. Today he looks at a band who really only did live albums –

This is my contribution to the next installment of Turntable Talk, hosted by Dave at A Sound Day. For this round, we are discussing the Live Album. “What’s your favorite? Do you even like them?” Is there an act that actually come out better on live releases than studio ones?”

This may seem a little ridiculous coming from a guy who has seen a lot of live concerts, but I have never really been a fan of live albums. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy seeing live shows, but I’d rather listen to studio albums. So when this topic was presented, I really had to think about whether there was even a live album I could pick.

I had it narrowed down to Aloha from Hawaii from Elvis, which is truly spectacular or Live Bullet from Bob Seger. However, one day on my drive in to work, the ’70’s on 7 channel played “Soul Man” by the Blues Brothers. I decided to focus on their two classic live albums – Briefcase Full of Blues and Made in America.

The Blues Brothers were made to play live music. In 1978, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi donned black suits, black hats, and sunglasses and treated the Saturday Night Live audience to Floyd Dixon’s “Hey Bartender” and Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man”. This was two years before their movie was even released. Their performance got them road gigs opening for Steve Martin and the Grateful Dead.

From Wikipedia:

With the help of pianist-arranger Paul Shaffer, Belushi and Aykroyd started assembling a collection of studio talents to form their own band. These included SNL band members saxophonist “Blue” Lou Marini and trombonist-saxophonist Tom “Bones” Malone who had previously played in the group Blood, Sweat and Tears. At Shaffer’s suggestion, guitarist Steve “The Colonel” Cropper and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn the powerhouse combo from Booker T and the MG’s and subsequently almost every hit out of Memphis’ Stax Records during the 1960s, were signed as well.

Belushi wanted a powerful trumpet player and a hot blues guitarist, so Julliard-trained trumpeter Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin was brought in, as was guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy who had performed with many blues legends.

For the brothers’ look, Belushi borrowed John Lee Hooker’s trademark Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses and soul patch.

Their style was fresh and in many ways, different from prevailing musical trends: A very raw and “live” sound compared to the increasing use of sound synthesis and vocal-dominated music of the late 1970s and 1980s.

Briefcase Full of Blues was recorded in 1978 while the group opened for comedian Steve Martin. The album was so popular it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and went double platinum. The album consists of ten songs including Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop, and Fly,’ Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man,” The Chips “Rubber Biscuit,” (which features a fantastic vocal by Aykroyd), Floyd Dixon’s “Hey Bartender,” Junior Wells’ “Messing with the Kid,” and a Belushi favorite, The Downchild Blues Band’s “I Got Everything I Need Almost.”

From the Album – “Hey Bartender”, “Soul Man” and “Rubber Biscuit” were released as singles. “Hey Bartender” didn’t chart, “Rubber Biscuit” went to #37, and “Soul Man” reached #14.

In 1980, The Blues Brothers film was released. The second album released was the soundtrack of the film, which contains a mix of live and studio cuts. With the success of the movie, Atlantic Records recorded a second live album entitled Made in America.

This album was recorded while the band was out playing a 22 date tour while supporting the movie.

The album opens with their cover of the Bar-Kays Soul Finger, which allows Elwood (Aykroyd) to introduce the band over the intro. Other soul/blues classics on album include Johnny Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love?,” a medley of The Contours “Do You Love Me,” and James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn,” Jimmy Reed’s, “I Ain’t Got You,” The Robins’ “Riot in Cell Block Number 9,” and Sonny Boy Williams’ “From the Bottom.”

The album features a Randy Newman cut entitled “Guilty.” What’s neat about this is that Elwood laments that his brother is guilty and he needs to find him a good lawyer, which allows the band to segue right into the Perry Mason theme song. It is obvious that Aykroyd is having fun scat singing along with this cut.

The highlight for me, despite all these great songs, is the fact that side two opens with “Green Onions”. The fact that Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn are playing on a song that they played on in the mid-’60’s brings it all full circle for me. It is a treat indeed.

As I look back over the many blues classics featured on these albums, I wonder what they might sound like if they had been recorded in the studio. I won’t lie, I would love to hear that! However, what we get encapsulated in these two albums are two nights of live music. The energy and electricity of the band mixed with the fun and lively vocals, all played against a background of some very happy people in the audience singing along.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were far from accomplished musicians. But they surrounded themselves with the best of the best and that led to some amazing music captured for us on these two albums.


May 3 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Aerosmith’s Hot Bootleg Rocks

Today we kick off our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites?

Today, we have Deke, from Ontario. He looks at the best of hard rock and heavy metal, old and new at his site, Thunder Bay Rocks. We definitely recommend stopping by when you need to rock! Earlier this week Christian wrote about one Boston band sometimes termed ‘America’s Rolling Stones’ – the J. Geils Band. Today, Deke praises another Boston band sometimes termed ‘America’s Rolling Stones’ – Aerosmith. He writes-

Well how about a shout out to my all time fave live album- Live Bootleg from Aerosmith.

By the time I got around to buying 1978‘s  Live Bootleg (summer of 1981) Joe Perry/Brad Whitford were gone and there was no press around for Aerosmith. I was hooked at the time on Joe Perry’s solo album “I’ve Got The RockNRolls Again” so shortly after I purchased Live Bootleg and what’s in these grooves of this double album were classic tracks after tracks. This album is the real deal!

I love the packaging on this double vinyl set. Pictures, gatefold sleeve, notes and places and dates of  where the songs were recorded, Aero bootlegging themselves.

So Steve,Joe,Brad,Tom & Joey. Thanks for kicking out the jams on this beauty of a live beast!

Let’s all hope aboard the Aero Express circa 78….

BACK IN THE SADDLE“- “I’MMMMMMM BAAAAAAAAAACK”….a song everyone has heard a million times over but this one I love over the studio version. Aero is out of the starters box with a bang and listens to the looseness of the guitars between Perry/Whitford. Basically it’s Aero 1978 smashing and thrashing about in your local saloon and the boys not knowing when to stop!

“SWEET EMOTION”- Joe yaps into his talk box and Steve takes over and man this song just rocks. Aero is throwing down the gauntlet here. Second song in and it’s a take no prisoners approach here.

“LORD OF THE THIGHS”- Smash, crash and as soon as “Sweet Emotion” ends Joey drives the Aero drums right into “Lord Of The Thighs” and for the next 7-plus minutes we’re gonna go on a Aero ride of  some good guitar jams some excellent Tylerisms like “whack a,whacka, whacka ,whacka ahhhhh s***” and then some fine drug induced (I’m sure) maraca’s playing…….does it get any better than this???

TOYS IN THE ATTIC“- yep it does get better…we’re into the Attic and this song is played at breakneck  speed. Aero punches the gas to the floor or perhaps it’s their boot on your throat  and they are not letting up. This is a wicked crazy good version and I love how it ends.

“LAST CHILD”- This song has some really cool Tyler lyrics as so many do but he’s on fire here with this track. Whitford lays down some serious law on the guitar here and you can hear through the notes he’s  saying “hey the other guy might have the talk box but I got the guitar chops”.

“COME TOGETHER”- This is a sloppy cover of the Beatles song from that real crap film Aero did with Peter Frampton. These guys are gone. But you know what? Who cares as it’s Aero it’s meant to be played this way and for me as a young fella hearing this for the first time I say right on! But just say no to drugs! Except for Aerosmith, as they make drug use seem cool when writing their batch of tracks in the 70’s.

WALK THIS WAY“- Out of the drug induced cool coma of “Come Together” comes the big hit of Aeros (up to that point) “Walk This Way”!  Joey sets the  tone and man he’s driving the drums at breakneck speed . Holy Hell this live version compared to the studio version is on hyper drive. Perry nails the talk box and Tyler gets down on the muffin and well it’s time to “Walk This Way”…she told ya to…A crazy good version, the best live version I ever have heard!

“SICK AS A DOG”-Just when you think you have heard cool before it’s wiped away with “Sick As A Dog”.  This is a song that reeks of cool. I wore the grooves out on this one. It builds slowly and then Tyler has got to talk to you! Man he’s rocking the song big time. Seriously, just close your eyes,   and you can time machine yourself back and Aeros playing “Sick As A Dog” in front of you!

“DREAM ON”- Ok I may have lied this may have been Aeros biggest hit up to that point (1978). What a monster track this was. I mean Aero knew back then knew how to do a ballad and they always put the ballads on the end of the record well on the earlier albums that was. Still this live version is a standout performance considering how loupe de loupe they were and a ton of street cred must be given to Tyler when he drops “M**F***” comes back to you” in  sneakily! Atta boy Steve-o!

CHIP AWAY THE STONE“- Was I think a leftover that was lying around and the boys decided to put this out as the single for Live Bootleg.

“SIGHT FOR SORE EYES”- Is from the Draw The Line album and Aero is chugging along and by the end of it you can almost feel Tyler teetering on the edge of the stage singing the lines “Sight For ,Sight For”…..they almost a Trainwreck by this song but, at the last minute they pull It back on course and Aero has saved the day (or at least the song, that is)

“MAMA KIN”- When you think of trademark tunes of a band this Kin would be it! This is a total sleazed out 8-ball of a corker! 

“SOS”- Aero just keeps on giving surprises as they don’t play by the rules and put on those little hidden gems of songs and in this case it’s “SOS” from the Get Your Wings album. Great live version.

“I AIN’T GOT YOU”- Aeros says hey we got bootlegs of our shows so here’s one from 1973 from a place called Paul’s Mall! Listen to Tyler’s voice on this one as well the next he said he never felt comfortable with this style of singing so he changed it up to how we hear him now. Cool little snapper of a tune!

“MOTHER POPCORN”- Aero hasn’t quite left Paul’s Mall and they crank into some Popcorn and throw down some sax courtesy of a Mr. David Woodworth, according to Steve and then he loses it vocally  at the 3/4 mark of the tune! Great raw sounding tune this one and “I Ain’t Got You” both provide. We get to hear early Aero and my friends there is nothing wrong with that!

“TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN/STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT”- So let me give a little lesson here on hidden Gems! See when I bought this back in 1981 one of my fav Aero Tunes was “Draw The Line” and I still remember the little wee minor of a letdown that song was not listed on the credits. So by the time I made it through all four sides of “Live Bootleg” and “Mother Popcorn” ended well you go from 20 people at Paul’s Mall back into the arena with 20,000 and what!!! it’s……

“DRAW THE LINE”- Wow this totally blindsided me, what a  spectacular surprise. My fave song as the hidden track not listed anywhere but thank you for including it fellas! This is a firecracker of a song!

Now back to…

“TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN”- The boys are heading toward the finish line and man when it comes to Aerosmith the Train does indeed keep Rollin. The party ain’t stopping with Perry playing “Strangers In The Night” to close off the night festivities..

IN CONCLUSION – As far as live recordings go this one for me is the King of the live Heap! For all the bands that get raked over the coals for doctoring up live releases, Live Bootleg is the answer. I think it has no doctoring whatsoever as Aero was probably too medicated to worry about fixing up anything let alone a live album and for that…..



May 2 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Roarin’ For Rory

Today we continue our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites?

Today, we have Colin, one of the hosts from Once Upon A Time In The 70s. They look at 1970s music, fashion and other things we might have forgotten from a British viewpoint. We recommend having a look!  Colin didn’t have to think long to name his favorite :

Live’ albums.

Rory Gallagher; Live in Europe.

When Dave first suggested the discussion topic of ‘live’ albums, I knew instantly where I was going with this. There was no competition. However, it did prompt me to consider the reason this particular record is recipient of the unofficial ‘Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s’ Live Album of Eternity’ award.

Was it owing to the fact there literally was no competition within my collection?

Nope. A quick check revealed more ‘live’ albums than I thought I had: (in no particular order) Uriah Heep; Sweet; The Clash; Devo; Rolling Stones; AC/DC; Led Zeppelin; Slade; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Man; Guru Guru; Quicksilver Messenger Service; Cream, Dr Feelgood ….

And that’s just some from my ‘70s era vinyl. I now suspect there will be many more from more recent times hidden away in the CD racks.

This really surprised me. Confused me, too. I was primed to discuss how I was not a fan of ‘live’ recordings!

But here’s the thing ….. I’m NOT!

For me, there are only a few reasons as to why such albums work:

. I have myself seen that band / artist play live and can visualize / relive the performance, or;

. I haven’t previously enjoyed the sanitized, clean-cut versions of the songs on a studio album, and;

. The sound is well balanced and distinct, and finally;

. Any crowd noise is not overblown and intrusive.

Unfortunately, certainly so far as my collection is concerned, these criteria can often be a bit hit or miss.

There is one big exception, though – a ‘live’ album that is not only the best of that ilk, but my favourite album of all time, full stop:

RORY GALLAGHER: Live in Europe.

This is an album of seven tracks recorded on tour through Europe in February and March 1972 – later CD versions have two additional songs. At the time of recording, the band had retained the ‘power trio’ format of Rory’s earlier band, Taste, with Wilgar Campbell on drums and Gerry McAvoy on bass.

Live in Europe’ was the third release under Rory’s own name, and I bought it in late ‘72, via mail order, on the strength of having heard an early Taste album at a pal’s house.

(I was actually 25p short in my remittance to the record shop, but they still sent me the LP anyway, with a request I made up the difference in my next order. I didn’t order anything else, and some months later the store went out of business. I still feel the pangs of guilt to this day!)

The album opens with the sound of a rather polite, and not overly raucous crowd. After a few seconds the concert announcer simply utters the words, “Rory Gallagher,” and the crowd noise raises a notch.

Bump bump …. bump. Three final tune-up notes on Gerry’s bass, and that’s it. No nonsense, no fancy introductions; no frills; there’s absolutely no messing around – save on the opening song, a cover of the Junior Wells recording, ‘Messin’ With The Kid.’  This Blues standard sits perfectly in a set that combines covers such as this with Rory’s arrangements of ‘traditional’ Blues songs, and original compositions.

Laundromat’ from his debut solo album, follows. One of his own compositions, it’s an out and out rocker, before the pace is curtailed on the ‘traditional’ ‘I Could’ve Had A Religion’ – eight and a half minutes of slow burning, bass pounding, metronomic stomping, blues with added slide guitar solo.

Side One closes in lighter mood with a cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘Pistol Slapper Blues,’ Rory, unaccompanied, picking away on an acoustic guitar this time.

Side Two features only three tracks, but still runs to just slightly under twenty-two minutes. First up is what was already, and forever remained a ‘live’ favourite with fans, Rory playing mandolin on another stomper – this time his self-written, Going To My Hometown.’ The erstwhile reserved crowd do come through on this number with their rhythmic handclapping when the instruments are pared back. ‘In Your Town’ is next up, though I don’t actually recall him ever playing these two back to back in a concert. This is another of Rory’s own songs, this time about a prison break and highlighting some incredible playing.

The album’s final track is a really powerful arrangement of ‘Bullfrog Blues’ during which Wilgar and Gerry have their own solo spots. I can still envisage Rory, on this one, racing around the stage one moment, duck walking across it the next.

And this goes back to my earlier point regarding personal experience. I attended my first Rory Gallagher concert within a few months of buying this album. He wore a similar check shirt on stage that night to the one he sports on the album cover; he played all the tracks featured on this LP, and he adopted the same ‘no nonsense’ approach to the delivery of his music as I anticipated from just listening to the record.

What really struck me, even as a fourteen year old kid, was there appeared to be another ‘presence’ on stage in addition to the band members. Rory’s Fender Stratocaster guitar seemed to take on a life-form of its own, in the same was as does a ventriloquist’s dummy. Rory sings to his instrument, which in turn answers back, almost mimicking its master.

And what a master virtuoso he is too. Rory’s playing throughout is sharp and clear. Concise too. There’s no over complicating or unnecessary posturing. This Rock ‘n’Roll; this is Blues. This is what music was invented for!

Not only is Rory on top form with this recording, but mention has to be made of Wilgar Campbell (and subsequent drummers) who take instant cues from their leader and provide such a solid rock on which to build the overall sound. Gerry McAvoy on bass too – I rate him ‘the best.’ He stayed with Rory for many years, and often I can sense myself humming along to the magnificent, spontaneous sounding, driving bass as much as to the melody from Rory’s Strat.

Over the years Rory released several ‘live’ recordings. Two were with Taste, from circa 1971, and then, following his passing in 1995, a few subsequent LPs were licenced by his brother Donal who curates Rory’s musical estate and legacy. Of these, ‘Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77’ runs this ‘Live In Europe’ close.

Each of Rory Gallagher’s studio albums are of the highest merit, especially so the first three, ‘Rory Gallagher,’ ‘Deuce,’ and ‘Blueprint.’ But Rory was in his element performing before a crowd. On stage was where he was born to be, and it’s hardly surprising that his ‘live’ albums come across, in my opinion, as the best out there.

He just seemed so natural up there on stage, not requiring of any gimmicks or fancy backdrops. He had an effortless manner with the crowd, and came across as such a genuinely nice guy.

Perhaps it’s because Rory Gallagher had that ability to keep everything simple and completely natural that, he was better equipped than most to replicate that unique concert experience, and present the listener with either a lasting memory, or at very least, an exciting and accurate slice of imagery to accompany his music.

May 1 – The Turntable Talk, Round 2 – Geils Beguiles With Live Record

Today we kick off our second instalment of Turntable Talk. We hope you liked the first one we ran last month which dealt with why the Beatles were still relevant. This time around, we’re pleased to have six guest writers discuss The Live Album. Some people love ’em, some hate ’em. Some musicians put out some of their best work in live, concert recordings, others seem to use them as a stopgap to fulfill contractual obligations and little else. So we’ve asked our panelists to discuss live albums, however they see fit. Do they enjoy them? Do the records live up to the experience of seeing an act play live? What are their favorites?

Kicking it off today, we have Christian, from Christian’s Music Musings. Christian, as we see, is a big fan of live music and his blog does a fine job of keeping track of new records coming out, as well as some of his other favorites, and does so with a European flair. We recommend you checking his site out! Here’s what he has to say on the subject:

My Favorite Live Album

I was thrilled when Dave from A Sound Day invited me to participate in his new Turntable Talk feature to provide some thoughts on my favorite live album.

Before getting to my pick, I’d like to say that as a (retired) hobby musician and long-time music lover, experiencing music live has been the ultimate thrill since my first concert: The Beatles Beat Band, a great tribute to my all-time favorite group I got to see as a 16-year-old while still growing up in Germany.

The person I have to thank for this and so much more when it comes to music is my wonderful guitar teacher Peter who gained my parents’ permission to take me to the gig. Peter, a huge Beatles fan, was also instrumental in getting me to explore the four lads from Liverpool in great detail by teaching me some of their songs and sharing anecdotes he knew. I also will never forget how devasted he was when John Lennon got murdered.

There’s just something magic about live music – watching musicians you dig playing their instruments, seeing and feeling their emotions, the vibration you feel in your stomach, the excitement of the audience. It’s hard for me to put it in words. Perhaps you feel it even more when you’re a musician. To this day, whenever I see a group perform live, I still get the itch and start thinking about my band days as a bassist in my late teens and early twenties in Germany. Going out of town for my graduate studies put an end to three years that I can say with no doubt were among the best of my life.

While nothing can replace the experience of being at the actual concert, a well-produced live album can be the next closest thing. With so many great live albums being out there, I find it hard to pick just one. The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, Live at Leeds (The Who), Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (The Rolling Stones) and At Fillmore East (The Allman Brothers Band) came to mind first. And how can you possibly be a ‘70s classic rock fan and not appreciate Frampton Comes Alive!

For this Turntable Talk contribution, I deliberately decided to pick a great live album that perhaps isn’t as obvious a choice as any of the previously mentioned examples: “Live” Full House, the first live release by The J. Geils Band. While it took them 12 years to finally hit no. 1 in the U.S. with Centerfold”, which also was a huge hit in many other countries, by that time, the group had long established themselves as “the ultimate party band.” When you listen to “Live” Full House, released in September 1972, it’s not hard to see why.

The album, which captures a 1972 gig at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit, starts with a guy announcing the band, shouting, “Alright, are you ready to get down? [audience screaming] I said are you really from some rock & roll? [more audience screaming] Let’s hear it for J. Geils Band!” This is followed by a great one-two-punch of The Contours’ classic “First I Look at the Purseand Homework,” an Otis Rush tune. It’s one of the coolest intros to a live album I know. You can really picture the scene and feel the excitement on that night at that venue.

Leading up to “Whammer Jammer,” an original credited to Juke Joint Jimmy, a pseudonym the band used on occasion, frontman Peter Wolf launches into his characteristic high speed “crazy talk” before calling on the band’s harmonica player Richard Salwitz who was known as Magic Dick to start the song.

Closing out Side one is Hard Driving Man.” The up-tempo track, co-written by guitarist J. Geils (birth name: John Warren Geils) and Wolf, is another highlight. Rock & roll doesn’t get much better!

Side two opens with a nice extended cover of John Lee Hooker’sIt Serves You Right to Suffer,” the title track of his 1966 studio album. The J. Geils Band’s rendition features neat harmonica and Hammond organ work by Magic Dick and Seth Justman, respectively. Geils also throws in some blistering guitar action.

The last tune I’d call out is another original credited to the Juke Joint Jimmy pseudonym: “Crusin’ for a Love.

“Live” Full House is pure kickass rock & roll. My only complaint is the total play time of just 36 minutes. But, hey, when the music is as great, you can always listen to the album twice! 😊

April 23 – Harry’s Tales From The Stage

Billy Joel’s a great story-teller singer. So is Bruce Springsteen. But one guy both tip their caps to is the late Harry Chapin. The talkative New York bard put out some great records, but to many was best experienced playing live, so this day in 1976 was a treat for his fans. That’s when he put out his first live album, Greatest Stories Live. As the name suggests, it was largely a collection of his previous best loved songs, recorded live over a three night span the previous winter in California. The original double-LP did have three new, studio tracks on it, “She’s Always Seventeen”, “Love Is Just Another Word” and “The Shortest Story,” though the first two of those are omitted from the CD release (presumably for length, as the CD still clocks in over 70 minutes).

The record showcases him at his chatty, hyper best, with his usual backing band (including Tim Scott on cello, one of the primary reasons Elektra Records’ boss Jac Holtzman had been so determined to sign him; he felt that cello was the perfect accompaniment to sad rock music) plus his musical brothers, Tom, on piano and banjo plus Steve on piano. Steve also co-produced the record.

The album included his best-loved songs to that point, including his hits “Taxi” and “Cats in the Cradle.” As well there was “WOLD”, about a radio DJ, and “I Wanna Learn A Love Song,” like many of his tunes, semi-autobiographical in nature. That one describes, more or less, how he met his wife Sandy who was originally just a student taking guitar lessons from him. (He got to be a bit more ribald live, changing “crazy” in the lyrics to “horny.”) The album’s centerpiece however, was the black humor of “30 000 pounds of Bananas.” Unusual title for an unusual song, about an out of control truck hauling bananas, faster and faster, down a hill in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This too was based largely on real life, though not Harry’s. There was a crash in 1965 in Scranton, with a tractor-trailer, a 35-foot trailer loaded with bananas, that lost its brakes driving down a steep hill. It ran into a house at the bottom, and sadly the driver was killed, but witnesses say he did a brilliant job of avoiding pedestrians and a gas station along the way down. The 11-minute live version lets him try out alternate endings, like a take on the Chiquita banana jingle because his brothers had told him his original one “sucks.”

the album barely made it into the top 50, but sold steadily, indicative of his almost under-the-radar popularity. Eventually it went double platinum, his second-best seller behind 1974’s Verities and Balderdash.

People with Amazon Prime might want to check out the new movie Harry Chapin – When in Doubt, Do Something on their service. The movie highlights his music, energy and his remarkable dedication to helping put an end to hunger and poverty – he was doing over a hundred benefit shows a year for some time and got himself named to be an advisor to President Carter on the matter. Among his vocal fans who show up in the movie are the aforementioned Joel and Springsteen, as well as Pat Benatar, Harry Bellafonte, some U.S. senators, Bob Geldof (who more or less suggests Live Aid came out of ideas Harry had for alleviating world starvation), movie maker Michael Moore (whom Harry helped out when he was an unknown Flint journalist and novice film-maker) and perhaps most surprisingly, rappers from Run DMC. Sadly, the spoiler alert most already know, Harry was killed in a car crash driving to one of his many charity events in 1981.