Love Them Live

I diverged from my usual MLK Day routine of playing every Impressions song in my collection augmented by some raucous ’50s gospel and decided to rock the hell out. I’m reading David Blight’s Frederick Douglass bio, and ol’ Fred liked to shake one’s lapels, and I imagine if Dr. King were here and saw this mess he might go aggro. Plus, I sensed my bride was up for some volume and clatter–she gets a mean eye-glint when her blood’s up.

Pre-glint, I had already loaded up some Butane James, but it’s not like that was so halcyon.

James Brown: Love Power Peace Live at The Olympia, Paris, 1971

The only official live document of Brown backed by Catfish and Bootsy Collins, with the former unspooling concertina wire solos at key junctures. Even the ballads will melt you–and not your heart. Your skin.

Nirvana: From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

Just as their studio albums could almost be cut by three different great bands, their live albums have very distinct identities. This ‘uns rougher textured and more furious than the Reading record, at least to my ear. They really were a fantastic band, and I will never tire of them.

Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns: Danceteria Deluxe

Not really deluxe; in fact, it’s just a bit longer than an EP. But with the band’s self-titled Hannibal album OOP, this is the best place to experience these exuberant Tex-Mex garage-rock nuts in their prime. One of my very favorite party bands, and they’re plenty tuff. Three of the nine cuts are a bit rare, too. By the by, Joe’s website offers several hard-to-find items, but even he’s had to rip some of it from vinyl.

Hüsker Dü: The Living End

This was the end, my friends–selected live cuts from their final years. Their rant ‘n’ rave isn’t quite as potent in looser live versions, except the later songs, which are elevated from pretty good to pretty great by the ramshackle roil. We listened to this right after the above Nirvana record, and it was more apparent than ever to us that they were the essential bridge between hardcore and grunge.

Dead Moon: What a Way to See the Old Girl Go

Closing down Portland’s X-Ray Café in ’94, rock and roll’s greatest and most durable husband-and-wife team got a terrific show down on wax. Not a bad place to start for the benighted: with a decade of music under their belts and two ahead of them, they’re in their prime, and you get smoking versions of “Poor Born,” “Walking on My Grave,” “It’s OK,” and “54/40 or Fight” all in one place. Fred Cole, you’re missed on this turf.

Motörhead: Nö Sleep At All

Yeah, yeah–I know about recontextualization and all that shite, but if Lemmy hadn’t finally been killed by death, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have to hear their kinda-pale “Sympathy for The Devil” backing a fucking commercial. I turned this up all the way to clean that ooze out of my ears. Live’r than the Stones ever were, this is a mid period best-of that definitely wasn’t sucking in the Eighties. I’m tempted to say if you need one, maybe this? But I have Orgasmatron breathing down my neck…

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