Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Double Live!

Ever since I got a turntable four years ago and started trolling the bins for LPs I've been fascinated with a genre of music I call "double live."  It is a music made by hard rock bands of the 1970s who put out double live albums, with Frampton Comes Alive being the most famous and lucrative.  The double live album was convenient for bands back in the day, who normally had contracts demanding several records in a short period of time.  The double live album had the twin advantages of knocking two records off the list, and being easy to record.  Instead of coming up with new material and going through endless studio sessions, a band could be recorded doing their thing on stage with minimal fuss.  These records were quick, easy, and potential gold mines.  Frampton Comes Alive made the journeyman guitar hero Peter Frampton a major star and gave Kiss the hit record that had long eluded them.  The modern rock show, with its enormodomes and stacks of amps was just coming into being in the 1970s.  The novelty hadn't worn off, and for fans who couldn't see the show or who wanted to relive it, they could bring it home from the record store and play it on their hi-fi.

Arena rock shows today are kinda lame: expensive, impersonal, and lacking the chaos and clouds of ganja smoke necessary to create the right atmosphere.  I secretly long to start a cover band called Double Live that would only play songs by 70s bands that recorded double live albums.  We could bring some of that old magic back, but to the club stage.  Who's with me?

Here are some of the songs we'd do (played like they are on the double live records, not in the studio):

Humble Pie, "I Don't Need No Doctor"
Sadly someone has pulled the video of this from YouTube.  It's the closing track on Humble Pie's killer double live album Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore.  They were a well-regarded and well-attended live act, despite their lack of hit records.  One listen to "Stone Cold Fever" from that album will clue you in.

This track is the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Madonna, the Venus de Milo of double live songs.  It not only anchored the biggest double live album of all time, it has a talking guitar, rocknroll decadence-drenched lyrics, and more overindulgence than Liberace's wardrobe. 

Because the setlist would not be complete without some Grand Funk.  It'd be like making a martini without the gin.

'Cuz a double live frontman's gotta have something to strut to.

I am cheating a little because Foghat put a live record, but it wasn't double live.  I consider it to be some kind of crazy oversight, since if there is one band that embodies the empty-headed good time hard riff rocking spirit of double live as a genre, it's Foghat for sure.

Before REO hit power-ballad paydirt in the early 1980s, they toured for years as a hard-rockin' but little regarded band.  Their double live record, Live: You Get What You Play For, is the apotheosis of their dues paying years, a sign that they are soon to break out at long last.  (You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish was their first hit album, and it came out a year later.) For this one we'd need a siren to kick it off, and it would have to be the last song of the main set, so the singer (perhaps me) can intone "last song, people!"  

Kiss sucks, if you ask me, and Gene Simmons is an insufferable prick.  However, the band managed to put together one truly glorious slab of rock and roll awesomeness in its career, a song that fits the double live ethos to a t.  This song would definitely come on the encore.


Brian I said...

Your assessment of Kiss is wonderful. Also, additional bands with double-live albums: Allman Brothers (the original double-live), Lynyrd Skynyrd (at the Fox!), Mountain, Journey (a pretty good one), Styx (pretty lame), Rush. Blue Oyster Cult recorded two separate live albums, but I don't think that counts as "double live."

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

How could I forget the Allmans? Good Lord I am getting forgetful. _The Song Remains the Same_ by Led Zeppelin is another that I overlooked.

Blue Oyster Cult certainly fit the double live ethos, but as you say, they only did single live. _Some Enchanted Evening_ isn't bad.