Is there anything better than live recordings?

Other than attending the concerts themselves?

I say NO.




To me music makes more sense if it has a setting, and for that reason, I have a strong bias toward live recordings. I will even tolerate a lower quality of sound of the music as a trade-off for having it presented in a venue.

Some musicians are just more entertaining live than they are in the studio. For example, Sarah Bareilles's studio work strikes me as ho-hum, but I enjoy her live performances.

On the other hand, sometimes the studio cut is better. For example, Dark Side of the Moon is iconic as a studio album. Live, it's not a single work; it's a collection of songs.

Susan Tedeschi's performance of Angel From Montgomery on the studio album Just Won't Burn is knock-it-out-of-the-park excellent.ย  Probably the best performance of that song ever recorded. Certainly the best I have heard. She has also recorded it live a couple of times. She just doesn't do as good of a job in the live cuts.

So like so many things in audio, it depends, even though I am sympathetic to the OP's point.

Yeah, it depends. There is sometimes an energy between the band and the audience that just doesn't exist in the studio. But as others have noted not all recordings are created equal.

For me, many of the classic rock bands made better studio albums than their live performances--Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Derek and the Dominos, Frank Zappa. This is particularly true with those artists who really used the studio as an instrument, employing panning, flanging, etc. On the other hand, the Allman Brothers Fillmore recordings creamed their studio albums both in performance and, arguably, sound quality. The Grateful Dead also stretched out in their best live performances, captured on their live albums.

@woofhaven1992ย  I happen to like Pink Floydโ€™s live performances of DSOTM and some of their other classics. David Gilmour could approach a song differently in live performance--e.g., his bluesy Strat playing on the 1974 live version of "Breathe" nicely replacing his lap steel part on the studio album. And with their quadrophonic sound system they could recreate or surpass their studio effects in live performance.

From my experience itโ€™s rare that rock groups could put out a live performance that matched the quality of their studio efforts, even if just considering the musical, rather than audio, qualities. For one thing, many classic rock musicians were, shall we say, in a less-focused state of consciousness when they played live. Like Pink Floyd, the Who was a group that could do a great live performance that was quite different from the equivalent studio versions. I enjoy a live Who performance (from the 1969-1971 period) more than any other live performance, even if the audio has its problems like Live at Leeds. The Deluxe Edition of that album, with the full live Tommy recording, is probably the greatest live rock recording, for my tastes, but this is based on the performance, not the audio quality. The Isle of Wight performance--basically the same setlist--is wonderful to watch and hear on DVD, with its better sound quality.

IMHO, the emotion and spontaneity projected from a great live album is unachievable in a studio album. Studio albums can project perfection of the performance and virtuosity. There are so many great live recordings that have been covered earlier, there are many more beyond rock in jazz and blues as well.

My two favorite live albums are The Name of this Band is Talking heads (1982) and Bob Marley and the Wailers, Live at the Roxy (2003). Both, with no or little compression and energy through the roof. They are played very loud (90+ db at your listening position - haha).

Maybe we should compile a list of our top 5 favorite albums?