Review: Live albums
Guess because it’s Christmas time, the “gift box” CD sets are coming out … and there are a couple of live sets from classic rock artists that will try and grab your attention. One is a great bargain, the other is a bit of a rip-off. (Update: OK, maybe not a rip-off, but … buyer beware.)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are represented by The Live Anthology, an awesome four-CD set with 48 tracks encompassing the band’s entire career. This set, available most places for around 20 bucks, is a bargain – Best Buy and Petty’s website also offers a larger set with a fifth CD of 14 more tracks, a couple of DVDs featuring some live shows and a Blu-Ray disc, all for about $100.
Beyond the bargain, though, the Petty set is incredible for the grooves contained within. He combines some of his best-known songs with stellar covers, including a great instrumental version of the James Bond classic “Goldfinger,” the Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil,” the Byrds’ “Ballad Of Easy Rider,” and on and on. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun listening to a live album. Highly recommended.
In 1969, the Rolling Stones played a classic set of shows at Madison Square Garden. Guitarist Mick Taylor had just recently replaced Brian Jones (who died earlier that year) and the stakes were high for the band. But the Stones turned in a classic set, and as represented on Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, they could have very well been “the world’s greatest rock and roll band” at that moment.
Now there’s a 40th anniversary reissue of Ya Ya’s, widely considered one of the best live rock albums ever, and here’s where the set turns into a bit of a rip-off. Although there are three CDs of music in this box, only five previously unearthed live Stones recordings turn up – the third CD is a disc of opening acts B. B. King and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Not that it’s bad or anything, but if you pay 30 bucks expecting three discs of the Rolling Stones you will be disappointed. The box also contains a DVD of live performances and other stuff, and it’s intermittently interesting, as are the photos and other stuff.
But you’re here for the music – the Rolling Stones music – and that is absolutely great. The sound of the original Ya Ya’s album has been remastered (again) and it’s awesome, the extra tracks are excellent with a rip-roaring medley of “Under My Thumb” and “I’m Free,” and concluding with a rockin’ version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Guess this all could have fit on one disc, but who knows what they were thinking? Oh yeah – ka-ching!