Live Recordings: Yea or Nay?

Do you like them? Do you hate them? Doesn’t matter? There are pros and cons to live recordings, of course. Sure personal preference is involved, as well. So, I’m curious as to what you think. Be sure to leave a comment after your vote, to let us know. :-]

2 thoughts on “Live Recordings: Yea or Nay?

  1. I can’t just say yes or no to live recordings. I normally don’t like them because there are too many people screaming. There’s lots of things you can’t understand the words too because of the screaming. Either that, or the recording is a different tempo, which usually pisses me off.

    With that in mind, there are a few exceptions that I love to hear!

    Simon and Garfunkel do a few songs on their Old Friends Live in Concert DVD that I prefer to other recordings. The first one that I really enjoy is I Am a Rock. The tempo is drastically changed and yet it sounds better this way! Also, there are a few things that they do in The Sounds of Silence that really just fit it.

    I also like Sarah McLachlan’s album Mirrorball. It’s probably the most played album I own, and it’s live. She has focused more on the lyrics and how the music can reflect the lyrics on the live album then she does on the studio recording.

    And lastly, I love Garth Brooks song Unanswered Prayers done live. It’s on his Double Live album, and the entire audience sings the words to him. There’s parts when he’s not even singing because the audience is doing it for him and I really think that’s such a hats off to the performer when something like that happens. I think that would be the coolest experience!


    • True enough, Mandy. There do seem to be a lot of poor-quality live recordings. Too much background noise, weird balances between instruments, and there always seems to be that one jackass that you can hear – just loud enough – shouting something ignorant the entire time like, “Play [your big hit]!” Jerk.

      On the other hand, live recordings can have a lot more energy than studio albums, they can sound more fun, audience participation (as you mentioned), and one of my favourite things: the chance to screw up and make it look like you did it on purpose. You can’t just stop the show and say, “Aw crap! Sorry folks. I know you paid $100 to get in here, but I just don’t know my stuff.” Mistakes happen to even the very best and I like to hear how well they can brush it off; either by playing through and getting back on track, casually brushing it off, making a joke, or (often in jazz) making it work with the tune being played. By playing a mistake twice or three times, it becomes apparent that it wasn’t a mistake at all. I like that.

      Generally, I like live recordings. Studio albums more often have had a chance to be perfected: multiple takes, production, overdubbing. When recording live, it just has to be great the first time.


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